The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was united with the new Wehrmacht. At the end of World War I, the forces of the German Empire were disbanded, the men returning home individually or in small groups. Many of them joined the Freikorps, a collection of volunteer paramilitary units that were involved in suppressing the German Revolution and border clashes between 1918 and 1923; the Reichswehr was limited to a standing army of 100,000 men, a navy of 15,000. The establishment of a general staff was prohibited. Heavy weapons such as artillery above the calibre of 105 mm, armoured vehicles and capital ships were forbidden, as were aircraft of any kind. Compliance with these restrictions was monitored until 1927 by the Military Inter-Allied Commission of Control, it was conceded that the newly formed Weimar Republic did need a military, so on 6 March 1919 a decree established the Vorläufige Reichswehr, consisting of the Vorläufiges Reichsheer and Vorläufige Reichsmarine.
The Vorläufige Reichswehr was made up of 43 brigades. On 30 September 1919, the army was reorganised as the Übergangsheer, the force size was reduced to 20 brigades. About 400,000 men were left in the armed forces, in May 1920 it further was downsized to 200,000 men and restructured again, forming three cavalry divisions and seven infantry divisions. On 1 October 1920 the brigades were replaced by regiments and the manpower was now only 100,000 men as stipulated by the Treaty of Versailles; this lasted until 1 January 1921, when the Reichswehr was established according to the limitations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. The Reichswehr was a unified organisation composed of the following: The Reichsheer, an army consisted of: seven infantry divisions, three cavalry divisions. General Command 1 at Berlin supervised 1st Division, 2nd Division, 3rd Division, 4th Division as well as 1st and 2nd Cavalry Divisions. General Command 2 at Kassel supervised 5, 6, 7 and 3rd Cavalry divisions; the Reichsmarine, a navy with a limited number of certain types of ships and boats.
No submarines were allowed. Despite the limitations on its size, their analysis of the loss of World War I, research and development, secret testing abroad and planning for better times went on. In addition, although forbidden to have a General Staff, the army continued to conduct the typical functions of a general staff under the disguised name of Truppenamt. During this time, many of the future leaders of the Wehrmacht – such as Heinz Guderian – first formulated the ideas that they were to use so a few years later. In 1918, Wilhelm Groener, Quartermaster General of the German Army, had assured the government of the military's loyalty, but most military leaders refused to accept the democratic Weimar Republic as legitimate and instead the Reichswehr under the leadership of Hans von Seeckt became a state within the state that operated outside of the control of the politicians. Reflecting this position as a “state within the state”, the Reichswehr created the Ministeramt or Office of the Ministerial Affairs in 1928 under Kurt von Schleicher to lobby the politicians.
The German historian Eberhard Kolb wrote that …from the mid-1920s onwards the Army leaders had developed and propagated new social conceptions of a militarist kind, tending towards a fusion of the military and civilian sectors and a totalitarian military state. The biggest influence on the development of the Reichswehr was Hans von Seeckt, who served from 1920 to 1926 as Chef der Heeresleitung – succeeding Walther Reinhardt. After the Kapp Putsch, Hans von Seeckt took over this post. After Seeckt was forced to resign in 1926, Wilhelm Heye took the post. Heye was in 1930 succeeded by Kurt Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord, who submitted his resignation on 27 December 1933; the forced reduction of strength of the German army from 4,500,000 in 1918 to 100,000 after Treaty of Versailles, enhanced the quality of the Reichsheer because only the best were permitted to join the army. However the changing face of warfare meant that the smaller army was impotent without mechanization and air support, no matter how much effort was put into modernising infantry tactics.
During 1933 and 1934, after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, the Reichswehr began a secret program of expansion. In December 1933, the army staff decided to increase the active strength to 300,000 men in 21 divisions. On 1 April 1934, between 50,000 and 60,000 new recruits entered and were assigned to special training battalions; the original seven infantry divisions of the Reichswehr were expanded to 21 infantry divisions, with Wehrkreis headquarters increased to the size of a corps HQ on 1 October 1934. These divisions used cover names to hide their divisional size, during October 1935, these were dropped. During October 1934, the officers, forced to retire in 1919 were recalled; the Nazi Party came to power in Germany in 1933. The Sturmabteilung, the Nazi Party militia, played a prominent part in this change. Ernst Röhm and his SA colleagues thought of their force – at that time over three million strong – as the future army of Germany, replacing the smaller Reichswehr and
Corps is a term used for several different kinds of organisation. Within military terminology a corps may be: an operational formation, sometimes known as a field corps, which consists of two or more divisions, such as the Corps d'armée known as I Corps of Napoleon's Grande Armée); these usages overlap. Corps may be a generic term for a non-military organization, such as the U. S. Peace Corps. In many armies, a corps is a battlefield formation composed of two or more divisions, commanded by a lieutenant general. During World War I and World War II, due to the large scale of combat, multiple corps were combined into armies which formed into army groups. In Western armies with numbered corps, the number is indicated in Roman numerals; the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps was raised in 1914, consisting of Australian and New Zealand troops, who went on to fight at Gallipoli in 1915. In early 1916, the original corps was reorganised and two corps were raised: I ANZAC Corps and II ANZAC Corps. In the stages of World War I, the five infantry divisions of the First Australian Imperial Force —consisting of personnel who had volunteered for service overseas—were united as the Australian Corps, on the Western Front, under Lieutenant General Sir John Monash.
During World War II, the Australian I Corps was formed to co-ordinate three Second Australian Imperial Force units: the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions, as well as other Allied units on some occasions, in the North African campaign and Greek campaign. Following the commencement of the Pacific War, there was a phased withdrawal of I Corps to Australia, the transfer of its headquarters to the Brisbane area, to control Allied army units in Queensland and northern New South Wales. II Corps was formed, with Militia units, to defend south-eastern Australia, III Corps controlled land forces in Western 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, II Corps took over in New Guinea. Canada first fielded a corps-sized formation in the First World War; the Canadian Corps consisted of four Canadian divisions. After the Armistice, the peacetime Canadian militia was nominally organized into corps and divisions but no full-time formations larger than a battalion were trained or exercised.
Early in the Second World War, Canada's 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 second corps headquarters was established in the UK, with the eventual formation of five Canadian divisions in England. I Canadian Corps fought in Italy, II Canadian Corps in NW Europe, the two were reunited in early 1945. After the formations were disbanded after VE Day, Canada has never subsequently organized a Corps headquarters. Royal Canadian Army Cadets: A Corps size in the RCAC is different everywhere, depending on the size, the Commanding Officer can be a Captain or Major; the National Revolutionary Army Corps was a type of military organization used by the Chinese Republic, exercised command over two to three NRA Divisions and a number of Independent Brigades or Regiments and supporting units.
The Chinese Republic had 133 Corps during the Second Sino-Japanese War. After losses in the early part of the war, under the 1938 reforms, the remaining scarce artillery and the other support formations were withdrawn from the Division and was held at Corps, or Army level or higher; 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 and equipment establishments. Napoleon first used the Corps d'armée in 1805; the use of the Corps d'armée was a military 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, capable of defending against a numerically superior foe; 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 in peace-time it was used 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; the paramilitary forces of Pakistan's two main western provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are the Frontier Corps founded in 1907 during British Rule as at least three various organizations before being combined together. They are charged with guarding the country's wes
Dresden is the capital city and, after Leipzig, the second-largest city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated near the border with the Czech Republic. Dresden has a long history as the capital and royal residence for the Electors and Kings of Saxony, who for centuries furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendor, was once by personal union the family seat of Polish monarchs; the city was known as the Jewel Box, because of its baroque and rococo city centre. The controversial American and British bombing of Dresden in World War II towards the end of the war killed 25,000 people, many of whom were civilians, destroyed the entire city centre. After the war restoration work has helped to reconstruct parts of the historic inner city, including the Katholische Hofkirche, the Zwinger and the famous Semper Oper. Since German reunification in 1990 Dresden is again a cultural and political centre of Germany and Europe; the Dresden University of Technology is one of the 10 largest universities in Germany and part of the German Universities Excellence Initiative.
The economy of Dresden and its agglomeration is one of the most dynamic in Germany and ranks first in Saxony. It is dominated by high-tech branches called “Silicon Saxony”; the city is one of the most visited in Germany with 4.3 million overnight stays per year. The royal buildings are among the most impressive buildings in Europe. Main sights are the nearby National Park of Saxon Switzerland, the Ore Mountains and the countryside around Elbe Valley and Moritzburg Castle; the most prominent building in the city of Dresden is the Frauenkirche. Built in the 18th century, the church was destroyed during World War II; the remaining ruins were left for 50 years as a war memorial, before being rebuilt between 1994 and 2005. Dresden has nearly 560,000 inhabitants, the agglomeration is the largest in Saxony with 780,000 inhabitants. According to the Hamburgische Weltwirtschaftsinstitut and Berenberg Bank in 2017, Dresden has the fourth best prospects for the future of all cities in Germany. Although Dresden is a recent city of Germanic origin followed by settlement of Slavic people, the area had been settled in the Neolithic era by Linear Pottery culture tribes ca. 7500 BC.
Dresden's founding and early growth is associated with the eastward expansion of Germanic peoples, mining in the nearby Ore Mountains, the establishment of the Margraviate of Meissen. Its name etymologically derives from meaning people of the forest. Dresden evolved into the capital of Saxony. Around the late 12th century, a Slavic settlement called Drežďany had developed on the southern bank. Another settlement existed on the northern bank, it was known as Antiqua Dresdin by 1350, as Altendresden, both "old Dresden". Dietrich, Margrave of Meissen, chose Dresden as his interim residence in 1206, as documented in a record calling the place "Civitas Dresdene". After 1270, Dresden became the capital of the margraviate, it was given to Friedrich Clem after death of Henry the Illustrious in 1288. It was taken by the Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1316 and was restored to the Wettin dynasty after the death of Valdemar the Great in 1319. From 1485, it was the seat of the dukes of Saxony, from 1547 the electors as well.
The Elector and ruler of Saxony Frederick Augustus I became King Augustus II the Strong of Poland in 1697. He gathered many of the best musicians and painters from all over Europe to the newly named Royal-Polish Residential City of Dresden, his reign marked the beginning of Dresden's emergence as a leading European city for technology and art. During the reign of Kings Augustus II the Strong and Augustus III of Poland most of the city's baroque landmarks were built; these include the Zwinger Royal Palace, the Japanese Palace, the Taschenbergpalais, the Pillnitz Castle and the two landmark churches: the Catholic Hofkirche and the Lutheran Frauenkirche. In addition significant art collections and museums were founded. Notable examples include the Dresden Porcelain Collection, the Collection of Prints and Photographs, the Grünes Gewölbe and the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon. In 1726 there was a riot for two days after a Protestant clergyman was killed by a soldier who had converted from Catholicism.
In 1729, by decree of King Augustus II the first Polish Military Academy was founded in Dresden. In 1730, it was relocated to Warsaw. Dresden suffered heavy destruction in the Seven Years' War, following its capture by Prussian forces, its subsequent re-capture, a failed Prussian siege in 1760. Friedrich Schiller wrote his Ode to Joy for the Dresden Masonic lodge in 1785. During the decline of Poland Dresden was site of preparations for the Polish Kościuszko Uprising; the city of Dresden had a distinctive silhouette, captured in famous paintings by Bernardo Bellotto and by Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl. Between 1806 and 1918 the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Saxony. During the Napoleonic Wars the French emperor made it a base of operations, winning there the famous Battle of Dresden on 27 August 1813. Following the November Uprising many Poles, including writers Juliusz Słowacki, Stefan Florian Garczyński, Klementyna Hoffmanowa and composer Frédéric Chopin, fled from the Russian Partition of Poland to Dresden.
National poet Adam Mickiewicz stayed several months in Dresden, starting in March 1832. He wrote the poetic drama Dziady, P
World War I
World War I known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history, it is one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide. On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalist, assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the July Crisis. In response, on 23 July Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia. Serbia's reply failed to satisfy the Austrians, the two moved to a war footing. A network of interlocking alliances enlarged the crisis from a bilateral issue in the Balkans to one involving most of Europe.
By July 1914, the great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: the Triple Entente—consisting of France and Britain—and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. Russia felt it necessary to back Serbia and, after Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade on the 28th, partial mobilisation was approved. General Russian mobilisation was announced on the evening of 30 July; when Russia failed to comply, Germany declared war on 1 August in support of Austria-Hungary, with Austria-Hungary following suit on 6th. German strategy for a war on two fronts against France and Russia was to concentrate the bulk of its army in the West to defeat France within four weeks shift forces to the East before Russia could mobilise. On 2 August, Germany demanded free passage through Belgium, an essential element in achieving a quick victory over France; when this was refused, German forces invaded Belgium on 3 August and declared war on France the same day. On 12 August and France declared war on Austria-Hungary.
In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of the Alliance, opening fronts in the Caucasus and the Sinai Peninsula. The war was fought in and drew upon each power's colonial empire as well, spreading the conflict to Africa and across the globe; the Entente and its allies would become known as the Allied Powers, while the grouping of Austria-Hungary and their allies would become known as the Central Powers. The German advance into France was halted at the Battle of the Marne and by the end of 1914, the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, marked by a long series of trench lines that changed little until 1917. In 1915, Italy opened a front in the Alps. Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in 1915 and Greece joined the Allies in 1917, expanding the war in the Balkans; the United States remained neutral, although by doing nothing to prevent the Allies from procuring American supplies whilst the Allied blockade prevented the Germans from doing the same the U. S. became an important supplier of war material to the Allies.
After the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, the revelation that the Germans were trying to incite Mexico to make war on the United States, the U. S. declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Trained American forces would not begin arriving at the front in large numbers until mid-1918, but the American Expeditionary Force would reach some two million troops. Though Serbia was defeated in 1915, Romania joined the Allied Powers in 1916 only to be defeated in 1917, none of the great powers were knocked out of the war until 1918; the 1917 February Revolution in Russia replaced the Tsarist autocracy with the Provisional Government, but continuing discontent at the cost of the war led to the October Revolution, the creation of the Soviet Socialist Republic, the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk by the new government in March 1918, ending Russia's involvement in the war. This allowed the transfer of large numbers of German troops from the East to the Western Front, resulting in the German March 1918 Offensive.
This offensive was successful, but the Allies rallied and drove the Germans back in their Hundred Days Offensive. Bulgaria was the first Central Power to sign an armistice—the Armistice of Salonica on 29 September 1918. On 30 October, the Ottoman Empire capitulated. On 4 November, the Austro-Hungarian empire agreed to the Armistice of Villa Giusti after being decisively defeated by Italy in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. With its allies defeated, revolution at home, the military no longer willing to fight, Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated on 9 November and Germany signed an armistice on 11 November 1918. World War I was a significant turning point in the political, cultural and social climate of the world; the war and its immediate aftermath sparked numerous uprisings. The Big Four (Britain, the United States, It
XIX Army Corps
The XIX Army Corps was an armored corps of the German Wehrmacht between 1 July 1939 until 16 November 1940, when the unit was renamed Panzer Group 2 and 2nd Panzer Army. It took part in the Battle of France; the XIX Army Corps was formed on 1 July 1939 in Vienna to group together the 2nd Panzer Division and the 4th Light Division, the latter of which became 9th Panzer Division on 3 January 1940. At its inception, the unit was not part of any particular Wehrkreis; the initial commander of XIX Army Corps was Generalleutnant and General der Panzertruppe Heinz Guderian. Guderian had made a name for himself as a supporter of a motorized style of warfare using armored vehicles and air support, a style, dubbed Blitzkrieg in the English-speaking world, although German military officers like Guderian did not themselves use that term, he had previous experience as a panzer leader in the context of bloodless invasion, as he was involved in guiding German panzer forces 2nd Panzer Division, through the Anschluss of Austria in March 1938.
This was in spite of the fact that he had officially been replaced as commander of that unit by Rudolf Veiel and was only ordered back to that post by Ludwig Beck for the purpose of the Anschluss. During that action, Guderian reported. For the overall makeup of German forces in preparation for the Invasion of Poland, see German order of battle for the invasion of Poland. Guderian was informed of Hitler's decision to invade Poland through his superior, Günther von Kluge, commander of 4th Army, on 22 August 1939, he was ordered to Pomerania, where 4th Army and with it XIX Army Corps were stationed, to join the Befestigungsstab Pommern and to construct military fortifications against a supposed Polish attack. Walther Nehring was assigned to be XIX Army Corps' chief of staff. Germany's immediate preparations for the attack against its eastern neighbor had been ongoing since the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht issued the Directive for the Uniform Preparations of the Armed Forces for the War for 1939-40 between 3 April and 10 May 1939.
The political background for the conflict goes quite a bit further. The signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union on 23 August 1939 created the immediate political prerequisites for Germany to launch its invasion. See Causes of World War II and Events preceding World War II in Europe. During the Invasion of Poland, XIX Army Corps was part of 4th Army, itself subordinate to Fedor von Bock's Army Group North. 4th Army's task was to take Poland's north-western Danzig Corridor from Pomerania and to unite with 3rd Army in East Prussia, commanded by Georg von Küchler. Inside 4th Army's overall military strategy, XIX Army Corps was to strike southwards towards the Vistula river and deny Polish troops to the west of it the retreat eastwards. XIX Army Corps had by been expanded since its inception in July and now consisted of 3rd Panzer Division, 2nd Infantry Division and 20th Infantry Division.3rd Panzer Division was supported by Panzerlehrabteilung, a detachment that consisted of Panzer III and Panzer IV, which were at that point rarer in German tank divisions than their lighter Panzer I and Panzer II counterparts.
Both the 2nd and the 20th Divisions were motorized, not at all standard amongst German infantry divisions. 3rd Panzer Division was the strongest of all German panzer divisions in the invasion, numbering 391 tanks out of the German overall of 3195. The attack was planned to be launched on 26 August 1939, but in the night before the assault was to commence, the operation was abruptly cancelled due to diplomatic developments, causing a brief uncertainty whether the military campaign would take place at all. However, on 31 August 1939, the troops were once more called to action for the following day, 1 September 1939, this time the order went through as planned, World War II began in Europe; this decision was given out the day before in a document signed by Adolf Hitler, titled Weisung Nr. 1 für die Kriegsführung, justifying the war as the result of the exhaustion of political means and setting the day and time of attack to 4:45 in the morning of 1 September 1939. XIX Army Corps saw initial action on the first day of the invasion, 1 September 1939.
Although the Polish military had been aware of the German troop concentrations, the Germans were able to seize the initiative with a surprise attack. Polish mobilization was not yet completed. While the Germans had a considerable manpower advantage as well, the main German military advantage were the numerical superiority in terms of equipment, including armored vehicles, field guns and military aircraft. Precise numbers are difficult to come by for the only mobilized and bureaucratically ill-prepared Polish defenders. Guderian accompanied 3rd Panzer Brigade into action in heavy fog, including an incident where he fell under friendly fire by the artillery of 3rd Panzer Division. On 1 September at 4:45 AM the corps advanced across the border. There was heavy fog; the Luftwaffe was thus incapacitated. I accompanied 3rd Panzer Brigade in the first wave into the area north of Zempelburg, where the first minor skirmishes occurred. Sadly, the heavy artillery of 3rd Panzer Division felt inclined against their specific order to shoot into the fog.
The first grenade hit 50 metres in
Battle of France
The Battle of France known as the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries during the Second World War. In the six weeks from 10 May 1940, German forces defeated Allied forces by mobile operations and conquered France, Belgium and the Netherlands, bringing land operations on the Western Front to an end until 6 June 1944. Italy invaded France over the Alps. In Fall Gelb, German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes and along the Somme valley, cutting off and surrounding the Allied units that had advanced into Belgium, to meet the expected German invasion; when British and French forces were pushed back to the sea by the mobile and well-organised German operation, the British evacuated the British Expeditionary Force and French divisions from Dunkirk in Operation Dynamo. German forces began Fall Rot on 5 June; the sixty remaining French divisions and two British divisions made a determined resistance but were unable to overcome the German air superiority and armoured mobility.
German tanks outflanked the Maginot Line and pushed deep into France, occupying Paris unopposed on 14 June. After the flight of the French government and the collapse of the French army, German commanders met with French officials on 18 June to negotiate an end to hostilities. On 22 June, the Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed by Germany; the neutral Vichy government led by Marshal Philippe Pétain superseded the Third Republic and Germany occupied the north and west coasts of France and their hinterlands. Italy took control of a small occupation zone in the south-east and the Vichy regime retained the unoccupied territory in the south, known as the zone libre. In November 1942, the Germans occupied the zone under Case Anton, until the Allied liberation in 1944. During the 1930s, the French built fortifications along the border with Germany; the line was intended to economise on manpower and deter a German invasion across the Franco-German border by diverting it into Belgium, which could be met by the best divisions of the French Army.
The war would take place outside French territory avoiding the destruction of the First World War. The main section of the Maginot Line ended at Longwy. General Philippe Pétain declared the Ardennes to be "impenetrable" as long as "special provisions" were taken to destroy an invasion force as it emerged from the Ardennes by a pincer attack; the French commander-in-chief, Maurice Gamelin believed the area to be safe from attack, noting it "never favoured large operations". French war games held in 1938, of a hypothetical German armoured attack through the Ardennes, left the army with the impression that the region was still impenetrable and that this, along with the obstacle of the Meuse River, would allow the French time to bring up troops into the area to counter an attack. In 1939, Britain and France offered military support to Poland in the case of a German invasion. In the dawn of 1 September 1939, the German Invasion of Poland began. France and the United Kingdom declared war on 3 September, after an ultimatum for German forces to withdraw their forces from Poland was not answered.
Following this, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada declared war on Germany. While British and French commitments to Poland were met politically, the Allies were not in a position to render meaningful military assistance to the Poles in a timely manner. If Allied military intervention in Poland had been feasible, it would have come at the risk of drawing the Soviet Union into the war on Germany's side due to the recently-signed German-Soviet non-aggression pact and subsequent Soviet invasion of eastern Poland; as a result, the Allies settled on a long-war strategy and mobilised for defensive land operations against Germany, while a trade blockade was imposed and the pre-war re-armament was accelerated, ready for an eventual invasion of Germany. On 7 September, in accordance with their alliance with Poland, France began the Saar Offensive with an advance from the Maginot Line 5 km into the Saar. France had mobilised 98 divisions and 2,500 tanks against a German force consisting of 43 divisions and no tanks.
The French advanced until they met the thin and undermanned Siegfried Line. On 17 September, the French supreme commander, Maurice Gamelin gave the order to withdraw French troops to their starting positions. Following the Saar Offensive, a period of inaction called the Phoney War set in between the belligerents. Adolf Hitler had hoped that France and Britain would acquiesce in the conquest of Poland and make peace. On 6 October, he made a peace offer to both Western powers. On 9 October, Hitler issued a new "Führer-Directive Number 6". Hitler recognised the necessity of military campaigns to defeat the Western European nations, preliminary to the conquest of territory in Eastern Europe, to avoid a two-front war but these intentions were absent from Directive N°6; the plan was based on the more realistic assumption that German military strength would have to be built up for several years. For the moment only limited objectives could be envisaged and were aimed at improving Germany's ability to survive a long war in the west.
Hitler ordered a conquest of the Low Countries to be executed at the shortest possible notice to forestall the French and prevent Allied air po
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo