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1944 - Allies advance further in Europe

The year 1944 saw major shifts in World War II. The Siege of Leningrad ended, Allies liberated Rome and Paris, and the famous D-Day invasion occurred. Meanwhile, Germany introduced V1 and V2 rockets. Despite a counteroffensive at the Battle of the Bulge, Axis powers faced defeat from all fronts.

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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Matthew Talton
    Why didn't the Spanish get involved in WWII?
    (12 votes)
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    • old spice man green style avatar for user Jonathan Ziesmer
      The Spanish had just finished fighting an incredibly bloody civil war that had expended tons of the Spaniard's resources. The new Facist Spanish government wanted to recover from the civil war and was unwilling to get the Spanish military involved in another war.

      That doesn't mean the Spanish government didn't comply with the governments of warring countries. Spain provided lots of intelligence to the Germans. The famous Operation Mincemeat (which allowed for a successful Allied invasion of Europe at Normandy) would not have succed if the Spanish had not given false intelligence to the Germans.

      Hope this helps!
      (22 votes)
  • male robot donald style avatar for user Hussain ali
    Why didn't Germany attack Moscow directly instead of getting in battles in other cities? as the USSR is a very centralised country, attacking the head city would end the war in eastern front faster, as the US did by bombing Japan in 1942 and again by nukes in 1945
    (2 votes)
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    • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Matthew Kaye
      Germany did try to attack Moscow. While this is merely speculative, had Hitler not made the mistake of halting his troops outside the city in 1942, it is very likely that they would have taken Moscow. The USSR was on its heals in the latter parts of 1942. This could arguably have been Hitler's greatest mistake during the course of his war with the USSR, although starting a war with them in the first place was probably an even bigger mistake and likely cost him the war.

      The supply lines for supplying the German army on the Eastern front were unsustainable, and Hitler knew this. This is partly the reason why he diverted such a large percentage of his forces to the south of Russia, the Caucusus. He wanted the oil from the oilfields there to fuel his army.
      (4 votes)
  • leaf blue style avatar for user lukeo
    Wow, so that means that yesterday the anniversary for D-day was 79 years. We have to thank and honor all of those people who helped fight for the freedom of Europe and the world :))
    (5 votes)
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  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user zackaraya
    How was the battle of the Bulge the most bloodyest battles the American fognt? I thout D-Day was?
    (2 votes)
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    • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Jace McCarthy
      Basically the Battle of the Bulge was much larger than the Normandy Landings. On D-Day about 4,000 died with 10,000 casualties. However at the Battle of the Bulge around 90,000 had been casualties and possibly up to 20000 had died.. The Battle of the Bulge just included many more people and was a last attempt to push the Allied Forces back and they were desperate to do so. This lead to many German Soldiers fighting until the last man instead of retreating which also lead to many Allied deaths. Although D-Day was bad it wasn't as large as the Battle of the Bulge.
      (5 votes)
  • hopper cool style avatar for user butter
    What caused D-day?
    (3 votes)
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  • old spice man blue style avatar for user Ramesh969
    At , Sal indicates V2 rockets, and he said that they further developed rocket science. Did NASA take technology from the V2 rockets to make their Apollo space project?
    (1 vote)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user baysim
      Yes. When the Allies defeated the Axis powers, the Americans and the Soviets took as much German scientific research, invention prototypes, and scientists as they could. One of the most notable scientists was the German rocket engineer Werner Von Braun who had developed the V2 missiles that the Nazis launched on cities. The Americans gave Von Braun a concession: he would not be executed in the Nuremberg trials if he went to America and contributed to the space program. Von Braun accepted, to the delight of the U.S. (for he was actually a great scientist), and the V2 became the rocket model that launched the Apollo astronauts to the moon.
      (7 votes)
  • stelly blue style avatar for user Jorge Daniel Garcia
    Why didn't the US used atomic bombs in Europe?
    (0 votes)
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  • piceratops sapling style avatar for user Gabrielle
    From to , Sal mentions that the Russians marched in Poland, precisely in Warsaw, where there was this "uprising of the Poles" and "underground/rebels" who joined Russians. Who were they and how did they manage to remain "underground" during the war?
    (3 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user Aaron Shapiro
      The word "underground" during war doesn't literally mean underground. It is another name for partisans, or resistance. These people were usually civilians. But sometimes there were Soviet and Polish soldiers that had escaped the prison camps. The Soviet government even sent generals to help and command the partisans. Partisans usually used civilian clothing. There would be a partisan "group" out in the woods. They sometimes did go underground as LuftwaffelLordTrout said, in sewers and other things. The "underground" on the Western Front was usually named the resistance, the Makee, or just plain underground. On the Eastern Front, they were usually called the partisans.
      (2 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user joe042004
    Sal refers to 20,000 Americans dying in the battle of bulge In but I've read in other accounts that at least 76,00 were lost. Does the video refer to just how many Americans actually died or all the casualities together? thanks to anyone who can answer!
    (2 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user warwick Werder
    I am not sure if this is a dumb question, but why is it called D - Day? What does the D stand for?
    (2 votes)
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    • leaf red style avatar for user BGG
      This article gives a good explanation.


      Basically, the D doesn't stand for anything, but was just an alliterative term for a launch date. Even if a launch date was undetermined, you could still say 'D-Day' and everyone would know what you were talking about. Also, if references to a 'D-Day' fell into the hands of the enemy, they wouldn't know the exact date. The military would also use 'H-Hour' to reference a launch time. The famous D-Day is not the only D-Day, and use of the term dates back to WWI.
      (3 votes)

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] We're now in 1944 and the things are really starting to close in on the Axis powers now. We can start in January. You might remember, you've had the Siege of Leningrad going on for several years now. Incredibly bloody siege, incredibly hard on the civilians of Leningrad. But the Soviet army is finally able to end that, and so you see from these troop movements on this map starting in January of 1944 with the end of the siege, they are able to really take the offensive and start marching through the Baltics, through the Baltic states. At the same time, you have the Soviet armies marching and they're able to force the Axis to surrender in the Crimea. You fast forward further into the year, further into 1944. You might remember in 1943, the Allies were able to land on Italy and force the surrender of Italy to the Allied powers. But that doesn't mean that Italy, as we know it today, or even as we knew it then, was free of the German troops, or from the Axis troops. And so, the Allies were continuing to slog through, slog through Italy, and in particular Rome. Rome did not get liberated in 1943. The Allies had to continue bombing Rome. And it doesn't get liberated until June of 1944. So Rome is liberated. So liberated in the summer of 1944. That happens June, 5th. The next day, and this is probably one of the most famous events in World War II, especially from an American point of view, something that's documented in many films, is June, 6th, D-Day, 1944. You have the invasion of Normandy, the amphibious invasion of Normandy, probably most famously depicted in the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan. We have British, primarily British and American troops. They are able to storm the beaches of Normandy successfully which allows them to start making progress in northern France towards Germany. Now, also in the summer of 1944, rockets start to get involved in a serious way in World War II. The Germans are starting to send their V1 rockets over to Great Britain. And the V1 rockets, this is just significant from the history of technology. Obviously today rockets play a big deal in a whole bunch of context, and this was the first time that they were deployed in a major way during a war. The first V1 rockets, they weren't all that impressive, they traveled three or four hundred miles per hour, slower than modern jet-liners. They didn't travel at that high of an altitude. But as we'll see, or as we'll see even in this video, within a few months, by September, they were sending in V2 rockets, which were far more advanced, going several thousand miles per hour, getting to altitudes of tens of miles high, and carrying even larger payloads. So the Germans were really starting to push the envelope in terms of rocket science. What's good about the Allie is, is that the Germans were kind, they developed this technology a little bit late. They are starting to be on the heels, obviously, on both the Western front and the Eastern front, and even in the South the Allies were really on the offensive now, but rockets are starting to get involved. V1's in the summer, and then the V2's in the fall. Now, also as we go into the late summer and fall, you see that Russians, after defeating the Germans at Kursk, are marching towards, are marching towards Poland, and marching in particular towards Warsaw, as we go through 1944. And at the end of 1944, not the end really, at the end of the summer of 1944, in August of 1944, you have the Polish uprising, you have kind of the rebels. The underground is taking on the German occupiers. So this is August, 1944. August, 1944. With the Russian troops, or the Soviet troops not that far away, they're getting closer and closer and closer to Warsaw. Now, also in August of 1944, you have Paris, is liberated. So this is August, 25th, 1944. Paris is liberated. And then, as we go later into that year, British troops are able to liberate Athens. So British troops are able to liberate Athens. So Athens is liberated. And actually this, once this liberated, then you start having the beginnings of the Civil War, of the Greek Civil War that occurs between kind of the government troops and the Communists, or as you say the more left-leaning people who were involved in fighting against the Axis powers. So, even though they were liberated, it's kind of the start of another unfortunate chapter with the Greek Civil War. And then, finishing out 1944, the Axis powers, and particularly the Germans, they weren't done yet. Even though the war is not looking good, they finally mount a, I guess you could say one of their last counteroffensive, just not their last major counteroffensive. And that's over here against the Allied troops, particularly the American troops, at the Battle of the Bulge. And this starts in December of 1944. It's called the Battle of the Bulge because the shape in which, so if the Allied, you know, the front, the Allied front looks like that as it is advancing. The Germans mount a counteroffensive and they are able to create a, what's called in military terms a salient, where they're able to push through, where they're able to push through and kind of create, and create this bulge. This is an incredibly bloody battle, it's actually the most bloody battle faced by American troops. They lose nearly 20 thousand, not just lose, 20 thousand die, American troops die just in the Battle of the Bulge that starts in December of 1944. But this really is the Germans last hurrah. You can see they're riding on the wall, troops approaching from the West, troops approaching from the East, troops approaching from the South.