The D-Day Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 signaled the beginning of the final push to liberate Europe from Nazi rule. It is more than fitting that the 75th anniversary ceremonies will be marked by pomp and circumstance—especially given what is probably the last opportunity to honor the dwindling number of surviving veterans of the landings on the beaches that day.
But contrary to popular belief, D-Day, while immensely significant, was not the critical turning point of World War II. The key developments that set the stage for Germany’s ultimate defeat had already taken place much earlier. Hitler’s litany of disastrous mistakes in 1941 made it possible for the Allies to survive his country’s initial military successes, regroup, and launch an audacious operation like D-Day three years later.
The title of my new book, 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War, is not an overstatement. It is no exaggeration to say that 1941, not 1944, was the year Germany lost the war—although Hitler was not about to admit defeat and his forces fought ferociously for another four years, right up until he committed suicide in his Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945.
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