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North Africa, Italian, Eastern, and Western Front of World War II (page 2)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 3, 2012

The Western Front

The Allies bombed Germany throughout 1943. The goal of the bombing was twofold: first, to destroy strategic locations such as railroad lines and factories, and second, to break the spirit of the German people by destroying their civilization, just as the Germans had tried to do against Britain. Allied bombs killed tens of thousands of German civilians and reduced virtually every large German city to rubble. The Allied bombing of the ancient and beautiful city of Dresden later became a byword for senseless, vicious destruction far beyond what was necessary in strategic terms.

The navies carried on the Battle of the Atlantic. Until 1943, German U-boats held the upper hand, attacking Allied ships with great success. The tide turned when the Allies developed sonar technology that helped them pinpoint the U-boats’ locations, invisible far below the surface. By 1944 the Allies had regained control over the oceans.

The Allies agreed that the war would be won or lost on the western front. The United States and Britain combined forces to launch a surprise offensive in Normandy, on the French side of the English Channel. Working with Allied military staff, Eisenhower laid a trail of misinformation and false clues that led the Germans to expect an invasion at Calais, some distance away.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel, landed on the beaches of France, and began marching toward Paris. No German troops were there to stop them; Eisenhower’s deception had fooled Hitler. On August 25, 1944, the Allies liberated Paris.

After the shock of losing the French capital, the Germans launched a fierce assault on the Allied troops in the Ardennes region. They pushed Allied troops so far back at one location that they nearly broke through the line of defense, forming a “bulge” in the front line and thus giving the Battle of the Bulge its name. The Allies, outnumbered by nearly two to one, held out until reinforcements arrived and helped them push the Germans back. By January, it was clear that the Germans had lost any chance at victory.

In February 1945, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin met at Yalta to plan for the peace they knew lay in the near future. Stalin promised that after Germany surrendered, Soviet troops would help the United States defeat Japan. (The Soviets made good on this promise; Japan surrendered in September 1945.) The three leaders then agreed to occupy Germany after the war, and discussed plans for a new League of Nations.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

World War II in Europe Practice Test

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