The Western Allied invasion of Germany was the military overrun of Nazi Germany that was conducted by the Western Allies in the final months of the European Theatre in World War II. The invasion started with the Western Allies crossing the Rhine before fanning out and overrunning all of western Germany from the Baltic in the north to Austria in the south before the Germans surrendered on 8 May 1945. This is known as the “Central Europe Campaign” in United States military histories.
By early 1945, events favored the Allied forces in Europe. On the Western Front the Allies had been fighting in Germany since the October Battle of Aachen and by January turned back the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge. The failure of this last major German offensive exhausted much of Germany’s remaining combat strength, leaving it ill-prepared to resist the final Allied campaigns in Europe. Additional losses in the Rhineland further weakened the German Army, leaving shattered remnants of units to defend the east bank of the Rhine. By mid-March, the western Allies had pushed to the Rhine along most of the front, had seized an intact bridge at Remagen, and had even established a small bridgehead on the river’s east bank. German casualties during the Allied campaign to reach the Rhine in February–March 1945 are estimated at 400,000 men, including 280,000 men captured as prisoners of war.
On the Eastern Front, the Soviet Red Army (including the Polish Army under Soviet command) had liberated most of Poland and were nearing Berlin. The Soviets also pushed into Hungary and eastern Czechoslovakia, and temporarily halted at what is now the modern German border on the Oder-Neisse line. These rapid advances on the Eastern Front destroyed additional veteran German combat units and severely limited Adolf Hitler’s ability to reinforce his Rhine defenses. Thus, as the western Allies completed their preparations for the final drive into the heart of Germany, victory seemed within sight.
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Captured flag and portrait of Hitler by allied soldiers on 22nd of March 1945
British soldiers advance on the 2nd of May 1945
Two young German soldiers surrender to troops of the US 78th Infantry Division during the fighting around the town of Simmerath, Germany on December 15, 1944.
Knocked out Panzer IV, August 1944.
An American 35th Infantry Division Halftrack speeds past a burnt out Panzer IV after the Battle of Foy, Belgium, Bulge 1945.
‘Blazing German Convoy’ A Soldier of the 311th Infantry Regiment, 78th Infantry Division, 1st US Army, uses a burning German convoy for shelter as he draws a bead on enemy in the woods near Honnef, Germany. March 1945.
Soldiers of 442nd Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army, formed from the ethnic Japanese, pass a knocked out German armored French-made Zugkraftwagen P107.
Surrender At The Elbe River,1945.
US troops inspect an abandoned Sturmtiger of Sturm-Mörser-Kompanie 1002 near Calbe, Germany, April 1945.
In a staged photograph, two III Corps MPs guard a pontoon bridge over the Rhine, connected Kripp to Linz, Germany, in 11-12 March 1945.
Black and White Photos
Aerial view of U.S. 2nd Armored Division tanks fanning out as German self-propelled guns open fire, two miles from the Rhine River, 1945.
A young German boy sits beside the road as a tank of the U.S. 9th Armored Division passes through his village on its way to Berlin, spring 1945.
An American tank rolls over a Nazi banner laid out in the street after its crew helped take the town of Lembach, spring 1945.
American soldiers of Patton’s Third Army roll up a Nazi flag they have taken as a trophy after the capture of Bitburg, February 1945.
1st US Army 105mm Howitzer Crew in action in Wenau Forest, Germany 1944.
9th Army, 2nd Armored Division troops move thru Krefeld March 3, 1945.
9th American Army in Magdeburg, Germany 1945.
American 9th Army Soldiers in Linnich, Germany December 1944.
U.S. 30th division advancing near Kohlschied, Germany – October 1944.
German prisoners caught at Friedrichsfeld by the U.S. 9th Army.
Allied soldiers in Unterbach, Germany 1945.
Captured German soldiers near Auland, Austria -May 1945.
American 155mm artillery observation post near Duren, Germany – December 1944.
Apweiler, Germany, Winter 1945. US combat engineers ready a Panzer IV for demolition to stop any chance of it falling back into enemy hands.
Paintings and Art