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 ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP / Getty

    Wildfires Force Evacuations Along the French Riviera

    Authorities have evacuated more than 10,000 people from parts of southern France, ahead of several raging wildfires.

  • Pete Oxford / bioGraphic

    Whale Sharks as Good Luck Charms

    Fishermen in Cenderawasih Bay in West Papua, Indonesia, have long believed that whale sharks bring good luck.

  • Franck Fife / AFP / Getty

    Scenes From the 2017 Silk Way Rally

    For the past two weeks, rally racers from 35 countries drove 5,965 miles (9,600 kilometers) from Moscow, Russia, to Xi'an, China.

  • Oli Scarff / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 7/15–7/21

    Highland games in Scotland, a diving jaguar in France, wildfires in California and western Canada, a wax Donald Trump, and much more.

Join the Discussion