European Theater

German forces entering Warsaw in September 1939 during Invasion of Poland

1939 Invasion of Poland

On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded neighboring Poland in what is considered the opening conflict of World War II. Background In the year and a half leading up to the invasion, Adolf Hitler had been expanding Germany’s territory. On August 23, 1939, Germany signed a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union that had a secret …Read More

Operation Barbarossa

Operation Barbarossa

Operation Barbarossa was Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II. Lasting June 22 to December 5, 1941, it was a massive engagement, involving millions of troops along an 1,800-mile front. Germany’s eventual failure was a major setback for the country, as it forced them to fight a war on two fronts …Read More

“Into the Jaws of Death — U.S. Troops wading through water and Nazi gunfire,” by Robert F. Sargent

D-Day (Normandy Landings)

The Normandy landings of Operation Overlord during World War II—codenamed Operation Neptune but most commonly known as D-Day—took place on June 6, 1944. On this day, approximately 156,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel in a massive amphibious military assault, breaking through the Germans’ extensively fortified Atlantic Wall to begin the invasion of German-occupied France. …Read More

American infantrymen of the 290th Regiment , during the Battle of the Bulge, January 1945

Battle of the Bulge

On December 16, 1944, Germany launched a massive surprise attack on American lines in the Ardennes (a forested area in Belgium and Luxembourg), breaking through to create a 45-mile salient in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. Background The goal behind the German offensive was to capture Antwerp, an important Allied port …Read More

German troops in Stalingrad, 1942

Battle of Stalingrad

The Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943) was the largest confrontation of World War II, in which Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in Southern Russia. Marked by fierce close quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, …Read More

Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz II–Birkenau concentration camp in Poland, May/June 1944

The Holocaust

The Holocaust, also referred to as the Shoah, was a genocide during World War II in which Nazi Germany, aided by its collaborators, systematically murdered approximately 6 million European Jews, around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe, between 1941 and 1945. Jews were targeted for extermination as part of a larger event which involved …Read More