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KC‑7.3.III.D (KC)
Unit 7: Learning Objective M
WOR (Theme)

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] We're now in 1944 and the things are really starting to close in on the Axis powers now. We can start in January. You might remember, you've had the Siege of Leningrad going on for several years now. Incredibly bloody siege, incredibly hard on the civilians of Leningrad. But the Soviet army is finally able to end that, and so you see from these troop movements on this map starting in January of 1944 with the end of the siege, they are able to really take the offensive and start marching through the Baltics, through the Baltic states. At the same time, you have the Soviet armies marching and they're able to force the Axis to surrender in the Crimea. You fast forward further into the year, further into 1944. You might remember in 1943, the Allies were able to land on Italy and force the surrender of Italy to the Allied powers. But that doesn't mean that Italy, as we know it today, or even as we knew it then, was free of the German troops, or from the Axis troops. And so, the Allies were continuing to slog through, slog through Italy, and in particular Rome. Rome did not get liberated in 1943. The Allies had to continue bombing Rome. And it doesn't get liberated until June of 1944. So Rome is liberated. So liberated in the summer of 1944. That happens June, 5th. The next day, and this is probably one of the most famous events in World War II, especially from an American point of view, something that's documented in many films, is June, 6th, D-Day, 1944. You have the invasion of Normandy, the amphibious invasion of Normandy, probably most famously depicted in the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan. We have British, primarily British and American troops. They are able to storm the beaches of Normandy successfully which allows them to start making progress in northern France towards Germany. Now, also in the summer of 1944, rockets start to get involved in a serious way in World War II. The Germans are starting to send their V1 rockets over to Great Britain. And the V1 rockets, this is just significant from the history of technology. Obviously today rockets play a big deal in a whole bunch of context, and this was the first time that they were deployed in a major way during a war. The first V1 rockets, they weren't all that impressive, they traveled three or four hundred miles per hour, slower than modern jet-liners. They didn't travel at that high of an altitude. But as we'll see, or as we'll see even in this video, within a few months, by September, they were sending in V2 rockets, which were far more advanced, going several thousand miles per hour, getting to altitudes of tens of miles high, and carrying even larger payloads. So the Germans were really starting to push the envelope in terms of rocket science. What's good about the Allie is, is that the Germans were kind, they developed this technology a little bit late. They are starting to be on the heels, obviously, on both the Western front and the Eastern front, and even in the South the Allies were really on the offensive now, but rockets are starting to get involved. V1's in the summer, and then the V2's in the fall. Now, also as we go into the late summer and fall, you see that Russians, after defeating the Germans at Kursk, are marching towards, are marching towards Poland, and marching in particular towards Warsaw, as we go through 1944. And at the end of 1944, not the end really, at the end of the summer of 1944, in August of 1944, you have the Polish uprising, you have kind of the rebels. The underground is taking on the German occupiers. So this is August, 1944. August, 1944. With the Russian troops, or the Soviet troops not that far away, they're getting closer and closer and closer to Warsaw. Now, also in August of 1944, you have Paris, is liberated. So this is August, 25th, 1944. Paris is liberated. And then, as we go later into that year, British troops are able to liberate Athens. So British troops are able to liberate Athens. So Athens is liberated. And actually this, once this liberated, then you start having the beginnings of the Civil War, of the Greek Civil War that occurs between kind of the government troops and the Communists, or as you say the more left-leaning people who were involved in fighting against the Axis powers. So, even though they were liberated, it's kind of the start of another unfortunate chapter with the Greek Civil War. And then, finishing out 1944, the Axis powers, and particularly the Germans, they weren't done yet. Even though the war is not looking good, they finally mount a, I guess you could say one of their last counteroffensive, just not their last major counteroffensive. And that's over here against the Allied troops, particularly the American troops, at the Battle of the Bulge. And this starts in December of 1944. It's called the Battle of the Bulge because the shape in which, so if the Allied, you know, the front, the Allied front looks like that as it is advancing. The Germans mount a counteroffensive and they are able to create a, what's called in military terms a salient, where they're able to push through, where they're able to push through and kind of create, and create this bulge. This is an incredibly bloody battle, it's actually the most bloody battle faced by American troops. They lose nearly 20 thousand, not just lose, 20 thousand die, American troops die just in the Battle of the Bulge that starts in December of 1944. But this really is the Germans last hurrah. You can see they're riding on the wall, troops approaching from the West, troops approaching from the East, troops approaching from the South.