Thursday, November 12, 2020

DAY ONE

 September 1, 1939, was the first day of a war that would last for 2,174 days, and it brought the first dead in a war that would claim an average of 27,600 lives every day, or 1,150 an hour, or 19 a minute, or one death every 3 seconds. Within four weeks of the blitzkrieg attack on Poland by sixty German divisions, the lightning war had killed more than 100,000 Polish soldiers, and 25,000 civilians had perished in bombing attacks. Another 10,000 civilians—mostly middle-class professionals—had been rounded up and murdered, and 22 million Poles now belonged to the Third Reich. “Take a good look around Warsaw,” Adolf Hitler told journalists during a visit to the shattered Polish capital. “That is how I can deal with any European city.”

…Two monumental events in 1941 changed the calculus of the war. On June 22, nearly 200 German divisions invaded the Soviet Union in abrogation of the nonaggression pact that Hitler and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had signed in 1939, which had allowed a division of spoils in eastern Europe. Within a day, German attacks had demolished one-quarter of the Soviet air force. Within four months, the Germans had occupied 600,000 square miles of Russian soil, captured 3 million Red Army troops, butchered countless Jews and other civilians, and closed to within sixty-five miles of Moscow. But four months after that, more than 200,000 Wehrmacht troops had been killed, 726,000 wounded, 400,000 captured, and another 113,000 had been incapacitated by frostbite.

The second event occurred on the other side of the world. On December 7, Japanese aircraft carriers launched 366 aircraft in a sneak attack on the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, sinking or damaging eight battleships at their moorings, destroying or crippling eleven other warships, and killing 2,400 Americans. Simultaneous attacks were launched on Malaya, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. In solidarity with their Japanese ally, Hitler and Mussolini quickly declared war on the United States. It was perhaps the F├╝hrer’s gravest miscalculation and, as the British historian Martin Gilbert later wrote, “the single most decisive act of the Second World War.” America would now certainly return to Europe as a belligerent, just as it had in 1917, during the Great War. “I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death,” Churchill later wrote. “I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful.”

Rick Atkinson, An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, Volume One of The Liberation Trilogy. Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

1 comment:

  1. ngo foundation in india
    Plan india is a child rights organisation providing children, especially girls, with access to education, healthcare, protection and livelihood opportunities. • Plan India is a child rights organization providing children, especially girls, with access to education, healthcare, protection and livelihood opportunities

    ReplyDelete