Europe 1945: Invasion of Germany
In early 1945, the Soviets pushed through Poland, breaching the pre-War German border and closing in on Berlin. Meanwhile, the Western Allies had defeated the German counteroffensive in Belgium and were ready to invade Germany in force, crossing the Rhine in March.
12 Jan–2 Feb 1945 Vistula–Oder Offensive▲
In January 1945 the Soviet Red Army mounted the Vistula–Oder Offensive, moving into German-held Poland and neighboring territories with two fronts commanded by Marshal Georgy Zhukov and Marshal Ivan Konev. Outnumbering the German defenders 5:1, the Soviets quickly captured Kraków, Warsaw, and Poznań. By early February—a little over two weeks later—they had advanced 483 km from the Vistula to the Oder, coming to a halt just 69 km from Berlin.
4–11 Feb 1945 Yalta Conference▲
In February 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Britain, and Premier Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union met at Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union, to discuss the reorganization of postwar Europe. The conference aimed to both provide a collective security order and to give self-determination to the liberated peoples of post-Nazi Europe. It was agreed that Germany would be demilitarized and denazified, and that the Soviets would declare war on Japan several months after Germany’s unconditional surrender.
13–15 Feb 1945 Bombing of Dresden▲
The United States and the United Kingdom launched four aerial raids on Dresden, Germany. Using 722 Royal Air Force and 527 US Army Air Forces heavy bombers, they dropped over 3,900 tons of explosive and incendiary bombs. The results were a firestorm which destroyed the city center and left up to 25,000 dead.
23 Feb 1945 Turkey enters World War II▲
Turkey declared war on Germany and Japan, joining World War II on the side of the Allies. This was in response to the Yalta Conference declaration that only states formally at war with the Axis by 1 March 1945 would be admitted to the United Nations. Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iran followed suit in the following days.
1–7 Mar 1945 Operation Lumberjack▲
The First United States Army launched Operation Lumberjack, capturing the German cities of the west bank of the Rhine north of Mosel and preparing the way for a full-scale invasion of Germany from the west.
22 Mar–8 May 1945 Western Allied invasion of Germany▲
The Western Allies—led by the United States and the United Kingdom—crossed the River Rhine, fanning out to overrun western Germany from the Baltic Sea in the north to Austria in the south. By the end of April, they had linked up with Soviet forces advancing from the east, forcing the Germans to unconditionally surrender in early May.