Introduction to the Final Offensive Against Germany
Exhausted by the over-ambitious counteroffensive and further weakened by transfers of troops to meet the new Soviet threat in the east, German forces in the west could no longer halt a new Allied drive to the Rhine on a broad front.
On March 7, 1945 elements of the U.S. 9th Armored Division seized an opportunity to cross a bridge at Remagen which the Germans had inadvertently left undestroyed, and Allied forces gained a firm foothold at last on the eastern bank of the Rhine.
Two weeks later troops of the U.S. Third Army to the south of Remagen staged a surprise crossing of the Rhine in assault boats. At the same time, in the north, British and American troops crossed the Rhine in an operation involving an airborne assault almost as large as Operation Market. During the last week of March both the U.S. Seventh and First French Armies crossed the Rhine. The stage was set for the final act.
In the west, following the Rhine crossings in March 1945, the Allies fanned out with massive columns of armor and motor-borne infantry and soon were making spectacular advances. Resistance was staunch at some points, but Allied strength was by this time overwhelming.
The U.S. Ninth and First Armies, with the help of the new U.S. Fifteenth Army, encircled the Ruhr and took more than 325,000 prisoners. Allied forces in the north and center made rapid advances against slight opposition, and by mid-April had reached the Elbe and Mulde Rivers where they waited for the approaching Red Army. In the south other Allied columns penetrated into Czechoslovakia and Austria. The German military machine became completely disorganized and wholesale surrenders took place.
In the east the Soviets began their final drive on Berlin on 17 April. By 25 April the Red Army had completely encircled Berlin, and on the same day advance elements of the Soviet forces came in contact with American troops at Torgau on the Elbe River.
Fierce street fighting broke out in Berlin. Hitler committed suicide on 30 April, and what remained of the German garrison in Berlin surrendered two days later.
Final Offensive Against Germany: Features
See also: Pacific Theater | European Theater
North Africa | Sicily | Italy | D-Day | Northern France | Southern France
Operation Market-Garden | Battle of the Bulge | Germany