WW2 – OverSimplified (Part 1)

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Like this class, full of tips and tricks for creating vector art. Or this one, for creating character walk cycles. For an annual subscription, Skillshare is under $10 a month. And if you’d like to try it out first, then I’ve got a deal just for OverSimplified viewers. The first 1,000 people to use this link, which can be found in the description, will get their first 2 months of Skillshare for just 99¢. Be sure to try it out using the link in the description, and learn something new today. Now, without further ado – It’s 1902. A young man by the name of Benito Mussolini moves from Italy to Switzerland to avoid military service. He gets big into socialism, working for trade unions, writing for socialist newspapers, advocating a violent overthrow of European monarchies, the whole shabang. This gets him in a bit of trouble with the Swiss police. So he gets arrested, sent back to Italy, set free, returns to Switzerland, is arrested again, goes back to Italy again, completes his military service after previously avoiding it, and then after a brief stint as an elementary school teacher, he finally returns to work as an avid socialist. His speeches and journalistic abilities made him famous among Italian socialists. He was anti-war, so when Italy colonised Libya in 1910, he rioted. And got arrested. Then WW1 came along, and once again, he protested Italy’s involvement. But then he thought, ‘Wait a minute.’ ‘This war could bring about the social climate needed to overthrow European monarchies, and bring about the socialist revolution everywhere.’ And suddenly he was pro-war. But his fellow socialists didn’t like his new pro-war stance, so they kicked him out of the party. So then he said, ‘You know what? I’m done with socialism. We need something new. Not based on class divisions tearing us apart, but based on unity through nationality. We’ll conquer the Mediterranean, and reunite all Italian peoples, just like the days of the Roman Empire. I’ll call it “Fascismo” and it will guide the Italian nation to greatness.’ ‘That’s all well and good, Mr Mussolini, but what kind of haircut am I giving you?’ ‘Let’s go with… bald.’ ♪ Tchaikovsky – 1812 Overture ♪ Italy had been on the winners’ side in WW1, and they hoped they were going to get a lot out of it. But in the end, they only got a little, and they felt cheated. On top of that, a bad economy, and weak governments meant that the Italian people were a little unhappy. So when Mussolini came along, and said that he could fix everything, his fascist movement gained a lot of support. In 1922, he went to the King and said, ‘Make me prime minister, or I’ll make me prime minister.’ And the King said, ‘You and what army?’ ‘This army.’ ‘Fair enough.’ Then he went about establishing a dictatorship with himself at its centre. Europe had its first fascist dictator. Next up: Germany. Germany had been on the losers’ side, and they got absolutely wrecked by the Treaty of Versailles. They lost territory, had to demilitarise the Rhineland, had to reduce their army to just 100,000 men, couldn’t have an airforce, had to pay the Allies a huge amount of money that it didn’t have, and a new rule was established that every Englishman witheld the right to walk into the center of Berlin, pick out any German they wanted, and spank the hell out of them. I made that last one up, but it helps you understand how all of this felt to Germans. On top of that, a bad economy and weak governments meant that when a small, angry man with a silly moustache came along and said that he could fix everything, the German people loved it. Hitler had been a soldier during WW1, and he was crazy patriotic. And nobody was madder than him about Germany’s humiliation. He helped start a new political party, and in 1923, attempted a march on Munich with his boys. And then he got arrested. But his popularity grew and grew, and in 1933, the President made him Chancellor. He believed he was Germany’s great destined saviour, and he went full megalomaniac, establishing a dictatorship with himself at its center. Europe had Fascist Dictator No. 2. Hitler and Mussolini had a lot of the same ideas. But more importantly, they had the same enemies. And they started to get along. ‘Anyone else wanna be friends? Franco? No? You good?’ ‘I do.’ ‘Who’s that?’ It’s Japan. And they’ve taken over northern China. Let’s rewind a bit – Japan had isolated itself from the rest of the world for over 200 years. Until the Americans showed up and said, ‘You’re going to trade with us, and you’re going to like it.’ Then the Western powers imposed a bunch of ‘Unequal Treaties’. Meaning Japan’s economy was bust. They also had no natural resources. So they decided to go get some. They went to war with China to gain a sphere of influence over Korea, and they took a bunch of China’s stuff. But then the West said, ‘Hey! Cut that out.’ And since Japan couldn’t take on the West, They said, ‘Okay, I guess we’ll just go home – Wait a minute! What are you doing?’ ‘Taking advantage of a weakened China and setting up spheres of influence.’ ‘But I was the one who weakened them.’ ‘We know.’ ‘And you guys didn’t let me have anything.’ ‘We know.’ ‘That seems unfair.’ ‘We don’t think so. Okay. See ya.’ So Japan thought, ‘Screw this!’ and went to war with Russia, and stunned everyone by actually winning. Then they fully annexed Korea, but they didn’t stop there. In WW1, they took Germany’s colonies and islands in Asia. And then in an incident that was maybe staged by the Japanese army, a bomb blew up a Japanese train in Manchuria, giving them an excuse to launch an invasion and take over. So, here’s the situation: Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and Japan, all believe they’re racially superior. All feel hostility towards the Allies, and all want to militarise and take over more stuff. And so they did. Let’s start with Germany. Hitler hated the Treaty of Versailles, and now he was ready to begin undoing it. In complete violation of the treaty, the first Luftwaffe squadrons were set up, conscription was introduced, and he pimped up his army. The Allies did nothing. Then Hitler sent his army back into the demilitarised Rhineland, giving orders to immediately retreat if the Allies showed up. The Allies did nothing. With his military restrengthened, he could now move on to Step 2. He wanted to rapidly increase the Aryan population. And to do so, he needed lebensraum, or in other words, he would have to take over the world. But for now, a good portion of Europe would do. And he began eyeing up his neighbours. The Allies finally started to get worried, so they implemented a fairly useless diplomatic strategy called appeasement. And it went a little something like this: Hitler would say, ‘I want that thing.’ And the Allies would say, ‘You can’t have that thing – Okay you can have that thing but no more.’ ‘I want that thing.’ And repeat. In 1938, Hitler’s army marched into Austria, and just took it, with no resistance. Boom. This is Germany now. Next, he demanded to be given the Sudetenland, an area of Czechoslovakia with many ethnic Germans. The Allies held a meeting with Hitler in Munich and said, ‘Look, we’re going to give you wha -‘ ‘HANG ON. This meeting is about my territory, shouldn’t I come to the meeting too?’ ‘Anyway, we’re going to give you what you want.’ ‘Really?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Just like that?’ ‘Yep.’ ‘What’s the catch?’ ‘Just sign this piece of paper promising you won’t invade the rest of Czechoslovakia.’ ‘Okay.’ Then Chamberlain returned home victorious, waving his signed piece of paper in the air, declaring crisis to be averted, and the continuation of World Peace, and we built a statue of Chamberlain in his honour and every day on the 30th of September we celebrate Chamberlain Day – ‘Hitler’s invading the rest of Czechoslovakia.’ ‘What?’ ‘He’s invading the rest of Czechoslovakia.’ ‘Oh. You lied to me.’ ‘What do you expect? I’m Hitler.’ Not to be outdone, Mussolini also wanted to get in on the action. He thought to himself, ‘Isn’t there a not-yet-colonised nation somewhere which is so underdeveloped that the people would be defending themselves against our tanks with literal bows and arrows and wooden spears? Oh there is? Fantastic!’ And so he took it. Italy also wanted to control the entrance to the Adriatic Sea. So they occupied Albania. Then, in another incident that was maybe staged by the Japanese, gunfire was exchanged by Japanese and Chinese troops at the Marco Polo Bridge. And the Japanese launched yet another invasion against China. They swept through Beijing and Shanghai, and then advanced through the Yangtze Valley to China’s then-capital, Nanking. It was here that saw the worst of Japan’s shocking atrocities committed against the Chinese people. Back in Europe, Germany and Italy made their relationship status official by signing the Pact of Steel. Then, Hitler turned his eyes towards Poland, and the hated Polish Corridor splitting Germany in two. At this point, the Allies really had to put their foot down. And they warned him that an invasion of Poland would mean war. Hitler had planned to continue his advance eastward, but he didn’t want to end up fighting a war on two fronts. So for now he made an alliance with Stalin, saying, ‘How about we both invade Poland and split it between the two of us, and I definitely won’t not refrain from not betraying you sometime in the future.’ ‘Sounds… good.’ This new alliance stunned the West. On the 1st of September 1939, German troops entered Poland, and Britain and France declared war on Germany. The Poles fought hard, but they were no match for the two giants crashing down on them from either side. Then came a period known as ‘The Phony War’, where everyone just sort of sat around not doing much. The French had launched a small invasion into the Saar Land, but they maintained mostly defensive positions, and after a while decided to just turn around and call it a day. Speaking of France, the French were still super proud of their victory in WW1. And they hadn’t really moved on from it. They still used horses, they dispatched messages by motorbike instead of using the radio, orders from the commander-in-chief were usually pretty vague, and the troops were rarely inspected. They built a line of defenses along their German border, but didn’t bother extending it all the way to the Channel, and they wouldn’t launch artillery strikes against Germany out of fear of being retaliated against. In a war. They didn’t want to attack the enemy. And at first, the UK wasn’t much better. Chamberlain still naively hoped that the war could be ended diplomatically. Instead of bombing raids, the RAF dropped propaganda leaflets over German cities, which one air marshall said likely did nothing but provide the continent with toilet paper for the duration of the war. They also only sent 200,000 men to France, while the French had mobilised millions. Both Britain and France wanted to avoid a repeat of the First World War, and so they wanted to keep the war as far from home as possible. So they turned their eyes north, towards Norway. Neutral Sweden was exporting iron ore to Germany, through neutral Norway. So the Allies asked them if they could please stop exporting iron ore to Germany. But this request was refused. Then, the Soviet Union attacked Finland. So the Allies said, ‘How about we land troops in Norway and move them across Sweden to go help out your good pal Finland? And then along the way maybe take control of all your iron fields.’ But Norway and Sweden still said no. So the UK mined the waters around Norway to force any transport ships into international waters, and they also attacked a German tanker they found in the area. Hitler realised what the Allies were up to, and he quickly moved to secure his supply of iron ore. He launched an invasion through Denmark into Norway. The Allies rushed to land troops at quay ports along the coast, but Germany had taken control of Norway’s airfields, and their air superiority decided to fight. The Allies had to retreat. After this slightly embarrassing failure, Chamberlain resigned. And was replaced with Winston Churchill, who had a slightly different approach to dealing with the Germans. Hitler’s overall strategy was similar to Germany’s WW1 strategy. Attack France, defeat France, knocking out the UK in the process, then turn on the Soviet Union and win the war. During the Phony War, the Allies had given Hitler enough time to prepare his forces. Now, he was ready to attack. The Allies had wanted to place troops in Belgium, but Belgium had refused. And in a move that surprised pretty much no one, Hitler launched an invasion to get around France’s defenses. The Allies charged into Belgium at full speed, to meet the German invasion head-on, and it looked like a repeat of the First World War was coming. But this time, Hitler had a trick up his sleeve. Blitzkrieg. As the Germans advanced, they sent thousands of refugees westward, slowing down the Allies. Then, to the south, the French had left the Ardennes, an area filled with hills and forests, pretty under-defended, because they thought it was naturally impenetrable. Well, the Germans were about to penetrate it with everything they had. They smashed 50 Wehrmacht divisions through, and encircled the Allied armies at lightning speed. The best of the Allied forces were now trapped. The Germans squeezed in from all sides, taking out France’s best armies, and nearly wiping out the British, too. But they managed to make a desperate last-minute escape at Dunkirk, with British civilian ships even making the perilous journey to bring their young men home. With most of the French forces depleted, the Germans breezed through, taking Paris, and France fell. What the Germans couldn’t do in WW1, Hitler had done just like that. Hitler hoped that with the fall of France, the UK would also lose hope and sue for peace. But quite annoyingly, it didn’t. And he needed to secure the Western Front. So he tried to force them into submission, with mind games. The UK were now all alone and Hitler wanted to emphasise that. First of all, just before France fell, Italy finally declared war on the Allies, making the UK’s situation even worse. Next, instead of just occupying all of France, Hitler occupied the coastal areas for defense, but allowed France to continue its existence as a German puppet state. This way, it looked like the UK’s old ally had decided to switch sides. Hitler also hoped that the UK wouldn’t attack any of her old ally’s navy bases or colonies in Africa, giving Hitler an extra line of defense to the south. But the UK made sure to respond to this by sailing down to France’s navy base in Algeria and wrecking a bunch of ships. So, have at it. Hitler then began laying down plans for an invasion of Great Britain. Before German troops could land on British soil, he would first need air and naval superiority across the Channel. Waves of German bombers came, while the completely outnumbered RAF worked bravely around the clock in an attempt to quell the German attacks. At first, the Luftwaffe targeted British ports and coastal facilities, then it attacked RAF bases, crippling the RAF’s ability to defend the nation. And it looked like Hitler’s great British invasion was coming. But then, Churchill ordered a small, pretty insignificant bombing raid over Berlin. It didn’t do much damage, but Hitler was furious, and he immediately ordered the Luftwaffe to refocus its attacks on civilian targets in London. Children were sent off to the countryside, away from their parents, to avoid danger. And frequent trips to air-raid shelters became a daily occurrence. But British morale held firm. Smiling, knitting, lounging casually, these people have balls of steel. This refocusing on London also gave the RAF breathing space to reorganise. So Hitler kind of shot himself in the foot there. Just the foot for now. Finally, the Luftwaffe sent one massive all-out attack on London, and the RAF successfully repelled it, destroying many of the German aircraft, and placing air superiority firmly in British hands. Hitler’s invasion had to be postponed, but the bombing of British cities continued for some time.
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uk_6vfqwTA

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