Military Campaigns in Europe During World War II
Military Campaigns in Europe
The Axis powers had the upper hand in European fighting until late 1942. Their armies were the aggressors; they had been preparing for war for years and were well organized for the fight. They also controlled the vast majority of Europe and a sizable chunk of North Africa. However, the fact that they were trying to fight a war on several fronts at once weakened and divided their forces. Allied forces hoped to exploit this weakness.
Allied advantages included both numerical strength and geography. Both the Soviet Union and the United States had huge populations on which they could draw for troops. Germany and Italy, with much smaller populations, had comparatively fewer troops. U.S. industries were also a major asset for the Allies: the United States could produce an unlimited supply of weapons, ammunition, ships, tankers, and planes. The campaign in North Africa was fought throughout the summer and fall of 1942. British forces led by General Bernard Montgomery pursued German forces led by General Erwin Johannes Rommel, who was one of the most skilled commanders on either side. However, Rommel was outnumbered and eventually lost ground in the Battle of El Alamein.
The Germans had invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. They had marched east to Leningrad and laid siege to it. The people of the city underwent slow starvation for many months before the siege was lifted. The hatred for Germany that this siege created would be revealed a few years later when the Soviets marched into Berlin.
The Soviets eventually penned up the invading Germans in the city of Stalingrad, starving them into surrender early in 1943. The combination of the Soviet and North African victories caused the tide of the war to turn in the Allies’ favor.
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