The Collapse of Nazi Germany


A dead German soldier lying near the Brandeburg Gate in Berlin (May 02, 1945).

At the beginning of December 1944 the German Reich was surrounded by Allied troops: the Western Front extended from Belgium to southern Germany through Luxembourg and France, while the Eastern Front extended along the Vistula. On December 16, 1944 German forces launched a surprise attack in the Ardennes Forest, surrounded the French city of Bastogne and pushed the battle line 90 km back before the Allied counterattack and the lack of fuel stopped their advance (January 25, 1945). Meanwhile the Western Front had been broken on January 12, 1945 as a result of an offensive involving 2,200,000 men, 4,500 tanks and 5,000 airplanes. It led to the conquest of Warsaw on January 17, 1945, to the liberation of Poland on January 23, 1945, and took the Red Army from its start lines on the Vistula to the Oder, located some 70 km from Berlin (January 31, 1945). The invasion of Germany began on February 14, after the Yalta Conference, with the devastating bombing of Dresden on the Western Front, and the conquest of Hungary on the Eastern Front. Between March 22 and March 26 American troops crossed the Rhine - which marks the western border of Germany - and on March 30 the Red Army entered Austria. Russian troops under the command of general Vasilij Chuikov marched towards the German capital - where Adolf Hitler and Josef Goebbels had decided to remain - and encircled it on April 21. The Battle for Berlin began the following day, with continuous carpet-bombings and tank attacks. The German capital was desperately defended by badly equipped Wehrmacht troops under the command of General Helmuth Weidling, Waffen-SS divisions and even common people, veterans of the First World War and Hitler Youth members who prepared barricades, mines, traps and formed suicide squads. The Reichstag Palace, symbol of the German power, was conquered on April 30, and the Führerbunker was encircled. As the battle raged above them, realizing that the war was lost and not wishing to undergo a postwar trial or suffer Mussolini’s fate, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels committed suicide. The German capital fell on May 02, and the German forces surrendered unconditionally to the Allied powers on May 08.

- transcript of all speeches

1945/01/30 - Last Broadcast to the German People (Adolf Hitler)
1945/02/12 - On the Crimean Conference (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)
1945/03/08 - American Troops Cross the Rhine (Ian Wilson on BBC)
1945/04/12 - Announcement of President Roosevelt's Death (Fulton Noyce on MBS)
1945/04/16 - Liberation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp (Edward Murrow)
1945/04/16 - First Speech as President of the United States (Harry Truman)
1945/04/21 - Last Address to the People of Berlin (Joseph Goebbels)
1945/04/25 - American and Soviet Armies Meet (Frank Gillard on BBC)
1945/05/01 - Announcement of Hitler's Death (Karl Dönitz)
1945/05/01 - Announcement of Hitler's Death (Stuart Hibberd on BBC)
1945/05/02 - Announcement of the Fall of Berlin (Stuart Hibberd on BBC)
1945/05/04 - Announcement of German Surrender in Holland (Bernard Montgomery)
1945/05/07 - Announcement of German Unconditional Surrender (Unknown Speaker on BBC)
1945/05/07 - Announcement of German Unconditional Surrender (John Snagge on BBC)
1945/05/08 - Official Announcement of German Unconditional Surrender (Winston Churchill)
1945/05/08 - Radio Address on Victory in Europe (Harry Truman)
1945/05/08 - Speech on Victory in Europe (George VI)
1945/05/09 - Last Wehrmacht Report (Unknown Speaker on RRG)

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