Economical and military abilities of major participants of the war -
Important military campaigns
France (including Belgium and Holland)
Balkan campaign (Greece and Yugoslavia)
Industrial production in 1943
World War II is the most tragic but extremely interesting period of human history of al centuries. It was a regular continuation of previous absurd bloody conflict - World War I. New war began after Germany was defeated in WWI and after winners didn't give Germany any chance to have enough resources to feed own citizens and reconstruct national infrastructure. But British Empire wanted to become richer; United States wished the same. France in fact was destructed even more than Germany and wished to capture not only new territories but also to get as high contribution as it was necessary to restore ruined economics and rebuild vast lands bordering Germany (France was one of the main theaters of war in Europe). Russia suffered from two revolutions and Civil War and was not able to influence European politics. So, these main states which had won WWI wanted to have very profitable peace and were ready to do everything to gain own interests. This was a great mistake. Now we know - that was real crime against peace and humanity. Political leaders tried to settle peace on Earth, as they believed, but in fact they guaranteed fire and death for millions of people in Germany, Britain, Russia, France, the United States and some small European countries.
This event had changed the world. It had changed international relations and formed 2 greatest powers ever been - the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). They fought together against common enemy and thought that this cooperation would take place after the victory. Franklin Roosevelt once told Churchill and Stalin in Teheran: -- For our unity - during the war and peace... -- . (As He Saw It by Elliott Roosevelt, p. 221). Roosevelt wanted all countries to unite and live in peace, but his death stopped this peaceful politics and new U.S. President found USSR as the main enemy. This idea was the main in international relations since 1945 till 1991 and can be considered as the main result of WWII because world was divided in two parts between the Capitalistic states (leader - USA) and Communist states (USSR).
A winners brought little peace on Earth after victory over Germany which they fought for and promised... -- as German general Kurt von Tippelskirch wrote in his book -- The History of World War II -- . He was right: the winners could not preserve the world from new conflict which was called the Cold War.
World War II is a great event in our history and it is worth researching and finding out new facts about it, because if we know the reasons and consequences of this bloody conflict maybe it could help us, citizens of a democratic state, to stop future conflicts and foresee their terrible results.
Now let us try to figure out what were the major participants of WWII and analyze their economical and military potential to wage the war.
Major countries were: Germany, Poland, France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union.
We have to admit that Germany was one of the strongest countries in Europe and in the whole world already in 1939. After Hitler captured power in 1933 and proclaimed Nazi ideology full of different cruel theories and wishes to conquer bordering states, the situation in Europe got worse and complicated a lot. Fascists wanted to revenge France and Britain because of the defeat in WWI. But also they wished to capture lands inhabited by Slavs (Hitler and Rosenberg considered them as -- non-human -- race and were sure that Polish, Russians and Czechs are not smart enough to rule in their own countries. That's why Hitler wanted to get excellent lands in the East of Europe and turn Slavic population into slaves. He proclaimed an idea of movement to the east and it can be explained only because of weakness of Poland and Czechoslovakia and also supposed weakness of USSR. Once after capturing Austria Hitler told Otto Schtrasser: -- Vienna is the first step to the east... Russia must be crossed out of the list of European states -- (Hitler and me. By Otto Schtrasser. page 124). This aggressive phrase explains Hitlers plans, all his actions were devoted to capturing Russia as the richest and largest country on Earth, and sure one of the weakest as he was sure.
After he got power Hitler dreamed of improving German economics and the only reason of this was his wish to create modern military industry. He received power in poor and destructed Germany which still suffered a lot from paying contributions and didn't have enough money to raise national economics. Hitler saw Germans' life: some of them gathered all money to buy some thing in the morning because at night its price could be 5 or 7 times more. Many Germans suffered being jobless and didn't have any money to help own families. Fuhrer knew that and started working. Otto Stchrasser, Hitters ideological opponent, wrote about Weimer republic: -- Sure, Hitlers regime was terrible but it gave jobless citizens a job and gave an idea to the whole country which didn't believe in happy future any more -- ( -- Hitler and me -- p. 76).
As a result he reconstructed heavy industry and started militarization of German economics. According to the information given by John Bourne, Peter Liddle German leader stared great program of producing military production. In 1936 German military production was only 8% of common production of all German industry. In 1939 it raised u to 23%, but in such important spheres as machine building and metal industry - more than 40%. -- In 1939 German army had more then 4 thousand military airplanes and more than 3 thousand tanks. The last Luftwaffe program (adopted in 1938) foresaw having 20 thousand planes of all types in spring 1942 -- as John Bourne and Peter Liddle wrote in their book (p.98).
Germany was the first country where tanks were highly valued as the main battle unit of future wars. Germans created different theories of using tank units and their tank strikes during the WWII could destroy any defense system. Heinz Guderian was the main person in forming tank troops in Germany.
Wechrmacht increased number of soldiers more than in 70 times (in June 1941 it contained of 7.2 million soldiers both in active and reserve units). Hitler spent 90 trillion German Marks on military budget (1933-1939). In 1939 it amounted 18,4 trillion DM or 58% of the whole German budget.
In 1939 German army consisted of: 32 infantry divisions, 3 tank divisions, 8 reserve divisions etc. Total amount of army units (divisions and brigades) was 71. Most of them were formed since 1936.
I have to admit the fact that Hitler was very popular in Germany and also in some other countries. He was supported by rich businessmen from both sides of Atlantic. British and American businessmen invested German industry and considered it very profitable. Hitler was popular in USA as well. In 1939 he was found a man of a year in America. American and European heads of industrial companies didn't understand Hitlers wishes or simply didn't wish to see them - investing was too profitable activity to stop it because of national interests. But not only capitalistic world supported Germany. Soviet Union did it as well. "Though Communists and Nazi were ideological enemies it didn't bother them to cooperate in military sphere and many German tank crews, pilots (including Gering) studied at Russian military academies. Many various military techniques were produced in USSR" (Germany didn't have any permission to produce tanks, artillery, planes on own territory).
So, I have to notice that Nazi Germany was the strong aggressive state in 1939 which already had formed developed and modern economics and strong, well-equipped army, which was very professional but without fighting experience. But even in 1939 Hitler was not able to wage a long and fierce war against main enemies - France and Soviet Union. Hitler found new allies - Romania, Italy, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, Spain which could participate in future war and help Germany to win (their support had great political but not economical or military success). Adolf Hitler needed capturing new lands though he already got Czechoslovakia and Austria. Also his army was not experienced enough because annexing Austria or separating Czechoslovakia was fulfilled without military interference (the troops just occupied territories but didn't fight). Hitler wanted more human and mineral resources to make own dream true - capturing whole Europe and European part of Russia.
Soviet Union was a special kind of country. After 1917 it was isolated and capitalistic states wished terminating such regime because they were afraid of Lenin's theories of international revolution and sure,…