How Hitler Destroyed Europe In Just 2 Short Years
It’s early morning. The air is still; stars shine brightly in the sky. There is anticipation in the atmosphere as if it is waiting for a lightning storm of metal to break the peacefulness. Suddenly, the howl of plane engines breaks the stillness; the roar of diesel engines carries tanks across the landscape; the marching of troops shakes the Earth. Nazi Germany has begun its invasion of Europe. In two short years, Adolf Hitler will control most of the battle-scarred continent. How could so much destruction happen so quickly? One word: Blitzkrieg. The Nazis were able to conquer much of Europe in an unbelievably short amount of time. But
once you realize that this was an absolute necessity, that Hitler and his top generals had no choice and planned for this, things become much clearer. The pain of World War I was still entrenched in the Führer’s mind, along with the collective consciousness of the German people. When Hitler and the Nazi Party began to plan their conquest of Europe, they knew that it needed to be done quickly and decisively. Germany could not win a
prolonged war fought on several fronts, no matter how badly Hitler wanted it. This meant new tactics needed to be tested and honed to ensure Nazi German would be victorious. When Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, he immediately started implementing laws and using his influence to rev up the German war machine. Huge amounts of money and resources were dedicated to research and development
in order to make sure that Germany had the fastest tanks, deadliest aircraft, and most powerful weapons. It was the investment in wartime technology that allowed the Germans to devise a plan to conquer their neighbors and expand the Nazi Empire across Europe. In order to ramp up production and basically resurrect the German military from scratch, Hitler needed more land and resources. He couldn’t start his war without the proper
equipment and weapons, so the dictator needed to be strategic about how he acquired the territory around Germany. Hitler didn’t want Allied nations to catch onto his plan until it was too late. No one wanted to fight another World War, so many European powers took a non-confrontational stance when it came to keeping Germany in check.
Hitler knew this and planned on exploiting the unwillingness of his enemies to engage in war. On March 7, 1936, German troops entered and re-occupied the Rhineland, a demilitarized zone set up by the Treaty of Versailles. Germany was strictly forbidden from reclaiming the Rhineland by Allied nations after World War I as they knew it was a resource-rich region that could be used to fuel the German economy and its manufacturing centers. Rather than standing up to Hitler, Allied nations backed down and seceded the Rhineland to Germany without a fight.
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For the next three years, Germany developed more powerful weapons and state-of-the-art vehicles. While more soldiers were being trained and wartime machinery was being constructed at factories across Germany and its newly acquired territories, Hitler and his advisors discussed how they would begin their war to create the Third Reich. It’s not hard to imagine Hitler, Himmler, Göring, and Goebbels sitting around a table plotting the destruction of the world because this is exactly what they did. Hitler’s dreams didn’t stop with the annihilation of Europe; he wanted to bring the entire planet to its knees.
As the Nazis strategized the perfect way to conquer their enemies and cleanse the continent of anyone they saw as being impure, wartime production was reaching its pinnacle. When the summer of 1939 came to an end, Nazi Germany had everything it needed to launch an invasion into neighboring countries and begin its conquest of Europe. Hitler had a plan, the best military vehicles in the region, and a desire to conquer anyone who stood in his way. The Naizs decided they would wage war using a form of warfare that became known as Blitzkrieg. This word translates to “lightning war.” The Blitzkrieg tactic would ensure that the Nazis could win
battles quickly and continuously move towards their next target. There would be no trenches, and there would be no slowing down. What made this type of warfare possible were the advances in technology that allowed Nazi tanks to be heavily armored while also being able to travel quickly across different landscapes. Also, advances in aviation meant that the Nazis could drop more
bombs with somewhat better accuracy. On top of all of this, radio communication had improved, allowing generals to send orders over longer distances much quicker than before. All of these technological advances enabled Germany to wage a Blitzkrieg-style war, which would result in the destruction of Europe. The Blitzkrieg tactic was simple yet highly effective. Before an attack, the German Luftwaffe would conduct a series of bombing runs behind enemy lines to slow down reinforcements and supplies. Reconnaissance would be conducted on the location and the strength of enemy forces was determined by spies and scouting units. The intel gathered would be
used to identify weak points in the enemy line, which would be exploited. It was these locations where tank divisions struck and signaled the beginning of the end for Germany’s enemies. When the time was right, the order would be given for heavily armored Panzer tanks to advance. They would crash into the enemy line supported by troops and artillery. At this point,
the goal was not to defeat the enemy, or even to win the battle. Instead, the Nazi forces would focus their efforts on a specific spot until they could break through and move past enemy forces. Once the line was breached, the tanks would flood through the opening, followed by infantry and heavily armed vehicles. The tanks would continue to push forward as the rest of the military forces secured key points along the corridor that the tanks had created through enemy territory. This corridor would then be used to flood more troops into enemy-controlled territory. They
would be followed by convoys full of supplies to make sure that Nazi forces had the munitions and resources they needed to continue their advance forward. This same tactic would be carried out at numerous weak spots along the enemy line, creating multiple points where Nazi forces could enter and advance deeper into enemy territory. While all this was happening, the Luftwaffe would be called once again to conduct bombing runs on airbases, supply depots, and convoys. This kept the enemy from resupplying their front lines as the Nazi ground forces slowly started to encircle their armies.
By driving a hole through the enemy line, it caused mass disorganization among their foes. As the enemy tried to regroup, they would find that the Nazis had set up blockades all along the corridor that they had created and were using to advance further into the region. This meant that enemy forces were isolated from one another and could not regroup. The Nazis would then send troops to open the breach wider to allow for more maneuverability. These soldiers, accompanied by artillery, would ensure the gap was heavily fortified to keep enemy forces from refilling it. If the enemy was ever allowed to close their lines before
the Panzers could encircle them, it could lead to devastating losses for the Nazis. However, it was rare that once the Germans broke an enemy line and started sending troops and supplies through the gap, they would ever be outmaneuvered. The speed at which the tanks moved and the constant bombardment by German aircraft and artillery almost guaranteed a victory in the early years of the war. The forces that were now behind enemy lines would circle back around and trap any forces that did not retreat fast enough. These soldiers would either be forced to surrender or slaughtered. This form of warfare was the go-to tactic for the Nazis, and it worked better than anyone could have ever imagined. The Blitzkrieg style of warfare is what allowed the Nazis
to destroy practically every army they came up against. Using their superior vehicles, weapons, and tactics, the Germans were able to invade and capture country after country. A wave of destruction swept through Europe, and it all started on September 1, 1939.
It was 4:45 in the morning as the Schleswig-Holstein battleship bobbed up and down in the black waters of the Baltic Sea. The captain of the vessel was given the order to fire on a military transit depot located in Westerplatte, Poland. At the same time, Nazi forces were already crossing the Polish border in a Blitzkrieg fashion. As German troops advanced, Luftwaffe aircraft flew overhead to carry out bombing runs on key military bases and supply centers. The initial days of the invasion of Poland would show the world
just how deadly the Nazi military could be. Even more terrifying was how quickly German forces were able to plow through Polish forces and capture the country. The Nazis found weak points along the border and exploited them. They drove a wedge through entire army groups, encircled them, and forced a surrender. Polish leaders pleaded with France and Britain for help as they had agreed to protect the integrity of the Polish borders only five months earlier. Their cries for help were met with silence.
Nazi troops continued to flood across the Polish border, and although France and Britain eventually declared war on Germany, it was too late. Poland had been completely captured and occupied in just over a month. This showed the terrifying speed at which Germany could attack, dismantle, and conquer an entire nation. To be fair, the Nazis did have a little help with the invasion of Poland from East Prussia and the Soviet Union. However, in the battles to come, Germany would not need or want help as
their Blitzkrieg would rip through enemy lines and allow them to capture thousands of Allied soldiers, decimate entire armored divisions, and systematically destroy specific parts of Europe. After the dust had settled in Poland, the rest of Europe looked on in horror at what Adolf Hitler and his forces had done. There was a mobilization of every able-bodied man in the countries to the west of Germany. No one wanted to believe it, but deep down, they knew it was only a matter of time before the full might of the Nazi military would advance across their borders. Hitler claimed that Poland had attacked Germany first and that he was just rescuing the Polish people who were ethnically German. This clearly wasn’t true, but the Allies didn’t want to be thrown into another catastrophic war so soon after World War I had ended. And since
Poland had been completely captured, there was no longer an ally to save in the region. This was messed up as the Polish people were now forced to serve Hitler and the Nazis while the Allies turned a blind eye. They hesitated to take decisive action and instead slowly prepared to defend themselves. No one thought that Germany would attack again so soon after their invasion of Poland since the fighting of the previous World War was relatively slow and tedious.
It wasn’t until Hitler’s next move that the Allies realized just how greatly they had underestimated the Führer’s thirst for blood. They would not be engaging in trench warfare like in World War I. The German Blitzkrieg was an entirely different animal that the Allies would need to adjust for. Unfortunately, the very nature of the Nazi tactic meant there would be no time to plan or set up defenses to counteract Hitler’s Lightning War. Six months after Poland fell and as Allied governments were still trying to figure out what to do about Adolf Hitler and his new regime, the unthinkable happened. On April 9, 1940, Germany invaded Denmark. Once again,
the Luftwaffe was sent in on bombing runs to decimate supply depots and military bases. The Nazis also deployed paratroopers behind the enemy’s lines, which sped up the encirclement of their forces. The Blitzkrieg tactic used in Poland was still in effect, but there were new components that Nazi military leaders had implemented. Denmark knew there was no way they would be able to stop the Nazi forces surging across their borders. German tanks pushed further north as ships carrying Nazi troops landed at major ports throughout the country. However, the invasion of Denmark was only the beginning of Hitler's plans. It took one day for the Natzi
Blitzkrieg to conquer the country before they headed to their next target, Norway. However, something incredible happened in the middle of all this chaos. When word got out that the Nazis were rounding up Jews and deporting them from the country, the Danish people came together as a sort of underground network. Non-Jewish households would hide Jews until they could secure safe passage to Sweden. Thousands of Jews living in Denmark were saved this way. They were hidden aboard fishing vessels that would then sail
into the Baltic. At the time, there wasn’t a significant Nazi naval presence in the region, and what was there couldn’t be bothered with searching every fishing boat leaving the docks. Once in Sweden, the Jewish people found asylum as the country remained remain neutral throughout the war and would be spared from the onslaught of Nazi forces due to its location and a little bit of luck. Later in the war, the Nazis did pass through Sweden, but Germany would never occupy the country. However, the nation next to Sweeden wouldn’t
be so lucky as the Nazi plague went through Denmark and into Norway the following day. Norway posed a slight problem for the Nazi tactic used thus far. The country was long and narrow, and the terrain was mountainous and heavily forested. This was not ideal for deploying tanks and using them to bash through enemy lines. Therefore, the Nazis had to use their
Navy to drop heavy weapons and vehicles on Norway’s shores and then maneuver them into position. Paratroopers were airdropped in, but unlike Denmark, conquering Norway wasn’t as easy. The Norwegians put up a fight and managed to sink several Nazi ships, which stalled their invasion force. It took a couple of months, but Germany finally defeated Norway and began using its heavy water facilities to conduct experiments that could lead to the development of the atomic bomb. Thankfully, Norwegian resistance forces sabotaged these facilities before the Nazis could complete their research, saving Europe from a nuclear holocaust. Once Germany secured the countries to its north, it was time to move west. In May of 1940, Adolf Hitler launched his offensive across Europe. This would prove to be the
most destructive and successful campaign for the Germans during World War II. In the coming weeks, the Nazis would use Blitzkrieg tactics to decimate entire armies all the way into France. After this offensive, the Nazi Empire would extend across the European continent. On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France. In Belgium,
the Nazis launched a series of air raids. This was done to demolish bases and weaken the Allied air force in the region. It was vital for the German Blitzkrieg that they maintained air superiority so that bombs could be dropped behind enemy lines to disrupt resupply routes. After the Luftwaffe completed its bombing runs, tanks, armored vehicles, and infantry rushed toward the Belgian lines. They almost immediately broke through and began creating a Nazi corridor deeper and deeper into Allied territory. This same tactic worked again and again. By May 28th,
all of Belgium was under Nazi control. Their troops had either surrendered, fled to France, or were dead on the battlefield. Everywhere the Nazi war machine went, it left destruction in its wake. Entire cities were reduced to rubble, and towns were wiped off the map.
The invasion of the Netherlands started at the same time as Belgium, but the Luftwaffe used a slightly different tactic. The planes flew over the Netherlands and into the North Sea. This suggested they were headed to England to carry out air raids there. However, this was decoy. When the Dutch let their guard down, the bombers turned around
and destroyed numerous military installations along with the city of Rotterdam. Now that the Dutch airfields were obliterated, the Nazis began to drop paratroopers into the country. On the front lines, Panzer tank divisions slammed into the entrenched Dutch forces, breaking their defenses, and with the help of the paratroopers already in the country, encircled the Allied forces. Four days later, the Netherlands was under Nazi occupation. It
was the fear that other cities would be bombed to oblivion like Rotterdam had been and the speed at which the Nazi military swept through the country that prompted such a quick surrender. There was also a surprisingly unique group of Nazi soldiers fighting in the Netherlands. German forces were spread out across the borders of several countries, meaning that every soldier counted. When the Blitzkrieg broke the Dutch line of defense, the 1st Kavalleriedivision shot through the gap to start the encirclement process. What is unique about this unit is that
it was a cavalry division. It may seem strange that the Nazis brought horses to a tank fight, but the cavalry could get behind the enemy and capture Dutch soldiers efficiently. It makes sense that the Nazis would still use cavalry during World War II, as horses could cross rough terrain much quicker than vehicles could. And in Blitzkrieg warfare, timing was everything.
Luxembourg succumbed to the Lightning warfare of the Nazis in just one day. Few Allied soldiers were stationed in the country, so the Panzer divisions rolled across the border mostly unopposed. Nazi troops captured strategic points as they brought up the rear to ensure the front lines could be resupplied.
The Nazis now needed to find a way into France. The Allied forces had set up a formidable line of defense using the Maginot Line, a series of fortifications built to protect France from another repeat of what happened in World War I. And now that Germany was once again knocking on their door, the French were glad to have it. There was only one problem. The fortifications did not extend across the entire French border. The Maginot Line had been completed on the French-German border but not along the border of Belgium. The French thought that the countries
to its North East would act as a buffer to stop a German invasion. They were wrong. The Nazis realized that by passing through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium, they could reach France and breach the Allied defenses. General Paul Ludwig von Kleist ordered his Panzers through the dense Ardennes. They came out of the forest near the French border, where they met little resistance. Simultaneously, German forces defeated the Allies in the Somme valley. Both of these Nazi advances cut off groups of soldiers from the rest of their comrades. The Nazis pushed further and further into France, making sure to continuously create corridors that their troops and supplies could pass through while also cutting off and encircling as many Allied units as possible. The British Expeditionary Force, French army,
and leftover Belgian units were pushed all the way back to Dunkirk, where Operation Dynamo was conducted to evacuate as many soldiers as possible from France to Britain. What is incredible about this event in World War II is that Hitler ordered his forces to halt just outside of Dunkirk. This was an odd choice since the whole battle plan for Germany was based around the Blitzkrieg tactic. Stopping his forces instead of continuing with this plan made no sense, and ironically, is one of the things that cost Adolf Hitler the war. Giving the Allies time to evacuate a large part of their forces out of France meant that they could regroup and fight later in the war. If Hitler had stuck to his Blitzkrieg plan at Dunkirk, it’s likely that the Nazis would have defeated and captured an enormous amount of Allied soldiers, which would have made a Nazi victory in Europe all but inevitable.
Other than what happened at Dunkirk, Nazi forces continued to use the Blitzkrieg tactic across France to break Allied lines. After Hitler finally took Dunkirk by once again ordering his troops forward, he ordered his Panzer divisions to proceed deeper into France, where they captured Paris and dismantled the French government. On June 22, 1940, the Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed. This divided France into two halves: the German-occupied north and the Free Zone in the south. The new Vichy government was set up and led by a fascist named Marshal Philippe Pétain. The new French State was run by a puppet government, and even though southern France technically wasn’t occupied by Germany, Pétain would do anything Hitler asked of him. It was at this point in history
that Hitler's empire spanned from Poland all the way across Europe to the Atlantic Ocean. The only two unoccupied countries on the European continent were Switzerland and Sweden. Both of these nations claimed they would remain neutral, and therefore, Hitler saw no rush to invade them as there were much more pressing matters at hand. It’s worth noting that less than a year after Nazi Germany declared war by invading Poland, it controlled a massive amount of land in Europe. Spain and Portugal were both run by fascists who were in awe of Hitler’s strength and would be left to their own devices for the time being. The Nazi’s Blitzkrieg had left northern Europe’s
landscape scared with craters and littered with the ruins of what were once towns. It would take some time before things could be rebuilt, but the only thing on Hitler's mind was ramping up his concentration camp program and procuring the rest of Europe for his Third Reich. Just under a year after conquering France, Adolf Hitler desperately needed to secure more resources to continue fueling his military. However, there were pressing matters to attend to in southern Europe. Italy had been a devout ally but pretty useless when
it came to capturing Northern Africa and keeping Allied forces in the region at bay. Hitler decided he needed to send help to keep enemy forces from attacking Germany from the south. To do this, the Nazis needed to gain control of a couple more countries. In April of 1941, Hitler launched an air attack of epic proportions against Yugoslavia. Nazi forces had spent the past several months dealing with uprisings and replacing their lost men and vehicles from the Blitzkrieg through Europe. However, ever since the massive offensive into France, things had been pretty quiet, until now.
Panzer tanks pushed their way into Yugoslavia from the north. Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, who were all Nazi allies launched troops into Yugoslavia from all sides. The Blitzkrieg tactic was used once again, and 12 days after the invasion began, it was over. The swiftness
of the victory mostly came about due to the several Panzer divisions that were deployed in the region to smash through enemy lines just as they had done in all of their previous victories. As the Nazis forced their way through Yugoslavia, they also invaded Greece. Again this started with a bombardment from the skies followed by a Panzer corps wedging themselves between Allied forces. It took until the very end of April, but by the summer of 1941, Germany and its allies controlled almost all of continental Europe. It had been just under two years since Hitler started World War II and Europe was now in shambles. Every single country that Germany attacked and occupied had been ravaged by the Blitzkreig style of fighting and the subsequent extraction of resources and manpower by the Nazis to continue their war effort. It was the superior weapons,
vehicles, and tactics that allowed Adolf Hitler to rewrite borders, decimate nations, and force multitudes of people into serving his Third Reich. But he got greedy. Hitler wanted more, and the only way he could get more was by invading the Soviet Union. This decision would lead to his demise and the collapse of the Nazi Empire he had built. If Hitler had continued to use his Lightening Warfare to control all of Europe and left the Soviets alone, there is a very real possibility that everyone in Europe would be speaking German and Sieg Heiling the Nazi flag. Luckily, Adolf Hitler made several mistakes, and the war dragged on for longer than he had anticipated. However,
there is no denying that it only took him two short years to bring most of Europe to its knees, and this was all thanks to Germany’s Blitzkrieg style of warfare. Now watch “Hitler's Plans for the World if He Won.” Or check out “What Happened to Hitler's Body.”