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2.1 World War Two (In One Take)

Treaty of Versailles

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Treaty of Versailles

In 1919, the Allied powers signed a peace agreement ending World War One at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris. Germany had to pay huge reparations for damages, give up land, and limit its armed forces.

Munich Agreement

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Munich Agreement

In 1938, Hitler demanded the return of the Sudetenland, a Czech border area where German people lived. In an attempt to prevent conflict, Britain, France and Italy signed the Munich Agreement and accepted Hitler’s demands. This controversial policy was known as appeasement.

German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact

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German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact

In August 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union surprised the world by signing a pact agreeing that the two countries would not attack each other for the next ten years. Secretely they agreed to invade and split Poland.

Germany invade Poland

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Germany invade Poland

In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Hitler was also confident that Britain and France would continue their strategy of appeasement. Instead, they declared war on Germany and World War Two was underway.

France falls to Germany

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France falls to Germany

In May 1940, the new German ‘blitzkrieg’ strategy enabled Hitler to overcome the French in six weeks. The sudden French collapse left Britain to fight against Germany alone.

Battle of Britain

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Battle of Britain

In July 1940, the Luftwaffe (German air force), launched destructive air raids over southern England. However, Britain’s Royal Air Force stood firm and ultimately prevented a German invasion.

Germany invaded USSR

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Germany invaded USSR

In July 1941, Hitler launched an invasion of the USSR, codenamed Operation Barbarossa. German forces attacked Leningrad in the north, Moscow in the centre, and Ukraine in the south. Germany’s failure to defeat Soviet forces became a turning point of the war.

Pearl Harbour attacked

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Pearl Harbour attacked

In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise aerial attack on the US Navy base in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. The USA declared war on Japan. Japan’s ally, Germany, then declared war on the USA. The USA reciprocated thereby entering World War Two.

Battle of Stalingrad

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Battle of Stalingrad

In August 1942, Germany tried to take the city of Stalingrad. Following initial success, the Soviets cut off German supplies. The harsh winter made matters worse for the Germans. This proved to be the most deadly battle in the war and seriously weakened German forces.

Battle of El-Alamein

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Battle of El-Alamein

In October 1942, the second battle of El-Alamein in Eygpt, led by British General Montgomery, brought a decisive victory for the Allies. Victory ended the Axis threat in North Africa.

D-Day Landings

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D-Day Landings

In June 144, Allied forces launched an invasion on the beaches of Normandy, France. D-Day was the largest invasion by sea in history. Allied soldiers broke through German defences. By September 1944, Paris had been liberated.

Victory in Europe Day

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Victory in Europe Day

On 8 May 1945, fighting in Europe came to an end after six years of war. There were huge celebrations and street parties across the UK. However, the war was not fully over as fighting was still taking place in Japan.

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Lesson description

Two decades after the First World War came to a close, Europe erupted into a world war once again. This lesson covers all six years of that conflict, and the run up to it, with one energetic seven-minute musical video and is supported with three packed activities in the Teacher Pack.

This lesson contains:

  • The chronology of World War Two, including the biggest battles, players, and events leading up to its outbreak and during the conflict.
  • A look at international relations and the development of rising tensions between European powers in the lead up to the war.
  • An analysis of the key developments and turning points of World War Two and how important they were to the development of the war.
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Fact Sheet

When did World War Two start?

France and Great Britain officially declared war on Germany on 3 September, 1939, two days after Adolf Hitler invaded Poland.

 

What was the Treaty of Versailles, and how did Hitler defy it?

The Treaty of Versailles was the peace agreement signed in 1919, ending World War One. In this treaty, Germany had to give up land, pay reparations, and limit its armed forces. Germany defied this treaty by invading the Rhineland, Austria and Czechoslovakia, and rearming.

 

How was Germany able to invade France?

Germany invaded France in just six weeks in 1940 through the military strategy of ‘blitzkrieg’, or ‘lightning war’, which involved rapid, overwhelming attacks.

 

How did Britain prevent a German invasion?

In July 1940, the German air force – the Luftwaffe – launched a series of air raids over England. The British Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy, however, developed an air defence network, allowing them to win the Battle of Britain and preventing a German invasion.

Why did German-USSR relations break down?

In July 1941, Hilter attempted to invade the USSR, in an operation called Operation Barbarossa. German forces attacked Leningrad, Moscow, and Ukraine. Soviet forces were able to overcome their German invaders, which was a massive turning point for the war. This led the USSR to joining the Allied coalition with Britain and the USA.

 

When did the war end?

The war in Europe came to an end on 8 May, 1945, after six years. The end of the war came about after the success of the D-Day landings, the advancement of Soviet troops from the east and the Allied armies converging on Berlin. The war still continued in Japan, however, until September 1945.

 

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Video Transcript

German OfficerThey are ready for you Mein Fuhrer. They await your truth.
HitlerIt is not truth that matters, but victory.
ChrisTwenty years after World War 1, Optimism would be undone, The fateful Treaty of Versailles, Was all too easily defied.
The depths of the Great Depression, Fuelled German unrest and aggression, And from ‘39 to ‘45,
60 million more would lose their lives.
But how did Europe descend once more, From fragile peace to total war?
How was Germany infected,
By a poisonous leader’s bleak objective? A leader who would instigate,
A regime of terror built on hate, Come with us now as we pursue, The History Bomb of World War Two.
HitlerWe must rise up and take a stand, Bring glory to the Fatherland,
Our children, this Aryan race,
Will save us from our past disgrace.
Cast out the Jews, they make us weak, Guilty for our shameful defeat,
We have suffered so dreadfully,
Let us now secure our destiny!
ChrisHitler seized control of Germany in 1933 and defied the Treaty of Versailles, rearming, marching into the Rhineland and Austria and invading Czechoslovakia.
In August 1939, with tensions rising across Europe, he found an unlikely Russian ally in Joseph...
Hitler...Stalin! May I propose a pact,
Our two great nations should not attack, Fighting together will lay the foundation, For our European domination!
StalinOK, I will take this chance,
And forget an alliance with Britain and France.
HitlerGOOD! To Poland. Let’s attack quickly.
StalinAnd we’ll split the land?
HitlerFifty-fifty.
ChrisIn September 1939, Germany and Russia invaded Poland with an agreement to divide the country between themselves. Britain’s Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, had always aimed to maintain peace with Germany, but this time he could not ignore Hitler’s aggressive intent.
ChamberlainNow with regard to the state of Poland, I can assure you it’s all in hand.
We must stay calm, I am quite sure, Knowing Herr Hitler, he’ll soon withdraw.
AideSir, sorry to butt in,
It’s 11 o’clock, we haven’t heard from Berlin!
ChamberlainGood Lord, we can’t hold back anymore, I have no choice, we are at war.
PresenterAs Britain and France prepared for war, German forces tore through Western Europe, with a new form of highly intensive warfare known as Blitzkrieg. They overran France with devastating speed and by May 1940 the Allies were forced back to the English Channel.
British Soldier 1Now I’d heard about Jerry’s famous Blitzkrieg, But I never thought they’d attack with this speed!
British Soldier 2They’ve pushed us all the way back to the beaches, We’ve dumped our kit, I’m down to my breeches!
British Soldier 1We best keep going, I hope they’ve got some boats, There’s 300,000 Tommies to float!
British Soldier 2Do you ever think we’ll ever return to this section?
British Soldier 1Who knows!? Right now there’s only one direction!
PresenterAgainst the odds 300,000 Allied troops were evacuated at Dunkirk, but they left behind a lot of men and valuable equipment.
With Western Europe overrun, Britain now stood alone and in the summer of 1940. Hitler attempted a knock-out blow to the Royal Air Force to pave the way for a full invasion of Britain.
RAF Pilot 1By Jove! They mean business, this Luftwaffe,
I don’t think we’re far away from disaster!
RAF Pilot 2Yes they’re coming thick and fast,
But our new Spitfires are up to the task!
RAF Pilot 1I do hope you’re right, we must fight at all cost, If the RAF fails, all hope will be lost.
RAF Staff MemberThere’s another squadron over the Channel!
RAF Pilot 2Here we go, don’t amble, SCRAMBLE!
ChrisHitler’s plan to invade Britain was stopped in its tracks as the RAF held firm, much to the delight of Britain’s new Prime Minister...
Churchill...Our Finest Hour.
ChrisGerman bombers continued to pound British cities for months during the Blitz without a breakthrough. Eager for progress, Hitler looked East.
German OfficerMein Fuhrer, we’ve lost another bomber, I fear this Blitz can’t last much longer.
HitlerBlast! In that case we march East! To Russia!
German OfficerStalin’s not going to like this!
ChrisIn June 1941, German forces advanced against Russian troops, who to this point had been on the same side! Then, as if taking on one growing super-power was not enough, in December there was trouble in paradise as US forces in Hawaii came under a surprise Japanese attack.
US Navy 1What in the heck is going on?
These Japanese, they’re just too strong! They’ve taken out the battleships,
And our planes are burnt out on the airstrip!
US Navy 2A sneak attack? They’ve got some nerve, Don’t worry they’ll get what they deserve, They’ve won this battle, but watch out Japan, You’ve just awoken Uncle Sam.
ChrisThe Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour brought the US into the war. This would prove pivotal and in June 1942, the US struck a decisive victory over the Japanese at the Battle of Midway. In October, the Allies would have further success, this time in the Egyptian desert.
Australian SoliderStrewth, this heat is berserk!
This Egyptian sun is even hotter than Perth!
South African SoldierToughen up mate, endure the pain,
Let’s get ready for the battle at El-Alamein!
Australian SoldierThe chances of victory are already slight,
And now they expect us to fight them at night?
South African SoldierJust put your faith in General Montgomery, This is a man who can lead us to victory.
ChrisThe Allies victory at El-Alamein proved a decisive turning point in the North Africa campaign.
Meanwhile on the Eastern Front the Germans were suffering heavy losses in the snows of Stalingrad.
They were short of supplies and the Russians were resolute and determined. Whilst Hitler continued to send divisions East, in June 1944, the Allies launched an ambitious attack in France.
US SoldierHowdy y’all, get out the way,
America’s here to save D-Day!
We got as many troops as you could want, To open up a Second Front.
We’ll flood the beaches with our guys,
And take the Germans by surprise!
Our tanks and guns will never miss.
BritishThey’re never going to let us forget this.
ChrisThe D-Day landings gave the Allies a foothold in Europe from which they pushed forward towards Germany. It wasn’t all plain sailing but after eleven months, on 8 May 1945, Victory in Europe was secured. Whilst Germany surrendered, Japan refused to back down and the US decided to unleash two knock out blows.
US Soldier 2My God, what have we done?
Hiroshima and Nagasaki well, they’re just gone. The nuclear age has been unfurled,
We are become death, destroyer of worlds.
ChrisOn the 15th August 1945,
Japan surrendered to save their lives, The entire world had been transformed, Around this truly global war,
Countless lives in countless lands, Lost so that we might stand,
Together, now the guns have ceased, As nations, side by side, in peace.