Middle Years (1941-1943) – The Tide Turns Against the Axis Powers
After several years of successive victories, the military advances of the Axis Powers on all fronts ground gradually to a halt. In contrast to the Allies, the Axis Powers occupied relatively restricted geographical regions – Central Europe in the Western Hemisphere, and Japan and its neighbouring territories in the Eastern Hemisphere. Further, the industrial and scientific capabilities of Germany and the other leading Axis Powers notwithstanding, their populations and natural resources represented only a fraction of that possessed by the widely flung Allied Powers. A short war would almost certainly guarantee an Axis victory; a long war would permit the Allies to retreat (to surrender land in return for time) and gather overwhelming resources to inflict total defeat on the Axis Powers.
In the early years, it was relatively easy for the Axis Powers to communicate good news to their peoples. But as the victories petered away, the propaganda focus had to shift increasingly to strengthening the popular resolve in the face of growing adversity.
- In October 1942, following the growing successes of Allied commando raids, Adolf Hitler issued the ‘Commando Order’ – in which Allied Commandos were demonised ‘criminals’ rather than conventional soldiers, and were summarily executed if captured.
- In February 1943, following the announcement that the last Axis defenders at Stalingrad had surrendered, Joseph Goebbels (Nazi Propaganda Minister) proclaimed ‘total war’ – the total commitment of the nation in a time of grave need.