Germany at war 1939-1945 Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Germany at war 1939-1945 Deck (26):

What caused the second world war?

Hitler's aggressive foreign policy:
-Hitler sought lebensraum (living space)
-Had expanded German military and annexed (gained) Czechoslovakia/Austria
-Britain+France acted when Hitler invaded Poland as he became too powerful

Weak international system:
-Hitler ignored the Treaty of Versailles due to this
-USA/USSR isolationist
-Depression had weakened Britain/France
-British policy of appeasement regarding TOV to avoid war
-USSR, France, Britain concerted effort may have prevented Polish invasion, but they wouldn't cooperate. USSR nazi soviet pact to share poland, eliminated USSR threat


German conquest

Conquest 1939-42:
-1939, Poland goes
-Norway/Denmark taken by Spring
-Holland/Belgium/France in May-June 1940
-Couldn't invade Britain as couldn't control skies
-Closes in on Southern Eastern Europe
-Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria now ALLIES with Nazis
-Greece & Yugoslavia invaded
-Operation Barbarosa June 1941, Western Russia taken


Tide turns for German course of war

Decisive reverses 1942-3:
-Battles of Stalingrad (08/'42) and Kursk (07/'43) lost leading to retreat from Soviet Russia
-Forces diverted from Eastern front to aid Mussolini hold Libya/fight in oil fields in Middle east. Defeated at El Alamein (10/'42) - Desert war


German retreat and defeat

Retreat 1943-45:
-Eastern front, Russian armys go West into Poland by mid '44 and Germany by 01/'45
-Western Allies land in Normandy 06/'44, in German territory by 10/'44. Germans fierce in retreat, keep fighting
-Hitler commits suicide 30/04/'45


Radicalisation during the war

-1937-8 Non nazi conservatives ie Schacht removed from influential positions for objections to war
-Genocidal policy - the holocaust and the murder of the Roma and Sinti, the murder of the mentally ill and disabled through the T4 euthanasia programme


Hitler's disappearance from public view

-Less public appearance
-Spent more time at military headquarters
-Fewer propaganda appearances (visits to soldiers/damaged areas)
-Replaced by Goebbels as face of PR


Resistance to Nazism early 1930s

-Limited in 1930s due to Hitler's popularity and success of Himmler's Gestapo
-Gestapo destroyed Communist/Social democrat networks by 1933
-Exception was Communist "red orchestra spy ring" which was crushed 1942


Resistance to Nazism later 1920s

-Increase in resistance to Nazism
-Communist resistance re-emerged from working class heartlands ie the ruhr

-"White rose group" - Idealistic Munich uni students horrified by Nazis. Anti-nazi leaflet/graffiti propaganda. Leaders, Hans/Sophie School, executed 1943

-'Kreisau Circle' upper class political moderates, appalled by Nazi barbarity. Discussion for planning post-war Germany

-'Beck-Goerdeler'(s defeat/disaster for Germany. Planned to assassinate Hitler


July Bomb plot 1944

-Beck/Goerdeler had many senior supporters who could get close to Hitler
-Claus Von Stauffenberg (ex field, now military planner) plants bomb in Hitler's military headquarters
-4 killed, Hitler escaped
-Those involved executed


German wartime economy

-Gained territories=overcame some pre war difficulties
-New food/raw materials. France gave coal and iron ore, Romania gave oil, Russia gave wheat
-Took advantage of industrial materials in occupied countries (steelworks/munitions in france)

-Took french military/artillery equipment until 1945

-New labour: French/Russian POV's worked
-German/French civilian slave labour in Germany, 8 mil by 1944, 1/5th of workforce
-Concentration camp prisoners used too

most foreign workers unskilled, little oil
- Defeat at Stalingrad in 1943 meant no access to Baku oilfield in Russia


Albert Speer

-Member of Hitler's inner circle
-Rose to prominence in 1930s

Armaments minister (1942-)
-Replaced Goering as economic supremo, who had failed to stop British Dunkirk evacuation, winn Battle of Britain or prevent British bombings
-Friend of Hitler's and first class organisational skills. Realist, recognized necessity of "total war"

-Weapons production *3 by 1944
-Central planning board for economic administration
-Streamlined production with fewer, larger factories and purge of ineffective management
-Used foreign/female labour, prevented conscription of skilled

-Ammo production ^97%
-Total army production ^ 59%
-Munitions productivity per worker ^60%
...However Anglo American bombing made this hard by 1943. He prolonged war but couldn't hold off defeat


Why was Germany's war economy a failure?

-Ineffective coordination, Gauleiter acted for personal gain
-Labour shortage: Women not fully mobilized due to nazi ideology. Poor foreign workforce productivity 60-80% less than German worker


Military casualties

-3 million KIA, 1.5 POW
-Russian POVs died in captivity
-More deaths in last four months than previous two years
-1.47 killed in last year, never more than 1 000 000 before

Later years:
-People's army (volkssturm) created. 16-60, Hitler youth encouraged


Effect of bombing

-1943-45 Anglo-American bombing attack
-300 000 killed, 750 000 injured
-1/5th housing destroyed
-Infrastructure severely damaged
-7000 000 homeless in 1945
-Hamburg july43 and Dresden feb45 = 60 000 lives lost
-Break war economy (ruhr targeted)
-Break morale



-German armies committed atrocities in Soviet Russia 1941. When Russian troops entered Germany many fled Westwards
-Jan-May '45 5 000 000 fled homes
-Huge problem for authorities


German women at war

-Kept family together whilst husbands at war
-Work in factories/on land. January 1943: all women 17-45 must work
-Not large increase in paid employment as many women working in industry/agriculture PRE war anyway
-51% of workforce by 1944
-100 000+ raped in Berlin alone by Soviet Russian forces advancing into East


Youth at war

-Young not conscripted in early years
-Hitler youth combat training
-Evacuees from Berlin and Hamburg from 1940
-Total war: 2 million help 1942 harvest, conscription age lowered to 17 in 1943, 16 in 1945
-SS recruited 16-18 y/o from Hitler youth from 1943
-Some as young as 12 in combat with soviet forces by 1945


Workers at war

-Initially, bonuses/overtime payments stopped and wages down to maximise productivity---> absenteeism, Wages restored by October 1939
-Non essential workers transferred to war work
-Holidays banned, 60 hour working week by 1944
-Workers kept in line as grouped to be observed by loyal party member



Early war: victories in Poland, Norway, Denmark, Luxenbourg, Belgium and France maintained morale
-Barbarossa boosted morale

-Changed with Stalingrad, people critical of Hitler
-High casualty rate on Eastern front was bad

-1943 onwards, Goebbels persuades civilians not to give up as they would face "total destruction" if "total war" was not raged
-Played on fears of Communist invasion


Factors affecting decreasing support for regime in late war years:

-Difficult working conditions
-Shortages of basic needs by 1945
-Allied bombing, 7 mil homeless
-Fears of Communist invasion from 1943 soviet advance
-Failure of V1/2 missiles in South England rocket attack


Economic factor in German defeat

-Fighting Britain, USA and USSR 1941-5, powerful economies with abundant raw resources
-Main reason for defeat, could not match the power
-USA 324 000 planes, Germany 117000
-US lend lease scheme. USSR given 13000 tanks
-Germany overstretched - US in 1942, USSR in 1941, multiple frontlines
-Does not mean war was won, Britain/France fared poorly in battle. Allied alliances with USSR weak


Allied fighting forces as a factor in German defeat

-Germans formidable threat, more advanced than allies 1939-42
-Russian military performance in 1941 was terrible, large territories lost with 4 million soldiers
-Lessons learned. Soldiers better trained, will to win was a boost in morale


Hitler as a factor in German defeat

-After fall of Poland/France in 1940 he assumed Britain would make peace, and did not account for Churchhill's will to fight on

-Underestimated Russians as racial inferiors

-Rash decision to declare war on US after Pearl Harbor bombings late 1941. Believed their involvement to aid Britain was inevitable and did not account for how fast US would mobilize economy against Germany with one aim- victory

-Stalingrad: encircled 250 000 could have fought through encircling Russians back to German lines. Hitler ignored advice of advisers and commanded they fight to the last man
...Surrender of 100 000 followed after death of 150 000


Bombing of Germany as a factor in German defeat

-Anglo American bombing campaign of 1943-5
-cut output by 20%
-Germany's resources stretched, couldn't rebuild
-1944, 80% of luftwaffe used to defend German airspace result only 200 vs 12000 allied for invasion of France, overstretched


German state as a factor in defeat of Germany

-Poorly coordinated economy
-Four year plan (increase agricultural/raw material production, maximize armament) only allowed Germany to fight small conflicts in 1939
-Nazi exploitation of resources was largely inefficient
-Energy wasted on ideological campaigns (holocaust)
-Hitler hampered German military with arrogant aims ie invasion of the USSR


Conclusion: Why was Germany defeated?

-Exceptional allied leadership
-Allied codebreaking gave advanced notice
-Minor effect of resistance
-But largely, Economic weakness, State weakness, Hitler, Allied campaigns, Bombing - MAIN FACTORS