On this day in 1945, the entire world celebrated as Alfred Jodl, the secretary of Hitler, signed the unconditional surrender treaty, ending the War on the Western Front. The Soviet Red Army suffered tremendous casualties, but Berlin was theirs. This is the Battle of Berlin and VE Day.
The Battle of the Bulge was the last gasp of breath for the demoralized and exhausted German Armies. Though the Anglo American forces were making slow progress in the west, the Soviets had no trouble in the east. By the end of April, German forces were in full retreat. The remainder of the Siegfred Line (West Wall) was crumbling, and Soviet forces were left with little to no resistance in the east. Many of Hitler’s advisers knew that continued fighting would be pointless and urged him to surrender. Hitler shrugged the pleas away, and still believed that support would come to keep the Soviets away from Berlin.
On April 16, the two fronts led by Zhukov and Konev crossed the River Oder and surged towards Berlin. By April 21, Zhukov’s tanks were rolling into the northern suburbs. As the Soviet Armies pushed further into the city, the German resistance stiffened, and Soviets casualties grew. On April 26, 464,000 troops, 12,700 guns, 21,000 rocket laundcers, and 1,500 tanks began ringed the inner city and made preparations for a final assault. The next day, the Germans only controlled a strip of land 10 miles long and three miles wide. Hitler demanded where his armies were and ordered a breakout, the attempts failed.
On April 29/30, Hitler said his farewells and committed suicide. At 3pm on May 2, the Battle of Berlin was over. Six days later, Jodl signed a general surrender of German forces in Eisenhower’s headquarters at Reims in France. Everywhere in Europe German forces surrendered to the Allies. On May 3 Admiral Hans von Friedeburg surrendered the German forces in Denmark, Holland and North Germany to Montgomery. Norway surrendered on May 8, and the last surrender was at Heligoland on May 11. The European theater of World War II was over.
- V-E Day Remembered (blogs.the-american-interest.com)
- How the USSR Won World War II (pekingreview.com)