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WW2 - OverSimplified (Part 1)

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Mar 15, 2018

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WW2 - OverSimplified (Part 1)
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  • This video was made possible by Skillshare.
  • Churchill was a man with many talents.
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  • 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.

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