End of World War II in Europe

The final battles of the European Theatre of World War II as well as the German surrender to the Allies took place in late April and early May 1945.

German instrument of surrender2
The German Instrument of Surrender signed at Reims, 7 May 1945

Timeline of surrenders and deaths

Allied forces begin to take large numbers of Axis prisoners: The total number of prisoners taken on the Western Front in April 1945 by the Western Allies was 1,500,000.[1] April also witnessed the capture of at least 120,000 German troops by the Western Allies in the last campaign of the war in Italy.[2] In the three to four months up to the end of April, over 800,000 German soldiers surrendered on the Eastern Front.[2] In early April, the first Allied-governed Rheinwiesenlagers were established in western Germany to hold hundreds of thousands of captured or surrendered Axis Forces personnel. Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) reclassified all prisoners as Disarmed Enemy Forces, not POWs (prisoners of war). The legal fiction circumvented provisions under the Geneva Convention of 1929 on the treatment of former combatants.[3] By October, thousands had died in the camps from starvation, exposure and disease.[4]

Dachau Death Train.jpeg
The Dachau death train consisted of nearly forty railcars containing the bodies of between 2,000 and 3,000 prisoners who were evacuated from Buchenwald on 7 April 1945.

Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps and refugees: Allied forces began to discover the scale of the Holocaust. The advance into Germany uncovered numerous Nazi concentration camps and forced labor facilities. Up to 60,000 prisoners were at Bergen-Belsen when it was liberated on 15 April 1945, by the British 11th Armoured Division.[5] Four days later troops from the American 42nd Infantry Division found Dachau.[6] Allied troops forced the remaining SS guards to gather up the corpses and place them in mass graves.[7] Due to the prisoners' poor physical condition, thousands continued to die after liberation.[8] Captured SS guards were subsequently tried at Allied war crimes tribunals where many were sentenced to death.[9] However, up to 10,000 Nazi war criminals eventually fled Europe using ratlines such as ODESSA.[10]

German forces leave Finland: On 25 April 1945, the last German troops withdrew from Finnish Lapland and made their way into occupied Norway. On 27 April 1945, the Raising the Flag on the Three-Country Cairn photograph was taken.[11]

Mussolini's death: On 25 April 1945, Italian partisans liberated Milan and Turin. On 27 April 1945, as Allied forces closed in on Milan, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was captured by Italian partisans. It is disputed whether he was trying to flee from Italy to Switzerland (through the Splügen Pass), and was traveling with a German anti-aircraft battalion. On 28 April, Mussolini was executed in Giulino (a civil parish of Mezzegra); the other Fascists captured with him were taken to Dongo and executed there. The bodies were then taken to Milan and hung up on the Piazzale Loreto of the city. On 29 April, Rodolfo Graziani surrendered all Fascist Italian armed forces at Caserta. This included Army Group Liguria. Graziani was the Minister of Defence for Mussolini's Italian Social Republic.

News. V.E. Day BAnQ P48S1P12270
The front page of The Montreal Daily Star announcing the German surrender.
Allied army positions on 10 May 1945
Final positions of the Allied armies, May 1945
Second world war europe 1943-1945 map en
Axis-held territory at the end of the war in Europe shown in blue
Wilhelm Keitel Kapitulation
Keitel signs surrender terms, 8 May 1945 in Berlin

Hitler's death: On 30 April, as the Battle of Nuremberg and the Battle of Hamburg ended with American and British occupation, in addition to the Battle of Berlin raging above him with the Soviets surrounding the city, along with his escape route cut off by the Americans, realizing that all was lost and not wishing to suffer Mussolini's fate, German dictator Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his Führerbunker along with Eva Braun, his long-term partner whom he had married less than 40 hours before their joint suicide.[12] In his will, Hitler dismissed Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, his second-in-command and Interior minister Heinrich Himmler after each of them separately tried to seize control of the crumbling Third Reich. Hitler appointed his successors as follows; Großadmiral Karl Dönitz as the new Reichspräsident ("President of Germany") and Joseph Goebbels as the new Reichskanzler (Chancellor of Germany). However, Goebbels committed suicide the following day, leaving Dönitz as the sole leader of Germany.

German forces in Italy surrender: On 29 April, the day before Hitler died, Oberstleutnant Schweinitz and Sturmbannführer Wenner, plenipotentiaries for Generaloberst Heinrich von Vietinghoff and SS Obergruppenführer Karl Wolff, signed a surrender document at Caserta[13] after prolonged unauthorised secret negotiations with the Western Allies, which were viewed with great suspicion by the Soviet Union as trying to reach a separate peace. In the document, the Germans agreed to a ceasefire and surrender of all the forces under the command of Vietinghoff at 2pm on 2 May. Accordingly, after some bitter wrangling between Wolff and Albert Kesselring in the early hours of 2 May, nearly 1,000,000 men in Italy and Austria surrendered unconditionally to British Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander at 2pm on 2 May.[14]

German forces in Berlin surrender: The Battle of Berlin ended on 2 May. On that date, General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defense Area, unconditionally surrendered the city to General Vasily Chuikov of the Soviet army.[15] On the same day the officers commanding the two armies of Army Group Vistula north of Berlin, (General Kurt von Tippelskirch, commander of the German 21st Army and General Hasso von Manteuffel, commander of Third Panzer Army), surrendered to the Western Allies.[16] 2 May is also believed to have been the day when Hitler's deputy Martin Bormann died, from the account of Artur Axmann who saw Bormann's corpse in Berlin near the Lehrter Bahnhof railway station after encountering a Soviet Red Army patrol.[17] Lehrter Bahnhof is close to where the remains of Bormann, confirmed as his by a DNA test in 1998,[18] were unearthed on 7 December 1972.

German forces in North West Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands surrender: On 4 May 1945, the British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery took the unconditional military surrender at Lüneburg from Generaladmiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg, and General Eberhard Kinzel, of all German forces "in Holland [sic], in northwest Germany including the Frisian Islands and Heligoland and all other islands, in Schleswig-Holstein, and in Denmark… includ[ing] all naval ships in these areas",[19][20] at the Timeloberg on Lüneburg Heath; an area between the cities of Hamburg, Hanover and Bremen. The number of German land, sea and air forces involved in this surrender amounted to 1,000,000 men.[21] On 5 May, Großadmiral Dönitz ordered all U-boats to cease offensive operations and return to their bases.
At 16:00, General Johannes Blaskowitz, the German commander-in-chief in the Netherlands, surrendered to Canadian General Charles Foulkes in the Dutch town of Wageningen in the presence of Prince Bernhard (acting as commander-in-chief of the Dutch Interior Forces).[22][23]

German forces in Bavaria surrender: At 14:30 on 4 May 1945, General Hermann Foertsch surrendered all forces between the Bohemian mountains and the Upper Inn river to the American General Jacob L. Devers, commander of the American 6th Army Group.

Central Europe: On 5 May 1945, the Czech resistance started the Prague uprising. The following day, the Soviets launched the Prague Offensive. In Dresden, Gauleiter Martin Mutschmann let it be known that a large-scale German offensive on the Eastern Front was about to be launched. Within two days, Mutschmann abandoned the city, but was captured by Soviet troops while trying to escape.[24]

Hermann Göring's surrender: On 6 May, Reichsmarshall and Hitler's second-in-command, Hermann Göring, surrendered to General Carl Spaatz, who was the commander of the operational United States Air Forces in Europe, along with his wife and daughter at the Germany-Austria border. He was by this time the most senior Nazi official still alive.

German forces in Breslau surrender: At 18:00 on 6 May, General Hermann Niehoff, the commandant of Breslau, a 'fortress' city surrounded and besieged for months, surrendered to the Soviets.[23]

Jodl and Keitel surrender all German armed forces unconditionally: Thirty minutes after the fall of "Festung Breslau" (Fortress Breslau), General Alfred Jodl arrived in Reims and, following Dönitz's instructions, offered to surrender all forces fighting the Western Allies. This was exactly the same negotiating position that von Friedeburg had initially made to Montgomery, and like Montgomery the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, threatened to break off all negotiations unless the Germans agreed to a complete unconditional surrender to all the Allies on all fronts.[25] Eisenhower explicitly told Jodl that he would order western lines closed to German soldiers, thus forcing them to surrender to the Soviets.[25] Jodl sent a signal to Dönitz, who was in Flensburg, informing him of Eisenhower's declaration. Shortly after midnight, Dönitz, accepting the inevitable, sent a signal to Jodl authorizing the complete and total surrender of all German forces.[23][25]

At 02:41 on the morning of 7 May, at SHAEF headquarters in Reims, France, the Chief-of-Staff of the German Armed Forces High Command, General Alfred Jodl, signed an unconditional surrender document for all German forces to the Allies, committing representatives of the German High Command to attend a definitive signing ceremony in Berlin. General Franz Böhme announced the unconditional surrender of German troops in Norway on 7 May. It included the phrase "All forces under German control to cease active operations at 2301 hours Central European Time on May 8, 1945."[19][26] The next day, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel and other German OKW representatives travelled to Berlin, and shortly before midnight signed an amended and definitive document of unconditional surrender, explicitly surrendering to all the Allied forces in the presence of Marshal Georgi Zhukov and representatives of SHAEF.[27] The signing ceremony took place in a former German Army Engineering School in the Berlin district of Karlshorst; it now houses the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst.

German forces on the Channel Islands surrender: At 10:00 on 8 May, the Channel Islanders were informed by the German authorities that the war was over. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a radio broadcast at 15:00 during which he announced: "Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight, but in the interests of saving lives the 'Cease fire' began yesterday to be sounded all along the front, and our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today."[28][26]

VE-Day: News of the imminent surrender broke in the West on 8 May, and celebrations erupted throughout Europe and parts of the British Empire. In the US, Americans awoke to the news and declared 8 May V-E Day. As the Soviet Union was to the east of Germany it was 9 May Moscow Time when the German military surrender became effective, which is why Russia and many other European countries east of Germany commemorate Victory Day on 9 May.

German units cease fire: Although the military commanders of most German forces obeyed the order to surrender issued by the (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW)—the German Armed Forces High Command), not all commanders did so. The largest contingent were Army Group Centre under the command of Generalfeldmarschall Ferdinand Schörner who had been promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the Army on 30 April in Hitler's last will and testament. On 8 May, Schörner deserted his command and flew to Austria; the Soviet Army sent overwhelming force against Army Group Centre in the Prague Offensive, forcing German units in Army Group Centre to capitulate by 11 May. The other forces which did not surrender on 8 May surrendered piecemeal:

Ve Day Celebrations in London, England, UK, 8 May 1945 D24587
People gathered in Whitehall to hear Winston Churchill's victory speech, 8 May 1945

Dönitz government ordered dissolved by Eisenhower: Karl Dönitz continued to act as if he were the German head of state, but his Flensburg government (so-called because it was based at Flensburg in northern Germany and controlled only a small area around the town), was not recognized by the Allies. On 12 May an Allied liaison team arrived in Flensburg and took quarters aboard the passenger ship Patria. The liaison officers and the Supreme Allied Headquarters soon realized that they had no need to act through the Flensburg government and that its members should be arrested. On 23 May, acting on SHAEF's orders and with the approval of the Soviets, American Major General Rooks summoned Dönitz aboard the Patria and communicated to him that he and all the members of his Government were under arrest, and that their government was dissolved. The Allies had a problem, because they realized that although the German armed forces had surrendered unconditionally, SHAEF had failed to use the document created by the "European Advisory Commission" (EAC) and so there had been no formal surrender by the civilian German government. This was considered a very important issue, because just as the civilian, but not military, surrender in 1918 had been used by Hitler to create the "stab in the back" argument, the Allies did not want to give any future hostile German regime a legal argument to resurrect an old quarrel.

Order JCS 1067 was signed into effect by President Harry S. Truman on 10 May 1945. This was part of the post-war economic plan that advocated how the Allied occupation would include measures to prevent Germany from waging further war by eliminating its armament industry, and the removal or destruction of other key industries required for military strength. This included the removal or destruction of all industrial plants and equipment in the Ruhr.[29] In 1947, JCS 1067 was replaced by JCS 1779 that aimed at restoring a "stable and productive Germany"; this led to the introduction of the Marshall Plan.[30]

Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany and the Assumption of Supreme Authority by Allied Powers was signed by the four Allies on 5 June. It included the following:

The Governments of the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom and the Provisional Government of the French Republic, hereby assume supreme authority with respect to Germany, including all the powers possessed by the German Government, the High Command and any state, municipal, or local government or authority. The assumption, for the purposes stated above, of the said authority and powers does not effect[a] the annexation of Germany.

— US Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series, No. 1520.[32]
The Oder-Neisse Line

It is disputed whether this assumption of power constituted debellation—the end of a war caused by the complete destruction of a hostile state.[33][34][b]

The Potsdam Agreement was signed on 12 August 1945. In connection with this, the leaders of the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union planned the new postwar German government, resettled war territory boundaries, de facto annexed a quarter of pre-war Germany situated east of the Oder-Neisse line, and mandated and organized the expulsion of the millions of Germans who remained in the annexed territories and elsewhere in the east. They also ordered German demilitarization, denazification, industrial disarmament and settlements of war reparations. But, as France (at American insistence) had not been invited to the Potsdam Conference, so the French representatives on the Allied Control Council subsequently refused to recognise any obligation to implement the Potsdam Agreement; with the consequence that much of the programme envisaged at Potsdam, for the establishment of a German government and state adequate for accepting a peace settlement, remained a dead letter.

Germany occupation zones with border
The Allied zones of occupation in post-war Germany, highlighting the Soviet zone (red), the inner German border (heavy black line) and the zone from which British and US troops withdrew in July 1945 (purple). The provincial boundaries are those of pre-Nazi Weimar Germany, before the present Länder were established.

Allied Control Council created to effect the Allies assumed supreme authority over Germany, specifically to implement their assumed joint authority over Germany. On 30 August, the Control Council constituted itself and issued its first proclamation, which informed the German people of the Council's existence and asserted that the commands and directives issued by the Commanders-in-Chief in their respective zones were not affected by the establishment of the Council. Cessation of hostilities between the United States and Germany was proclaimed on 13 December 1946 by US President Truman.[35]

Paris Peace Conference ended on 10 February 1947 with the signing of peace treaties by the wartime Allies with the minor European Axis powers (Italy, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria; although Italy by some was considered a major power) and Finland.

The Federal Republic of Germany, that had been founded on 23 May 1949 (when its Basic Law was promulgated) had its first government formed on 20 September 1949 while the German Democratic Republic was formed on 7 October.

End of state of war with Germany was declared by many former Western Allies in 1950. In the Petersberg Agreement of 22 November 1949, it was noted that the West German government wanted an end to the state of war, but the request could not be granted. The US state of war with Germany was being maintained for legal reasons, and though it was softened somewhat it was not suspended since "the US wants to retain a legal basis for keeping a US force in Western Germany".[36] At a meeting for the Foreign Ministers of France, the UK, and the US in New York from 12 September – 19 December 1950, it was stated that among other measures to strengthen West Germany's position in the Cold War that the western allies would "end by legislation the state of war with Germany".[37] In 1951, many former Western Allies did end their state of war with Germany: Australia (9 July), Canada, Italy, New Zealand, the Netherlands (26 July), South Africa, the United Kingdom (9 July), and the United States (19 October).[38][39][40][41][42][43] The state of war between Germany and the Soviet Union was ended in early 1955.[44]

"The full authority of a sovereign state" was granted to the Federal Republic of Germany on 5 May 1955 under the terms of the Bonn–Paris conventions. The treaty ended the military occupation of West German territory, but the three occupying powers retained some special rights, e.g. vis-à-vis West Berlin.

Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany: Under the terms of this peace treaty, the Four Powers renounced all rights they formerly held in Germany, including Berlin. As a result, following the acts of official German reunification achieved on 3 October 1990 and which itself was enabled by the Treaty, Germany became fully sovereign on 15 March 1991. Under the terms of the Treaty, the Allies were allowed to keep troops in Berlin until the end of 1994 (articles 4 and 5). In accordance with the Treaty, occupying troops were withdrawn by that deadline.

Buchenwald Ohrdruf Corpses 76501
US soldiers view the corpses of prisoners which lie strewn along the road in the newly liberated Ohrdruf concentration camp

See also


  1. ^ Facsimile of the original text, the transcription used in the Avalon source for the paragraph is erroneous. In this case, "effect" is correct.[31] The implication is that annexation of Germany did not occur with the assumption of all the powers of the German state by the four Allied powers. However the next paragraph explicitly stated that the "[four Allied powers] will hereafter determine the boundaries of Germany or any part thereof and the status of Germany or of any area at present being part of German territory".[31]
  2. ^ Although the Allied powers considered this a debellatio (The human rights dimensions of population, UNHCR web site, p. 2 § 138) other authorities have argued that the vestiges of the German state continued to exist even though the Allied Control Council governed the territory; and that eventually a fully sovereign German government resumed over a state that never ceased to exist (Junker, Detlef (2004), Junker, Detlef; Gassert, Philipp; Mausbach, Wilfried; et al. (eds.), The United States and Germany in the Era of the Cold War, 1945–1990: A Handbook, 2, Cambridge University Press, co-published with German Historical Institute, Washington D.C., p. 104, ISBN 0-521-79112-X.)



  1. ^ The Daily Telegraph Story of the War, (January 1st to October 7th 1945) page 153
  2. ^ a b the Times, 1 May 1945, page 4
  3. ^ (Biddiscombe 1998, p. 253)
  4. ^ Davidson, Eugene (1999). The Death and Life of Germany. University of Missouri Press. pp. 84–85. ISBN 0-8262-1249-2.
  5. ^ "The 11th Armoured Division (Great Britain)", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  6. ^ "Station 11: Crematorium – Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site". Kz-gedenkstaette-dachau.de. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  7. ^ Wiesel, Elie (2002). After the Darkness: Reflections on the Holocaust. New York, NY: Schocken Books. p. 41.
  8. ^ Knoch, Habbo (2010). Bergen-Belsen: Wehrmacht POW Camp 1940–1945, Concentration Camp 1943–1945, Displaced Persons Camp 1945–1950. Catalogue of the permanent exhibition. Wallstein. p. 103. ISBN 978-3-8353-0794-0.
  9. ^ Greene, Joshua (2003). Justice At Dachau: The Trials Of An American Prosecutor. New York: Broadway. p. 400. ISBN 0-7679-0879-1.
  10. ^ Wiesenthal, Simon (1989). "Chapter 6: Odessa". Justice not Vengeance. George Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  11. ^ Kulju, Mika (2017). "Chpt. 4". Käsivarren sota – lasten ristiretki 1944–1945 [The war in the Arm – children's crusade 1944–1945] (e-book) (in Finnish). Gummerus. ISBN 978-951-24-0770-5.
  12. ^ Beevor 2002, p. 342.
  13. ^ Ernest F. Fisher Jr: United States Army in WWII, The Mediterranean - Cassino to the Alps. Page 524.
  14. ^ Daily Telegraph Story of the War fifth volume page 153
  15. ^ Dollinger, Hans. The Decline and the Fall of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 67-27047. p. 239
  16. ^ Ziemke 1969, p. 128.
  17. ^ Beevor, Antony (2002). Berlin: The Downfall 1945. Viking-Penguin Books.
  18. ^ Karacs, Imre (4 May 1998). "DNA test closes book on mystery of Martin Bormann". Independent. London. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  19. ^ a b "The German Surrender Documents – WWII". Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2005.
  20. ^ "Monty Speech & German Surrender 1945". British Pathé. Retrieved December 2013. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  21. ^ the Times, 5 May 1945, page 4
  22. ^ World War II Timeline:western Europe: 1945 Archived 22 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ a b c Ron Goldstein Field Marshal Keitel's surrender BBC additional comment by Peter – WW2 Site Helper
  24. ^ [Page 228, "The Decline and Fall of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan", Hans Dollinger, Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 67-27047]
  25. ^ a b c Ziemke 1969, p. 130.
  26. ^ a b During the summers of World War II, Britain was on British Double Summer Time which meant that the country was ahead of CET time by one hour. This means that the surrender time in the UK was "effective from 0001 hours on May 9".RAF Site Diary 7/8 May Archived 18 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Ziemke 1990, p. 258 last paragraph.
  28. ^ The Churchill Centre: The End of the War in Europe Archived 19 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Morgenthau, Henry (1944). "Suggested Post-Surrender Program for Germany [The original memorandum from 1944, signed by Morgenthau] (text and facsimile)". Box 31, Folder Germany: Jan.-Sept. 1944 (i297). Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum (published 27 May 2004). Archived from the original on 31 May 2013. Demilitarization of Germany: It should be the aim of the Allied Forces to accomplish the complete demilitarization of Germany in the shortest possible period of time after surrender. This means completely disarming the German Army and people (including the removal or destruction of all war material), the total destruction of the whole German armament industry, and the removal or destruction of other key industries which are basic to military strength.
  30. ^ Beschloss, Michael R (2003). The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941–1945. Simon & Schuster. pp. 169–170. ISBN 0743244540.
  31. ^ a b Plenipotentiaries 1945, p. 1 (3 PDF).
  32. ^ Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany Archived 18 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine, The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, Retrieved 14 September 2008
  33. ^ United Nations War Crimes Commission (1997), Law reports of trials of war criminals: United Nations War Crimes Commission, Wm. S. Hein, p. 13, ISBN 1-57588-403-8
  34. ^ Yearbook of the International Law Commission (PDF), II Part Two, 1993, p. 54)
  35. ^ Werner v. United States (188 F.2d 266) Archived 14 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine, United States Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit, 4 April 1951. Website of Public.Resource.Org Archived 28 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ A Step Forward Time Magazine Monday, 28 November 1949
  37. ^ Staff. Full text of "Britannica Book Of The Year 1951" Open-Access Text Archive. Retrieved 11 August 2008
  38. ^ War's End Time Magazine, 16 July 1951
  39. ^ Elihu Lauterpacht, C. J. Greenwood. International law reports. Volume 52, Cambridge University Press, 1979 ISBN 0-521-46397-1. p. 505
  40. ^ James H. Marsh. World War II:Making the Peace, The Canadian Encyclopedia, Retrieved 11 August 2008
  41. ^ 1951 in History BrainyMedia.com. Retrieved 11 August 2008
  42. ^ H. Lauterpacht (editor), International law reports Volume 23. Cambridge University Press ISBN 0-949009-37-7. p. 773
  43. ^ US Code—Title 50 Appendix—War and National Defense Archived 6 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine, U.S. Government Printing Office Archived 29 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  44. ^ Spreading Hesitation Time Magazine Monday, 7 February 1955


Further reading

External links

Alfred Meyer

Gustav Alfred Julius Meyer (5 October 1891 in Göttingen – 11 April 1945 in Hessisch Oldendorf) was a Nazi official. He joined the Nazi party in 1928 and was the Gauleiter of North Westphalia from 1930 to 1945 and the Reichsstatthalter in Lippe and Schaumburg-Lippe from 1933 to 1945.

By the time of his death at the end of World War II in Europe, he was a State Secretary and Deputy Reichsminister in the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories (Reichministerium für die Besetzten Ostgebiete or Ostministerium). He represented the ministry with Georg Leibbrandt in the Wannsee Conference.

Meyer committed suicide in April 1945.

Elbe Day

Elbe Day, April 25, 1945, is the day Soviet and American troops met at the Elbe River, near Torgau in Germany, marking an important step toward the end of World War II in Europe. This contact between the Soviets, advancing from the East, and the Americans, advancing from the West, meant that the two powers had effectively cut Germany in two.

Elbe Day has never been an official holiday in any country, but in the years after 1945 the memory of this friendly encounter gained new significance in the context of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.


Eliticide or elitocide refers to "the killing of the leadership, the educated, and the clergy of a group." It is usually carried out during the beginning of a genocide in order to cripple a possible resistance movement against its perpetrators. Examples of eliticide include the Armenian genocide, the Cambodian genocide, the German-Soviet occupation of Poland, and instances of eliticide during the Yugoslav Wars. The term was first used in 1992 by British reporter Michael Nicholson to describe the Bijeljina massacre in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the Bosnian War local Serbs would point out prominent Bosniaks to be killed afterwards by Serb soldiers.Eliticide is also carried out in cases of political revolutions supported by the people and targeted against the elites of the overthrown establishment, rather than being unpopular and indiscriminatory, as in the above cases of genocide. For example, during the French Revolution, the people executed members of the feudal Ancien Régime, made famous through the public use of the guillotine. Another example occurred in Italy, where the partisans executed Mussolini after the defeat of his regime at the end of World War II in Europe.

German submarine U-852

German submarine U-852 was a Type IXD2 U-boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine, which was a special long-range version of the Type IX, had four bow and two stern torpedo tubes and a Focke-Achgelis Fa 330 Bachstelze cable-towed lookout gyroglider. It was laid down in Bremen and completed in June 1943. She was commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinz-Wilhelm Eck, who led her through her sea trials and onto her first war patrol on 18 January 1944.

Eck and his officers were the only Kriegsmarine submariners to be tried for war crimes at the end of World War II in Europe. They were convicted at a British military tribunal in Hamburg, (held concurrently during the Nuremberg Trials) for killing the survivors of the torpedoed Greek steamer SS Peleus in 1944.

German surrender at Lüneburg Heath

On 4 May 1945 at Lüneburg Heath, east of Hamburg, Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery accepted the unconditional surrender of the German forces in the Netherlands, northwest Germany including all islands, in Denmark and all naval ships in those areas. The surrender preceded the end of World War II in Europe and was signed in a carpeted tent at Montgomery's headquarters on the Timeloberg hill at Wendisch Evern.

Howard W. Johnston

Dr. Howard W. Johnston (July 31, 1913 – April 27, 2005) served in Germany at the end of World War II in Europe with the Allied Control Council in the American Sector of Berlin. During this time, he was the principal founder of the Free University of Berlin.

Dr. Johnston received his Doctorate in Political Science from Columbia University in 1948 and served in various educational institutions including Anatolia College in Thessalonica, Greece, Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. His last position before retirement in 1977 was as the Executive Director of the Associated Colleges of Central Kansas based in McPherson, Kansas. Dr. Johnston lived his last years in Wichita, Kansas where he served in many volunteer capacities in local charities.

Judgment in Berlin

Judgment in Berlin is a 1984 book by federal judge Herbert Jay Stern about a hijacking trial in the United States Court for Berlin in 1979, over which he presided.

From the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945 until the reunification of Germany in October 1990, Berlin was divided into four sectors: the American Sector, the French Sector, the British Sector, and the Soviet Sector, each named after the occupying power. The Soviet sector, informally called East Berlin, was considered by East Germany, then a member of the Warsaw Pact, to be part of its territory and in fact its capital, and the American, French, and British Sectors, collectively called West Berlin, were in some respects governed as if they were a part of West Germany, a member of NATO. Seldom did the American government exercise power directly in the American sector, except as it affected American military forces stationed in Berlin. In particular, the judgeship of the United States Court for Berlin was vacant except during the trial over which Judge Stern presided.

In 1978, after prodigious diplomatic efforts, NATO had convinced the Warsaw Pact states to sign an international convention on hijacking, in which each signatory state promised to punish hijackers who landed in their territory.

On 30 August 1978, Hans Detlef Alexander Tiede and Ingrid Ruske, both East Germans, used a starting pistol (not an actual gun) to hijack a Polish passenger aircraft (LOT Polish Airlines Flight 165) from Gdańsk bound for East Berlin's Schönefeld Airport and diverted it instead to the U.S. Air Force base at Tempelhof Airport in West Berlin. The West German government was very reluctant to prosecute Tiede and Ruske because of the West German policy of supporting the right of East Germans to flee oppression in the GDR. However, the NATO members did not want to lose the hijacking treaty on which they had worked for so long. Consequently, the case was prosecuted in the never-before-convened United States Court for Berlin.

Over the prosecutor's objections, Judge Stern ruled that the defendants were entitled to be tried by a jury, a procedure abolished in Germany in 1924. The case against Tiede's co-defendant Ingrid Ruske was dismissed because she had not been notified of her Miranda rights before signing a confession. Tiede was acquitted on three charges, including hijacking and possession of a firearm, but convicted of taking a hostage. He was sentenced to time served — about nine months.

A significant subtext in the book is Judge Stern's refusal to accept assertions made by representatives of the United States Department of State that, as the authority appointing the judge for the United States Court for Berlin, it also had the right to control the judge's decision, i.e., tell Stern what to decide. The "time served" sentence, writes Stern, was the only method by which he could protect Tiede from the State Department.

In 1988, Judge Stern's book became the basis of a movie with the same name that starred Martin Sheen, Harris Yulin, and Sean Penn.

Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra

The Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra or the Symphony Orchestra of the Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic (Polish: Orkiestra Symfoniczna Filharmonii im. Karola Szymanowskiego) is a professional symphony orchestra based in Kraków, Poland. The national status of the orchestra is reflected in its program of events, including weekly symphonic concerts in the Wawel Royal Castle, or at the Jagiellonian University famous Collegium Novum, and at prominent Kraków churches. The company is more active professionally than any other philharmonic orchestra in the country.The Symphony Orchestra, presently residing in the Kraków Philharmonic, came into being in 1945. It was the first professional symphony orchestra in postwar Poland, formed at the local concert hall during the Soviet offensive. The first postwar director as well as the conductor of the historic first performance held on February 3, 1945 (three months before the end of World War II in Europe), was Professor Zygmunt Latoszewski, survivor of the Warsaw Uprising.

La Courneuve – 8 mai 1945 (Paris Métro)

La Courneuve – 8 mai 1945 is a station of the Paris Métro, inaugurated on 6 May 1987 and renovated in 2005. The station serves as the northern terminus of Paris Métro Line 7. The "8 Mai 1945" refers to 8 May 1945, also known as V-E Day, or the end of World War II in Europe.

List of Adolf Hitler's personal staff

Adolf Hitler, as Führer and Reich Chancellor and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Nazi Germany, employed a personal staff, which represented different branches and offices throughout his political career. He maintained a group of aides-de-camp and adjutants, including Martin Bormann's younger brother Albert in the National Socialist Motor Corps (NSKK), Friedrich Hoßbach of the Wehrmacht, who was sacked for unfavourable conduct, and Fritz Darges of the Schutzstaffel (SS), who was also dismissed for inappropriate behaviour. Originally an SS adjutant, Otto Günsche was posted on the Eastern Front from August 1943 to February 1944, and in France until March 1944, until he was appointed as one of Hitler's personal adjutants.

Others included valets Hans Hermann Junge, Karl Wilhelm Krause, and his longest serving valet, Heinz Linge. They accompanied him on his travels and were in charge of Hitler's daily routine; including awaking him, providing newspapers and messages, determining the daily menu/meals and wardrobe. He employed four chauffeurs over the years, including the part-Jewish Emil Maurice, and founding member of the Sturmabteilung (SA), Julius Schreck. Women in his employ included secretaries Christa Schroeder, his chief and longest serving one Johanna Wolf, and his youngest, Traudl Junge. Hitler disliked change in personnel and liked to have people around him that he was used to and who knew his habits. Hitler's personal staff members were in daily contact with him and many were present during his final days in the Führerbunker at the end of World War II in Europe.

List of ambassadors of the United States to Czechoslovakia

Following the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 at the end of World War I, the Czechs, and Slovaks united to form the new nation of Czechoslovakia. The United States recognized Czechoslovakia and commissioned its first ambassador on April 23, 1919.

Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in March 1939, establishing a German "protectorate", the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. By this time, Slovakia had already declared independence and had become a puppet state of Germany, the Slovak Republic. German forces occupied Prague on March 15, 1939. The U.S. embassy was closed on March 21, 1939 and the ambassador left his post on April 6, 1939.

During World War II the U.S. maintained diplomatic relations with the Czechoslovak government-in-exile in London. Ambassador Anthony J. Biddle, Jr. established an embassy in London on September 17, 1941 and the embassy was maintained until the end of World War II in Europe. Following the war the embassy in Prague was reopened on May 29, 1945.

In June 1992, the Slovak parliament voted to declare sovereignty and the Czech-Slovak federation dissolved peacefully on January 1, 1993. The United States recognized the Czech Republic and Slovakia as independent nations and moved to establish diplomatic relations. The previous ambassador to Czechoslovakia, Adrian A. Basora, continued as the ambassador to the Czech Republic. Paul Hacker, the incumbent U.S. consul general, served as the first chargé d'affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Slovakia (January 1-July 7, 1993), followed by Eleanor Sutter. In November 1993, Theodore E. Russell, former deputy chief of mission in Prague, became the first U.S. ambassador to Slovakia.

Macelj massacre

In May and June 1945, at the end of World War II in Europe, the forests near Macelj, a village in northern Croatia, were the location where a large number of soldiers, women and children, were shot by soldiers of the Yugoslav army (the Partisans). This was part of the events referred to as the Bleiburg repatriations.

OB West

The German Army Command in the West (Oberbefehlshaber West (German: initials OB West) was the overall command of the Westheer, the German Armed Forces on the Western Front during World War II. It was directly subordinate to German Armed Forces High Command. The area under the command of the OB West varied as the war progressed. At its farthest extent it reached the French Atlantic coast. By the end of World War II in Europe it was reduced to commanding troops in Bavaria.

Operation Unthinkable

Operation Unthinkable was a code name of two related, unrealised plans by the Western Allies against the Soviet Union. They were ordered by British prime minister Winston Churchill in 1945 and developed by the British Armed Forces' Joint Planning Staff at the end of World War II in Europe.

The first of the two assumed a surprise attack on the Soviet forces stationed in Germany in order to "impose the will of the Western Allies" on the Soviets. "The will" was qualified as "square deal for Poland" (which probably meant enforcing the recently signed Yalta Agreement). When the odds were judged "fanciful", the original plan was abandoned. The code name was used instead for a defensive scenario, in which the British were to defend against a Soviet drive towards the North Sea and the Atlantic following the withdrawal of the American forces from the continent.

The study became the first Cold War-era contingency plan for war with the Soviet Union.

Both plans were highly secret at the time of their creation and it was not until 1998 that they were made public, although the British spy for the Soviets, Guy Burgess, had passed on some details at the time.

Order of the German Eagle

The Order of the German Eagle (German: Verdienstorden vom Deutschen Adler) was an award of the German Nazi regime, predominantly to foreign diplomats. The Order was instituted on 1 May 1937 by Adolf Hitler.

It ceased to be awarded following the collapse of Nazi Germany at the end of World War II in Europe. The wearing of the Order of the German Eagle is prohibited in the Federal Republic of Germany.


The Sicherheitspolizei (English: Security Police), often abbreviated as SiPo, was a term used in Germany for security police. In the Nazi era, it was used to describe the state political and criminal investigation security agencies. It was made up by the combined forces of the Gestapo (secret state police) and the Kriminalpolizei (criminal police; Kripo) between 1936 and 1939. As a formal agency, the SiPo was folded into the RSHA in 1939, but the term continued to be used informally until the end of World War II in Europe.

Siege of Breslau

The Siege of Breslau, also known as the Battle of Breslau, was a three-month-long siege of the city of Breslau in Lower Silesia, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland), lasting to the end of World War II in Europe. From 13 February 1945 to 6 May 1945, German troops in Breslau were besieged by the Soviet forces which encircled the city as part of the Lower Silesian Offensive Operation. The German garrison's surrender on 6 May was followed by the surrender of all German forces two days after the battle.

Victory Tests

The Victory Tests were a series of cricket matches played in England from 19 May to 22 August 1945, between a combined Australian Services XI and an English national side. The first match began less than two weeks after the end of World War II in Europe, and the matches were embraced by the public of England as a way to get back to their way of life from before the war.

The matches are known as the "Victory Tests", but they were never given Test match status by the participating Boards of Control, because the Australian Cricket Board feared their side was not strong enough to compete with a near Test-strength England, so the games only had first class status.In all, the teams played five three-day matches, two of which were won by each side with one drawn. 367,000 people attended the matches at Lord's (three matches), Old Trafford and Bramall Lane (one each), with the final game at Lord's attracting a then-record 93,000 people for a single three-day match.

Victory in Europe Day

Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day (Great Britain) or V-E Day (North America), was celebrated on Tuesday, 8 May 1945 to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces. The formal surrender of the German forces occupying the Channel Islands did not occur until the following day, 9 May 1945. It thus marked the end of World War II in Europe.

The term VE Day existed as early as September 1944, in anticipation of victory. On 30 April 1945, Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin. Germany's surrender, therefore, was authorised by his successor, Reichspräsident Karl Dönitz. The administration headed by Dönitz was known as the Flensburg Government. The preliminary act of military surrender was signed at 02:41 on 7 May in SHAEF HQ at Reims, and the final document was signed on 8 May in Berlin.

The former Soviet Union, Serbia, and Eastern Bloc countries have historically celebrated the end of World War II on 9 May; Israel marks VE Day on 9 May as well as a result of the large number of immigrants from the former Soviet Bloc, although it is not a public holiday. In Ukraine since 2015, 8 May is designated as a day of Remembrance and Reconciliation, but it is not a public holiday.

West European Campaign (1944–45)

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