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The divisions between London and Washington arose because the interests of British and US imperialism were different, and even antagonistic. American imperialism did not want Hitler to succeed because that would have created a powerful rival to the USA in Europe.

On the other hand, it was in the interests of US imperialism to weaken Britain and its empire, because it aimed to replace Britain as the leading power in the world after the defeat of Germany and Japan. The decision to open a second front in Italy was dictated mainly by the fear that, following the overthrow of Mussolini in , the Italian Communists would take power. The main aim of the British and Americans was, therefore, to prevent the Italian Communists from taking power. So at a time when the Red Army was taking on the full weight of the Wehrmacht in the battle of Kursk, the British and Americans were wading ashore on the beaches of Sicily.

Hitler’s Defeat on the Eastern Front

In vain Mussolini pleaded with Hitler to send him reinforcements. All Hitler's attention was focused on the Russian front. Churchill's attention was fixed on the Mediterranean, a position determined by the strategic concerns and interests of British imperialism and its empire. However, from late it became clear to the Americans that the USSR was winning the war on the eastern front and if nothing was done, the Red Army would just roll through Europe. That is why Roosevelt pressed for the opening of the second front in France.

On the other hand, Churchill was constantly arguing for delay. This led to severe frictions between London and Washington. One recent article on the subject states:. There was much disagreement about timing, appointments of command, and where exactly the landings were to take place. The opening of a second front had been long postponed it had been initially mooted in , and had been a particular source of strain between the allies. Stalin had been pressing the Western Allies to launch a 'second front' since Churchill had argued for delay until victory could be assured, preferring to attack Italy and North Africa first.

The concerns of the imperialists were openly expressed in a meeting of the Joint British and American Chiefs of Staff that took place in Cairo on November 25, They noted that "the Russian campaign has succeeded beyond all hope and expectations [that is, the hopes of the Russians and the expectations of their "allies"] and their victorious advance continues.

In actual fact, the German strength in France next Spring may, at one end of the scale, be something which makes Overlord Completely impossible. What "other theatres" are referred to here? The answer was provided in another Note entitled "Entry of Turkey into the War. In other words, Churchill was still concentrating on the Mediterranean and the Balkans. V, August September , p.

The argument about the second front continued in Teheran, where Stalin met Churchill and Roosevelt on November 28, The next day, the following exchange took place between Stalin and Churchill:. April and May are the most convenient months for Overlord.


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That was absolutely correct. The Mediterranean operations were a sideshow compared to the titanic battles on the eastern front.

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To make matters worse, the British and US forces in Italy, although they had a considerable superiority over the German army, were slowing their advance, allowing the Wehrmacht to move forces from Italy to the Russian front. On November 6, , Molotov had pointed out that the Soviet Union was "displeased by the fact that operations in Italy have been suspended," allowing for this transfer of troops to the eastern front.

The slowness of the Allied advance in Italy was no coincidence.


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It is now common knowledge that the British and American forces could have taken Rome without having to battle it out for months at Montecassino. They organised a landing at Anzio, further up the coast from Montecassino, and if they had marched quickly towards Rome they could have cut off the German troops who had dug in around the Abbey of Montecassino.

Instead they wasted precious time in building their bridgehead on the beach. This allowed the German army to regroup and build a defensive line that basically kept the Allied troops on the beach of Anzio. Once this happened there remained no alternative but to fight their way through the formidable German defence lines at Montecassino. The Allies lost a huge number of soldiers and were bogged down for months as result. What is evident is that the British and Americans were worried that the partisans could come to power long before the arrival of the Allied forces.

Their view was that it was better to let the Nazis fight it out with the partisans and thus weaken the resistance forces. Thus while the Allies were fighting the Germans in Italy, there was an undeclared and tacit agreement between the two sides when it came to stopping the common class enemy, in this case the Italian working class.

However, going back to the question of the second front, it was clear that Roosevelt took a rather different position to Churchill. The Americans had their own reasons for wanting to satisfy the demands of the USSR to open the second front in Europe. They were involved in a bloody war with Japan in the Pacific, where their troops had to capture heavily defended islands, one by one.

They realised that, to take on the powerful land armies of Japan on the Asian mainland would be a formidable task, unless the Red Army also launched an offensive against the Japanese in China, Manchuria and Korea. Stalin let it be known that the Red Army would attack the Japanese, but only after the German army had been defeated.

The rapid advance of the Red Army in Europe at last forced Churchill to change his mind about Overlord. From a position of supine inactivity in Europe, the Allies hurriedly moved into action. The fear of the Soviet advance was now the main factor in the equations of both London and Washington. So worried were the imperialists that they actually worked out a new plan, Operation Rankin, involving an emergency landing in Germany if it should collapse or surrender.

They were determined to get to Berlin before the Red Army. The United States should have Berlin. Despite the successes of the Red Army, Hitler still had considerable forces at his disposal.

Nazi Germany's Defeat on the Eastern Front, - Wikibooks, open books for an open world

The Wehrmacht remained a formidable fighting machine, with over ten million men, over six and a half million of them in the field. But what is never made clear in the West is that two-thirds of these were concentrated on the Russian front. The only contribution of the British and Americans was the bombing campaigns that devastated German cities like Hamburg and killed a huge number of civilians, but which completely failed either to destroy the Germans' fighting spirit or halt war production.

The German forces on the eastern front had 54, guns and mortars, more than 5, tanks and assault guns and 3, combat aircraft. In spite of the Allied bombing raids, Hitler's war industries were increasing their production in They produced , guns, as against 73, in Production of tanks and assault guns increased from 10, to 18, and of combat aircraft from 19, to 34, The Red Army launched a huge offensive in late December, , which swept all before it.

After liberating the Ukraine, they pushed the German forces back through Eastern Europe. The fact is that both Roosevelt and Churchill not to mention Hitler had underestimated the Soviet Union.

This is Why You Don't Invade Russia in the Winter

If they had not launched Overlord when they did, they would have met them on the English Channel. That is why the D-Day landings were launched when they were. The fact is that even after the Normandy landings of June , the eastern front remained the most important front of the war in Europe. The British and US armies got as far as the borders of Germany but were halted there.

On the other hand, the advance of the Red Army was the most spectacular in the whole history of warfare. The aim of this offensive was more political than military. Hitler hoped to force the British and Americans to sign a separate peace. But the German forces on the western front were too weak to inflict a decisive blow, since most were concentrated on the main theatre of operations in the East. The Wehrmacht advanced some ninety kilometres before being halted. You know yourself from your own experience how very anxious the position is when a very broad front has to be defended after temporary loss of the initiative.

It is General Eisenhower's great desire and need to know in outline what you plan to do, as this obviously affects all his and our major decisions […] I shall be grateful if you can tell me whether we can count on a major Russian offensive on the Vistula front, or elsewhere, during January […] I regard the matter as urgent. The Soviet forces did advance on January 12, pushing the German army back on a broad front. The British and US imperialists were placed in a difficult position.

Behind the German lines on the Eastern Front, many thousands of Soviet workers and peasants engaged in a heroic and desperate partisan war. On the night of June 19, , more than ten thousand demolition charges laid by Soviet partisans damaged beyond immediate repair the whole German rail network west of Minsk. On the next two nights, a further forty thousand charges blew up the railway lines between Vitebsk and Orsha, and Polotsk and Molodechno.

The essential lines for German reinforcements, linking Minsk with Brest-Litovsk and Pinsk, were also attacked, while , Soviet partisans, west of Vitebsk and south of Polotsk, attacked German military formations. Martin Gilbert writes: "All this, however, was just the opening prelude to the morning of June 22, when the Red Army opened its summer offensive. Code-named Operation Bagration, after the tsarist General, it began on the third anniversary of Hitler's invasion of Russia, with a force larger than that of Hitler's in In all, 1,, Soviet troops took part, supported by 2, tanks, 1, self-propelled guns, 24, artillery pieces and 2, rocket launchers, sustained in the air by six thousand aircraft, and on the ground by 70, lorries and up to a hundred supply trains a day.

In one week, the two-hundred-mile-long German front was broken, and the Germans driven back towards Bobruisk, Stolbtsy, Minsk and Grodno, their hold on western Russia broken for ever. In one week, 38, German troops had been killed and , taken prisoner. The Germans also lost two thousand tanks, ten thousand heavy guns, and 57, vehicles. German Army Group North, on which so much depended, was broken into two segments, one retreating towards the Baltic States, the other towards East Prussia.

Gilbert, Second World War , p. Offensive operations on the Western front were renewed in February. In fact, the British and US forces met with little serious resistance, because the great majority of Hitler's effective fighting forces were fighting on the eastern front. This enabled the British and American forces to advance all along the length of the Rhine. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe, admitted that they had not encountered any serious opposition. The two US divisions that made the assault suffered only thirty-one casualties.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe , New York, , p. The fighting spirit of the German army was broken. An average of 10, German soldiers surrendered to the British and Americans every day.