Road to World War II
The world was on its way to a massive war that many felt could not be avoided as the second half of 1939 began. With no viable enemies willing to check German Chancellor Adolf Hitler's Reich, the future looked bleak for those in direct danger from Hitler's maniacal terror. This all changed in late August when Hitler suffered an anxiety attack and was persuaded to seek help and postpone his invasion of Poland. After receiving treatment for his anxiety issues, Hitler was able to think much more rationally and logically, making him seem like less of a threat. While his treatment did make him substantially less hateful, in reality, Hitler had just realized that to achieve his goals, he must restrain himself until he was fully prepared and equipped to reach them.
Russia Acts Alone
In late 1939, as Europe was gearing up for the inevitable war with Nazi Germany, Hitler shocked his Russian ally by not invading Poland on the pre-chosen date of September 1. Stalin found Hitler's silence a bit strange, but nevertheless, decided to go through with his plans to invade Poland on September 17. The Red Army entered Poland with nearly 400,000 men; Poland never stood a chance. Stalin was shocked when Hitler announced the permanent postponement of his invasion of Poland, but decided it was too late for him to stop his invasion now, even if it potentially meant war with Britain and France. By October 8 Stalin's forces had seized Warsaw, the capital of Poland. Stalin requested to speak to Adolf Hitler on this date to see if he still wanted to divide Poland, but received no response, and annexed Poland in its entirety on November 5.
Stalin realized that the Soviet Union was, in its current state, not quite prepared for war with France or Britain, so he sought to eliminate all possible enemies directly to the east of Russia, specifically, Finland and the Baltics. In order to achieve this "barrier" around the Soviet Union, he signed the Treaty of Helsinki with Aimo Cajander of Finland by tricking him into thinking that Britain was a threat to Finnish security due to its imperial desires. Secondly, at 3:40 AM on the first day of 1940, Stalin staged an attack on Russian soldiers by Estonian soldiers in order to justify an invasion. Within a few days, Estonia had a pro-Russian communist government and the other Baltic States of Latvia and Lithuania were scared enough to sign the Baltic Alliance Pact with Russia and Finland, establishing pro-Soviet communist governments in these nations and giving Stalin total control of the Baltic Sea.
Hitler the Observer
After beginning his medication, Hitler's thirst for war had died down considerably. He was now more interested in preparation to begin his war and securing sound alliances and gaining trust and support from his fellow Germans. Firstly, he began watching how Western Europe responded to Russian invasions and how much it would take before they actually made any moves. Secondly, in early November 1939, he secured an alliance with Francisco Franco of Spain by warning him of a nonexistent plot to overthrow fascism in Spain and agreeing to ensure that he stays in power in exchange for an alliance in the event of a war with France and Britain. Hitler began tightening is grip on public opinion by publishing his second book, Mein Traum, or My Dream, in which he detailed his goals fpr the German people and the German Reich, and stated that he wished to "free Germany from the stinging humiliations placed on her" by the Treaty of Versailles.
When the western half of Czechoslovakia elected to become part of Germany, many world leaders thought that Hitler unfairly rigged the vote, but nothing of the sort was ever proven. Either way, this provided Hitler the opportunity to rally support once again. He declared the date January 15 to be a national holiday called Tag der Einheit, or Unity Day, and in celebration of this, announced that some of the art he had been working on would be showcased at a museum in Berlin. Over a million people came to see Hitler's art, and his popularity increased to over 50% for the first time.
When the second stock market crash hit America in March, fascism began spreading like wildfire within the country. In the months following, Hitler made ties with leaders of American fascist movements, and Stalin did the same with communists. Around this time, Hitler also began helping fascist movements come to power in several South American nations including Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, all of course in return for assistance in a possible war with capitalist nations. Finally, Hitler established close relations with the leaders of fascist movements in Greece and helped the Iron Guard overthrow the Romanian government and establish a fascist dictatorship under Ion Antonescu in late 1941. Hitler had effectively established a global presence after making these ties, and increased the rate of Germany's weapon production and advanced technology, which he then shared with his newfound allies. Combined, the armies aligned with Hitler had about 6,000,000 in manpower, excluding the Wehrmacht itself.
Fascist Japan & Socialist America
In 1940, Fumimaro Konoye established the Imperial Rule Assistance Association in Japan, which effectively made Japan a fascist nation. Fueled by nationalism, Japan continued its ongoing war with China to seize control of Manchuria and the Chinese coast, in addition to their assault on islands in the Pacific, such as the Philippines and Indonesia. By the end of 1940, Japan controlled all of the Pacific north of Australia and west of Hawaii. China formally surrendered in late 1941, leaving Manchuria firmly in Japanese hands, giving Japan another advantage over the Soviet Union. Stalin increased the Red Army greatly between this time and the start of the war.
America was falling apart by the end of 1940, and many Americans had turned to either fascism or communism to solve the nation's problems. Franklin D. Roosevelt once again ran, but this time on much more radical socialist ideas. His opponent, Wendell Willkie, ran on moderate right wing ideas, so Roosevelt won in a landslide, and he set up an 85% flat tax across the country and expanded the scope of welfare and other programs. He enormously reduced military spending, leaving the United States weakened and unable to participate in any major battles. Stalin, seeing a chance to mold America into a communist nation, agreed to help FDR fix the economy through redistributing wealth and providing funding for government-sponsored agencies.
On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, sensing America's weakness. America was unable to defend itself effectively, and lost many of its aircraft carriers and battleships. The next day, Japan sent a message to Roosevelt, stating that if Hawaii was given to Japan, no further attacks would be carried out on the United States and gave him until the new year to respond. In a historic decision, Roosevelt handed the state of Hawaii over to Japan in what he himself described as "one of the most tragic and catastrophic events in the history of the United States" on December 20, 1941. Roosevelt said later that he felt the only way to save millions of American lives was to appease Japan, and that even if he had gone to war with Japan, he wasn't confident in the ability of the United States to win in their weakened state.
Final Preparations for War
By June of 1942, Hitler was nearly ready to carry out his plans. The Wehrmacht was fully rearmed, with many giant battleships and aircraft carriers, advanced air technology, and the deadliest ground assault force the Earth had ever seen. He was ready to check Russian dominance, and, as he stated in Mein Traum, "gain a level of worldwide political consolidation never yet viewed by humanity, centered in our great city of Berlin." By this time, German invasion plans were finalized and Hitler had only 2 things he yet wished to accomplish: ally with Italy and Japan. Hitler signed the Iron Sun Pact with Emperor Hirohito on June 27, 1942, which Mussolini refused, having recently lost Albania due to a lack of supplies to sustain a military presence there.
The United States made a mutual economic support agreement with the Soviet Union and Britain, allowing the sale of American weapons to those nations in the event of any war, in an effort to restore the United States economy. Many Americans did not want to be part of a war, so Roosevelt stated in the agreement that under no circumstances will he enter a war without Congressional approval.
By this time, the Red Army had grown to nearly 18 million men, although its technology somewhat lacked compared to the Germans, the United States Army had only around 100,000 men, and the Germans and their allies a combined 11,000,000, 4 million of which were Japanese and 5 million German. Hitler later ordered that all male Jews in conquered territories be drafted, and their females be made servants to the German people. On the other hand, Great Britain had grown its army to nearly 3 million by drafting colonial peoples in anticipation of a war since Churchill became Prime Minister, while France had not prepared whatsoever, believing that no war was coming.
World War II Begins
The Brits Declare War
In a move that stunned and shocked the world, Great Britain declared war on Nazi Germany on August 1, 1942. France was both angered and surprised, since Britain had just dragged France into a war with Germany that it was in no way prepared for. Hitler responded simply by making a speech in Berlin, in which he said Germany was prepared to "reduce their pathetic island to dust in the name of Germany." Roosevelt is said to have just uttered "Good God...what are we to do now?" when he heard of the news. Churchill later justified his actions by saying that he hoped to deter the Germans from their inevitably approaching European domination campaign.
The first act of war came a few hours after the declaration of war. The RAF launched a bombing campaign of nearly 40 bombers from Metz, targeting the western half of Germany in hopes of destroying key military defense points to make an invasion possible, or at least prevent an invasion of France. This move was in some ways successful, destroying factories and Luftwaffe bases, but the Brits lost about half of the bombers they sent in and did not do nearly enough damage. Shortly after this incident, Argentina, Japan, Greece, Brazil, Chile, Spain, and Romania declared war on Britain and France.
Japan Fights Europe in the Pacific
While Japan had previously been only targeting colonies of weak nations in the Pacific, they decided would be necessary to take those of Britain and France now as well. Hirohito ran this plan by Hitler, and he told him it would only e necessary to attack British colonies, and that France would fall before the end of the year. The first attack came on August 3rd, with the Japanese invasion of British New Guinea. The Japanese ferociously slaughtered the small group of defenders within just two days, and began targeting British North Borneo and Brunei on August 10th, both of which fell on the 16th, with the British busy defending France on the European front. The final targets for the Japanese were Singapore and Malaya. They invaded, only to find a much more fierce resistance than they had previously. Regardless, the colonies were lost; first Singapore then Malaya.
Hirohito met with Hitler on September 12, 1942 to discuss what should be done about Australia and New Zealand, which still posed somewhat of a threat. Hirohito stated that he refused to directly help the Nazis in Europe until these threats to the Japanese Empire in the Pacific were dealt with. Hitler promised that as soon as France fell, he would send the Kriegsmarine to help assist a Japanese assault. Hirohito reluctantly agreed, believing that France was a stronger enemy than Hitler thought.
The City of Lights Goes Dark
As Japan fought Europe's colonies, Hitler and his allies faced a much more daunting challenge of fighting Europe itself. Hitler's first move was to ensure that his Spanish ally was indeed still on his side. Since this did turn out to be the case, the Wehrmacht launched a devastating blitzkrieg against Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg on August 5th. Within hours, Luxembourg fell to the Nazis, the next day Holland did as well. Belgium, surprisingly, was able to hold off the Nazi advance for a few days outside of Brussels, so Hitler decided it best to drop paratroopers into the city to attack the defenses from the rear. This devastated the Belgians, and Brussels was captured on the 11th, and along with it, Belgium. Nothing now stood between the Nazis and France. Hitler delayed the invasion until September 1st, when the RAF once again bombed western Germany on the 13th, this time, losing less bombers and doing more damage.
A few more bombings were done by Great Britain, but by the time Hitler was ready to invade, he had moved his military bases and factories to the east. So, when September 1st came, the Nazis were ready to devastate France with no worries about losing industrial power. The invasion began with the Nazis invading Alsace-Lorraine at midnight on the 1st, making unprecedented time due to the fact that Britain and France thought they would attack through Belgium. So, as the Nazis moved through eastern France, the French and British militaries moved to intercept them. When the north was exposed, 200,000 more Germans crushed the remaining defenses and invaded through Belgium. Time after time, the British and French fell back to defensive lines, only to find the Germans had beat them there. Hitler's Wehrmacht had effectively bypassed the entire defending force of France by September 10th. With the remaining soldiers confused, Spain invaded southern France uncontested and, reaching the north, cut them off from rescue. The Germans reached Paris on the 13th, to find the city already evacuated, with only a few soldiers to defend it, who were captured or executed. On the 14th, Eldouard Daladier sent Hitler his notice of surrender, and France was now fully under German occupation. Adolf Hitler's Reich had brought down the great superpower of France in 2 weeks' time. One German soldier later said of the incident, "I thought to myself, 'That's it? If this is how easy the rest of the war will be, Germany may well be able to defeat all of Europe.'"
World War II
Britain Fights On
Shocked by the downfall of the French Empire, the British were faced with a horrifying situation. They stood alone against not only the deadliest fighting force ever known, but its strong allies as well. Only 20 miles of water stood in the way of Britain's total destruction and humiliation by the Nazi war machine. As soon as France fell, Churchill set up an enormous naval wall around southern Britain. With British radar systems, the Nazi U-boat attacks were less deadly. The Nazis had a navy far smaller than that of the British, but far more advanced. Waves and waves of U-boats assaulted the British defenses, and the Luftwaffe dive bombed several British warships. As the naval wall in the English Channel shrunk, the British were forced to move more troops home from Australia, leaving it susceptible to Japanese attacks. Even as the British fled Australia, Nazi U-boats in the Pacific and the Japanese fleet destroyed their ships in irreplaceable numbers.
On October 4, the Germans finally broke through the English Channel blockade. At this point, Britain was in dire straits, losing a good amount of its Royal Navy's ships to the Kriegsmarine's U-boat campaign, and Churchill pleaded with Roosevelt to help him. Roosevelt looked to Congress, which narrowly decided not to declare war on Germany, but instead agreed to send massive amounts of supplies to Britain by passing Lend-Lease on the 6th. Soon, billions of dollars of weaponry and vehicles were being sent to Britain. To combat this, Hitler began destroying American ships in the Atlantic, west of Britain. On October 9th, the British were on the verge of losing Newport to the Nazis, which could later have been used as a launchpad for an invasion, and had to make a call. They were totally surrounded, and blocked from American aid, and had to send a large amount of their navy and air force to ward off the Nazi advances. In doing so, the attacks were repelled, but the Royal Navy was absolutely devastated in doing so, as nearly the entire Kriegsmarine was assaulting southern Britain, as well as continued Luftwaffe raids on Portsmouth and Hastings. The Kriegsmarine sustained heavy losses, but with German manufacturing power they were easily able to be replaced.
On October 19, Churchill delivered a speech, pleading with the Americans to help save Britain, saying that they could not survive another attack half as devastating as the recent battle in the English Channel. Finally, on October 30, the United States assured Churchill it would soon be ready to declare war on Nazi Germany and its allies, and instituted a draft and massive ad campaign to persuade people to join the army. The economy was now stable once again thanks to the war industry, and people were more confident. On November 1, Congress passed the Coastal Security Act, which allowed for massive military spending in order to secure the Pacific Coast from Japanese attacks. America was on the road to becoming a war machine on par with Nazi Germany. The next day, the Kriegsmarine began mining the Atlantic, totally cutting off Britain from any Lend-Lease support. Hitler believed that if he could wait to defeat Britain until the United States declared war, he could swiftly knock out Britain and focus on the downfall of the United States by attacking it from two sides with the aid of Japan. This plan became known among Nazi officials as The Knirschen Strategy, and planning went into effect immediately.
The Japs Take Australia
With the British army severely crippled by Hitler's attacks, the Japanese saw an opportunity to deal a death blow to Europe in the Pacific entirely. They took action on November 7, using New Guinea as a launch pad for their invasion. Nearly 70,000 men landed on he beaches of northern Queensland. The British themselves were all but gone from Australia, but the Australians fought back hard, although it was hopeless without the manpower and technology of the Japanese. The Japanese advanced through Queensland, devastating the Australian resistance to the point that it was almost no challenge to advance west. By November 20, the northern half of Australia was firmly in Japan's grip.
The southern half, however, posed a greater threat, as dangerous animals began slowing the Japanese advance. On November 30th, after taking western and southern Australia, the Japanese halted their advance to resupply before attacking the strongholds of New South Wales and Victoria. During the next few days the Australians fought back with vigor the Japanese had not seen once in their conquests thus far, but once the supplies reached their camps, the Australians were doomed to failure. With their remaining 35,000, the Japanese charged through the streets of New South Wales, occupying it by December 13. Finally, before the Japanese could take New Zealand or any remaining Australian territory, their enemies surrendered, sounding the death bell of Britain in the Pacific.
The Sun Sets on the British Empire
Upon hearing the news of Japan's newest conquests, Hitler was elated, and began touring conquered France after ordering the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe to prepare for the Knirschen Strategy. After days of waiting, the United States finally declared war on Germany and its allies on December 21, and Hitler ordered the Knirschen Strategy to be carried out. Later that day, Operation Atlantis entered phase 3, and any American ships trying to cross the Atlantic to Britain to sunk by U-boats or destroyed by mines. Nearly 40 were sunk that day alone. Britain, in a last ditch effort, tried to send the technology for the magnetron to the United States, but the ship carrying it was destroyed by a mine, and the plans were foiled.
Knowing that the British were doomed, Roosevelt decided to prepare for war in the United States, making it his priority. On December 22, he sent 100,000 troops into Brazil, which advanced deep into Brazil within a few hours, due to Hitler's lack of support for the nation. By the 29th, Brazil gave in, and Roosevelt ordered Brazilian citizens be drafted into the United States army. Later that day, he also invaded all of German held Guinea, securing it for America, eliminating a possible point of invasion.
On December 22, the Kriegsmarine assaulted the Royal Navy, breaking through the blockade in just hours, and the Luftwaffe achieved air supremacy over Newport by decimating British airfields across southern England in a series of raids. By nightfall, Hitler's troops had been sent to Newport, and the invasion was ready to begin. The next day, thousands of German soldiers stormed the beaches of Portsmouth, Brighton, and Southampton. By the 24th, the Nazis had penetrated as far north as Bristol, and were amassing around London despite the chaotic hail of bullets from British defensive gunners. The Luftwaffe soon began pounding London and Oxford, killing hundreds of civilians. The Nazis were unable to enter London until Christmas Day, which happened to be the same day some American ships finally made it across the Atlantic to help the British. Unfortunately, this was too little too late, and the British were forced to capitulate on December 28th. Hitler forced Britain to give up its colonies, technology, and confiscated its navy. He placed Britain under the leadership of a fascist regime, and Churchill fled to Canada. Hitler also imposed the same military terms as the Treaty of Versailles had imposed on Germany, with the Treaty of Geneva. Adolf Hitler's Reich had done what couldn't be done for 400 years in a matter of months. Germany was now the largest empire the world had ever seen, and Hitler intended to continue flexing his power by defeating the United States, setting the attack date for the first of January, 1943.
Roosevelt was terrified of what was to come next, and feared that the United States would be attacked from both sides. Frantic for a solution, he ordered all available military to be amassed along the coasts to defend against the impending attacks. Now without any support across the globe, an America which was yet to see combat was facing two war-hardened enemies from both sides, and the American people were very afraid of what was to come.
Canada Joins the Union
Canada was quick to act after they became under German authority. Canadian officials plead with Roosevelt to become a part of the United States, territories with enough occupants to become states, others to become territories. Acting quickly, Congress almost unanimously passed the Unification Act, which added Canada to the United States, with Ontario and Quebec becoming states, each with 3 electoral votes, if Canada contributed at least 500,000 new soldiers to the U.S. Army.
The Canadians were grateful for their American saviors, and many signed up for the military, while others were drafted. Soon, the American military swelled to nearly 6 million, and industries were producing weapons and vehicles extremely quickly. In short, the Americans had the technology, but not the experience or skill.
The False War
At this point, Hitler had absolutey no desire to go to war with the United States, but he did feel obligated to Japan for all their assistance in conquering western Europe. He informed his generals that he intended to focus on organzing the new colonies and ensuring the submission of western Europe before carrying out his plans for the New Order. His generals suggested that he somehow either force the United States to surrender very quickly, or persuade Hirohito to end the war before it starts. Hitler ruled both of these out as viable options, and decided that he would drag out the war in the Atlantic by only using a fraction of the Kriegsmarine to assault the American east coast, and then, once the war appeared to be a stalemate, negotiate some sort of peace with the Americans and give Hirohito the option to continue fighting if he pleased.
On January 1, Japanese aircraft carriers halted 70 miles from the American west coast, and the Japanese amassed in Hawaii and Australia to prepare an invasion. The Japanese air force strafed the west coast that afternoon, bombing large cities along the coast. When Roosevelt obtained the plans for the Japanese invasion from a downed fighter plane in Portland, he made one of the best strategic decisions of the war. He saw that the Japanese homeland and the Philippines were largely undefended, and decided to avert further war, he would launch an invasion of the Japanese mainland from Alaska in an attempt to knock them out of the war quickly. At 11:40 PM that same night, the Germans began attacking American ships along the east coast, sinking nearly 5.
Roosevelt was forced to call off the invasion when Japanese landed on the beaches of California after breaking through American defenses on February 5th, but the Ameicans were able to push them off the continent within a week. The war continued this way for months, until Japan called off their invasion due to an inability to clear a feasible invasion area, and stopped fighting entirely on July 9th. Germany decided to do the same, and it appeared Hitler's plan worked. America, Germany, and Japan negotiated a peace in Puerto Rico, and ended hostilities on July 31. Public opinion was against war with America in Germany, and Hitler thought this was best for the Reich, although he knew America would have to be dealt with eventually if the New Order was to be successful. The whole exchange between to Americans and the Germans and Japanese became known as the False War because the none of the combatants really wanted this war and none truly made a strong effort.
Hitler was surprised at the weakness of his supposed ally, although he had totally abandoned them, and stated in a speech "I should have known not to trust a race of subhumans with any sort of task, and I apologize to Germany and the German people." In doing so, he ended any alliance he had with Japan, but he believed they were of no more use to him and the United States could easily defeat them if they wanted to. Hitler was now ready to take care of his new acqusitions and to expand the Reich in Europe, and began preparing invasions of the Balkans, including Romania, which had abandoned Hitler due to the selfishness of his war, arguing that no nation but his in his alliance had made any gains whatsoever. Hitler, to deter his Spanish ally from deserting him as well, decided he should allow them some of the southern half of France, and invade and secure Portugal for them before acquiring the Polish corridor for the Reich.
See the next section of the timeline here.