|World War II|
|Commanders and leaders|
Axis Political Leaders
Allied Political Leaders
Buildup to the War
The main cause of the war was the divide between the Social Democratic countries and the Popular Nationalist countries. However, the following events caused increased tensions:
- Treaty of Bellevue and Treaty of Potsdam
- Frankfurt Pact
- Charles Maurras' rise to power
- Hitler's failed coup attempt in 1928
- Alliance of Italy, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine
- Tianjin Crisis, Japanese invasion of Manchuria
- March on London and Oswald Mosley's rise to power
- Jersey Pact
- British Naval Rearmament
- Establishment of the Ponaticon
- French invasion of Andorra
- Leon Degrelle leads the Rexist Rebellion in Belgium
- Kenitra Crisis
- Lyon Agreement
- Spanish Civil War (Loyal Italy)
- French Invasion of Luxembourg
- Belgian Civil War (Loyal Italy)
- French annexation of Belgium
Course of the War
Due to the cause of the war, the original clashes occurred in Belgium. The German and French armies joined and exponentially hightened the hostilities, and the first major battle of the war occurred at the Battle of Namur, where the week long battle destroyed much of the city, included 70,000 casualties, and resulted in a German retreat northward though there were equal casualties. Other battles occurred in Belgium at Hasselt and Leuven, which forced France to focus on defense of Brussels, which Germany besieged starting in October.
Meanwhile, Britain began an amphibious Invasion of the Netherlands at IJmuiden. Their goal was to quickly take the Netherlands and then force Germany to fight for control of the Rhine. Britain quickly made it to Amsterdam, and they took the city. The Dutch government did not surrender, and Britain responded by carpet bombing Rotterdam until the Netherlands surrendered and were replaced with a fascist puppet government. Germany managed to send a large force to try to stop the British invasion, and they pushed the British back at Rheinberg, but the British stopped the counter-attack at Nijmegen.
Italy also invades France from the South. The fighting there is substantial but costly to Italy, as they have inferior naval and air force and are fighting in the mountains. France constantly bombs the Italian army and parts of Northwestern Italy to cripple their army and economy by exploiting their aerial superiority. However, because the French send a limited number of troops, they still lose ground, and mange to gain control of Marseilles. France, along with some naval support from Britain and Spain, launches a major blockade of Italy, further trying to cripple their economy.
While far away from Europe in the south. Fall of Gibraltar occurs by an Axis fleet and a Spanish army which takes the town easily.
A huge battle occurred in Brussels from October 1939 through May 1940, and it would be one of the deadliest in the war. The Germans who besieged the city had inferior air power, and the Axis often dropped food and supplies to the soldiers, while bombing German supply lines. Germany did, however, gain aerial superiority in March of 1940, and used these two weeks to their advantage, constantly bombing the city and dropping poison gas into it. Field Marshal Francois de la Rocque gave orders to the French, Belgian, Canadian, and British armies in Brussels to cease defending all sides of the city, and instead to have all forces attack the Germans who were South of the city, hoping to eventually cut off the Germans from their supply lines. This attack allowed both sides to get what they wanted in May. Germany gained control of Brussels, but the Axis caused major casualties and ended up in good position. In August, the Germans attacked southwards, hoping to enter classic French territory, but at the Battle of Mons the French managed to fight back and ensure that the Germans could not enter France. Western Front was now about 200 miles long, and most of the fighting was within Holland and Belgium, and out of France, which gave an advantage to the Axis in terms of production. This was especially true because of work camps used by France and Britain in which they had Communists, Jews and other minorities forced to work as slaves in order to produce weaponry and food quickly.
As Germany saw success in Belgium, Britain began to withdraw troops from the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, there had been victories on both sides, but more importantly, there had been large casualties. With the withdrawal of some of the British troops in favor of the Balgian section, Germany launched a major assault of the British lines at the Battle of Tilburg, and managed to breach through quickly, making a major push further towards Rotterdam. The front in the Netherlands seemed to be collapsing, and Mosley gave orders to abandon the Dutch front by 1941, and instead send all troops to fight alongside France. As troops left Belgium, they implemented a scorched earth policy, burning cities relentlessly and using guerrilla tactics to wear out the German army as the British retreated. However, Germany continued their advance with large casualties, and forced the British to evacuate the Netherlands through the Hague and Amsterdam. From there, they were sent to the smaller and more escalated front in Belgium and France, at which they arrived in November. Germany soon attempted to increase the size of the front and break into France and gained a path into France by winning the Battle of Luxembourg. France, which had already invaded Lorraine, managed to keep control of Thionville, causing France to restrict Germany to expand the front.
In Southern France, Italy continued their invasion of France. France managed to hold Italy off from advancing far into Southern France at the Battle of Avignon, though the battle was fought primarily by Spanish soldiers. Another French victory at Valence forced the fighting back into the mountains, where the French were able to hold off the Italians but did not try to gain back ground, or even the Southern Coast. Instead, they blockaded Marseilles, Nice, Genoa, Rome, and Naples, which dented the Italian economy and their ability to easily send supplies to the front. However, Italy managed to keep their control of the Adriatic sea following naval victories at Leuca and Taranto. The Axis continued bombings in Italy. Though North Africa was the focus of Italy, Spain, and Portugal, the axis made plans for invasions of Corsica, Sicily and Sardinia. They chose Sicily, and purposefully leaked plans for an invasion of Sardinia, and began a blockade of Sardinia to continue to make it seem like the Axis would invade Sardinia.
By the beginning of 1941, the main front of Europe was on the German-French border and within Belgium. However, now that all troops were concentrated on one front, the Germans had a slight advantage. Germany knew that they had the capacity to launch a major offensive into France, and had at least five different plans. In the end, they decided to focus on taking Paris from the North by launching a major offensive from Mons. This offensive, known as Operation: Platzregen planned on having three groups attack towards Paris, one taking the straight path, another west through Arras and Amiens, and the last east through Reims. They called upon Russian troops to protect the border in Alsace and Lorraine while the invasion occurred through Belgium. When the invasion began, it prompted a battle at Arras, which the Germans won, but with some casualties. Immediately after the city fell, the French bombed Arras, killing several of their own people but also German soldiers, and limiting German supplies. This caused the failure of one German invading group when it lost the Battle of Couin, forcing them to retreat and eventually join with the direct group. Meanwhile, the direct group besieged Saint-Quentin, but as they feared the same result with that city as with Arras, they decided to merely continue past the city and let it surrender when it runs out of food. Three weeks later, they won the Battle of Noyon, but French propaganda was being spread throughout German-controlled sections of France, and an uprising occurred in Saint Quentin. The French and British had already prepared fully for a battle at Compiegne, and as the Germans engaged them there, a giant battle ensued for two weeks. The battle had large casualties, but was an Axis victory. A German retreat occurred, though they won the Battle of Laon and began another invasion, which failed at Soissons. The one invading force which somewhat succeeded was the Eastern one. The Germans there continued the invasion, and won the Battle of Reims and the Battle of Meaux. However, on the outskirts of Paris, the Battle of Creteil, the Axis won another very large battle, which had one of the largest casualty counts of any in the war. The Battle was also a turning point in the war. While the German invasion occurred, France launched an offensive into Alsace-Lorraine, which was under protected, and took over Strasbourg.
On the Italian Front, Spain, Portugal, Britain, and France use Algeria and Tunisia as a base for an amphibious invasion of Sicily. This catches the Italian army greatly off guard, and after the landings at Sciacca and Marsala in April, the Axis occupies the whole island. This sparks a major uprising in Italy, and an election is held in Italy. Meanwhile, France launches a large offensive, recapturing Marseilles and Cannes, and they continued bombings of Italian cities, including a massive gas bombing of Milan, which killed nearly 1 million people. The election saw a new party, the National Liberal Party, win a plurality of seats. The party was anti-war, and had gained a lot of support following the losses in the war to France, Spain, and Portugal. It intended on making a treaty of peace with the Axis, but it did not have a majority. It formed a minority government, and immediately requested an armistice. The authorization of the armistice passed thanks to the support of the Italian Fascist Party, which was led by Benito Mussolini. Pietro Badoglio, the main general for Italy and new Prime Minister, requested an armistice with the axis. In November of 1941, the armistice was signed by Badoglio and Italian Front general Joseph Darnand from France. In January 1942, Italy reached a peace treaty with the Axis. The peace treaty gave Corsica, Sardinia, Tunisia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and the area in France which it gave up in WWI. It gave Libya, Malta, and Somaliland to Britain. Italy payed back French reparations following World War I, and also gave Britain, Spain, and Portugal smaller amounts of reparations. Finally, Italy agreed to have Albania, Montenegro, and its part of former Serbia become an independent country called the Balkan Federation. In return, Italy maintained its independence, democratic government, and control of Sicily and Slovenia.
With no more Italian front, the Axis now had a major advantage over the Allies in the main European Front. However, Germany saw this, and agreed to fund and provide military support for an IRA coup of Ireland, so long as the IRA would then ignite war with the United Kingdom. The plan changed to be an attempt to take over Northern Ireland and rename it the Republic of Ireland, so as to possibly not get Ireland involved. After a successful raid on an Air force base, the IRA had control of some British planes, and soon took over Enniskillen and some surrounding land. Support of the IRA grew within Northern Ireland, and as a result, several laws were put in place discriminating against Irish people, and a British genocide of Irish people began. As the laws were put in place, anti-British sentiment grew within Ireland and North Ireland, and people began to join the IRA as it captured all of the British land South of the Erne. As the British began to send troops in, support for the pro-British government in Ireland wavered, and an anti-British (IRA) government was elected. Britain invaded Ireland, hoping to claim it for the British people, hoping to continue the Irish genocide. A major death camp was built at Dungannon in Northern Ireland, while work camps were built in Ballymena, Athlone, Kildare, and Waterford. The British took Dublin back, then much of the east of Ireland. The IRA government was moved to Galway, where it would be bombed to death. The British crushed the rebellion by early 1943, but it provided another front so that Germany had less troops to deal with.
Meanwhile, there was a lot of fighting on the main European Front. The French, British, Portuguese, and Spanish forces pushed the British out of Paris and back into Belgium in what the French troops joked was the German military operation, Operation:Retreat. The Germans, however, launched their first major counterattack at the border of Belgium and France, at the Battle of Maubeuge, which was an Axis victory but caused severe casualties. The Rhineland invasion, led by Lord Erskine, continued to make progress by taking the Saar and Manheim. However, as the force began to approach Frankfurt, the Germans decided to pull out of Belgium and focus on protecting the Rhine. They decided to salvage what they could from cities then use scorched earth tactics during their retreat from Belgium. The axis responded by bombing the Netherlands and Eastern Belgium, and at the Battle of Huy they managed to engage a lot of the retreating Germans, defeat them greatly, and bomb their salvaged supplies. Though Germany wanted to make the front smaller, the Axis responded by continuing north of Belgium into the Netherlands, which again surrendered. They then had a closer path to the Ruhr area, which was such an important industrial section.
In 1942, The Axis leaders met in Porto, Portugal, to discuss war strategy and strategy after the war. They agreed to only accept unconditional surrender from Germany and China, though they would be fine with a negotiated peace with Russia. They also agreed to expand Popular Nationalism after the war, and agreed to a division of German colonies after the war.
In Early 1943, Britain had successfully conquered Ireland, and was using Irish people as slaves and working them to death. The UK no longer had to fight in Ireland, and many troops returned to the main European front. As they arrived, the front had become completely within Germany. However, in the South, Germany won the Battle of Darmstadt in February, and had pushed the Axis troops back. In April, however, the Axis won the Battle of Manheim, and caused severe damage to the Allied troops in the south of the front. By May, Mainz and Darmstadt were recaptured by the Axis, and they besieged Frankfurt starting in June. They launched an assault on Frankfurt in July, and they took the city.
Meanwhile, the North of the front saw even more fighting. Following several small losses at Aachen, Rheinbach, Erkelenz, and Duren, the Allies fortified the Ruhr area as much as they could, hoping to protect it and betting that the Axis would attack there. Instead, the Axis forces, led by J.F.C. Fuller, invaded at Koln, taking it in April, and intended to go up the Rhine to the Ruhr area. In May, the Battle of Dusseldorf was one of the deadliest in the war, but the Allies retreated out of the Ruhr area, causing a retreat. Essen fell later that month, and the Axis then began a massive offensive towards Berlin.
They began by carpetbombing Munich and Nuremburg, turning opinion against the German government among some of the people, while destroying a large production location. Two army groups lead the Campaign towards Berlin, the Northern one led by J.F.C. Fuller and the Southern led by Francois de la Rocque. The German army had mostly been demolished, and they barely fought back as they retreated. Soon they favored a policy of the German "Final Stand", and had preparations for a final stand in Weimar, so they fortified the city, prepared it for battle, and retreated. In the Battle, the German army was able to win due to the shocking use of the majority of their remaining force and their preparation, though this had a large number of casualties. However, the remaining German army was unable to fend off the Northern Axis armies, which reached Berlin on November 11, 1943, and Germany surrendered unconditionally on that day.
At the beginning of the war, Spain launched an invasion of Morocco, though it had help form the other European Axis countries. The invasion met its first defense by the Germans at the Battle of Sidi Slimane, which Spain wins. Italy attempts to send forces to help, but loses the naval Battle of Melilla, and is unable to send troops to the front. Germany is able to send more air force, and as a result they are able to gain aerial supremacy on the front. However, they are so outnumbered on the front by the Spanish that they are unable to stop the fall of Fes, which they decide to firebomb as soon as it falls. The German troops deicde to retreat to Rabat, the capital of the colony, though they continue bombings of Spanish Morocco and the Canary Islands. However, the British Navy manages to blockade the ports of Rabat and Casablanca. In October of 1939, the Axis captures Rabat, and German Morocco surrenders that month.
In the first month of the war, France, Belgium, and Portugal agreed to launch a joint invasion of German Congo. Once France gained enough troops from Europe to cross the Congo River from the North and take Brazzaville in July while Boma fell to Portugal two days later. German Congo, not including the associated protectorate of Ruanda-Urundi, surrendered, and France assumed control of the colony by arguing to Portugal that it rightfully belongs to Belgium, which it had annexed.
Meanwhile, Kenya is invaded by both Germany and Italy. Germany began by attempting to blockade Mombasa to restrict the access of the British army to the front. However, the British navy greatly outnumbered the German navy in the area, and greatly damaged the German navy in the Eastern African Front, by winning the naval battles at Mombasa and Malindi. As a result, the German and Italian invasions did advance, with Germany taking Nairobi in November, but the British held firm on the coast of the Indian Ocean, in addition to the coast of Lake Victoria thanks to Ugandan troops. In December, the British navy proceeded to blockade Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar, which limited the German ability to import troops to the front. Though Germany made gains, their military power slowly dwindled.
Also in 1939, Italy, Germany, and even Russia began invading the French possessions in North Africa, beginning in Tunisia. They landed at Kelibia, and took the city. However, the Axis fought back with naval protections to many cities in Tunisia, including Tunis, Sfax, Bizerte, Gabes, and Sousse. This allowed the Axis to limit the amount of troops available for the Allies in North Africa. However, Italy's proximity and Allied focus on the front, they gained aerial supremacy and began bombing Tunisian cities, forts, and troops. This allowed the Allies to win the Battle of Grombalia, which was the largest African battle of the year, and they took Tunis in October, which caused French Tunisia to surrender. However, fighting would continue in Tunisia, as just after the Tunisian surrender, France passed the Anti-Defeatist Act, which stated that no colony under French control may surrender, giving permission to colonial governments to move their capitals to places that are held by the Axis, calling surrender treason, and requiring continued fighting in Tunisia, in addition to authorization of transportation of tanks to the front. Meanwhile, France constructs concentration camps for Jews in North Africa at Settat for Morocco and Ghardaia.
In the North African Front, 1940 saw a large amount of fighting and was the main focus of Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Italy continued their gains on the coast, pushing west over the border into Algeria, though the Axis troops continued to fight in the South. The Axis, however, noticed that even if they blockaded cities in Tunisia, Italian troops could still be dropped in by parachute or sent through Tripoli. French General Alphonse Juin, in charge of the North African front and one of the top Axis commanders, proposed Operation: Redwall, in which the Axis would use their ships from the Italian Front and the North African front to blockade Italy, thus helping the Axis on both fronts. However, this ended up helping the Italian Front more than the North African front, and the Allies took Constantine in May. Juin came up with a new plan, code named Operation: Condor, which was to begin a scorched earth policy in Algeria, especially destroying sources of water, while keeping control of the fertile coast. This policy would allow the Allies in North Africa to lose troops to dehydration and the sun, and when the summer ended in October, the French would be better prepared. With this plan, the French were forced to hold the fertile North at all costs. As the Italians captured more of Southern Algeria, more of their supplies were required to be diverted there and more soldiers died. France held its ground at the large Battle of Setif, which allowed it to secure its control over the North of the country. However, in early September, Italy had secured all of Southern Algeria and had a small group continuing in the Sahara. Italy found a break in the French fortifications, and the Battle of Mascara sees the Italians have a victory. In November, Spain manages to launch a large naval invasion of Annaba, allowing it to reach behind the Italian lines. Italy recalls troops from Western Algeria, and the French troops advance west. As the Italians withdraw, the Axis regain all of Algeria, though the Allies manage to reassemble in Tunisia, culminating in the Battle of El Kef, a major Italian counterattack, which the Axis win in the deadliest African battle of the war, beginning on Christmas Eve and ending on New Years' day.
In Kenya, the fighting has much less troops and focus than in North Africa. Germany fails to send more troops to the front due to the British naval superiority in the area. However, as Germany and Italy occupy all but the coast and the border with Uganda, the Allies consider their options. They decide to attack Uganda, hoping the British will not want to forfeit a colony. However, they are shocked to lose the Battle of Kisumu, and are unable to take control of the strategic port on Lake Victoria. The Allies next consider sending enough ships and air force to finally end British naval supremacy, but this is killed by the German government, and Italy was more focused on North Africa. In July, Italy withdrew its forces, pillaging towns and cities during their march back to Somalia, and they decided to move their troops, supplies, planes, and tanks to North Africa, where their main focus was. This caused Germany eventually to cave in, and retreat to Tanganyika. With the front no longer important, Britain withdrew many of its ships, allowing German supplies and troops to be transported to other fronts.