Feb. 6 [IC] – Wars in Europe – East and North

[Note: We will  meet in class today. In the first half of class, we will discuss the material from Feb. 4, and in the second half we will discuss today’s material.]

For today’s class, we will discuss:

  • the Nazi campaign against Poland and the brutality of Nazi occupation policies
  • the Soviet invasion of Poland and the ‘Winter War’ against Finland
  • Continuing Polish resistance against the Nazis
  • Britain and France’s failure to aid Poland and their inaction during the ‘Phoney War’ period
  • Germany’s victories over Norway and Denmark

To prepare for our discussion, watch:

Netflix, Greatest Events of World War II in Colour, episode 1 (from 10 minutes to 21 minutes)

Netflix, World War II in Colour, episode 2 (beginning  to 31 minutes)

These documentaries will serve as the basis for your reading response, but I also encourage you to read and refer to some of the optional readings.

Your weekly writing assignment must be emailed to me by 10 AM on February 6. If you choose to write on today’s material, write at least 500 words answering this question:

What were some of the main ways in which today’s readings changed the pre-existing understanding of the history of World War II that you had prior to this course?

You will be able to answer the discussion questions from the material provided in the documentaries, but I also recommend that you complete these optional readings to gain an even better understanding of these issues.

Discussion questions

[1] Why were the Germans able to defeat the Poles so quickly? (see documentaries)

[2] What were some of the most noteworthy elements of the way German forces treated Polish civilians? How did  those actions reflect Nazi racial ideologies?
Michael Sontweiler, “When We Finish, Nobody is Left Alive”

[3] What were some of the most noteworthy elements of the way Soviet forces treated Polish civilians? Darius Tolczyk, “Katyn: the long cover-up” (and a related article) and Wikipedia, “Soviet invasion of Poland”

[4] After the defeat of the official Polish military in Poland, what steps did Poles take to continue to fight the Germans? Wikipedia, Polish Resistance Movement; Julian Borger, Polish Special Forces in the Home Army; BBC, Poland’s Enigma Code Breakers

[5] How much aid did the British and French provide to the Poles?
Andrew Knighton, “French Army Invaded Germany in 1939 to Support Poland”

[6] Why did Britain and France decide to adopt a mainly defensive strategy during the fall of 1939 and spring of 1940? Military History Now, “The Maginot Line”

[7] What were some of the ways the Soviet Union facilitated the expansion of Nazi power in Europe from August 1939 until June 21, 1941? Richard Evans, “Was Stalinism Worse than Nazi-ism?”







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