We continue with our Hitler Revisited Feature with the start of World War 2. The War is generally understood to have been sparked by Germany’s invasion of Poland. The consensus certainly portrays Hitler and the NAZIs as the aggressors whose invasion of a defenceless Poland ignited World War 2.
However, the portrayal of Hitler as aggressor may be contested, and an analysis of the state of Polish-German relations that led to the invasion of Poland is useful in our understanding of the cause of World War 2…In other words, was Hitler really the aggressor History has made him out to be?
To understand how the war in 1939 between Poland and Germany, and consequently WW2, unfolded, it is not sufficient to look at – and accept – the widely-held view that peace-loving and weak little Poland was attacked by an ever-marauding National Socialist Germany. Rather, one must look much deeper into history.
This conflict which cost many millions of lives did not originate with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, as is still claimed today by over-simplifying historians. It is not just a black-and-white story, but a complex one.
Many years before the differences between Germany and Poland escalated to the point of no return, numerous diplomatic efforts were made by the German government to defuse the ever more dangerous situation the two countries were facing. These efforts such as talks over the return of the Danzig territory to Germany were all rejected by Poland.
These and many more are the things one must take into account before making the fallacious accusation that Germany was the one to have started WW2.
The hidden hand of the British government under Chamberlain gave Poland the guarantee that England would come to its aid if Poland should be attacked. This was on March 31st, 1939. Its purpose was to exploit German-Polish tensions and to incite Poland to escalate its endeavors for war against Germany. It happened as planned when Germany eventually invaded Poland due to the ongoing dispute. An invasion which was followed by England declaring war on Germany on September 3rd, 1939.
Thus WW2 was arranged by a complicity between Britain and Poland. It was not Hitler’s war, it was England’s and Poland’s war. Jules Lukasiewicz, the Polish ambassador to Paris, for instance, who on March 29th, 1939 told his foreign minister in Warsaw:
“It is childishly naive and also unfair to suggest to a nation in a position like Poland, to compromise its relations with such a strong neighbour as Germany and to expose the world to the catastrophe of war, for no other reason than to pander to the wishes of Chamberlain’s domestic policies. It would be even more naive to assume that the Polish government did not understand the true purpose of this manoeuver and its consequences.”
Following the invasion of Poland, Britain and France declared War on Germany, and so World War 2 began in earnest.
Below is a brief Summary of the course of the War
The European Theater
Invasion of Poland
The war in Europe began in September 1939, when Germany, under Chancellor Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland. Britain and France responded by declaring war on Germany but took little action over the following months. In 1940, Germany launched its next initiative by attacking Denmark and Norway, followed shortly thereafter by attacks on Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. All of these nations were conquered rapidly.
The Battle of Britain
Later in the summer of 1940, Germany launched a further attack on Britain, this time exclusively from the air. The Battle of Britain was Germany’s first military failure, as the German air force, the Luftwaffe, was never able to overcome Britain’s Royal Air Force.
Greece and North Africa
As Hitler plotted his next steps, Italy, an ally of Germany, expanded the war even further by invading Greece and North Africa. The Greek campaign was a failure, and Germany was forced to come to Italy’s assistance in early 1941.
Later in 1941, Germany began its most ambitious action yet, by invading the Soviet Union. Although the Germans initially made swift progress and advanced deep into the Russian heartland, the invasion of the USSR would prove to be the downfall of Germany’s war effort. The country was just too big, and although Russia’s initial resistance was weak, the nation’s strength and determination, combined with its brutal winters, would eventually be more than the German army could overcome. In 1943, after the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk, Germany was forced into a full-scale retreat. During the course of 1944, the Germans were slowly but steadily forced completely out of Soviet territory, after which the Russians pursued them across eastern Europe and into Germany itself in 1945.
The Normandy Invasion
In June 1944, British and American forces launched the D-Day invasion, landing in German-occupied France via the coast of Normandy. Soon the German army was forced into retreat from that side as well. Thus, by early 1945, Allied forces were closing in on Germany from both east and west. The Soviets were the first to reach the German capital of Berlin, and Germany surrendered in May 1945, shortly after the suicide of Adolf Hitler.
The Pacific Theater
The war in the Pacific began on December 7, 1941, when warplanes from Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. By this time, Japan had already been at war with China for several years and had seized the Chinese territory of Manchuria. After the Pearl Harbor attack, Japan began a massive campaign of expansion throughout the Southeast Asia–Pacific region.
The U.S. Entrance and Battle of Midway
Although the Pearl Harbor attack provoked a declaration of war by the United States on Japan the very next day, it would be several months before U.S. forces would get seriously involved militarily. In late spring of 1942, the United States and Japan engaged in a series of naval battles, climaxing in the Battle of Midway on June 3–6, 1942, in which Japan suffered a catastrophic defeat.
The Solomon Islands and Guadalcanal
For the next year, the United States engaged Japan in a protracted struggle for the Solomon Islands, which lay near vital Allied shipping routes. Between August 1942 and February 1943, Allied forces carried out an invasion on the island of Guadalcanal—the beginning of a long series of Allied offensives that would eventually force the Japanese out of the Solomons and then pursue them from various other Pacific island chains that the Japanese had earlier seized. In the meantime, British and Indian forces were combating Japanese troops in Burma.
The Approach to Japan
Fighting continued throughout the Pacific in 1944 and early 1945, including major battles at Leyte, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. By the late spring of 1945, most of Japan’s conquests had been liberated, and Allied forces were closing in on the Japanese home islands. As they neared Japan proper, the Allies began heavy bombing campaigns against major Japanese cities, including Tokyo. This process continued through the summer of 1945 until finally, in early August, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Stunned by the unexpected devastation, Japan surrendered a few days later.
Fall Of Berlin
The final chapter in the destruction of Hitler’s Third Reich began on April 16, 1945 when Stalin unleashed the brutal power of 20 armies, 6,300 tanks and 8,500 aircraft with the objective of crushing German resistance and capturing Berlin. By prior agreement, the Allied armies (positioned approximately 60 miles to the west) halted
their advance on the city in order to give the Soviets a free hand. The depleted German forces put up a stiff defense, initially repelling the attacking Russians, but ultimately succumbing to overwhelming force. By April 24 the Soviet army surrounded the city slowly tightening its stranglehold on the remaining Nazi defenders. Fighting street-to-street and house-to-house, Russian troops blasted their way towards Hitler’s chancellery in the city’s center.
Inside his underground bunker Hitler lived in a world of fantasy as his “Thousand Year Reich” crumbled above him. In his final hours the Fuehrer married his long-time mistress and then joined her in suicide. The Third Reich was dead.
Hitler’s Third Reich was finally defeated by the Allies with the fall of Berlin…Nevertheless it is important to consider that the Allied Victory was not against an aggressor German State.
From an analysis of the German-Polish tensions that were exploited by Britain to trigger World War 2, through Germany’s invasion of Poland, a different picture emerges…The picture of a Germany whose hand was forced into a War on a scale it did not necessarily intend to fight.
One cannot discuss World War 2 and Hitler without spending some time on the Holocaust…Join us for Part 3 as we re-examine the Holocaust by considering alternative views that question if it ever occurred and characterizing it more as Soviet and Allied Post War Propaganda and not Historical fact.
Finally we’ll look at the Nuremberg Trials in which the NAZI Leadership was tried for its Crimes against humanity during World War 2.
Meanwhile you can peep the links below for more on the invasion of Poland and the course of World War 2. The Dennis Wise Doumentary we featured on the Home Page last week ‘Hitler: The Greatest Story Never Told’ is available on our Youube Channel’s ‘History & Politics’ Playlist…Dont forget to download our App on Google Play!
Links & Credits
Culture Lounge YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD0SW5w3aLXj7B3npFLlGug