During the early stages of World War II, the German armies seemed to be both inevitable and invincible–They raced across Europe, taking the Netherlands and France, as well as threatening Britain. However, the German Chancellor (and micromanager of the German Generals), Adolf Hitler, made many mistakes during the war, some quickly, and some a few years later. Many of these mistakes would help to demolish Hitler’s “Thousand-Year Reich.”
First of all, one of the greater mistakes Hitler made during the end of the war happened near D-Day, June 6, 1944. Hitler and his German generals had predicted, based on reports, that there would be an Allied invasion force coming from Britain, across the English channel. They incorrectly predicted that the Allied troops would come near the smallest stretch of water to be crossed, and so they predicted that an attack would come near Calais, which was to the east of where the troops would really be landing: Normandy. The Allied commanders knew where the Germans would predict an invasion to come, so during the day of the invasion they did a very clever thing: They placed wooden tanks on the Calais beaches so that the German defenders there would see the tanks far away, and become so occupied with attacking the decoy tanks that the Allied troops at Normandy could get inland easily. As a result, on June 6 the Allied forces managed to establish a somewhat-safer landing, got a beach hold, and (everywhere except Omaha beach) progressed easily throughout the first few miles, which would prove fatal for the Germans.
Another major mistake this one entirely Hitler’s, was the attacking of Russia. The German armies, through around 1941-1944, attacked Russia 3 times, and were pushed back 3 times, two of which were particularly notable. The first time, the German troops were well on their way to attack Moscow, but decided to move around and attack Kiev first. Kiev was captured, but the battle gave the Mosconians 2 more months to ready defenses, and so when Moscow was finally attacked, it proved to be impossible to break into. Eventually, Generals “Winter” and Zhukov were put on the offensive, and the Germans were pushed back. The second time, the Axis troops were after the south part of Russia, mainly for agricultural purposes. Hitler decided to attack Stalingrad, but split his army into two parts: One to attack Stalingrad, and another to attack the south. However, Stalingrad was well-defended, and the citizens inside were well-armed and well-motivated. The troops broke through slowly, but casualties were very high. In one famous subbattle, the Battle of the Grain Shaft, a few Axis divisions were held up for many days, taking very heavy losses due to there being “Devils” in the shaft. When they finally took the grain shaft, they found about 40 dead Russian bodies. Even worse, just when the Axis armies were getting close to finishing, the Russian armies used a pincer movement to capture the area around Stalingrad, and eventually, the entire German 6th Army was captured. The Russians later went on to take Berlin. This is particularly interesting, because in 1940, Germany signed a non-agression pact with Russia, and so the entire eastern front could be avoided! Even more, Hitler had said himself in “Mein Kampf” that fighting a battle on two fronts was the greatest mistake a commander could ever do!
But perhaps Hitler’s biggest blunder happened right after the conquest of France. After France had been captured by the German army, the German populace thought the war was over. However, Hitler decided to instead try to attack Britain. This was a huge mistake, because as soon as Britain was being bombed, the English started to ask the Americans for help. When a German U-Boat then sunk the Lusitania, the full might of American industry was employed against the Germans, and from then on the tables were tipping back towards the Axis.
All in all, Hitler and the German side made many major mistakes during World War II, and perhaps if they hadn’t made them, there would be a Thousand-Year Reich today.