After America declared war on Japan, Germany, and Italy declared war on the US. America actually followed a Germany First strategy, mainly because it posed the greatest threat to the West, it had a larger military, and it seemed the most likely to develop newer and more lethal weapons. One of the worst tragedies of World War II was the Holocaust in which between 1933 and 1945 it is estimated that from 9-11 million Jews were killed. Only with the defeat of the Nazis were the concentration camps closed down, and the remaining survivors freed.
The events in Europe unfolded as follows:
- Early German Victories - The Germans successfully fought off the Russians in 1942. England was being bombed, and U-Boats harassed American shipping.
- North Africa - The allies led by General Dwight D. Eisenhower fought against the French forces who were working in conjunction with Germany in Morocco and Algeria. The allies did take Tunisia in May, 1943.
- Battle of the Atlantic - The allies were able to control the Atlantic sea lanes by May, 1943 though the battle continued to rage throughout the rest of the war.
- Italy - The allies captured Sicily in July, 1943 leading to Mussolini's downfall. The Italians then joined the allies. Germany still occupied much of Italy including Rome.
- Normandy Invasion - This began on D-Day, June 6, 1944. General Eisenhower led the allies onto the beaches of France. They were able to liberate Paris on August 25, 1944.
- Battle of the Bulge - Germany launched a counteroffensive in December 1944. General Patton led the 3rd Army to victory by January, 1945.
The Battle of Germany - Early in 1945, Russians invaded Germany from the East while the allies moved in from the West defeating Germany. Hitler along with many top officials committed suicide. Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945 - V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day).
Part 1: Origins of World War II, Part 3: The War in the Pacific, Part 4: The Homefront