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This is a revised and updated edition of Evan Mawdsley's acclaimed global history of World War II. Beginning with the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, Evan Mawdsley shows how the war's origins lay in a conflict between the old international order and the new and traces its globalisation as it swept through Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The primary focus is on the war's military and strategic history, though also examines the political, economic, ideological and cultural factors which influenced the course of events. The war's consequences are examined too, not only in terms of the defeat of the Axis but also of the break-up of colonial empires and the beginning of the Cold War. Accessibly written and well-illustrated with maps and photographs, the book also includes insightful short studies of the figures, events and battles that shaped the war, as well as fully updated guides to further reading.
This chapter covers events in Europe from the summer of 1944 to the end of the war. Four invasions carried out on mainland Europe penetrate the outer defensive perimeter of the Third Reich: (1) the landing in Normandy in June, followed by the pursuit of the enemy to the western borders of the Reich; (2) the August 1944 invasion of southern France; (3) the offensive in Belarus in late June, Operation BAGRATION, followed by the retreat of the shattered Wehrmacht across the Baltic region and eastern Poland; (4) south of the Carpathian Mountains the Red Army advance across Hungary. The surrounded Nazi regime refuses to consider surrender and embarks on a policy of Total War. The December 1944 attempt by the Wehrmacht to mount counter-attacks, most famously the Ardennes offensive (the Battle of the Bulge). The Allies, meanwhile hold high-level conferences at Tehran and Yalta to discuss future strategy and post-war arrangements. The final defeat of Germany in five concentric campaigns: (1) western Poland and northeastern Germany; (2) the Rhineland; (3) western Germany and Bavaria; (4) Austria; and (5) the final battle for Berlin. The suicide of Hitler and the German surrender.
This chapter is about Allied plans to ‘wear down’ Greater Germany by strategic bombing, and to weaken its hold on occupied territory by encouraging an underground Resistance; some Allied leaders saw these methods as an alternative to a direct ground attack. Resources of the German war economy. Food production and war industry. The limited economic utilisation by the Germans of occupied territory. Forced (slave) labour as a key German asset. Albert Speer and the efforts to intensify the war economy. German technical innovation and ‘miracle weapons’. The Allied war economies in comparison. Development of strategic bombing by Britain and the USA. Relationship between strategic bombing and the ground campaigns. German missile programmes; the American the atomic bomb project. Occupation by Germany and collaboration with the occupiers. Development of the European Resistance, supported from Britain by the SOE. Role of the Communists in the Resistance. The Partisan movement in Russia and Yugoslavia. The effectiveness of the Resistance, relative to Allied conventional forces. Lack of large-scale opposition to Hitler in Germany, despite the July 1944 bomb plot. The resilience of the Nazi regime requires, in the end, occupation by ground armies; ‘wear down’ by underground movements and air bombing is not enough.
This chapter deals with the early stages of World War II in Europe, which was to some extent a repetition of World War I, but with a German victory in May-June 1940. Allied and German grand strategy. The Soviet-Finnish war. Russian annexation of the three Baltic states. The German invasion of neutral Norway, with naval and ground battles against the Allied forces. Churchill replaces Chamberlain as Prime Minister. Planning on both sides for the main Western Front in 1940. The German Blitzkrieg invasion of France and the Low Countries. The Allied evacuation of Dunkirk, the second phase of the invasion, and the French surrender. Air battle over Britain. Inability of the German Army to invade Britain, and Hitler’s decision to invade Russia.
This chapter covers the formal end to the war in both Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and makes some general conclusions about the nature of World War II and its outcome. Post-war meetings from 1945 to 1973. Historians debate the events of the war. Winners and losers: medium- and long-term gains and losses by the various participating countries. The role of each of the major Allied countries, and their interdependence. Relative importance of military and economic forces in the outcome of the war. Political factors, most notably the extravagant ambitions of the leaders of the Third Reich. The long-term transformative effect of Allied victory.
This chapter deals with the final stages of the war against Japan in 1945. The condition of Japan and its war effort. The beginning of effective long-range bombing against Japanese cities. The Battle of Okinawa. Japan’s unwillingness to surrender, and plans for defensive battles in Japan itself. American invasion plans. The American-British Potsdam Declaration, and the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Role of the Emperor Hirohito in Japan’s final decision to capitulate. Historical debates about the use of atomic bomb. The Russian ground campaign in Manchuria, and the arrival of the Red Army in northeast China and Korea. The reaction of the Chinese Nationalists to the sudden collapse of Japan. The end of the war in Southeast Asia, and the arrival of British and other Allied forces in European colonies that had been occupied by Japan.
This chapter deals with the beginnings of World War II in Europe: the revision of the the 1919 Versailles Treaty by Nazi Germany, culminating in the invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the renewal of war with Britain and France. Hitler takes power. Beginning of German rearmament in violation of 1919 Versailles Treaty, including remilitarisation of the Rhineland. Rapid development of the German armed forces (Wehrmacht), including creation of Panzer forces in the army. The Luftwaffe as a powerful threat in the pre-war crises. The French and British armed forces. Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia, and strengthening relations with Germany. Russian and American detachment from the pre-war crises. The 1938 Sudeten (Munich) crisis and the partition of Czechoslovakia. Hitler’s plans for war with Poland and the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939. France and Britain declare war. The German invasion, and the rapid overthrow of Poland. The start of war: comparisons between Europe and mainland Asia.
This chapter deals with the peripheral regions of Axis-occupied territory, as opposed to the core of Greater Germany. These regions formed a strategic ‘ring’ to be closed around the Axis, and some Allied leaders hoped that the Nazi regime could be brought down by strategic encirclement rather than by a bloody direct ground assault on the Reich. Unsuccessful Italian offensives against Britain in in Egypt. British naval superiority in the Mediterranean. The German invasion of Greece succeeds despite the dispatch of British troops. Crete abandoned and serious Royal Navy losses suffered. The German Afrika Korps arrives in Libya to bolster the Italian contingent. Value of German central strategic position, fighting on interior lines and with the ability to move ships and aircraft between fronts. Could Hitler have adopted a ‘Mediterranean’ strategy, attacking British external positions rather than Russia? Conflicting objectives among Hitler’s ‘allies’ and collaborators, and resulting weakness of the Third Reich in northwestern Africa. Allied decision to mount indirect Operation TORCH invasion in North Africa in November 1942, rather than a direct landing across the English Channel. Invasion of Sicily and the overthrow of Mussolini in July 1943, followed by Allied landing on mainland Italy in October. Guerrilla war in Yugoslavia. Defection of Romania followed by rapid Russian advance to the west and into Hungary. German evacuation of Greece followed by political crisis in Athens. Norway and Finland as another part of the Axis periphery; the Finns change sides in September 1944.
This chapter outlines the strengths and background of the major powers before the war, as well as competing political and ideological factors, and the general development of military forces. The largest of the eventual belligerents: Britain, China and Russia, and their different structures. Similar contrasts between medium-sized powers, the United States and Japan. Smaller powers in continental Europe: France, with its empire, Germany, and Italy. Population advantage of Germany within Europe, despite territorial losses after World War I. ‘Satisfied’ and ‘unsatisfied’ powers. Political and ideological factors leading to war. Liberal democracy challenged. Communism as a dynamic force both in Europe and Asia. The radical right, a response partly to Communism and partly to the perceived failings of liberal democracy. Leaders of the radical right, Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany. Nationalist China, Jiang Jieshi, and anti-colonialism. Expectations about the nature of future war. Failure of arms limitation. ‘Total War’ theory and totalitarianism. Developments in armies, including armoured vehicles and mobility. Developments in navies. Independent/strategic and combined-arms use of air-power.
This chapter covers the final stages of Japan’s offensive in the Pacific in the spring of 1942 and the successful Allied counter-attack there, and in Burma, through to the end of 1944. Allied grand strategy: Germany or Japan first? Aircraft carriers replace battleships. The Battle of the Coral Sea as the culminating point of the Japanese Pacific offensive. The Battle of Midway: the decisive defensive naval battle. The US Navy regains the strategic initiative. The counter-offensive towards Rabaul, with Guadalcanal as the first objective. Japanese failure to gain a political or military victory in China. British and American aims and disappointments regarding Jiang Jieshi. The successful Japanese Army ICHI-GŌ offensive in China in April 1944. Overview of China’s role in the war. The important political and military role of British India, including the defeat of the Japanese army at Imphal-Kohima in 1944. American amphibious offensives in the South Pacific and, from early 1944, in the Central Pacific. The decisive offensive Battle of the Philippine Sea and the capture of the Marianas. The successful invasion of the Philippines, following the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944.