Advance on the Rhine

World War II: Fall of the Third Reich

Europe 1944.1017

Advance on the Rhine

World War II in Europe from Stalingrad to the fall of Berlin (17 October 1944)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

With Paris liberated, the Allies pushed on into Belgium and towards the Rhine. In an attempt to win the War in 1944, they tried to invade Germany by seizing the Rhine bridges in the Netherlands but were repelled. Even so, by the end of October, the Allies had crossed the German border and captured their first German city. Meanwhile in the east, Soviet advances forced Romania, Finland, and Bulgaria to come to terms.

Main Events

Warsaw Uprising

Expecting Soviet troops to arrive soon, the Polish resistance Home Army leads a revolt to liberate Warsaw from Germany. However, the Soviet advance stops short, enabling the Germans to counterattack and defeat the resistance in a 63 day battle. The result is the destruction of Warsaw, the loss of over 150,000 Polish civilian lives, and the expulsion of up to 700,000 remaining civilians from the city.

Bulgarian Coup D'État of 1944

In August of 1944, the government of Axis-aligned Bulgaria declared neutrality. But following a Soviet invasion of war on September 5, the Bulgarian Army seized power in Sofia, appointing the resistance leader Kimon Georgiev as Prime Minister and declaring war on Germany.

Lapland War

Under its ceasefire and armistice agreements with the Soviet Union, Finland was forced both to demobilize and expel any German forces remaining on its territory. Although the Germans were already evacuating Finland for Norway and the Baltic states, conflict repeatedly broke out as the Finns attempted to hasten their withdrawal. The fighting was most intense in Lapland, where the Germans attempted to establish defensive lines extending to the Norwegian coast, but, although German pockets held out in the north until the end of the war, was largely over by early November 1944.

Operation Market Garden

Allied forces under British Field Marshal Montgomery attempt to outflank Siegfried Line and invade Germany by seizing bridges near Eindhoven, Nijmegen, and Arnhem in the German-occupied Netherlands. Three airborne divisions are dropped to capture these bridges, with armored units sent through after them. However the armor is unable to reach the division at Arnhem before the Germans counterattack, forcing the Allies to withdraw and abandon hopes of ending the War in 1944.

Moscow Armistice

Finland signed the Moscow Armistice with the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, bringing an end to the Continuation War. By the terms of the armistice, Finland agreed to the cession of all the territories she lost in the 1940 Moscow Peace Treaty, along with Petsamo, and to lease Porkkala to the Soviets for fifty years. The Finns also agreed to pay $300 million in reparations, to legalize the Communist Party, to ban right-wing parties, and to expel the Germans from its territory.

Battle of Aachen

United States forces attack Aachen, Germany, finally capturing it after three weeks of heavy fighting. The city is part of the Siegfried Line - Germany's main defensive network in the west - and is the first city on German soil to fall to the Allies.

Petsamo-Kirkenes offensive

The Soviet 14th Army under K. A. Meretskov attacked the German 20th Mountain Army under Lothar Rendulic, defeating their forces in the Arctic and driving them from Pechenga/Petsamo, Finland, and Kirkenes, Norway.

Operation Manna

British airborne forces landed in Athens on October 12-16, assisting Greek partisans in restoring order following German withdrawal.

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