One by one, Adolph Hitlerís plans fell into place. In lightning succession, Austria, Czechoslovakia, then Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and France fell to his diplomatic and military aggression. By diplomacy and promise, he acquired Italy and Japan as allies, as well as a non-aggression pact with Russia. So astonishing were his successes that Time Magazine named him its ďMan of the YearĒ in 1938.
Yet, Hitlerís goal of negotiated peace with Great Britain, tempting her with colonies in Asia and Africa, proved fruitless. Neither could he persuade Spain to enter the Axis and seize Gibraltar, thus securing the western entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, Hitlerís desire for Italy to take Suez from the British went unfulfilled.
In 1941, without securing the entrances to the Mediterranean, Hitler opened a new and dangerous front. In Operation Barbarossa Germany invaded Russia. Hitler feared betrayal by the Russians. Germany possessed no evidence to support that fear, yet Hitler determined to strike them first.
The Russians did not capitulate as did others. They fought and died. History records some twenty million Russians died during World War II. From the summer of 1941, until the European war ended in the spring of 1945, the Russians did not let up. They fought, counter fought, and advanced, eventually wearing down Hitlerís troops and depleting his supplies and manpower.
Of course, following Japanís surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, the USA entered the war on the side of Great Britain and the Allies, fighting the Germans in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, then in France, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, and Germany itself, while simultaneously advancing and defeating the Japanese across the Pacific.
Hitlerís vision and determination carried Germany to great victories, but his preemptive first-strike betrayal of his former ally, Russia, proved to be a burden his country could not bear. Germanyís superior military and industrial might were not insurmountable when others resolved to thwart her expanding empire.
Published previously in an earlier website, July 4, 2003.