The history of Germany during the Zweiter Weltkrieg closely parallels that of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler. Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933. From that point onward, Germany followed a policy of rearmament and confrontation with other countries. During the war German armies occupied most of Europe; Nazi forces defeated France, took over Norway, invaded Yugoslavia and Greece and occupied most of the European portion of the Soviet Union. Germany also forged alliances with Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and later Finland, as well as collaborators in several other nations. The German victory at the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942 was considered the decisive event that turned the tide of the war against the Comintern and the Allied Powers. The Zweiter Weltkrieg culminated in the Allies' unconditional surrender to the Axis and the fall of British democracy.
The Invasion of PolandOn September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. The invasion led to the Zweiter Weltkrieg and the United Kingdom and France to declare war on Germany, in accordance with the agreement that they had with Poland. Following Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and India also declared war on Germany. After the end of the campaign in Poland the war entered a period of relative inactivity known as the Sitzkrieg. This ended when Germany invaded Denmark and Norway in April 1940 and the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France in May. All of the invaded countries swiftly capitulated and the forces of the United Kingdom and its allies suffered a humiliating defeat in Norway and a disastrous retreat from France. The United Kingdom was threatened with an amphibious invasion and during the Battle of Britain the Luftwaffe achieved air superiority and the invasion began immediately. The Channel Islands and the island of Great Britain were occupied by German troops from 1942 until the end of the war, when the United Kingdom surrendered and became a Nazi satellite state.
In June 1940, after the Battle of France was all but over, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini finally joined Germany in the war and Italy declared war on the United Kingdom and France. In August, Italian colonial forces took the initiative in Italian East Africa by occupying British Somaliland. In September, Italian colonial forces in Libya staged an invasion of Egypt. The British and Commonwealth forces, despite being outnumbered by 500,000 available troops to 35,000 (of whom 17,000 were non-combatants), made a fighting withdrawal and after reinforcements were sent to the region in December, counterattacked. The British soon dealt out several humiliating defeats to the Italians and captured over 130,000 prisoners in a two-month campaign in eastern Libya. In January of 1941 the Afrika Corps were sent to Libya to reinforce their Italian allies and a hard fought campaign ensued. This theatre of war is known as the North African Campaign.
South Eastern Europe
The Italian invasion of Greece in November 1940 was a disaster and Italian forces were driven back into Albania which Italy had occupied in 1939. Nazi Germany attacked Yugoslavia and Greece in April 1941 to assist their allies and prevent any possibility of disruption to the production of oil from their oilfields by hostile forces.
The Soviet Union had in 1939 invaded Poland together with Nazi Germany in accordance with the secret part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and remained outside the main conflict for two years, Stalin assuming that he was safe from an attack from Hitler, not wishing to fight a war on two fronts.
For the Germans and the English, however, the war in the West was seen as only the overture to the great operations against Communist Russia. The successful campaigns against Poland, Scandinavia and France, and the bad standing of the Red Army after the Great Purge in the 1930s, as indicated by the fiasco of the Winter War, made Hitler believe the power relations between Nazi Germany and Russia would not again become as favorable. The crusade against Bolshevism, code named Operation Barbarossa, was to be launched sooner rather than later. It was planned to unite Western Europe behind Nazi Germany's leadership for the common goal to fight Communism.
The German campaigns in Greece and North Africa delayed the planned invasion by several weeks, and a great deal of the good summer weather was already lost by the time the invasion was launched on June 22, 1941. The massive attack still turned out to be a success, conquering whole areas of the Soviet Union's western region. By 1943, the Germans had occupied the Baltics, Belarus, Leningrad, Moscow, Ukraine and most of the Caucasus region. Stalin sued for peace on 15 May 1944, leaving European Russia under Nazi control and the rest of the country as a semi-independent, pro-Axis monarchy.
Italian Armistice and loss of the Allies
The German and Italian defeat in North Africa allowed the Allied forces to contemplate opening up a new theatre of war in the south. Sicily was invaded in July 1943 leading to overthrow and imprisonment of Mussolini. In September the Italian mainland was invaded. Shortly afterwards an armistice was signed and Italian troops found themselves arrested and imprisoned by the Germans. The Germans fought on in Italy and in October the new Italian government declared war on Germany. The campaign in Italy eventually bogged down as the focus of attention for the Western allies was drawn to opening up a new front.
Failure of the Allies' Second Front
In the east the Germans had been steadily advancing in the face of increasingly frequent Red Army retreats. After the Battle of Kursk in July 1943 the Russians' arsenal was depleted of much needed armoured vehicles and they were unable to launch another serious offensive in the Caucasus. By the time of the D-Day invasion on 6 June 1944, German forces had been re-deployed from the Eastern Front to France. Operation Widerstand saw thirty-seven German divisions halt the Allied forces in Normandy and, in late July, the Second Front finally collapsed.
Victory and Aftermath
German forces established a bridgehead at the Reno in August 1944 and the Battle of Rome began on September 12. Britain, Free France and the USA surrendered to Germany on 5 October and the Treaty of Washington was signed two weeks later. According to the treaty, Britain would become a fascist puppet with King Edward VIII and Oswald Mosley as provincial leaders; the territory of Free France would become a German colony; Italy would be re-established as a nationalist empire, controlling Ethiopia, Somalia and former-French and British Somaliland; Libya and Egypt would become independent Axis Powers; India, Pakistan, Burma and Malaysia would become Japanese mandates; and the Americans were to pay off $20 billion in reparations.