Overview of the European Theater of World War II
The epic struggles in the European theater of World War II played out on a canvas stretching from the Arctic Circle to Tierra Del Fuego in the north and south, and from the Texas coast of the Caribbean in the east to the Ural Mountains in the east. This vast region spanned four continents and brought the war on land, at sea, and in the air to some of the most bitter engagements in military history.
Arguably the most vital theater in WWII- the War in Europe involving all of the major powers of the time save Japan- the actual fighting followed Germany's invasion of Poland in September of 1939 and carried on through the spring of 1945. Tens of millions lost their lives on all sides, and for the first time in recorded history as many of the deaths were among civilian populations. Especially at sea, where German and Italian U-boats sought to isolate continental Europe from naval reinforcement, and on the Eastern Front where both the German Wehrmacht and the Soviet Red Army used scorched earth tactics, little quarter was asked or given. The vast majority of German submariners who served in the war were killed at sea, and the populations of modern day Belarus and Ukraine were beyond decimated- each lost up to half its pre-war population to violence between 1941 and 1945.
It is exceedingly difficult to summarize the entirety of such a vast conflict, and most scholars who attempt to write a comprehensive history often end up filling thousand-page volumes and still scarcely scratch the surface. But for anyone looking for a solid introduction to several aspects and events in the war, especially with regard to the battles at sea, the articles below provide a good starting point to work from.
In addition, in recent years World War II has become a popular setting for numerous video games ranging in complexity from simple first person shooters to grand strategy epics that attempt to simulate various aspects of the conflict. Several of these are described below, for those with an interest in re-enacting the war, pursuing alternate history scenarios, or just trying to get a feel for what it was like for troops and nations during the war in Europe.