World War II: The Fall of Nazi Germany


After the successful Allied invasions of western France, Germany gathered reserve forces and launched a massive counter-offensive in the Ardennes, which collapsed by January. At the same time, Soviet forces were closing in from the east, invading Poland and East Prussia. By March, Western Allied forces were crossing the Rhine River, capturing hundreds of thousands of troops from Germany's Army Group B. The Red Army had meanwhile entered Austria, and both fronts quickly approached Berlin. Strategic bombing campaigns by Allied aircraft were pounding German territory, sometimes destroying entire cities in a night. In the first several months of 1945, Germany put up a fierce defense, but rapidly lost territory, ran out of supplies, and exhausted its options. In April, Allied forces pushed through the German defensive line in Italy. East met West on the River Elbe on April 25, 1945, when Soviet and American troops met near Torgau, Germany. Then came the end of the Third Reich, as the Soviets took Berlin, Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, and Germany surrendered unconditionally on all fronts on May 8 (May 7 on the Western Front). Hitler's planned "Thousand-Year Reich" lasted only 12 incredibly destructive years. (This entry is Part 17 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II)
Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.
Jump to Comments

Most Recent

  • Maj. James Dalglish/AP

    On This Day: An Air Battle Over Belgium in 1945

    Seventy years ago, on January 27, 1945, a German pilot was captured on film after hastily exiting his damaged plane, hurtling through the air, legs outstretched, high above the frigid landscape of Belgium.

  • Kacper Pempel/Reuters

    Remembering Auschwitz: 70 Years After Liberation

    ​Tuesday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which this year marks the passage of 70 years since the January 27, 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland by Soviet soldiers.

  • Altaf Qadri/AP

    Photos of the Week: 1/17-1/23

    This week we have scenes of India's preparation for Republic Day, a new image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, a Chinese home-made mechanical horse, K-Pop hopefuls in Seoul, a volcano that has been creating a new island near Tonga, and much more.

  • Kin Cheung/AP

    A Bioluminescent Bloom in Hong Kong

    A bloom of Noctiluca scintillans, a large, green marine dinoflagellate that exhibits bioluminescence when disturbed, shows an eerie glow along the seashore in Hong Kong.

Join the Discussion