A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War

A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War

A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War

A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War

Excerpt

World War II was the deadliest conflict in modern history. It continued World War I's slaughter of soldiers but then added direct attacks against civilians on a scale not seen in Europe since the Thirty Years' War three centuries earlier. On the Eastern Front, its horrors surpassed the worst battles of the first global war. At times the death struggle between the forces massed by the German Wehrmacht and Red Army never seemed to stop. From the Battle of Kursk in July 1943 to the Crimea in early May 1944, military operations involving hundreds of thousands of soldiers continued day in and day out. Then, after a pause lasting barely a month and a half, Soviet forces attacked the German Army at the end of June 1944, and the ferocious fighting in the east continued without letup until the collapse of Hitler's regime. After 6 June 1944, a similar war began on the Westem Front. The amphibious assault of the Anglo-American forces on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day initiated military operations in northern Europe that would not end until May 1945.

The ferocity of the war among the world's great—and small—nations mounted with the addition of racial ideology to the nationalism, lust for glory, greed, fear, and vindictiveness that have characterized war through the ages. Nazi Germany espoused an ideological world view (Weltanschauung) based on belief in a "biological" world revolution—a revolution that Adolf Hitler pursued with grim obsession from the early 1920s until his suicide in the Berlin Führerbunker in early May 1945. The Nazis' aim was to eliminate the Jews and other "subhuman" races, enslave the Poles, Russians, and other Slavs, and restore the Aryan race—meaning the Germans—to its rightful place as rulers of the world. By the end of the war, the Nazis had murdered or worked to death at least 12 million non-German civilians and prisoners.

In Asia, the Japanese did not adopt so coherent an ideology of racial superiority as the Nazis, but their xenophobic nationalism, combined with dreams of empire and deep bitterness at the dominance of much of Asia by . . .

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