D-Day

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In midsummer 1943, a year before the Anglo-American invasion of Normandy, Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht, still occupied all the territory it had gained in the blitzkrieg campaigns of 1939-41 and most of its Russian conquests of 1941-42. Germany also retained a foothold on the coast of North Africa, acquired when Germany assisted Italy in 1941. The Russian counteroffensives at Stalingrad and Kursk pushed back the perimeter of Hitler’s Europe in the east. Yet, Hitler and his allies still controlled the whole of mainland Europe, except for neutral Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and Sweden. The Nazi war economy was eclipsed by the war economy of America but was still larger then Britain and the Soviet Union, except in key areas of tank and aircraft production. Hitler could count on prolonging his military dominance for years to come in Europe unless the Allies intervened with the commitment of a large American army. Since 1942, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had been pressing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to mount a “second front” in the west. America’s army was still forming, while landing craft necessary to bring such an army across the English Channel had not yet been developed. Britain had, nevertheless, begun to prepare plans for a return to the continental mainland soon after their retreat from Dunkirk, France, in 1940. Immediately after Hitler declared war on the United States on December 11, 1941, Germany had started to frame their own timetable. Less inhibited than the British by perceived technical difficulties, they pressed from the start for an early invasion, desirably in 1943, perhaps even in 1942. “To that end George C. Marshall, Roosevelt’s chief of staff, appointed a protégé, Dwight D. Eisenhower, to the U.S. Army’s war plans division in December 1941 and commissioned him to design an operational scheme for Allied victory”(World War II). Convincing himself swiftly taking care of the Germans first was priority. This was agreed by Roosevelt and Churchill at Argentia, Newfoundland, in August 1941. Eisenhower framed proposals for a 1943 invasion (Operation “Roundup”), and another (Operation “Sledgehammer”) for 1942 in case of a Russian collapse or a sudden weakening of Germany’s position. Both plans were presented to the British in London in April 1942, and Roundup was adopted... ... middle of paper ... ... to Jacques-Philippe-Leclerc, the 2nd Armored commander. On August 26, General Chales de Gaulle, head of the Free French, made a triumphal parade down the Champs-Elysees to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, where a mass of victory was celebrated. The Normandy campaign had been a stunning success. By early September 1944, all but a fraction of France had been liberated. The American and British/Canadian forces had occupied Belgium and part of The Netherlands and had reached the German frontier. They had, however, outrun their logistic support and lacked the strength to launch a culminating offensive. The coming winter would see much hard fighting, and a German counteroffensive in the Belgian Ardennes, before the German army in the west was finally to be beaten. Within a few short weeks, the Normandy Invasion passed into history and legend. In my opinion, the primary reason that the invasion of Normandy worked was deception. D-Day was a tremendous achievement for British, Canadian, American fighting men and their countries economy. I think that the invasion was the most critical event of World War II. If the invasion were to fail, it would have totally changed the outcome of the war.

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