133rd Armoured Division Littorio
133rd Armoured Division Littorio or 133° Divisione Corazzata Littorio was an armoured division of the Italian Army during World War II. The division was formed in 1939 from the Infantry Division Littorio that had part in the Spanish Civil War. It was a unit during the invasion of France when it attacked through the Little St Bernard Pass. It took part in the Invasion of Yugoslavia, fighting at Mostar and it was sent to North Africa in the spring of 1942 where it fought until it was destroyed at the Second battle of El Alamein in November 1942. During the Italian invasion of France, the Italian forces numbered about 700,000 troops, while they enjoyed a huge numerical superiority to the French, they had several deficiencies. The Italian armoured regiments from the Littorio had between 150 to 250 L3/35 tanks each, but these vehicles were often classified as tankettes and were little more than lightly armoured machine-gun carriers not suited for modern warfare. On 20 June, the Italian campaign began and on 21 June, one force attempted to advance through the Alps and another force attempted to advance along the Mediterranean coast towards Nice.
Initially, the Italian offensive enjoyed a level of success. The French defensive lines on the Italian border were weakened due to French High Command shuffling forces to fight the Germans, some French mountain units had been sent to Norway. However, the Italian offensive soon stalled at the fortified Alpine Line in the Alps region, the attack through the Little Saint Bernard Pass in the Alps had to stop due to a massive snow storm. The Division was part of the Italian Second Army that faced the Yugoslavian Seventh Army, the Italians encountered limited resistance and occupied parts of Slovenia and the coast of Dalmatia. The Littorio was never intended for operations, but due to the situation in the western desert in Libya. The second Italian armoured division Ariete Division, was already in the desert, the first units of the Littorio arrived in Tripoli, the capital and major port of Libya, in early January 1942, but had to wait until March for the complete division to arrive. Notably the Semovente da 75/18 self-propelled gun had equipped the Littorio a somewhat wider tactical repertoire, by April, the division had reached Benghazi, but the division’s transport had been diverted to carry much needed supplies to combat units at the Gazala line.
Littorio did not participate in the Battle of Gazala, though British accounts usually include its troop, a small battlegroup arrived at the front on 20 June, and participated in the attack on Tobruk. The division was a part of the force at Mersa Matruh. In this advance the division was harassed by the Desert Air Force, as all the Axis formations were, by the time it reached El Alamein its armour had been lost. 90th Light was to north to cut the coastal road and trap the Alamein box defenders
The Tunisian Campaign was a series of battles that took place in Tunisia during the North African Campaign of the Second World War, between Axis and Allied forces. The Allies consisted of British Imperial Forces, including Polish and Greek contingents, with American, the battle opened with initial success by the German and Italian forces but the massive supply interdiction efforts led to the decisive defeat of the Axis. Over 230,000 German and Italian troops were taken as prisoners of war, the first two years of the war in North Africa were characterised by chronic supply shortages and transport problems. The North African coast has few natural harbours and the British base at Alexandria on the Nile delta was some 2,100 km by road from the main Italian port at Tripoli in Libya. Smaller ports at Benghazi and Tobruk were 1,050 km and 640 km west of Alexandria on the Litoranea Balbo running along a corridor along the coast. The chronic difficulty in the supply of military forces in the led to several indecisive victories by both sides and long fruitless advances along the coast.
The Italian invasion of Egypt by the 10th Army in 1940, advanced 97 km into Egypt, the Western Desert Force fought a delaying action as it fell back to Mersa Matruh, began Operation Compass, a raid and counter-attack into Libya. The 10th Army was destroyed and the WDF occupied El Agheila, the Eighth Army was soon pushed back to Gazala west of Tobruk and at the Battle of Gazala in May 1942, the Axis pushed them all the way back to El Alamein, only 160 km from Alexandria. In 1942, the Royal Navy and Italian Navy were still disputing the Mediterranean, large quantities of supplies became available to the British from the United States and the supply situation of the Eighth Army eventually resolved. With the Eighth Army no longer constrained, the Axis were driven westwards from Egypt following the Second Battle of El Alamein in November 1942. Because of the nearness of Sicily to Tunisia, the Allies expected that the Axis would move to occupy the country as soon as heard of the Torch landings. To forestall this, it would be necessary to occupy Tunisia as quickly as possible after the landings were made, Algiers was accordingly chosen for the most easterly landings.
This would ensure the success of the landings in spite of uncertainty as to how the incumbent French forces would react. This meant that at Algiers the disembarkation of mobile forces for an advance to Tunisia would necessarily be delayed, at the end of November, naval Force K was reformed in Malta with three cruisers and four destroyers and Force Q formed in Bône with three cruisers and two destroyers. No Axis ships sailing to Tunis were sunk in November but the Allied naval forces had success in early December sinking seven Axis transports. However, this too late to affect the fighting on land because the armoured elements of 10th Panzer Division had already arrived. To counter the threat, Axis convoys were switched to daylight when they could be protected by air cover. Night convoys resumed on completion of the extension of Axis minefields which severely restricted the activities of Force K, Tunisia is rectangular, with its northern and much of its eastern boundary on the Mediterranean coast
Tripoli is the capital city and the largest city of Libya. Tripoli, with its area, has a population of about 1.1 million people. The city is located in the part of Libya on the edge of the desert, on a point of rocky land projecting into the Mediterranean. Tripoli includes the Port of Tripoli and the countrys largest commercial and it is the site of the University of Tripoli. The vast Bab al-Azizia barracks, which includes the family estate of Muammar Gaddafi, is located in the city. Colonel Gaddafi largely ruled the country from his residence in this barracks, Tripoli was founded in the 7th century BC by the Phoenicians, who named it Oea. Due to the long history, there are many sites of archaeological significance in Tripoli. Tripoli may refer to the shabiyah, the Tripoli District, Tripoli is known as Tripoli-of-the-West, to distinguish it from its Phoenician sister city Tripoli, Lebanon known in Arabic as Ṭarābulus al-Sham meaning Levantine Tripoli. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean, describing its turquoise waters, Tripoli English pronunciation, /ˈtrɪpəli/ is a Greek name that means Three Cities, introduced in Western European languages through the Italian Tripoli.
In Arabic, طرابلس it is called Ṭarābulus, compare Sanskrit, tri meaning the number 3, and pura meaning a fortress, city or town. Hence, in Sanskrit Tripura means Three Cities, the city passed into the hands of the rulers of Cyrenaica, although the Carthaginians wrested it from the Greeks. By the half of the 2nd century BC it belonged to the Romans, who included it in their province of Africa, and gave it the name of Regio Syrtica. Around the beginning of the 3rd century AD, it known as the Regio Tripolitana. It was probably raised to the rank of a province by Septimius Severus. In spite of centuries of Roman habitation, the only visible Roman remains, apart from scattered columns, the fact that Tripoli has been continuously inhabited, unlike e. g. Following the conquest, Tripoli was ruled by dynasties based in Cairo, for some time it was a part of the Berber Almohad empire and of the Hafsids kingdom. It was part of the Ottoman Empire between the 16th and 19th centuries, finding themselves in very hostile territory, the Knights enhanced the citys walls and other defenses.
Though built on top of a number of buildings, much of the earliest defensive structures of the Tripoli castle are attributed to the Knights of St John
A corps is a military unit usually consisting of several divisions. Some military service branches are called corps, such as the Military Police Corps, Royal Logistic Corps, Quartermaster Corps, a few civilian organizations use the name corps to imply a similar service level, such as the Peace Corps. In many armies, a corps is a formation composed of two or more divisions, and typically commanded by a lieutenant general. During World War I and World War II, due to the scale of combat. In Western armies with numbered corps, the number is indicated in Roman numerals. II Corps was formed, with Militia units, to defend south-eastern Australia, sub-corps formations controlled Allied land forces in the remainder of Australia. I Corps headquarters was assigned control of the New Guinea campaign. In early 1945, when I Corps was assigned the task of re-taking Borneo, the Canadian Corps consisted of four Canadian divisions. After the Armistice, the peacetime Canadian militia was organized into corps and divisions.
Early in the Second World War, Canadas contribution to the British-French forces fighting the Germans was limited to a single division, after the fall of France in June 1940, a second division moved to England, coming under command of a Canadian corps headquarters. This corps was renamed I Canadian Corps as a corps headquarters was established in the UK. I Canadian Corps eventually fought in Italy, II Canadian Corps in NW Europe, after the formations were disbanded after VE Day, Canada has never subsequently organized a Corps headquarters. The Chinese Republic had 133 Corps during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Corps became the basic tactical unit of the NRA having strength nearly equivalent to an allied Division. The French Army under Napoleon used corps-sized formations as the first formal combined-arms groupings of divisions with reasonably stable manning, Napoleon first used the Corps dArmée in 1805. The use of the Corps dArmée was an innovation that provided Napoleon with a significant battlefield advantage in the early phases of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Corps was designed to be an independent military group containing cavalry and infantry and this allowed Napoleon to mass the bulk of his forces to effect a penetration into a weak section of enemy lines without risking his own communications or flank. This innovation stimulated other European powers to adopt similar military structures, the Corps has remained an echelon of French Army organization to the modern day. As fixed military formation already in peace-time it was used almost in all European armies after Battle of Ulm in 1805, in Prussia it was introduced by Order of His Majesty from November 5,1816, in order to strengthen the readiness to war
102nd Motorised Division Trento
The 102nd Motorised Division Trento was a motorised infantry division of the Italian Army during World War II. It was formed in 1939 and kept in reserve in Italy until it was moved to North Africa in February 1941 and it took part in Axis attacks across North Africa, following the Allied Operation Compass and suffered heavy losses at Tobruk. The division was reformed and took part in all of the major battles of the Western Desert Campaign until it was destroyed during the Second Battle of El Alamein. The offensive resulted in the destruction of the Italian Tenth Army, the Trento took part in the Axis counterattack of March 1941 that forced the British and Commonwealth forces into retreat. These moves initiated the 240-day-long Siege of Tobruk, in which the Trento was involved and he used the 132 Armoured Division Ariete along with the 62 Sicilia Infantry Regiment of the Trento division. A British communiqué on 17 April 1941 described the actions, One of our patrols successfully penetrated an enemy position outside the defences of Tobruk capturing 7 Italian officers and 139 men, a further attack on the defences of Tobruk was repulsed by artillery fire.
The enemy again suffered heavy casualties, during yesterdays operations a total of 25 officers and 767 of other ranks were captured. In addition over 200 enemy dead were left on the field, the 2/43rd Battalion War Diary reported that The Italians attacked our 48 Bn and whilst withdrawing they were fired upon by German tanks believed to be supporting the attack. The Australians sent out Bren-gun carriers specifically to find the Italian battalions flank, the extra firepower finally stopped the Italians, and all firing ceased. Italian casualties turned out to be 24 dead,112 wounded and 436 prisoners and he was so furious at having his unit shot up from behind by supporting German tanks that he fully cooperated with Tobruk Headquarters. An intelligence assessment by the 2/43rd Battalion concluded that, Reports from PW indicate that an attack was to have been launched on the Tobruk defences on or about 16 April 41. There appears to have been no co-ordination between enemy tanks and inf units, on the night of 30 April, a strong Italo-German force attacks the Tobruk defences, and the Ariete, Brescia, 8th Bersaglieri Regiment and Guastatori involved capture seven strongpoints.
With the obstacles removed, the Brescia troops involved, who bring flame-thrower parties and tanks, capture the S8, S9 and S10 strongpoints. The Australians fight back and the Commanding Officer of the Guastatoris, Colonel Emilio Caizzo is killed in a satchel attack, although the Australian Official History admits losing three positions, it claims the attackers were Germans. However, an Italian narrative has recorded, With great skill, side by side with the Brescia assault troops they inflict heavy losses on the enemy and take out further strong points with explosives and flamethrowers. Australian military historian Mark Johnston states there was an unwillingness to acknowledge reverses against Italians in Australian official accounts, the Australian commander is furious and orders the Australians to be far more vigilant in the future. On 24 May, the Brescia Division which has taken over the front of Tobruk, repels an attacking infantry force. On 2 August, another attack is launched to recover the lost strongpoints, the Trento in the form of its 7th Bersaglieri Regiment soon arrives to replace the weary Italian forces defending the captured stronpoints, and the Australians continue to fight hard to recover them
21st Panzer Division (Wehrmacht)
On 2 March 1941 the first 88 mm dual purpose guns arrived and provided much needed firepower. As a result, the British Eighth Army fell back, the fighting had taken its toll on the division, with the 15th and 21st Panzer only able to field 44 tanks between them. Four-fifths of their vehicles had been captured when they crossed into Egypt. The British prepared a new position at Mersa Matruh. 21st Panzer was used to sweep behind the British XIII Corps, the British were defeated and fell back to a new line at El Alamein. In a series of battles fought in July, the Eighth Army was able to stop the advance of the Afrika Korps at the First Battle of El Alamein, shortages in equipment and fuel limited further actions. Rommel made a last effort to break through the British positions on 31 August at the Battle of Alam el Halfa, on 23 October, the British offensive and the Second Battle of El Alamein began. The Germans were overwhelmed and 21st Panzer was reduced to four tanks by 7 November. During the long retreat to Tunisia, the 21st Panzer fought the rear guard actions, on 21 December, von Randow was killed.
By the time it reached Tunis, 21st Panzer had ceased to exist as a unit and was split up into Battle Groups Pfeiffer. They were subsequently renamed Battle Groups Stenkhoff and Schuette, which part in the Battle of Kasserine Pass. Major General Von Hulsen surrendered the remnants of the division on 13 May 1943, in France, the division was reconstituted in June 1943, where it remained for rehabilitation and garrison duty until the Allied landings at Normandy. The new divisions commander was Oberst Edgar Feuchtinger who was promoted to Generalmajor on 1 August 1943 and it was heavily engaged in the fighting at the Normandy beachheads, being the only Panzer division to engage the Allies on the first day. It was thought that a number of these formations would be set up in France, each with greater mobility, German industry was unable to provide the vehicles for these units, and only a single brigade was formed, known as Schnelle Brigade West. This was largely fitted out with captured French halftracks and light tanks that had been armoured and up-gunned by an engineer by the name of Alfred Becker.
Working at a facility near Paris called Baukommando Becker, Becker provided the unit with most of its transport. Major Becker was assigned the command of the assault gun battalion. The division was under the command of Rommel, who was responsible for German forces from the Netherlands to the Loire, Rommel had been away from the front during the first days of the invasion on leave to visit his family, he re-assumed command on 9 June
Battle of Gazala
The Battle of Gazala was fought during the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War, west of the port of Tobruk in Libya, from 26 May to 21 June 1942. Axis troops of the Panzerarmee Afrika, consisted of German and Italian units, Allied forces, were mainly British, South African and Free French. The Axis distracted the British with an attack in the north. The advance succeeded, but the defence of the French garrison of Bir Hakeim, at the end of the line, left the Axis with a long. The Eighth Army counter-attack, Operation Aberdeen, was poorly co-ordinated and defeated in detail, many tanks were lost, the British withdrew from the Gazala Line and the Axis troops overran Tobruk in a day. Rommel exploited the success by pursuing the British into Egypt, denying them time to recover from the defeat, as both sides neared exhaustion, the Eighth Army managed to check the Axis advance at the First Battle of El Alamein. The battle is considered the greatest victory of Rommels career, but Operation Herkules, the British managed to supply Malta and revived it as a base for attacks on Axis convoys to Libya, greatly complicating Axis supply difficulties at El Alamein.
Following Operation Crusader, in late 1941, the British Eighth Army had relieved Tobruk, in an appreciation made in January 1942, Auchinleck alluded to an Axis fighting strength of 35,000 men, when the true figure was about 80,000. The Eighth Army expected to be ready by February and GHQ Cairo believed that the Axis would be too weak, on 21 January, Rommel sent out three strong armoured columns to make a tactical reconnaissance. Finding only the thinnest of screens, Rommel changed his reconnaissance into an offensive, recaptured Benghazi on 28 January and Timimi on 3 February. By 6 February, the British had fallen back to a line from Gazala to Bir Hakeim, the British had 1,309 casualties from 21 January, lost 42 tanks knocked out, another 30 through damage and breakdowns and 40 field guns. Between Gazala and Timimi, just west of Tobruk, the Eighth Army was able to concentrate its forces sufficiently to turn and fight. The Gazala Line was a series of defensive boxes accommodating a brigade each, laid out across the desert behind minefields and wire, watched by regular patrols between the boxes.
The Free French were to the south at the Bir Hakeim box,21 km south of the 150th Infantry Brigade box, which was 9.7 km south of the 69th Infantry Brigade box. Behind the Gazala Line were defensive boxes known as Commonwealth Keep or Hill 209 at Ras El Madauur on Tobruks main defensive line, Knightsbridge,19 km south of Acroma and El Adem, sited to block tracks and junctions. A box at Retma was finished just before the Axis offensive, the British received new equipment, including 167 Lend-Lease M3 Grant tanks equipped with 75 mm guns, and large numbers of 6-pounder anti-tank guns. Rommel thought that Allied minefields ended well north of Bir Hakeim, Army commanders lost the power to direct air operations, which was reserved for the air commanders. A new fighter-bomber concept was developed and Air Vice-Marshal Arthur Coningham, commander of the DAF, moved his headquarters to the Eighth Army HQ to improve communication
90th Light Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)
The 90th Light Infantry Division was a light infantry division of the German Army during World War II that served in North Africa as well as Sardinia and Italy. It was re-constituted in 1943 and deployed to Sardinia and when the expected Allied invasion of Sardinia failed to materialise and it was engaged in actions against the Allies in Italy from 1943 to September 1944 when the division was listed as destroyed south of Bologna. On 26 June 1941, the OKH ordered the creation of a Division HQ staff for Kommando zbV Afrika in Germany, the planned division was intended for deployment to Africa to re-balance, and add infantry troops to the DAK deployed in the Western Desert. The formation headquarters was sent to Africa between late August and mid September 1941 and deployed to command the Sollum area with the first units being attached on 15 October 1941. On 20 October more units were attached and the troops were expanded to full strength with the division becoming known as Division z. b. V. This unit was formed in Potsdam in 1941 from specialist soldiers with experience in the deserts of the Middle East.
Two battalions from Sonderverbande 288 and one locally recruited Arab battalion were amalgamated to form the 155th Rifle Regiment within the division. The 361st Regiment contained 300 legionnaires were had been selected by the Germans from the French Foreign Legion, training was completed in the Bardia area and the division was earmarked by Rommel to lead the attack on Tobruk. On 28 November 1941, the formation was renamed 90. leichte Afrika Division and it fought for the remainder of the North African Campaign, finally surrendering to the Allies in the end of the Tunisia Campaign in May 1943. It was regarded apparently by the 2nd New Zealand Division, commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir Bernard C, freyberg VC, as their special foe, as the two formations faced each other on several occasions. General Graf von Sponecks 90th Light Division insisted on giving up to the New Zealanders, as with the other units of the Afrika Korps, replacement units were quickly raised from available troops stationed in Western Europe.
As such, the Africa Division was reconstituted as the 90th Panzergrenadier Division in Sardinia during July 1943, evacuated from Corsica with the Sturmbrigade Reichsführer SS to the Italian mainland in October 1943, the division appeared opposite both the Americans and British as they pushed north. It was nearly wiped out in the bitter fighting with the 1st Canadian Infantry Division along the Moro River in late November 1943. A short time it was withdrawn into reserve at Frosinone, shifted southeast from the Franco-Italian border in September 1944, 90th Grenadier was finally listed as destroyed in the fighting south of Bologna. The remainder of its personnel surrendered to the Brazilian Expeditionary Force in Italy in April 1945, the division formed part of the Afrika Korps during its deployment to North Africa. Foreign Legions of the Third Reich, Volume 1, Denmark, Western Desert Campaign List of German divisions in World War II
Werner von Fritsch
Werner, Freiherr von Fritsch was the commander-in-chief of the German Army from 1933 to 1938. He served in the German High Command, Fritsch was born in Benrath in the Rhine Province of the German Empire. He entered the Prussian Army at the age of 18, in 1901, in 1911, he was appointed to the German General Staff, where he served during World War I. During the interwar period, Fritsch served in the Weimar Republics Armed Forces, Fritsch declared he was totally opposed to seeing another black and gold cur as Chancellor and wrote that he believed that Germany was being ruined by the propaganda of the Jewish papers. There may be small differences, but in the end it all amounts to the same. extreme disloyalty to the republic to which he had sworn an oath. As such, Fritsch who worked closely with the Soviet Union in secret rearmament favored a foreign policy. In 1928, Fritsch began work on the plan that became Fall Weiss and he was promoted to Major-General in 1932 by Kurt von Schleicher, who regarded him as a promising young officer.
Schleicher assigned Fritsch and Gerd von Rundstedt the duty of carrying out the Prussian coup that saw the Reichswehr oust the Social Democratic government of Prussia. In February 1934, when Blomberg ordered that all soldiers who might be considered Jewish be given dishonorable discharges, Fritsch made no objection, Fritsch ultimately betrayed the officer corps to the Führer by agreeing to this demand after consulting with his generals. He was named Commander-in-Chief of the Army in 1935, Fritsch supported the Nazi regime but he was antagonistic towards attempts to create rivals to the Army, especially the SS. Shirer recalled hearing Fritsch make sarcastic remarks about the SS, as well as several Nazi leaders from Hitler on down, at a parade in Saarbrücken. He was worried that Hitler would cause a war with the Soviet Union, like most of his fellow officers, given this compatibility of outlook, one may doubt whether Fritschs pronounced anti-Semitism reflected political naïveté as the historian Klaus-Jürgen Müller has asserted.
In 1936, when Blomberg was promoted to Field Marshal, Fritsch received promotion to Blombergs vacated rank of Colonel General, Fritsch was among the officers present at the Hossbach Conference in 1937 where Hitler announced that he wanted to go to war as early as 1938. He was very critical of this demand, as he knew the army was not ready, Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Göring—inspired by the resignation of Blomberg—accused the unmarried Fritsch of engaging in homosexual activity. Fritsch had never been a womaniser and had preferred to concentrate on his army career and he was forced to resign on 4 February 1938. His replacement—Walther von Brauchitsch—was recommended for the post by Fritsch, adolf Hitler took advantage of the situation through the replacement of several generals and ministers with Nazi loyalists, which strengthened his control of the German Armed Forces. It soon became known that the charges were false, and a court of officers examined the Blomberg–Fritsch Affair. The successful annexation of Austria into Greater Germany of 12 March silenced all critics of Hitler, Göring, Fritsch was acquitted on 18 March, but the damage to his name had been done
Nazi Germany is the common English name for the period in German history from 1933 to 1945, when Germany was governed by a dictatorship under the control of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Under Hitlers rule, Germany was transformed into a fascist state in which the Nazi Party took totalitarian control over all aspects of life. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich from 1933 to 1943, the period is known under the names the Third Reich and the National Socialist Period. The Nazi regime came to an end after the Allied Powers defeated Germany in May 1945, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by the President of the Weimar Republic Paul von Hindenburg on 30 January 1933. The Nazi Party began to eliminate all opposition and consolidate its power. Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934, and Hitler became dictator of Germany by merging the powers and offices of the Chancellery, a national referendum held 19 August 1934 confirmed Hitler as sole Führer of Germany. All power was centralised in Hitlers person, and his word became above all laws, the government was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of factions struggling for power and Hitlers favour.
In the midst of the Great Depression, the Nazis restored economic stability and ended mass unemployment using heavy military spending, extensive public works were undertaken, including the construction of Autobahnen. The return to economic stability boosted the regimes popularity, especially antisemitism, was a central feature of the regime. The Germanic peoples were considered by the Nazis to be the purest branch of the Aryan race, millions of Jews and other peoples deemed undesirable by the state were murdered in the Holocaust. Opposition to Hitlers rule was ruthlessly suppressed, members of the liberal and communist opposition were killed, imprisoned, or exiled. The Christian churches were oppressed, with many leaders imprisoned, education focused on racial biology, population policy, and fitness for military service. Career and educational opportunities for women were curtailed and tourism were organised via the Strength Through Joy program, and the 1936 Summer Olympics showcased the Third Reich on the international stage.
Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels made effective use of film, mass rallies, the government controlled artistic expression, promoting specific art forms and banning or discouraging others. Beginning in the late 1930s, Nazi Germany made increasingly aggressive territorial demands and it seized Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939. Hitler made a pact with Joseph Stalin and invaded Poland in September 1939. In alliance with Italy and smaller Axis powers, Germany conquered most of Europe by 1940, reichskommissariats took control of conquered areas, and a German administration was established in what was left of Poland. Jews and others deemed undesirable were imprisoned, murdered in Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the tide gradually turned against the Nazis, who suffered major military defeats in 1943