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  • Stories from the beaches of Normandy in 1944 to Berlin Germany
    From the beaches of Normandy to Berlin

    History of D-Day and World War 2

    Told by those who were there

What was the Second World War?

World War 2 or WW2 was a global war that raged from 1939 to 1945. It involved the majority of the world's countries forming two opposing military alliances: Allied forces from the West (USA, Britain and Canada) and the Soviet Union in the East against the Axis forces (Germany, Italy and Japan). Involving more than 250 million armed forces personnel from more than 30 countries WW2 was the deadliest conflict in human history.

When did WW2 start?

The official starting point of World War 2 was on September 1, 1939. When Nazi forces under the direct order of Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland. Germany invaded Poland to regain the 'lost territory' and to achieve their goal to expand the German Reich in order to create 'Lebensraum' for the people of Germany. Two days later, on September 3rd, 1939, France and Britain declared war on Nazi Germany, beginning World War 2.

Casualties of WW2

Some 60 - 75 million people died including around 20 million military personnel and 40 million civilians. Most of these died because of deliberate genocide (Holocaust), massacres, mass-bombings, disease, and starvation. These stories need to be remembered. The infographic below shows a rough estimate of the number of casualties per country (military and civilian). Hold your mouse on the dots to see the numbers. Military deaths also takes into account for instance the Dutch SS men killed in the Soviet Union. Civilian deathes contains all the other non-military deaths. For instance Jews, civilians murdered by executions, Sinti, forced laborers etc.

This website is a tribute to the people of WW2
What's new?

This website is made in honor of the veterans and the victims of WW2 and has no political motives nor any financial gain what so ever and is merely a labour of love and a tribute to history and those who witnessed it.

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“The other day I visited a German internment camp (Ohrdruf). I never dreamed that such cruelty, bestiality, and savagery could really exist in this world! It was horrible.

I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to “propaganda.””
Dwight D. Eisenhower visited Ohrdruf in April 15, 1945
WW2 United States armed Forces Hat Badge
Eisenhower visits the internment camp Ohrdruf

Adolf Hitler's rise to power

Because of the big disapointment with the loss of World War 1 and the poor economic condition in which Germany found itself in, Dietrich Eckart a German anti-Semitic poet, playwright, journalist, publicist and political activist was one of the founders of the German Workers' Party, the predecessor to the Nazi Party.

Adolf Hitler born on April 20, 1889 in Austria (then part of Austria-Hungary) he was raised near Linz. He moved to Germany in 1913 and was decorated during his service in the German Army in World War I. In 1919 he became involved with the German Workers Party. The later Nazi Party NSDAP (National Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei). Eckart was a key influence on Adolf Hitler in the early years of the Party, the original publisher of the party newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter ("People's Observer"). But Hitler set the violent tone of the movement by forming the paramilitary Sturmabteilung (SA) with Ernst Röhm. Catholic Bavaria resented rule from Protestant Berlin and Hitler at first saw revolution in Bavaria as a means to power. An early attempt at a coup d'état, the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, proved fruitless and Hitler was imprisoned (along with Eckart, Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess and Röhm) for leading the putsch.

He used this time to write Mein Kampf his personal view on the world and society in general. But Hitler has learned from the failed coup attempt, he decided on the tactic of pursuing power through legal means rather than seizing control of the government by force. To get the whole of Germany behind the NSDAP and an all-out war, a common enemy was found in the Jews. The NSDAP or Hitler's party propagated social Darwinist theories. They saw the Germanic "Aryan" race as the most developed race and considered it their task to subdue or exterminate "lesser" races.

In his book Hitler stated that the living space or "Lebensraum" of the Germanic people was too small. The party also called for change in the social and economic structure of Germany. The Nazi's saw the Jews as inferior and unwanted members (Untermenschen) of society. Shortly after he came to power in 1933, Hitler instituted the first measures to exclude Jews in Germany from public life. Jews were getting less and less freedom. From 1933 onwards Jews were no longer allowed to hold government positions and the Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935 deprived Jews of citizenship. Marriage and sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews are also restricted. The D-Day landings can be seen as the turning point for the end of the occupation of Western-Europe.

The 'Kristallnacht'

A few days after German authorities had expelled thousands of Jews of Polish citizenship living in Germany, 17 year old Herschel Grynszpan shot the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in the German embassy in Paris. This in reaction to his parents being among those that were expelled even though they had been living in Germany since 1911. Vom Rath died two days later as a result of his injuries and the German population is incited in a progrom against the Jewish population. During the night from November 9 to November 10, 1938, the first major action against Jews takes place. Kristallnacht (literally Night of Crystal) was also called "Night of broken glass'. It owes its name to the countless pieces of shattered glass (crystals) that littered the streets in german cities from the broken windows of the synagogues, private homes and Jewish owned businesses who were plundered and destroyed during this night. Thousands of Jews are arrested and deported to concentration camps. At a press conference on November 15, 1938, a week after Kristallnacht, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt condemned the Nazis terror attack on the Jews people, saying, "I could hardly believe that such things could happen in a twentieth-century civilization."

The 'Endlösung' or Final Solution

As the "Endlösung" or “Final Solution” for short, the National Socialists called their goal since July 1941 of murdering all those who they defined as Jews in Europe and beyond, which they systematically pursued until the Wehrmacht surrendered unconditionally. The segregation of Jews in ghettos culminated in the policy of extermination the Nazis called the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question", discussed by senior Nazi officials at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin on 20th January 1942. This would lead to the Holocaust or the systematic murder of the European Jews.
The Holocaust history
Why were the Jews forced to wear the Star of David?

The history and therefore the definition of the Holocaust also known as the Shoah (Hebrew) is exceptionally complex. Basically it can be stated that it was the murder or genocide of the European Jews during world war 2. The word Holocaust comes from the the Greek word 'Holokauston' which is a translation of the Hebrew word 'Olah'. In Biblical times, Olah was a burn sacrifice ritual for God.

Malicious Nazi propaganda

Anti Jewish poster from the German Ministry of Propaganda
Joseph Goebbels, leader of the ministry of propaganda, used every opportunity to blame the Jews for everything, including the impending war.

On June 6 1944 D-Day, the invasion of occupied France, began

June 6 1944, D-Day Normandy

What was D-Day? D-Day was the the Allied answer to occupancy and hostile regime of Nazi Germany with the end goal of putting an end to WW2. At 06:30 am on Tuesday June 6, 1944 Operation Neptune or D-Day (amphibious assault) is unleashed along a 60 mile stretch of coast between the Cotentin Peninsula and the Orne River in Normandy, France. The invasion on the shores of Normandy were part of Operation Overlord (Allied invasion of Normandy). Planning for the operation began in 1943. Overlord was an Allied military operation of unprecedented scale, with an amphibious assault from Allied troops on the beaches combined with Allied airborne operations behind enemy lines inland. The Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main landings. In the months leading up to the invasion, the weather was far from ideal, and the operation had to be delayed 24 hours; a further postponement would have meant a delay of at least two weeks, as the invasion planners had requirements for the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that meant only a few days each month were deemed suitable.The amphibious assault focused on five separate beaches in Normandy codenamed Omaha, Utah (American sector), Gold, Sword (British sector), and Juno (Canadian sector). At the end of the day small beachheads had been secured. It would turn out to be the turning point of World War 2 in western Europe.

Allied troops
Allied aircraft
Allied vessels
Allied casualties
German troops
German aircraft
(on paper)
German vessels
German casualties

Eisenhower's letter to the troops before D-Day, Normandy in WW2
Famous letter written by General Dwight D. Eisenhower to the troops who were about to embark on Operation Overlord.

D-Day, June 6th 1944
Dutch Prinses Irene Brigade cap badge
The Netherlands commemorates it's war victims
On 4 May each year, Holland stops to pay tribute to the fallen during Remembrance Day. A national ceremony takes place at Dam Square in Amsterdam, while other remembrance ceremonies take place in towns and cities around the country, as well as in Holland’s war cemeteries.
The Netherlands commemorates war victims
The Netherlands celebrates it's liberation

Liberation Day (Dutch: Bevrijdingsdag) is celebrated each year in the Netherlands on 5 May to mark the end of the occupation by Nazi Germany during WW2. It follows the Remembrance of the Dead (Dodenherdenking) on 4 May. Holland was liberated by Canadian forces, British infantry divisions, British I Corps, 1st Polish Armoured Division, American, Belgian, Dutch and Czechoslovak troops. Parts of the country, in particular the south-east, were liberated by the British Second Army which included American and Polish airborne forces (see Operation Market Garden) and French airbornes (see Operation Amherst). On 5 May 1945 the Canadian General Charles Foulkes and the German Commander-in-Chief Johannes Blaskowitz reached an agreement on the capitulation of German forces in the Netherlands in Hotel de Wereld in Wageningen. One day later the capitulation document was signed in the auditorium of Wageningen University.

The liberation of Deventer in April 1945
Liberation in Deventer 1945
Capitulation German Forces in Wageningen
Capitulation German Forces
Hotel 'De Wereld', Wageningen

On 5 May 1945, General Foulkes, commander of the 1st Canadian Army, drew up an official surrender act. He summoned the German general Blaskowitz to sign the capitulation. Prince Bernhard, acting as commander-in-chief of the Dutch Interior Forces was also present at the meeting.

Delay in signing the act in Hotel de Wereld Wageningen The Netherlands
Delay in signing the act
Hotel 'De Wereld' 6 May 1945
The document of surrender was presented to Blaskowitz who asked for 24 hours delay in which he could asses if he could meet all of the demands stipulated in the document. Blaskowitz returned the next day (6 May) to sign the official surrender of all German forces in the Netherlands.
Finally the capitulation act 1945 is signed
Capitulation act 1945
Official signing May 6th 1945
The act itself has "Wageningen, May 5, 1945" in both English and German, and the surrender in Germany on the 4th took effect on the 5th, the act was actually signed one day later in the Aula (auditorium) of Wageningen University.
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Why another website about World War 2?

June 6th, 1944 (D-Day) was the starting point for this website back in 2000. This website is my personal 'one man' project and it started out based on the eyewitness accounts of the Allied and Axis troops of WW2 who fought on the beaches of Normandy during D-Day and in the Battle of Normandy. Over time, and to be more complete, I added my focus on the Holocaust, concentration camps, aktion T4, the main battles without forgetting the war on the Eastern front, the Pacific and the rest of Europe. The historically accurate pages covering the complete WW2 history are made to educate readers about a conflict of this magnitude. This website can be used for education, personal interest as well as for research. I hope you take the time to explore my website. Thank you.

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