Why was D-Day such an important historic event?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

By 1944, the Aliies were clearly winning the war, but the fight was not over. It was clear that no matter how hard Germany was pounded by aerial attacks, Hitler was not going to surrender until Germany was taken over inch-by-inch by land.

The Germans were very well aware that...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

By 1944, the Aliies were clearly winning the war, but the fight was not over. It was clear that no matter how hard Germany was pounded by aerial attacks, Hitler was not going to surrender until Germany was taken over inch-by-inch by land.

The Germans were very well aware that the Allies were going to make an attempt to land in northwest Europe—Allied troops were already in Italy—and the Nazis put massive resources into repelling such an attack.

While it looks easy and inevitable in hindsight, at the time it was uncertain whether the Allies could make it through German defenses or how long that would take or how many troops would have to be sacrificed. There was every fear an assault on the French coast could turn into a replica of the attempts on both sides in World War I in France to gain a decisive victory: the end results were a standoff and massive deaths—appalling levels of deaths—to gain a few uncertain feet of ground. The Allies did not want to get caught again in such a scenario.

Therefore, it was important to world history that the Allies were successful in getting a foothold in France from the start with the well-planned and massive D-Day attack. It hastened the end of the war, secured continued support for the war on the home front, and gave the Allies a foothold in Europe that was important to the post-war settlement.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The D-Day assault on the French beaches of Normandy was "the largest amphibious invasion of all time," and the successful attacks against the undermanned German forces eventually led to the Axis surrender a year later. Known as "Operation Overlord," more than 160,000 infantrymen landed on five designated beaches--Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword--on June 6, 1944. Nearly 200,000 naval troops manning more than 5000 ships also participated. Additionally, nearly 25,000 paratroopers landed behind enemy lines hours prior to the attack. Most of the troops were from the American, British and Canadian armed forces, though many other Allied personnel participated. Only about 10,000 German troops were available for the defense of the beaches on June 6, though many of them were protected by heavily fortified bunkers. The Allied forces' casualties were light on Sword and Utah, but German resistance was strong on the other beaches. American forces on Omaha Beach lost about 5000 men--one-half of the Allied casualties sustained on June 6. The successful invasion gave the Allies a foothold on the western part of the European continent, allowing armies to strike toward Paris and eventually recapture France and the Benelux countries before heading toward the Rhine River--and German soil. The D-Day invasion proved to be the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team