In June 1944, Allied forces launched a massive invasion, referred to as D-Day, at the European mainland. In response, German troops slaughtered over 600 residents of the French town of Oradour-sur-Glane. The Nazis rounded up all of the men and executed them. The women and children were taken to the town church, locked inside and then the church was set on fire. Anyone trying to escape was shot. Two days later, Germany started bombarding London with V1 rockets that were remotely controlled.
In July 1944, Russia reclaims the city of Minsk capturing 100,000 German troops in the process. Some of Hitler’s generals are unsuccessful in their plan to assassinate Hitler.
In August 1944, Allied forces drive the Germans out of Paris, liberate the French capital.
In December 1944, Germany launches it last major counteroffensive, known as the Battle of the Bulge, in Belgium. At first the German’s are successful in pushing back the Allied lines, but after nearly 2 weeks of bitter warfare, Allied forces are successful in stopping the German advance.
In January 1945, Russia launches a major offensive move along German’s Eastern Front. Russia drives the Germans out of Poland’s capital of Warsaw. The Battle of the Bulge ends with nearly 75,000 American casualties and 80,000 to 100,000 German casualties. After losing the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, Hitler orders his Panzer tank division to head to Budapest. Russian troops liberate the infamous German concentration camp at Auschwitz, Poland. The German ship Wilhelm Gustloff is sunk by a Russian submarine killing between 6,000 to 10,000 German civilians and wounded soldiers.
In February 1945, America, Great Britain and the Soviet Union hold the famous Yalta Conference where they decide what to do with Germany after the war ends. Dresden, Germany is bombed by Great Britain. The use of phosphorous in the bombs ignite a firestorm in the German city killing approximately 135,000 people. Russian troops cross the Oder River into Germany. Allied forces retake all of the area lost in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. Russian troops surround Breslau, Germany, and retake the Polish city of Poznan, forcing the German troops there to surrender. Allied forces capture the German town of Saarbrucken, located along the border with France and only 110 miles southwest of Frankfurt.
In March 1945, Finland declared war against Germany. Allied forces capture the bridge at Remagen which crossed the Rhine in Germany and was used by the Allies to move their forces deeper into Germany. The Allied forces also captured the major city of Cologne, Germany and the Russian forces captured Danzig, Poland in the north and begin a move into Austria to take Vienna from the Germans. Other Russian forces move with 50 miles of Berlin by the end of the month.
On April 1,1945, Allied forces move into Germany, capturing more than 300,000 German troops in the Ruhr Valley, about 50 miles northeast of Dusseldorf. Allied forces launch a major offensive into northern Italy.
On April 10, 1945, Allied forces capture Hanover, Germany, about 160 miles west of Berlin.
On April 11, 1945, American troops arrive at the Buchenwald concentration camp, located near Weimar, Germany. Buchenwald was the first concentration camp built in Germany and was also one of the largest. When the US troops arrived, they discovered that the prisoners had recently managed to free themselves.
On April 12, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies at the age of 63. Vice President Harry S. Truman is sworn in and takes over as Commander in Chief.
On April 13, 1945, Russian forces capture Vienna, Austria from the Germans.
On April 15, 1945, Allied forces capture Arnhem, Netherlands, located about 10 miles from the German border.
On April 16, 1945, Russian forces launch their attack on Hitler’s capital city of Berlin.
On April 18, 1945, the remaining German soldiers in the Ruhr Valley finally surrender to Allied forces.
On April 20, 1945, Russian forces launch an attack on German forces trying to defend the crossing at the Oder River while Hitler is celebrating his 56th birthday.
On April 21, 1945, Russian forces break through Berlin’s defenses and begin entering the suburbs. American forces capture Nuremberg, Germany, future home of the famous Nuremberg war crimes trials.
On this day, April 22, 1945, Russian forces entering Berlin received orders on how to proceed with their assault on the German capital. Adolf Hitler meets with his staff in his bunker. After learning that the Russian troops met no resistance at Eberswalde, Hitler admits to his staff that Germany had lost the war. He also tells them that his only course of action at that point was suicide.