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

  • Gianluigi Guercia / AFP / Getty

    The Opening of 'The World’s Most Useless Airport' in Remote Saint Helena

    Last weekend, the tiny and isolated British island of Saint Helena welcomed its first scheduled commercial flight from South Africa.

  • Bettmann / Getty

    40 Years Ago: A Look Back at 1977

    Four decades ago Jimmy Carter was sworn in as the 39th president of the U.S., the original Star Wars movie was released in theaters, and much more.

  • Jae C. Hong / AP

    Deadly Wildfires Continue Across Northern California

    More than a dozen wildfires burning across Northern California have destroyed at least 5,700 structures and are being blamed for 40 deaths.

  • Paula Bronstein / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 10/7–10/13

    Wildfires rage across California, the World Solar Challenge race in Australia, a show by the Swiss Air Force in the Alps, and much more.

Join the Discussion