Europe 1945: Fall of Berlin
By April 1945 it was all over for Nazi Germany. With the overwhelming military might of the Allies advancing on all sides, Hitler shot himself in late April. Berlin fell to Soviet forces a few days later.
16 Apr–2 May 1945 Battle of Berlin▲
In mid-April 1945 three Soviet fronts, comprising some 2.5 million men, converged on Berlin from the east, south, and north, facing a little over 766 thousand German defenders. On 20 April—Hitler’s birthday—they began bombarding the city, with the fronts completing its encirclement on the 25th. German attempts to break the siege failed and on 2 May the advancing Soviets captured the Reichstag at Berlin’s heart. Over 80,000 Soviet troops died in the offensive for German losses of up to 100,000 (including Adolf Hitler, who committed suicide on 30 April).
25 Apr 1945 Elbe Day▲
On 25 April 1945 Soviet and American patrols, having advanced from the east and west of Germany respectively, met up around the destroyed Elbe bridge at Torgau. This symbolic contact meant that the two Allied nations had effectively cut Germany in two, all but assuring the destruction of the Third Reich.
30 Apr 1945 Death of Hitler▲
By 26 April 1945 the Soviet Army had surrounded Berlin, and large sectors of the German military were surrendering to the Allies. Having retreated to his underground bunker in January, and reportedly suffering a mental breakdown, Hitler committed suicide on 30 April, along with his wife Eva Braun. Hitler was succeeded as President by Naval commander Karl Dönitz and as Chancellor by Joseph Goebbels (who himself committed suicide the following day).
2 May 1945 Surrender of Caserta▲
On 1 April 1945 the Allies broke through the German line at Emilia-Romagna, advancing rapidly toward Italy’s northern border. While attempting to flee to Switzerland on 27 April, former Italian leader Benito Mussolini was captured and executed on 28 April by Italian partisans. The following day, the German armed forces in Italy agreed to surrender, effective May 2.