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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 2:18:57 PM
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The World at War - Looking Back on World War II
Newsweek; December 1st, 1999

Article 1: The War Begins (August 15th, 1939 - October 1st, 1939)

August 15th, 1939, saw an end to the increasingly uneasy peace which had sustained Europe since 1919, and once again that troubled continent was plunged into war.


The Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I in 1919, was not to grant a lasting peace...

Germany, its confidence ever-increasing from its annexations of Austria and Czechoslovakia, had begun a rapid military expansion during the latter part of 1938. The fascist government of Italy stood triumphant over its acquisitions of Albania and Ethiopia. The Soviet Union began seeing the first benefits of its rapid industrialization put towards its military, boasting the largest army in the world. In the Far East, the Empire of Japan made slow but steady gains against the politically fractured and militarily disorganized forces of China, securing much of the coastline and threatening to cut the Chinese off from overseas assistance.

Still, the democratic Allied Powers, led by the United Kingdom and France, had been hesitant to intervene, neither desiring a return to the horrors of the Great War. Across the Atlantic, the people of the USA were nearly unanimous in their desire to stay out any future European war at all costs. But the policies of appeasement could only go so far, and with Germany's eye fixated on Poland, the Allies vowed to protect the independence of all European nations against attack by the war-hungry dictators.


Appeasement was the name of early Allied strategy. Here, British Prime Minster
Neville Chamberlain discusses the fate of Czechoslovakia with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.


On August 15th, that vow was put to the test. Germany, suddenly and without warning, declared war upon Poland. Combining the use of armored tank divisions and the modernized air force of the Luftwaffe, the Germans caught the Polish in a deadly pincer trap with simulateneous assaults from East Prussia and the western border of Poland. Within 12 hours, the Polish lines had collapsed on all fronts, while the German tank divisions moved with frightening speed to cut off the retreating armies.

Much to the shock and horror of the Allies, the Soviet Union declared war on Poland the following day, rushing massive armies over the eastern border in an obviously pre-meditated attack. Many suspected a secret alliance or agreement between Germany and the Soviets, though no formal pact of non-aggression had been put forth by either side.

The Polish government called upon the Allies to honor their guarantees of defense, but the Allies were slow to come to an agreement. A full 3 days went by while the Polish army fought desparately on all sides, while the Allied leaders argued and debated on if, how, and when to answer the aggressions of Germany and the Soviet Union. Finally, on August 19th, the Allies compromised by declaring war on Germany, though Soviet aggression was left unanswered and unpunished.

By this time, though, Poland's fate was sealed. Within a week, Germany was destroying the last remnants of the Polish army and occupying Warsaw, while the Soviet Union completed the occupation of Eastern Poland. By mid-September, the nation of Poland had been dissolved and split in two between Germany and the Soviet Union.


German and Soviet officers meet at the new common border in partitioned Poland

The Allies had failed to provide even the smallest amount of assistance in Poland's hour of need. Moreover, obvious splits in Anglo-French relations were becoming more and more obvious. In what is now considered the most infamous of these disputes, French naval command gave a radio command to the battleship HMS Repulse, heavily damaged from an engagement with German U-boats. While the action did likely save the Repulse from certain destruction, Winston Churchill, Lord of the Admirality, was so angered he took to hurling insults at anything and everything French over open frequencies and radio broadcasts for all the world to see. The disputes finally ended when the French ceded high command of the Allied forces to the United Kingdom, but this string of events left little confidence in the world's nations over the resolve and strength of the Allied forces.


Chuchill, First Lord of the Admirality in September 1939, gives a very publicized account
of how he wishes to deal with French Prime Minster Paul Reynaud over the HMS Repulse scandal...


Perhaps seeking to take advantage of this apparent split, the Germans quickly occupied the Netherlands in mid-September. Again, the Allies could provide next to no support against the menacing speed and strength of German warfare, now known as Blitzkrieg, or "Lightning War".


This picture of Rotterdam, taken during the
German invasion of the Netherlands, shows that even the
brief conflicts of World War II brought great destruction and conflict.


October 1st saw the close of the first phase of the conflict we know today as World War II. Germany stood poised in the Netherlands, threatening to strike at any moment into the heart of France. Meanwhile, uncertainty remained regarding the Eastern Front, where early talks about a non-aggression treaty between foreign ministers Vyacheslav Molotov (for the Soviets) and Joachim Ribbentrop (for the Germans) had made little progress. Benito Mussolini, Il Duce, was keeping Italy neutral in the growing European conflict, but continued amassing his nation's military and holding friendly discussions with German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler. The Japanese had won several key victories against China, nearly severing it's coastal ports from vital supplies sent by the USA. Meanwhile, the USA's policy of isolationism showed no signs of abating, despite indications that President Franklin D. Roosevelt feared the consequences of following his nation's wishes.

So began the greatest conflict of the 20th century, a series of sparks that wouuld set off a conflagaration of war, death, and destruction...
Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:50:33 PM
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The World at War - Looking Back on World War II
Newsweek; December 3rd, 1999

Article 2: The Fall of Western Europe (October 1st, 1939 - March 1st, 1940)

Historians often now consider October 1939 to be a prime example of ill-prepared military defense, but in defense of the Allied powers, few could have forseen the events that would befall the early winter of that fateful year. Those naysayers are quick to forget that none of the Allied commanders expected the German army would dare an attack into Western Europe so late in the year. None could have expected the stunning effectiveness of the German's new Blitzkrieg, or "Lightning War", tactics.

On October 6th, Germany openly declared war upon their Belgian neighbor. The fall of Belgium was to prove reminiscent of the Netherlands, for within a week, the Germans held all Belgian soil save for the western reaches of Ghent. The beginning of this offensive had all the markings of the Schlieffen Plan, the failed German offensive that opened World War I, and the Allied High Command believed with winter snow just around the corner, they could settle into the same stalemate of the last great European war.


The Germans took a large number of Allied prisoners during the invasion of Belgium.

To make matters worse for Germany, on October 15th, the nation of Lithuania bowed to Soviet pressure and was annexed into the Soviet Union. This put the Red Army within easy striking distance of Prussia, a threat which, had it been exploited, might have saved much of Western Europe from the Axis powers. Stalin had other ideas, though, and the uneasy peace between the two great dictatorships of Europe remained unbroken.

Germany also took this time to quickly overrun Denmark and secure its northern shores through the Baltic Sea. The Danish army was too small and disorganized to mount much of a defense, and within days this small northern neighbor had been consolidated into the expanses of the Third Reich.

With matters escalating at such a grave speed, the parliament of the United Kingdom called for the abdication of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, whose policies of appeasement were now considered a large cause for the deteriorating situation. Weary and downtrodden, Chamberlain stepped down from his post, and in his place came Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admirality who had long argued vehemently for the need to intervene against Germany. One of history's most gifted speakers, Churchill's ringing "Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat" speech as he met his new Cabinet was to prove a forbidding premonition of the coming month.


Taken after Churchill became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Here he gives his famous V-For-Victory sign.

Heavy fighting continued along the Belgian border with France throughout mid-October. The Allied High Command quickly found they were facing a much different beast than the German army of 1914-15, though, and Germany's new vaunted armor divisions forced a breach behind the lines of the Maginot fortifications on October 22nd. From there, the Allies found themselves in a precarious situation, with Paris exposed to the danger of occupation and their eastern forces threatened by encirclement.

The situation only deteriorated over the next week. By the opening of November, the Germans had routed all Allied forces in northeastern France, and stood poised to strike Paris from all sides. Now began a hectic defense of the French capital, with the hope of holding out long enough for the winter snow to set in and stall the relentless German march. Such a fate was not to be, however; the Allied lines had become long and strained during the offensive, and Paris proved too weakly defended against the enemy. On November 4th, the French resistance was broken, and on the strike of midnight, November 5th, German forces entered Paris. Only days later, the winter snows that were to save the Allied defense set in over the new occupying garrison. In just under 1 month, the German war machine had completely destroyed their western foe; French morale had reached an abysmal low, and the end of their war effort was a matter of when and how, rather than if.


The German army parades through occupied Paris.

By mid-November, the last straggling remants of the French army were ready to surrender. On November 17th, Marshal Pétain of France took control of the French government and signed an armistice with Germany, setting up the Vichy regime in southern France. The Germans occupied the northern and western reaches of France, while Pétain named himself Chief of State in the new France.


Marshal Pétain accepts Hitler's endorsement as the new Chief of State in Vichy France.

December brought more bleak news to the Allied High Command, though military actions came to a stall as the cold of winter set in. On December 22nd, a formal non-aggression pact was signed between the Soviet Union, who had recently submitted both Latvia and Estonia to its rule, and the nations of Germany, Italy, and Japan. Later that same day, the Soviet Union declared war on its small neighbor, Finland. It now seemed all of the United Kingdom's enemies were in mutual agreement to oversee its destruction. All the while, the populace of the USA maintained its hardline isolationist stance, though in private, President Roosevelt expressed grave concerns and began making preparations for an eventual war.


The German and Soviet foreign ministers formalize a non-aggression pact between their powers.

It was in late 1939 that the true weakness of the Soviet Union was first displayed during the Winter War with Finland. Almost immediately, the war went poorly for the Soviets. The Finnish army, who had been preparing for war with their gigantic neighbor, launched a surprise offensive against Leningrad and very nearly succeeded in overtaking the city. It was only the arrival of emergency forces on New Years' Day, 1940, that saved Leningrad from falling to the Finns. Meanwhile, the Finns cut through Soviet defenses at the southern tip of Karelia, severing ties to the northern Red Army from the mainland. Such was to be the story of the Winter War, for while the Soviets did make some small advances, they had failed to push the Finns out of Karelia even by the beginning of March.


The Finns were much better prepared for the Winter War, leading to their great successes early in the struggle.

In the Far East, Japan's war with China continued unabated. The Chinese were slowly being pushed back by the invaders, though Japan found the going to be very slow and the war effort had largely stalemated. Only a major breakthrough into the Communist Chinese capital of Yan'an in mid-February 1940 showed any major success for the Japanese.

On March 1st, 1940, the next phase of the war was about to begin. The Soviet Union struggled heavily to overcome the growing embarrassment of the Winter War; the world looked on to see what Germany's next move would be; Italy for the time being remained neutral, though it would continue to foster increasingly friendly relations with the Third Reich; the United Kingdom braced for its lonely struggle against the growing Axis Powers; Japan sought to exploit its recent victory of the Communist Chinese; and the USA simply looked on, too locked in its isolationism to pose any serious threat to the aggressor nations of the world...
Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:51:09 PM
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The World at War - Looking Back on World War II
Newsweek; December 5th, 1999

Article 3: Europe in Peril (March 1st, 1940 - June 1st, 1940)

The spring of 1940 saw the war in Europe begin to widen, as the opposing dictatorships of Germany and the Soviet Union vied for territorial standing against one another, and a lone United Kingdom held out bravely against overwhelming odds.

With the winter snow begin to thaw, Germany unleashed its might army upon the hapless nation of Yugoslavia on March 4th. Despite valiant efforts, the Yugoslav army could put forth no real defense against the onslaught of German might. It would be a mere 10 days before the first German soldiers rolled into Belgrade while the remnants of the defenders fell back to the south for one last stand.

On March 13th, the long Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland finally came to an end. The Finns, their brave defense finally exhausted and broken, gave in to Soviet demands and ceded nearly a third of their industrial lands to the aggressors. But the world was equal parts impressed by the brave efforts of the Finnish army and unimpressed with the abysmal performance of the supposedly "invincible" Red Army. In particular, the Germans had taken a very poor view of their neighbor, and in hindsight, one must wonder if the Germans would have signed the Molotov-Ribbentorp pact in December 1939 if they realized what little a threat the Red Army actually posed.


Finnish Prime Minister, Risto Ryti, broadcasts to the Finns the details of the Moscow Peace Treaty which ended the Winter War, ceding about 10% of Finland's territorial lands and 30% of its industry to the Soviet Union.

On April 1st, the Germans finally broke the resistance in Yugoslavia and forced their surrender, though heavy partisanship among the occupied nation would continue. Benito Mussolini, Il Duce of Italy, flew to Berlin where long negotiations were held over the future of Europe. Hungary had recently reached an alliance with Germany, throwing its lot in with the Axis Powers, and as Churchill privately raised concerns over Italy's supposed neutral stance, he ordered his commanders in North Africa and the Mideast to prepare for likely Italian intervention.

But Churchill's fears were to be unfounded for the present. On April 28th, Germany reached a deal with Italy in which it turned over the coast of Yugoslavia, apparently wishing to protect its southern flank through Italian neutrality. This was followed quickly by a German declaration of war against Greece on May 1st, a war that ended in less than a week with the capitulation of the Greek army.


Mussolini and Hitler give a tour through Berlin during Il Duce's visit. Scenes such as this caused great angst in the British cabinet, but their fears of immediate Italian intervention went unfounded. Three days after this photo, Germany turned over the coast of Yugoslavia to Italy.

On May 8th, just hours after the surrender of Greece, the German army turned its armies upon Turkey, the first blatant attack against Soviet interests. Stalin himself condemned the attack and the uneasy truce of December 1939 began to appear tenuous indeed. Meanwhile, the Royal Navy launched Operation Turk, its contingency plan in the event of a Turkish invasion. While Istanbul fell quickly to German might, the British sent a heavy fleet into the Bosphorus Strait before it could be secured by German troops, impending any movement into Anatolia. The British also quickly move to secure the island of Crete, gaining a valuable port and airfield in the Mediterranean Sea. This unexpected intervention was to prove the first major setback of the German army which had so flawlessly conducted its occupation of Europe, and Churchill was quick to vaunt the effectiveness of British intervention.


Operation Turk - Here can be seen the British blockade in the Bosphorus Strait, impending any further German aggression against Turkey in Anatolia.

And so May closed the curtains on an uncertain Europe. Soviet-German relations had quickly soured, though Stalin seemed uneager to repeat the embarrassment he had just received from Finland through direct intervention against Germany. The United Kingdom, for the time being, seemed to have finally gained its footing. Italy remained an uncertain wild-card, its friendly relations with Germany not having brimmed over into full partnership.

In Asia, the slow front of the Chinese theater continued to move at a snail's pace, though the Japanese were making some key breakthroughs. The Communist Chinese in particular have lost much of their steam, and the Nationalists feared their northern front may collapse at any time.

The USA continued to remain aloof to world affairs, though Roosevelt began making private arrangements to deal with the future threat of Japan in the Pacific. He also began drafting plans for what would become the Lend-Lease Agreement, though no official information had yet been presented to the Congress.

Spring 1940 saw the first glimmers of hope for the Allied Powers after the devasting year of 1939. The world held its breath once more, waiting to see where the great conflict led next...
Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:51:40 PM
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The World at War - Looking Back on World War II
Newsweek; December 7th, 1999

Article 4: Britain Makes a Stand (June 1st, 1940 - November 22nd, 1940)

The summer and fall of 1940 were a desperate time for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, facing the juggernaut of the German war machine alone, as the USA continually hesitated to interfere in European affairs and the situation in Asia grew ever more perilous with major Japanese victories over China. Still, Churchill rallied his nation to the defense, and despite all odds, the United Kingdom held its ground.

After the quick blitzkrieg attacks that had been the signature of World War II since August 1939, the summer of 1940 proved surprisingly calm and quiet. Operation Turk had been an overwhelming success, with the Royal Navy's blockade of the Bosphorus Strait denying the Germans any chance to threaten the Mid-East. And so Germany found itself in a stalemate with the United Kingdom, with the war now being fought solely by air between the opposing powers. Little was to occur during this period, save for the entry of Romania into the growing Axis alliance with Germany and Hungary.


German Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentorp, welcomes the Romanians into the Axis alliance in June 1940.

During this European lull, the Sino-Japanese War began taking decisive turns in Japan's favor. Throughout the summer, the Communist Chinese were thoroughly routed by Japanese offensives, while the Nationalist Chinese struggled to hold their eastern border. On September 16th, the Imperial Japanese Army finally captured and executed Mao Zedong, bringing an end to the Communist rebels of China. But the Nationalist Chinese could ill-afford to celebrate the elimination of their long-hated foe, for the collapse of the Communist defense put the heart of the Nationalist government and industry at risk. To make matters worse, the Japanese installed a puppet government (ironically called the People's Republic of China) with jurisdiction over most of China. The Nationalists were quickly losing support and the necessary industries to continue waging war, and despite aid sent from the USA, it now seemed only a matter of time before the final surrender of Chiang Kai-Shek's weary and beaten army.


Mao Zedong, leader of the Communist Chinese, in his prison cell after capture by the Japanese army. He was executed three days after this photo was taken.

The end of September saw some diplomatic errors on the part of the German government. Evidently seeking to sway Bulgaria into an alliance, the Germans ceded a portion of northern Greece to the Bulgarian government. However, the negotiations quickly soured, and instead of gaining an ally, the Germans found their forces in Istanbul cut off from supply lines. Talks began in earnest between Italy and Germany once more, and on October 15th, 1940, Italy declared its allegiance with the Axis powers and finally came into the growing war.

Late October and early November were highlighted by fierce naval battles between the Regia Marina and the Royal Navy. Despite overwhelming odds, the Italian navy ran the gauntlet of the Mediterranean and sunk the blockading ships in the Bosphorus Strait, bringing an end to Operation Turk. The Regia Marina suffered minimal losses in this brash naval attack, losing only one of its battleships and a few of its heavy cruisers. The Royal Navy fared heavier losses, though most were outdated light cruisers.


An Italian battleship fires upon the Royal Navy in the Battle of the Bosphorus Strait, which brought an end to the British blockade at Istanbul.

With Italy's arrival into the war, the USA finally began to act on behalf of the British. The Lend-Lease Act, which was signed into law by Congress just hours after Italy's declaration of war, gave President Roosevelt the authority to send supplies and armaments as seen fit to foreign nations. Churchill broadcast a beaming message of hope to his people over this wonderful news.


Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States, signs the Lend-Lease Act into law, providing valuable aid to the Allied powers.

November closed on an uncertain scene. The United Kingdom had held their ground, and thwarted the Axis powers from any further advances, but the arrival of Italy on the scene and Japan's rapidly ascendance over Asia left many questions as to how long the British could keep their enemies at bay. The world waited with anticipation to see how the two huge powers of the Soviet Union and the USA would respond to the growing global climate, for their involvement was sure to determine the path of the war to come...

Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:52:55 PM
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The World at War - Looking Back on World War II
Newsweek; December 9th, 1999

Article 5: The Battle of the Mediterranean (December 1st, 1940 - May 1st, 1941)

[PLACEHOLDER - WILL UPDATE]
Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:53:28 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:54:05 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:54:45 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:55:15 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:55:49 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:56:31 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:57:43 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:58:14 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:58:46 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:59:17 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 7:00:23 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 7:00:58 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 7:01:30 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 7:03:13 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 7:03:59 PM
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Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 7:04:53 PM
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GoodbyeBluesky
Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2009 4:08:48 AM
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You should post this at the Paradox Forum Wink '

That maybe gets some more people interested in your mod too!
Altaris
Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 8:26:19 PM
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Updated for Session 4. Getting close to Barbarossa now!
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