This map is part of a series of 15 animated maps showing the history of The second World War, 1939-1945.
At the beginning of the war, the German army decided to make use of its powerful tank divisions in concentrated offensive campaigns against specific targets on the Western Front, with cover from raids by the Luftwaffe. The remarkable success of these Blitzkrieg tactics was due to the element of surprise, and also to the mobility and rapidity with which the Wehrmacht was able to advance, once it had broken through the enemy’s defences, especially between 1939 and 1941.
- The Polish campaign lasted four weeks.
- Only a few days were needed to overrun Denmark and Norway in early April 1940.
- The Netherlands surrendered after 6 days of combat.
- Belgium fought unsuccessfully for two weeks.
- The campaign against France lasted 6 weeks from 13 May to 22 June.
- In spring 1941, the German army took a mere three weeks to occupy Yugoslavia and Greece.
The Blitzkrieg was also very effective during the first phase of the war against the USSR in summer 1941, but as the German armies moved further and further from their bases, it became increasingly difficult to move supplies forward quickly. This hampered the ability of motorized divisions to advance and ultimately led to their failure to take Moscow and Leningrad.