World War II Tours
World War Two was a global conflict that involved the majority of the countries in the world. They were organized into two opposing alliances; The Allies and the Axis forces. Although war was declared in Europe in September 1939, two of the largest countries in the world, the Soviet Union and the United States did not enter the war until 1941. Prior to September 1939, many countries were already involved in a more regionalized war. In total, the conflict involved over 100 million military personal and by the time it ended in 1945, 70 million people had lost their lives.
Origins of World War II
The reasons for the outbreak of World War II are varied and complex. If you are really interested in in-depth information on the subject, whole books have been written about it. In Europe, the Treaty of Versailles had been incredibly harsh on Germany. It lost 13% of its land, all its colonies and imposed massive repatriations. As a nation, Germany was on its knees but was now rejuvenated under Adolf Hitler and it was Germany’s invasion of Poland that saw Britain and France declare war on Germany.
Stalin had pledged to not take sides in any conflict but when Hitler invaded Russia in 1941 (Operation Barbarossa) and failed to inflict a decisive victory, they woke a sleeping giant who played a significant role in their eventual downfall. Meanwhile, despite providing Britian with supplies and arms, the United States kept out of the war until on 7th December 1941, the Japanese attacked the Pacific fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbour. Over 2,000 people were killed and now America entered the war too.
The War Years
The war years saw terrible fighting in many parts of the world as Allied forces tried to dislodge the access forces from the countries they had occupied. Gradually, the Allies started to get the upper hand in Europe and the Far East.
The D-Day Landings in Normandy on 6th June 1944 saw the Allies gain a foothold back in Fortress Europe and the advance on Berlin from the west had begun. To the East, German forces had fought their way to the outskirts of Moscow before being fought back and now they were on the retreat in the East too. In the Far East, the United States was fighting back against the Japanese in the Pacific and Allied forces were starting to get the upper hand against the Japanese who had even attacked parts of northern Australia by air.
Defeat of the Axis Forces
In Europe, the Allies approached Berlin from the West as Soviet forces closed in from the East. The Russian forces were first into Berlin just after Hitler had committed suicide in his bunker. Many of the Nazi hierarchy had also killed themselves but some tried to escape. They were captured and put on trial in Nuremburg for war crimes. The war in Europe ended in May 1945.
In the Far East, the Japanese held out for longer but with the possibility of horrific casualties that would be suffered with an invasion of Japan, the American’s issued ultimatums to Japan to surrender. These were ignored and in August 1945, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered on 15th August 1945 and the Second World War ended. As it ended, the Cold War was about to begin.
Leger Holidays are the UK’s leading Battlefield Tours operator. All their tours are escorted by a Specialist Battlefields Guide. Full information about their current tours, availability and prices can be found on their website.