During the early stages of the war, most of Germany's victories were because of the success of blitzkrieg, or lightening war. Blitzkrieg tactics emphasised mobility and the concentrated use of armour and air power to overwhelm an enemy. Blitzkrieg was especially successful in flat, open countryside and was supremely suited for the Polish campaign in 1939. It was with blitzkrieg, as well as Germany's superior tactics, effective use of armour, airpower and modern equipment, plus with the support of the USSR that the Germans used to overwhelm Poland in only 5 weeks. Two days after the German troops entered Poland, Britain and France declared war on Germany. Hitler did not want this because it was a distraction from his main aim, to attack the USSR.
After his victory over Poland, Hitler now had his sights on a quick offensive in the west. Speaking to his Generals in October 1939, Hitler said, If it becomes clear that Britain and under its leadership France also, are not prepared to end the war I am determined to go on the offensive without delay.' In April 1940 Germany launched its attack in the west with a surprise invasion of Norway and Denmark, which were neutral states. Hitler took Norway because that guaranteed that vital iron ore supplies from Sweden could be shipped to Germany through the ice-free Norwegian ports. Hitler also occupied Denmark, because it was in the way of the German attack.
Hitler then ordered the attack on Belgium, Holland and France. The British and French had predicted that the German attack would come through Belgium. So the British and French forces moved north into Belgium to meet the German advance. The Germans again used overpowering blitzkrieg tactics and quickly overwhelmed Holland. The main German attack began further to the south, as the bulk of the British and French army prepared to meet the Germans in Belgium. The Germans eventually broke through the French defences, and by May 21, had captured the French and British armies in Belgium. But, by early June some 366 000 of the trapped troops had managed to escape. They had been evacuated back to England by a fleet of small vessels and naval ships. Although the evacuation was a success, Prime Minister Churchill was quick to dampen the celebration, and told the British people, We must be careful not to assign to this the deliverance the attributes of victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.'
Germany did not have a numerically superior force on the western front, but bold strategy, careful planning and blitzkrieg tactics set the foundation for the French defeat. In June 1940 Hitler invaded Paris, eight days later the French surrendered. After the French surrender, Hitler attempted to end the war with Britain. Speaking to the Reichstag in June, he said, "I can see no reason why the war need go on." But Hitler was already had his sights set on invading Russia. He now aimed to end the war in the west so he could concentrate on attacking communist Russia in the east. Hitler knew that invading Britain would be difficult, but still he informed his military to leaders to prepare for the operation, Operation Sea Lion, and proceeded in planning a landing operation against Britain.
The battle of Britain was fought between July and October in the skies of southern England 1940. The German airforce attacked British...