Below is a list reviewing five of the top WWII Battles in the European Theater. While only four are technically battles, the fifth – the blitzkrieg – deserves recognition for the consistent success it provided the German’s throughout the European theater. Below is a brief summary of each.
Normandy Invasion – As the tension betweenGermany and theUnited States grew, it became obvious that a French invasion was crucial to liberate Europe and lay the ground work for defeating Hitler. Five beaches were stormed using the amphibious forces of theUnited States,Canada andGreat Britain. The troops were further protected by three airborne divisions. Omaha saw the worst of the fighting and troops were further challenged by the difficult terrain and the inaccurate landing maps. Despite the challenges, the area was secured and troops continued their march -eventually making their way successfully to Paris.
Battle of the Bulge – A month after the troops reached Paris, their continued march found them stalled along the German border. Though the Germans were well within striking distance, winter soon unleashed a harsh fury and their continued efforts were further hampered by December, however, General George S. Patton was determined to push his troops through Bastogne, Belgium within a 24-hour time period – a feat doubted by most. Germany’s Panzer division, intending to siegeAntwerp, was halted. With the air power assistance, the Allies were able to push the Germans back to their own lines.
Battle of Stalingrad – The Battle of Stalingrad was a struggle which almost completely destroyed the moral and defenses of both the German and Russian army. Heavy fighting ensued throughout this battle resulting in a heavy loss for the Germans and triumph for Russia. The Soviets continued to move the Germans west as other Allies pushed them east. The Germans had initially planned on stopping the Allies as they crossed the Rhine, but had failed to destroy the Ludendorff Bridge, which the US forces used to successfully cross. Once the Soviets reached Berlin, it took an additional 10 days beforeBerlin finally surrendered.
Battle of Berlin – This battle was the final major offensive of the European Theater of WWII. The battle lasted less than two weeks. Soviet forces attacked Berlin from the east, south and north. Before the battle was over, Hitler and several of his followers committed suicide.
Blitzkrieg – The Blitzkrieg is not a specific battle, but reflects a specific warfare tactic used by the Germans. The term refers to a large motorized force (at high speed) using tanks, infantry, artillery and air power. The constant motion successfully kept the enemy off-balance and made it difficult for a quick, effective response. Blitzkrieg proved to be very beneficial for the Germans from 1939-1941.
World War II accounted for some of the bloodiest battles in the history of the world. The battles spanned continents and occurred throughout various theaters. However, when in Europe the Normandy Invasion, the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Stalingrad are three of the top battles of World War II in the European Theater.