The End of the Second World War in Europe in 1945
The Soviet advance into Germany: The Ardennes offensive and the subsequent fighting on Lake Balaton had used up the last operational reserves of the Wehrmacht. On January 12, 1945, starting from the Baranów bridgehead, a major Soviet offensive began, which encompassed the entire area from the Carpathian Mountains to the Memel and which quickly led to decisive successes against the German Eastern Army. On January 17th the Soviet troops took Warsaw, on January 19th Krakow and Lodz. An advance from the Narew via Allenstein to Elbing and the Fresh Haff cut off East Prussia from the rest of the empire. Königsberg (Pr) was locked in at the end of January. The German population fleeing these areas in large treks could only reach the west by sea (over 2 million people from January 23 to May 9, 1945). Torpedoed by a Soviet submarine sank, among other things. the Wilhelm Gustloff with about 5,300 people. The Baltic Sea connection remained open until the end.
As early as autumn 1944, with the approaching Soviet front, the SS had gradually dissolved the concentration and extermination camps and driven the camp inmates on “death marches” to the west (into the camps that were still in existence). On January 30, the Red Army reached the Oder between Frankfurt (Oder) and Küstrin. From January 16, Hitler stayed in Berlin. With the exception of Breslau, which lasted until May 6, most of Silesia as well as all of West Prussia and Western Pomerania were in Soviet hands until the end of March. Danzig fell on March 30th, Königsberg on April 9th, Pillau on April 25th.
According to DIRECTORYAAH,the final offensive of the Western Allies: The Western Allies offensive in the direction of the planned occupation zones began on February 8 with a Canadian advance east of Nijmegen (especially fighting over the Reichswald near Kleve), on February 23 with a major American offensive on the Rur between Düren and Jülich, where the American troops suffered great losses, especially in the fighting in the Hürttgenwald. On March 7, the Americans broke through to Cologne and on the same day took the undestroyed bridge near Remagen. British troops advanced from the Wesel area (from March 24, 1945) to the north to cut off the “Fortress Holland” and to the east via Münster to the Elbe (April 19, 1945), to Holstein and Mecklenburg (Bremen April 26, 1945).; Lübeck and Wismar 2. 5.), where they met the Soviet Army; at the same time, Soviet troops advanced into Mecklenburg, others met with American units on April 25 near Torgau on the Elbe. On April 1st, the ring closed around Army Group B (Model) in the Ruhr area. What was left of them surrendered on April 18th. In the meantime, American forces had reached the Elbe on April 14th near Dessau and occupied the Elbe on April 18th and 19th. 4. Leipzig. On May 3rd, British troops marched into Hamburg, which had been declared an open city.
The majority of the Americans turned to southern Germany in order to take action against the assumed “Alpine fortress” together with the forces advancing in northern Italy from April 21st. On April 29, the German troops surrendered in Italy in Caserta; as a result, the republic of Salò dissolved and Mussolini was murdered while fleeing. On April 30th, the American troops took Munich. French armed forces captured Stuttgart on April 22nd and advanced on the Upper Danube and the Upper Rhine towards Lake Constance. The American armed forces stopped their advance eastwards on the Wismar – Magdeburg – Leipzig – Pilsen – Linz line and left the conquest of Berlin, Prague and Vienna to the Red Army. On April 13th, it took Vienna. On April 30th, Tito’s partisans and the British met in Trieste.
The conquest of Berlin and the German surrender: The Soviet final offensive began on April 16 on the Oder and Lusatian Neisse. Marshals G. K. Zhukov and I. S. Konev were in command; their troops were able to enclose Berlin on April 25th. On May 2, 1945, the city commandant surrendered with the remains of the defenders. Dresden, overcrowded with refugees, was destroyed by British and American air raids (February 13/14, 1945) and occupied on May 8; Prague was taken on May 10.
Hitler, who gave the “Nero order” on March 19, 1945 (destruction of all facilities in Germany that could be used by the enemy) and, right up to the end, nourished hopes for the relief of Berlin by the “Wenck Army”, committed on April 30 Suicide in 1945 in the “Führerbunker” of the Berlin Reich Chancellery after he had appointed Donitz as his successor as head of state. After the German armed forces in the Netherlands, Denmark and north-west Germany had capitulated on May 4, 1945 at 2:41 am, the chief of the Wehrmacht command staff, A. Jodl Sign the unconditional German total surrender at the Allied headquarters in Reims. It was repeated on May 9, 1945 at 12:16 am at the Soviet headquarters in Berlin-Karlshorst by the Chief of the Wehrmacht High Command W. Keitel. According to the Reims Accords, the surrender took effect on May 8, 1945 at 11:01 p.m. CET (May 9, 1945 00:01 a.m. daylight saving time). With the arrest of the Dönitz government in Flensburg (May 23, 1945), the complete occupation of Germany and the transfer of power to the anti-Hitler coalition were complete. In the last few days, large parts of the German Eastern Army had withdrawn into the western sphere of influence.
Conferences of the victorious powers: At the Yalta Conference (February 4–11, 1945) Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin tried to reach an agreement on their policy on Germany and Poland.
A declaration by the “Big Three” proclaimed principles for a “liberated Europe”. In a secret agreement, the US made concessions at the expense of China’s sovereignty in Manchuria in order to secure entry of the USSR against Japan after the end of the war in Europe.
After Roosevelt’s death (April 12, 1945), his successor H. S. Truman took an increasingly negative attitude towards the Soviet claims to power in Eastern, Southeastern and Central Europe.
In his proclamation of May 9, 1945, Stalin renounced the Yalta concept of “dismembering” Germany. On June 5, 1945, the four Allied commanders-in-chief announced the takeover of supreme power in all of Germany (German history).
At the Potsdam Conference (July 17-28, 1945) the powers of the anti-Hitler coalition only found solutions in formula compromises ( Potsdam Agreement).
On the one hand, they wanted to maintain Germany’s economic unity; on the other hand, the inadequate solution to the reparations problem paved the way for the different treatment of the occupation zones in the east and west. The areas east of the Oder and Lusatian Neisse were subordinated to the administration of Poland, the northern East Prussia to the USSR. The resettlement of the German population from Poland (including the previous eastern German territories), Czechoslovakia and Hungary was to be carried out “in a humane manner.” Over 10 million people had fled their homes or were displaced. 473,000 deaths due to flight or displacement are documented.