Everyone had wanted to forget. And Hitler had insisted that he was a man of peace!Now Britain and France were mobilizing. In bottomless misery, the German people feared total annihilation.2. Blitzkrieg.But no one was prepared for Blitzkrieg(“lightning war”). After World War One, Hitler’s rivals had dismantled their expensive militaries. But in the 1930s, Hitler had drafted millions of men. And his industrialists had built a state-of-the-art air force, the Luftwaffe.
In 1940 his gargantuan military struck with incredible coordination as its air force, tanks, and infantry all worked together seamlessly. The world had never seen any war this fast. It was unimaginably apocalyptic. In no time, they hadkilled thousands, pulverized buildings, and won within weeks. 3. April 1940 Nazi Victories.Hitler conquered Denmark and Norway.4. May 1940. The Nazis overran Belgium and the Netherlands. And now, they faced the combined might of Britain and France. It promised to be the World War One rematch that everyone dreaded. Tens of millions of people felt sick. Yet, within weeks, France collapsed. That May, Hitler stood before the Eiffel Tower. He proclaimed, “I am the greatest military strategist of all time.” Suddenly, the mood in Germany flipped upside-down. Citizens weren’t despairing any longer.They felt joyous. 5. What Happened in Britain in May 1940?Shorn of allies, the desperate British people made Winston Churchill their Prime Minister in May 1940. One month later, Hitler began bombing London.6. Battle of Britain, June-Oct. 1940. To make the British despair and surrender, Hitler instructed his Luftwaffeto bomb London itself. The Germans would target civilians and kill women, children, and the elderly. They would reduce schools, businesses, and churches to broken bricks. Before the British could even mobilize their tiny air force, for many endless nights, the Germans bomb from sunset to sunrise. At night, ordinary people tried to sleep in the tube as detonations rattled their homes. The next morning, when they emerged into the morning sunlight, they found yet more of their city smashed and ruined.But Hitler’s plan backfired. Instead of breaking the British people, he actually made it defiant. ThePrime Minister’s courage spoke for everyone:“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”The military historians I’ve read believe Hitler made a fatal error when he targeted civilians; he should have demolished the British airbases. Instead, he gave them precious time to build up.And it turned out that the British Royal Air Force were better dogfighters than the Nazis. Outnumbered, they could each shoot down four or five enemies every day.