On September 1st 1939, the most destructive war the world has ever known began as German troops invaded Poland. By the time it ended six years later, more than 70 million people would be killed and whole continents devastated.
Hitler's armed forces took just four weeks to conquer Poland. Their opponent was not only outnumbered both in men and weapons, but facing a new type of warfare - Lightning War or Blitzkrieg - for which it was totally unprepared.
By the end of June 1940, Hitler was victorious in western Europe. Nazi Germany now controlled Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Only Britain remained defiant. But the Fuehrer was certain that it could not hold out for long.
By the autumn of 1940, Hitler's forces were supreme in Western Europe. Britain remained undefeated but the country was isolated and Hitler no longer considered it a threat. The Fuhrer was ready for his greatest gamble - Operation Barbarossa.