The word “Holocaust,” from the Greek words “holos” (whole) and “kaustos” (burned), was historically used to describe a sacrificial offering burned on an altar. Since 1945, the word has taken on a new and horrible meaning: the mass murder of some 6 million European Jews (as well as members of some other persecuted groups, such as Gypsies and homosexuals) by the German Nazi regime during the Second World War.
The German SS systematically killed at least 960,000 of the 1.1-1.3 million Jews deported to the camp. Other victims included approximately 74,000 Poles, 21,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war and at least 10,000 from other nationalities. More people died at Auschwitz than at any other Nazi concentration camp and probably than at any death camp in history.
Blitzkrieg means “lightning war”. It was an innovative military technique first used by the Germans in World War Two and was a tactic based on speed and surprise. Blitzkrieg relied on a military force based around light tank units supported by planes and infantry (foot soldiers).
In the summer of 1940 – after Hitler swept through France and drove the British army out of the European mainland - the people of Britain made ready for a Nazi invasion. But before Hitler could conquer the country he needed to gain air superiority. The Luftwaffe launched a large scale attack, intent on wiping out Britain's air defences. The pilots of the RAF, who became known as "The Few", stood up to wave after wave of German fighters and bombers sending a clear message to Hitler that Britain would never surrender.
The Blitz was Nazi Germany's sustained aerial bombing campaign against Britain in World War Two. The raids killed 43,000 civilians and lasted for eight months, petering out when Hitler began to focus on his plans for Russian invasion in May 1941.
Photo: People in Coventry walk to work past smouldering piles of rubble after a bombing raid in 1940. (Getty Images)
Italy invaded Egypt in September of 1940, and in a December counterattack, British and Indian forces captured some 130,000 Italians. Hitler's response to this loss was to send in the newly formed "Afrika Korps" led by General Erwin Rommel. Several long, brutal pushes back and forth across Libya and Egypt reached a turning point in the Second Battle of El Alamein in late 1942, when Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery's British Eighth Army broke out and drove Axis forces all the way from Egypt to Tunisia.
On June 22, 1941, Adolf Hitler launched his armies eastward in a massive invasion of the Soviet Union: three great army groups with over three million German soldiers, 150 divisions, and three thousand tanks smashed across the frontier into Soviet territory. The invasion covered a front from the North Cape to the Black Sea, a distance of two thousand miles. By this point German combat effectiveness had reached its apogee; in training, doctrine, and fighting ability, the forces invading Russia represented the finest army to fight in the twentieth century. Barbarossa was the crucial turning point in World War II, for its failure forced Nazi Germany to fight a two-front war against a coalition possessing immensely superior resources.
Text via: http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/operation-barbarossa
More photos: http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2011/07/world-war-ii-operation-barbarossa/100112/
The Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943) was a major battle on the Eastern Front of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in Southern Russia, on the eastern boundary of Europe.
“Island Hopping” is the phrase given to the strategy employed by the United States to gain military bases and secure the many small islands in the Pacific. The attack was lead by General Douglas MacArthur, Commander of the Allied forces in the South west Pacific, and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-chief of the Pacific fleet. The US troops targeted the islands that were not as strongly defended by the Japanese. They took control of those islands, and quickly constructed landing strips and small military bases. Then they proceeded to attack other islands from the bases they had established. Slowly the US army moved closer to Japan, taking control of many of the surrounding islands.
The Battle of Leyte Gulf occurred between 23-26 October 1944. It was the largest naval battle of the Second World War and it involved combined American and Australian naval and air forces against Japanese forces. It resulted in the crippling of the Japanese Imperial Navy and eventually the Allied control of the Philippine Islands.
In late 1944, during the wake of the Allied forces' successful D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, it seemed as if the Second World War was all but over. On Dec. 16, with the onset of winter, the German army launched a counteroffensive that was intended to cut through the Allied forces in a manner that would turn the tide of the war in Hitler's favor. The battle that ensued is known historically as the Battle of the Bulge. The courage and fortitude of the American Soldier was tested against great adversity. Nevertheless, the quality of his response ultimately meant the victory of freedom over tyranny.
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) rose to power in the wake of World War I as a leading proponent of Facism. Mussolini allied himself with Hitler, relying on the German dictator to prop up his leadership during World War II, but he was killed shortly after the German surrender in Italy in 1945.
Adolf Hitler killed himself by gunshot on 30 April 1945 in his Führerbunker in Berlin. His wife Eva (née Braun) committed suicide with him by taking cyanide. That afternoon, in accordance with Hitler's prior instructions, their remains were carried up the stairs through the bunker's emergency exit, doused in petrol, and set alight in the Reich Chancellery garden outside the bunker.
Raising a flag over the Reichstag is a historic World War II photograph, taken during the Battle of Berlin on 2 May 1945. It became a symbol of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany; Meliton Kantaria and Mikhail Yegorov, raised the Soviet flag over the Reichstag. They are shown raising the flag of the Soviet Union atop the German Reichstag building.
As German leaders prepared for the invasion of the Soviet Union in spring 1941, they agreed a quick summer victory would be followed by the starvation of some 30 million people. A Hunger Plan foresaw the "extinction of industry as well as a great part of the population". Soviet cities would be destroyed, Soviet industry destroyed, and eastern lands reduced to depopulated prairie ripe for German agrarian colonisation.
From Germany ‘s invasion of Poland Sept. 1, 1939 and ending with Japan ‘s surrender Sept. 2, 1945 — 2,433 days. From 1942 onward, America averaged 170 planes lost a day. On average 6600 American service men died per MONTH, during WWII (about 220 a day).