Famous English author H.G. Wells labelled the First World War as “the war to end all wars,” but when the Nazis invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, the world erupted into chaos once again. For seven years, the Allies and the Axis played a violent game of tug-of-war; however, once German defeat became inevitable, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his underground bunker in Berlin. Exactly a week later, Germany surrendered. The following is a list of ten reasons why Hitler and the Nazi Party lost the Second World War.
The North African Campaign
The North African campaign was launched by the Axis powers to control the Suez Canal which would offer access to oil from the Middle East. In an effort to help his Italian allies, Hitler established the Afrika Korps in January 1941. The operation was far from a success, however, with the hot desert climate and difficult Italian forces playing major roles in General Rommel’s inability to secure victory. In October 1942, the British defeated the Afrika Korps, denying the Nazis the oil necessary to sustain their monstrous war machine.
After the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Hitler declared war on the US, convinced that they would be too distracted in the Pacific to get involved in Europe; however, the American economy proved so strong that they could participate in both theaters of war. In addition to mobilizing roughly the same amount of soldiers as the Russians, the US provided the other Allied countries with billions of dollars worth of resources. Furthermore, entering the conflict two years after it had begun allowed them to bring a fresh vigor to the battlefield that could barely be matched.
German Supply Lines
The vast amount of territory the Nazis snatched during the war is shocking, but the more land they seized, the longer their supply lines. In many cases, the pure distance of these routes prevented the Germans from transporting goods vital to the war effort in a timely manner, including vehicles and ammunition. Land was also an issue with many of their supply lines running across marshes and other uneven terrain. And while the German military is often portrayed as an industrial beast, the truth is the Wehrmacht still relied heavily on horses to transport supplies.
Operation Barbarossa And The Russian Winter
After breaking his non-aggression pact with Stalin in the summer of 1941, Hitler was so confident he could conquer Russia as quickly and efficiently as he had Western Europe that his forces were not properly equipped for winter. Russia’s resilience, however, was stronger than the Führer had anticipated. Once the weather worsened, German victory was no longer guaranteed. Their equipment began to malfunction and the soldiers were constantly freezing without the proper attire. The brutal weather provided the Red Army an opportunity to reorganize and drive the Nazis away from Moscow.
The Battle Of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad is known as one of the longest and violent battles of the war. Stalingrad (modern day Volgograd) was an important industrial hub which sent supplies across Russia via the Volga River. Even though it would have been easier for the Wehrmacht to sabotage the supply line directly, Hitler was determined to attack the city itself. Taking a place called Stalingrad would have been a huge insult to the leader of the Soviet Union for which the city was named. It would also have provided Goebbels immense fuel for his propaganda machine. Due to Russia’s strategic tactics, the Nazis eventually lost. Hitler’s vanity cost the Germans dearly and, as many historians argue, turned the tide of the war.
An Inability To Lead
After the German’s failure to take Moscow, Nazi high command was reorganized with Hitler himself assuming the role of commander in chief of the Germany army. This shift would result in Germany’s ultimate defeat as Hitler turned out to be an incompetent military leader. He would delay making calls and often contradict his own decisions. When he did give orders, they would result in further destruction. He would frequently ignore warnings from his generals, following through with attacks such as the Ardennes Counteroffensive. He also forbade his forces from retreating which consequently resulted in additional German casualties.
Magic And Mysticism
It was no secret that Hitler had a fascination with all things supernatural; however, this interest played a very active role in the war, dictating much of his decision-making. It has been documented that Hitler and the SS frequently relied on pendulum dowsing to locate British warships on maps. Other non-military personnel who were brought in for their expertise were astrologers, magicians, and tarot card readers. German victory could have been possible if these individuals did not have such a degree of influence on important military operations.
The Allies storming the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 is one of the most iconic moments of the Second World War. Desperate for a way past Hitler’s seemingly impenetrable Atlantic Wall, they crafted a complex ruse to ensure that the bulk of German forces would be located elsewhere during the invasion—specifically Pas-de-Calais, the shortest route to mainland Europe across the English Channel. The Allies used false radio broadcasts, incorrect radar readings, and dummy aircraft and paratroopers to achieve this deception. D-Day was a horrific endeavor regardless, but the Allies may not have been victorious if the Nazis had not fallen for the elaborate hoax.
War On Two Fronts
On August 23, 1939, Hitler and Stalin signed a non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union. Once war broke out a mere few days later, this allowed Hitler to focus all his energy, troops, and resources on the Western Front, pushing the Allies back to Dunkirk. Occupying much of Western Europe, Hitler turned his sights on Russia, breaking his non-aggression pact with Stalin. What the Führer had not anticipated was how decisively the war was going to turn against him. Following Stalingrad and D-Day, the Allies squeezed Hitler and the Nazis from both sides, scattering Germany’s resources and quickening the end of the war.
A Lack Of Morale
Early video clips of Germany show fanatical and enthusiastic crowds, people roused by Hitler’s words and unrelenting certainty. As the war progressed, however, morale at the frontline and back at home dropped drastically. Losing the Eastern Front, Allied bombings, stricter surveillance, and a general dip in the quality of life had a disastrous impact on the will of the people.
About the Author
Nathaniel Whelan has an M.A. from Carleton University and a diploma in Professional Writing from Algonquin College. When he is not serving coffee at his local Starbucks, he can be found reading, writing, or buried under a pile of LEGO. He currently lives in Ottawa with his partner and pet cats Goose and Loki.
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