If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

1942 Tide turning in World War II in Europe

KC‑7.3.III.D (KC)
Unit 7: Learning Objective M
WOR (Theme)
In 1942 we see the Axis get pushed back in North Africa and get bogged down in the Soviet Union. The tide of war turns in favor of the Allies.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user Magma
    On the WWII map, Turkey is listed in green, as part of the Allies. Wasn't Turkey neutral through WWII, in the same way that i.e. Sweden and Switzerland were?
    (31 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • hopper happy style avatar for user hummingbirdtweet
      Turkey was neutral for the majority of the war. In 1939, Turkey signed the Mutual Aid Pact with France and Britain. However, it managed to make negotiations with both sides, since it feared a conflict with the USSR (when Germany and the USSR divided Poland into 2 halves). In June 1941, Turkey signed a non-aggression pact with Germany. Germany then bought chromite from Turkey, and so did the Allies. In August 1944, Turkey broke off all relations with Germany. After the Allies' invitation to the first meeting of the United Nations in 1945 (with full belligerency as a condition), Turkey declared war on the Axis, but its army never went into combat.
      (48 votes)
  • leaf grey style avatar for user ARodMCMXICIX
    Why do they call it the European theater ?
    (17 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Afiq Azraei
      In military terms, you go up from corps to army to army group then later theater.

      Theater essentially means theater of operations in a specific place. It acts as a central command to organize movements in a large region, consisting of many army groups (or even direct smaller groups) to push to their objectives. It is not efficient if the army groups stretched all over the globe to be controlled from one headquarters for a specific country. So, for example, the Allies would gather their resources and establish a European theater headquarters to conduct operations together. Though, there are instances where some military units do act on their own regarding on the unpredictable and somewhat emotional situation eg. Liberation of Paris, they are still considered to be part of the theater in whole.

      Hope this helps, and if I made a mistake, do correct me.
      (13 votes)
  • old spice man green style avatar for user Jonathan Ziesmer
    Sal put a red mark on the battle of Coral Sea. Does that mean the Japanese won?
    (10 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • male robot donald style avatar for user Hussain ali
    Wasn't Morocco and Algeria colonies of occupied France (then controlled by the German and their poppet France)?
    How could the US send forces their directly without a landing operation like the Normandy in north France or operation Dragoon in south France?
    (5 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • aqualine sapling style avatar for user maximilian.hess20
      Operation Torch: American, British, and Free French forces began a series of amphibious landings at Casablanca, Oran, and Algier. The French colonial forces, then under the authority of the Vichy government, resisted the invasion at first, then defected to the Allies by joining the Free French army, allowing the Allies to advance accross Algeria unopposed and engage the Germans and Italians in Tunisia.
      (3 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user AlexanderWilde1
    I understand that the Suez canal was very useful for getting to Asia from Europe, but why would Germany so strongly wanted that, why would they want to get to Asia at this time?
    (5 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Christian Laube
      It is not that they wanted it so they themself could go to Asia, they wanted it so that the allies especially Britain could not use it, if they could deny the allies acces to the Suez Canal moving troops and supplies between the different parts of the British empire would take longer and need more ships, which would mean the allies would need longer times to react to a sudden attack for instance.
      (12 votes)
  • male robot hal style avatar for user Sergey Ostapenko
    how is Turkey not attacked by the Germans? If the Germans have full conquest of Bulgaria,( the country neighboring Turkey), then why can't they sail through the border of the Aegean Sea and defeat the allied forces in Turkey?
    (7 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • mr pants teal style avatar for user Gabe
    Why wasn't Spain or Portugal in WW2
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • old spice man blue style avatar for user Ramesh969
    I know that Germany's economy was pretty bad, but how did they get funding for all their military equipment?
    (5 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user AJ
    When did the allies leave for Africa and how were they able to win so easily?
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • spunky sam green style avatar for user History Helper
      The Allies were involved in Africa from day 1 of the war. Even though Germany didn't have any colonies overseas, its ally Italy did in Libya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and parts of Somalia, so the Allies were very cautious about this. One reason for easy Allied success was better logistics, larger air force, and bigger colonies. Italy, not able to gain dominance in the Mediterranean, was unable to supply its troops properly as those often got intercepted by Allied ships and planes. Geographically, Italian colonies were surrounded on all sides, making the defense even harder. Militarily, the Italians used outdated equipment and tactics, which was even worse in bad supply situation.
      (5 votes)
  • starky tree style avatar for user Hunter S.
    Right about at , I notice some arrows pointing to a little place called Kursk, and I have heard about the Battle of Kursk.However, I have been wondering about the special features presented in that battle (I have heard a lot about the battle being the first of something in World War Two) and how did it affect World War Two?
    (4 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • spunky sam green style avatar for user History Helper
      Good catch there! The Battle of Kursk was a very important battle indeed. Often overshadowed by other battles of the Eastern Front, a lot of people don't seem to know about this too often. It was the last major German offensive on the Eastern Front, aiming to take Kursk back from the Soviets. The Germans mobilized a bulk of their tanks and planned their attack from both sides of Kursk at the north and the south. However, Soviet defenses proved to be solid and additional reinforcement from reserves halted German attacks merely after eleven days. Shortly thereafter, the Soviets launched a major counteroffensive, driving the much of the German forces out of Eastern Ukraine. Major equipment losses, especially tanks, became hard to replace for the Germans, and they found themselves mostly on the defense throughout the war. The Battle of Kursk crippled the German offensive capabilities on the Eastern Front.
      (2 votes)

Video transcript

As we saw in the last video, in 1942 we start to see the tide turn in the Pacific. Just as reminder - In December of 1941, you have the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor which brings the United States into World War II. And as we get into 1942, you have the Doolittle Raid on the mainland of Japan which is a psychological victory for America and the allies. Then you have the Battle of Coral Sea and then Midway. Midway in particular was a huge -- I shouldn´t put red there, I should leave it blue -- was a huge success for the American Navy, followed by Guadalcanal after which the U.S. is able to go on the offensive against the Japanese. We see a significant turning of the tide in 1942 in the Pacific. And it also turns out to be the case in Europe that we see a turning of the tide in 1942. Just as Guadalcanal is occuring, you might remember that in 1941 Hitler and the Nazis decided they want to attack the Soviet Union, probably not a good idea, they going to stretch themselves thin, but they do so anyway. The Siege of Leningrad starts in 1941, and then in 1942 by August, they are able to reach Stalingrad, which is right about here. And Stalingrad, it´s now called Volgograd, is right about there if the map extended over there. This is a major series of battles in World War II. Movies are made about Stalingrad, incredibly bloody. Incredibly -- if you look at the pictures of the city of Stalingrad after the battles there, the city is essentially in ruins. But the battles in Stalingrad start in August of 1942 and they continue for several months, going up to February of 1943. But this marks the turning point for Hitler. He´s getting bogged down in Leningrad, he´s getting bogged down in Stalingrad, eventually gets defeated in Stalingrad in early 1943. And his armies are really spread thin. Stalingrad is a hugely important event or series of events in World War II. And let´s just be clear where we are right now. Stalingrad commences in August of 1942. And just to frame it in your mind - relativ to the Pacific Theater, this is right around - plus or minus a few weeks - of when Guadalcanal was going on, conflict between the Japanese and the American navies. You have these incredibly bloody series of battles at Stalingrad. Then in October, we´ve been talking about this back and forth, in North Africa and some people are: "Why are they even worried about North Africa?" And I should have mentioned this earlier, but we have to remember that there is somewhat strategic here called the Suez Canal. Why is the Suez Canal strategic? It connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. You don`t have to go all the way around Africa to go from Europe to the Indian Ocean. It`s an incredibly strategic passage or way to travel by sea between -- I guess for the world -- but especially between Europe and Asia. You can imagine, the British were very keen on protecting the Suez Canal and the axies would have loved to get control of the Suez Canal. Let me write this here. This right over here is the Suez Canal. And as we go into October, this is Stalingrad commences right over here. And as we go into October, the British are able to defeat or start to deafeat the axies and then push them back. This eventually leads to the British being able to go all the way to Tunisia. This is the final back- and-forth-blow that starts to secure victory for the allies in North Africa. And at the same time that this is commencing in October, you have other allied forces, starting to arrive in Morroco and Algeria. Forces from the U.S. are arriving in Morroco, and forces from the U.K., from Great Britain, are arriving in Algeria. This is going to give the allies control of North Africa, from which they can now mount assaults onto the European mainland, which we will see in the next series of videos. Definitely the tide is turning, and the allies are starting to be able to go on the offensive both in the Pacific and the European Theater.