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CHAPTER 5: GERMANYS DEFEAT IN WORLD WAR II

Explain what were the main causes that led to Germanys defeat in World War
II?
(1) ENTRY OF THE USA
(a) Contribution of vast resources and manpower
The USA adopted a policy of isolationism (DO NOT WANT TO GET INVOLVED) right
up to the late 1930s. After Germany signed the anti-Comintern (anti-communist) pact
in 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt began to fear the possibility of American
military involvement in the European war. He therefore began to prepare the USA for
such a possibility and began to be indirectly involved from September 1939.
21st September 1939- allowed Britain and France to buy arms from the USA on a
cash and carry basis while maintaining neutrality, thus in fact ending the arms
embargo.
1940- USA gave UK 50 old destroyers (Warships)
Dec 1940- Roosevelt argued against a false sense of security and pride that
isolationism brought and argued for increased involvement in the war. He also
expanded and re-equipped the Army and navy in preparation for direct involvement.
March 1941- passed the lend-lease Act, in response to British call for help, as British
resources were nearing exhaustion by the end of 1940 (France had surrendered in
June 1940); this Act signaled the end of American neutrality and played a key role in
helping the Allies win the war; it was also extended to the Soviet Union (USSR) when
it was invaded by Germany in June 1941; spent almost US$50 billion by the end of
the World War
Important contributions:
1. To supply weapons, food and equipment to Britain and any country whose
defence was thought to be vital to the national security of the USA
2. Payment could be deterred
3. Payment need not be made in cash
Late 1941-The US Navy was used to provide escort/protection roles for all Allied
convoys at sea to protect them against German military submarines. Germany had
the most number of submarines after 1935.
USA also imposed economic sanctions on the Axis powers to deprive them of
resources needed for their war effort. Example: Restricted supplies of iron to Japan
from 1940 onwards. **MORE EFFECTIVE THAN LON.
8th December 1941- USA formally entered the war after Pearl Harbour. After USA
declared war on Japan Italy also declared on the SUSA, putting the USA on the side

of the Allies. So, the USA now contributed ground troops, weapons and equipment,
not just military supplies and escort roles.
The USA was the worlds largest producer of goods, including military goods. USA
was also able to send large numbers of American military personnel (Soldiers), thus
solving the Allied problems of military shortages and boosting their war machine. For
example, the USA had 11 million soldiers, compared to UKs 4.5 million. Its LendLease to UK was worth US$31 billion and to USSR worth US$11 billion.
(b) Collaboration with the Allies on military strategies.
Furthermore, USA also collaborated with the Allies on the planning and execution of
military strategies, helping them to gain control of the air and sea. These prevented
essential resources from reaching Germany and gave the Allies greater opportunities
at bombing Axis military sites such as synthetic oil plants and airfields.
The control of the air and sea also helped greatly in Allied tactical successes against
Germany. The American air force was much larger than Germanys and Japans and
able to develop new technology that could accurately bombed Axis targets. Regular
bombing in 1943-1944 destroyed Germanys cities, vital industries, rail links and
synthetic oil plants. This hindered German production of war materials.
The US Navy was escorting British convoys carrying supplies from the USA across
the Atlantic Ocean and sinking Germany U-boats. The USA mass produced
warships, anti-submarine weapons, radio communications and radar. By occupying
Greenland and Iceland, it gave Britain vital bases in the mid-Atlantic. The combined
navies of the two countries achieved control of the Atlantic Ocean.
American involvement was also crucial to the successful landing of Allied forces at
Normandy on 6th June 1944. This was the largest amphibious attack in recorded
history.
*What is an amphibious attack?
A military operation attack involving land and sea.
2. Germanys weaknesses and miscalculations
(a) Ineffective command structure
The German state and military command structure suffered from a confusing system
of overlapping authority. Apart from Hitler, no one else had the power to make
decisions or had access to all information. Hitler insisted on making decisions that
ought to have been left to the military experts. He also often went against the advice
of his experienced generals. These frequently proved to be mistakes, eg the Battle of
Britain and the invasion of the Soviet Union. For example, instead of focusing on
destroying the British air force, he turned to bombing Britains cities instead. This
gave the British air force to recover and deny Hitlers victory over Britain. In his

invasion of the USSR, he disregarded the advice of his generals and turned to
attacking Ukraine when he was already near Moscow Hence, he lost the only real
chance of Germany defeating the USSR.
(b) Inappropriate use of resources and military funds
Germanys inappropriate use of military funds and resources resulted in slow and
inefficient ARMament production. It was producing many different types of
armaments, unlike the Allies which focused on a few types of proven weapons. Hitler
also constantly demanded the most up-to-date weapons. As a result, certain
weapons were mass-produced even before they were field-tested. There was also
competition for funds among military leaders of different sections. Workers were
starving and working inefficiently, while women stayed at home, not allowed to
contribute to the war effort. There was a shortage of proven weapons and essential
equipment such as trucks, infantry vehicles and suitable clothing.
(c) Heavy reliance on petroleum
Heavy reliance on petroleum was also one of Germanys major weaknesses. It
rendered its war machine and war efforts vulnerable. Although Germany had very
little natural petroleum reserves of its own, petroleum was the chief resource which
powered its war machine. To remedy this problem, the Germans invented synthetic
oil by liquefying coal, a resource which Germany had in abundance. Synthetic oil
was then used as a substitute for refined petroleum products such as fuel. Germany
also seized the oil fields in Austria and Romania.
However, from 1943 onwards, Germany synthetic oil plants and oilfields were heavily
bombed by the USA. This was made worst when the oilfields in Romania were put
out of action by the Soviet Red Army and the US Air Force in August 1944.
(d) War on two fronts*****
Hitlers greatest mistake was probably his decision to conduct a war on two fronts.
While still at war with Britain on the Western Front(WESTERN EUROPE), Hitler
decided to invade the Soviet Union, opening up the Eastern Front (EASTERN
EUROPE). Then, while he seemed to be gaining the upper hand against the Soviets,
he declared war on the USA. This was a fatal mistake, as the entry of the USA into
the war greatly boosted Allied efforts and morale in the Western Front.
(3) Allied Resistance
(a) Reorganisation of the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union and its Red Army were often credited as being the decisive force
for Allied victory. The Soviet Union not only bore the brunt (majority) of German
attack throughout the war, but also defeated about 80% of the German armed forces
on the Eastern Front.

On 22nd June 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. On 12 th July 1941, the
Soviet Union formed a military alliance with Britain. The Soviet Union was initially illprepared for the German onslaught, and within three months, its air and tank forces
were almost destroyed.
But the Soviet Union eventually gained the upper hand. Several causes- tactical
errors by the Germans, strong resistance from Russian troops and the harsh
Russian winter in 1941-1942 gave the Soviet Union time to reorganize its army and
to rebuild its economy and military production. Furthermore, the LAND-Lease Bill
(Aid) from the USA gave the Soviets much needed aid to boost its war efforts. Even
Stalin recognized that without American production, the war could not have been
won.
Stalin made extensive efforts to reorganize and boost its armed forces. He delegated
control over the Red Army to his competent generals, unlike Hitler who monopolized
control of the German army and would not listen to the more experienced generals**.
The Soviets made use of the harsh winters in 1941-1942 to rebuild and reorganize
the Red Army along German military lines, improved communications and produced
effective new weapons in large quanitities. Major industrial plants were moved to
Central and Eastern Russia, beyond German reach. All resources were devoted to
military production and by 1943, the USSR was second only to the USA in military
production. These factors helped the Soviet Union to win decisive victories at the
Battle of Moscow in January 1942, the Battle of Stalingrad in February 1943 and the
Battle of Krusk in August 1943.
(b) British resistance to German invasion*****
Britain was the only Allied country in Europe against Hitler until the USA and Soviet
Union entered the war in 1941. Its resistance also played a great role in resisting
Nazi aggression. Hitler had never planned for a war with the British. When France
fell in June 1940, he had hoped that the British would be compelled to discuss peace
terms with the Germans. Instead the British PM, Winston Churchill, made it clear that
he planned to fight the Germans to the finish and prepared the British people for war.
In the summer of 1940, Hitler began to attack Britain by Air and Sea bombing British
coastal defence and airfields. Within three months, Britains resources were already
dangerously stretched. But Hitler made a tactical error of switching to attack British
cities in a campaign known as the Blitz, thereby giving the British air force to recover.
It quickly sought to repair their airfields and radar systems, and retaliated by making
bombing strategic. The German air force therefore failed to achieve air supremacy
over Britain. Furthermore, Hitlers bombing of British civilians strengthened the
morale and determination of the British who were inspired by the brilliant oratory and
determination of their PM (WINSTON CHURCHILL). From December 1940 to
summer 1941, Hitler began to turn his attention to invading the Soviet Union and
ended the Blitz. [MARKED DOWNFALL OF HITLER]

(c) Resistance movements in Nazi-occupied European countries


These resistance movements also played a key role in the defeat of the Nazis. They
provided vital information and behind-the-lines support to the Allies. Without such
information, the Allies would not have succeeded in their military strategies against
the Nazis. Among the most prominent of the underground resistance forces were the
Yugoslav, Polish, Soviet and the Free French Forces under Charles De Gaulle (who
later became a much-respected President of France)
From September 1939 to summer 1941 the resistance movement was weak as the
invaded countries were too shocked and overwhelmed by Hitlers sudden and wellprepared invasion and his brutal suppression. From June 1941, however, the
resistance became active, led by communists who had previous experience working
underground. Many civilians joined the communist-led resistance, not because they
supported the communist ideology, but because they saw it as a successful
resistance movement. Resistance was also much encouraged and supported by the
British and Soviet governments.
What were some of the methods used by the Resistance?
*Blew up rail links and sabotaged factories
*Engaged in non-cooperation
*Spread false information and propaganda
*Gathered intelligence for the Allies
*Helped Allied prisoners-of-wars who escaped as well as pilots who were involved in
plane crashes.
*Joined the attack on the Germans once their retreat began.
On 4 February, US, British, and Soviet leaders met for the Yalta Conference. They
agreed on the occupation of post-war Germany, and on when the Soviet Union
would join the war against Japan. World War II ended on 2nd September 1945 after
the launching of the atomic bombs which led to the uq
nconditional surrender of Japan.