End of World War II in Europe

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

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.

European theatre of World War II Huge area of heavy fighting across Europe

The European theatre of World War II, also known as the Second European War, was a huge area of heavy fighting across Europe, starting with Germany's invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 and ending with the Soviet Union conquering most of Eastern Europe and Germany’s unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945. The Allied powers fought the Axis powers on two major fronts as well as in a massive air war and in the adjoining Mediterranean and Middle East theatre.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Contents

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]

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

<i>Rheinwiesenlager</i> military base

The Rheinwiesenlager were a group of 19 camps built in the Allied-occupied part of Germany by the U.S. Army to hold captured German soldiers at the close of the Second World War. Officially named Prisoner of War Temporary Enclosures (PWTE), they held between one and almost two million surrendered Wehrmacht personnel from April until September 1945.

Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force

Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force was the headquarters of the Commander of Allied forces in north west Europe, from late 1943 until the end of World War II. U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was the commander in SHAEF throughout its existence. The position itself shares a common lineage with Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Atlantic, but they are different titles.

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. 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]

The Holocaust Genocide of the European Jews by Nazi Germany and other groups

The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the World War II genocide of the European Jews. Between 1941 and 1945, across German-occupied Europe, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews, around two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population. The murders were carried out in pogroms and mass shootings; by a policy of extermination through labour in concentration camps; and in gas chambers and gas vans in German extermination camps, chiefly Auschwitz, Bełżec, Chełmno, Majdanek, Sobibór, and Treblinka in occupied Poland.

Nazi concentration camps Concentration camps operated by Nazi Germany

Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled before and during the Second World War. The first Nazi camps were erected in Germany in March 1933 immediately after Hitler became Chancellor and his Nazi Party was given control of the police by Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick and Prussian Acting Interior Minister Hermann Göring. Used to hold and torture political opponents and union organizers, the camps initially held around 45,000 prisoners. In 1933–1939, before the onset of war, most prisoners consisted of German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of 'asocial' or socially 'deviant' behavior by the Germans.

Bergen-Belsen concentration camp Nazi concentration camp

Bergen-Belsen[ˈbɛʁɡn̩.bɛlsn̩], or Belsen, was a Nazi concentration camp in what is today Lower Saxony in northern Germany, southwest of the town of Bergen near Celle. Originally established as a prisoner of war camp, in 1943, parts of it became a concentration camp. Initially this was an "exchange camp", where Jewish hostages were held with the intention of exchanging them for German prisoners of war held overseas. The camp was later expanded to accommodate Jews from other concentration camps.

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]

<i>Raising the Flag on the Three-Country Cairn</i> historic photograph depicting the end of World War II in Finland

Raising the Flag on the Three-Country Cairn is a historic photograph taken on 27 April 1945, which was the last day of the Second World War in Finland. It depicts a Finnish Army patrol of Battle Group Loimu, Infantry Regiment 1, raising the Finnish flag on the three-country cairn between Norway, Sweden, and Finland to celebrate the last German troops withdrawing from Finland. The photograph was taken by the commander of Infantry Regiment 1, Colonel Väinö Oinonen. It became a widely circulated symbol of World War II in Finland.

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.

Milan Italian city

Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, with the city proper having a population of 1,395,274 while its metropolitan city has a population of 3,250,315. Its continuously built-up urban area has a population estimated to be about 5,270,000 over 1,891 square kilometres. The wider Milan metropolitan area, known as Greater Milan, is a polycentric metropolitan region that extends over central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont and which counts an estimated total population of 7.5 million, making it by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy and the 54th largest in the world. Milan served as capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and the Duchy of Milan during the medieval period and early modern age.

Turin Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Turin is a city and an important business and cultural centre in northern Italy. It is the capital city of Piedmont and of the Metropolitan City of Turin, and was the first Italian capital from 1861 to 1865. The city is located mainly on the western bank of the Po River, in front of Susa Valley, and is surrounded by the western Alpine arch and Superga Hill. The population of the city proper is 875,698 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat to be 1.7 million inhabitants. The Turin metropolitan area is estimated by the OECD to have a population of 2.2 million.

Benito Mussolini Duce and President of the Council of Ministers of Italy. Leader of the National Fascist Party and subsequent Republican Fascist Party

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy from the fascists' takeover of state power in 1922 until 1943, and Duce from 1919 to his execution in 1945 during the Italian civil war. As dictator of Italy and founder of fascism, Mussolini inspired several totalitarian rulers such as Adolf Hitler.

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

Battle of Nuremberg (1945) battle of frankfurt 1945

The Battle of Nuremberg was a five-day battle between the forces of the United States 7th Army on one side, and Nazi Germany and Russian Liberation Army volunteers on the other during World War II. The battle saw some of the fiercest urban combat during the war and it took four days for the United States to capture the city. The battle was a blow to Nazi Germany as Nuremberg was a center of the Nazi regime. Many rallies took place in the city and to lose the city to the Americans took a heavy toll on already low German morale. Even though American forces heavily outnumbered the German forces, it wasn't until 20 April, that the 7th Army took the city center. The battle devastated the city.

Battle of Hamburg (1945) battle

The Battle of Hamburg was one of the last battles of World War II, where the remaining troops of the German 1st Parachute Army fought the British VIII Corps for the control of Hamburg, between 18 April and 3 May 1945. British troops were met with fierce resistance inside the city as Hamburg was the last significant remaining pocket of resistance in the north. Once the British had captured the city, they continued their advance north-east and sealed off the remnants of the 1st Parachute Army and Army Group Northwest in the Jutland peninsula.

Battle of Berlin Final major offensive of the European theatre of World War II

The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, and also known as the Fall of Berlin, was one of the last major offensives of the European theatre of World War II.

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. 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 another document of unconditional surrender, again surrendering to all the Allied forces, this time 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: Following news of the German surrender, spontaneous Celebrations erupted all over the world on 7 May, including in Western Europe and the United States. As the end of operations officially was set for 2301 Central European Time on 8 May, that day is celebrated across Europe as V-E Day. The Soviet Union celebrates Victory Day on 9 May, as the end of operations occurred after midnight Moscow time.

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 was 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:

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 [lower-alpha 1] the annexation of Germany.

US Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series, No. 1520. [32]
The Oder-Neisse Line Oder-neisse.gif
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] [lower-alpha 2]

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.

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 Lander were established. Germany occupation zones with border.jpg
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.

Operation Keelhaul begins the Allies' forced repatriation of displaced persons, families, anti-communists, White Russians, former Soviet Armed Forces POWs, foreign slave workers, soldier volunteers and Cossacks, and Nazi collaborators to the Soviet Union. Between 14 August 1946 and 9 May 1947, up to five million people were forcibly handed over to the Russians. [35] On return, most deportees faced imprisonment or execution; on some occasions the NKVD began killing people before Allied troops had departed from the rendezvous points. [36]

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. [37]

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". [38] 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". [39] 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). [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] The state of war between Germany and the Soviet Union was ended in early 1955. [46]

"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.

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

See also

Notes

  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 .)

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The battle in Berlin was an end phase of the Battle of Berlin. While the Battle of Berlin encompassed the attack by three Soviet Army Groups to capture not only Berlin but the territory of Germany east of the River Elbe still under German control, the battle in Berlin details the fighting and German capitulation that took place within the city.

Berlin Declaration (1945) declaration by the governments of the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom and France, acting on behalf of the Allies of World War II, jointly assuming  “supreme authority” over German territory prior to the Potsdam Conference

By the Berlin Declaration of 5 June 1945, the four governments of the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom and France, acting on behalf of the Allies of World War II, jointly assumed "supreme authority" over German territory and asserted the legitimacy of their joint determination of issues regarding its administration and boundaries, prior to the forthcoming Potsdam Conference.

This is a timeline of the events that stretched over the period of World War II from January 1945 to its conclusion and legal aftermath.

Operation Doomsday


In Operation Doomsday, the British 1st Airborne Division acted as a police and military force during the Allied occupation of Norway in May 1945, immediately after the victory in Europe during the Second World War. The division maintained law and order until the arrival of the remainder of Force 134, the occupation force. During its time in Norway, the division was tasked with supervising the surrender of the German forces in Norway, as well as preventing the sabotage of vital military and civilian facilities.

Allied Control Council military occupation governing body of the Allied Occupation Zones in Germany

The Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority, known in the German language as the Alliierter Kontrollrat and also referred to as the Four Powers, was the governing body of the Allied Occupation Zones in Germany and Austria after the end of World War II in Europe. The members were the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. The organization was based in Berlin-Schöneberg. The council was convened to determine several plans for postwar Europe, including how to change borders and transfer populations in Eastern Europe and Germany. As the four Allied Powers had joined themselves into a condominium asserting 'supreme' power in Germany, the Allied Control Council was constituted the sole legal sovereign authority for Germany as a whole, replacing the extinct civil government of Nazi Germany.

Operation Regenbogen was the code name for the planned mass scuttling of the German U-boat fleet, to avoid surrender, at the end of World War II.

Events in the year 1945 in Germany.

The Alpine Fortress or Alpine Redoubt was the World War II national redoubt planned by Heinrich Himmler in November and December 1943 for Germany's government and armed forces to retreat to an area from "southern Bavaria across western Austria to northern Italy". The plan was never fully endorsed by Hitler and no serious attempt was made to put the plan into operation, although it would serve as an effective tool of propaganda and military deception by the Germans in the final stages of the war.

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.

References

Citations

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  2. 1 2 the Times, 1 May 1945, page 4
  3. ( Biddiscombe 1998 , p. 253)
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  21. the Times, 5 May 1945, page 4
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  23. 1 2 3 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  [ de ], Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 67-27047]
  25. 1 2 3 Ziemke 1969, p. 130.
  26. 1 2 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
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  35. Nikolai Tolstoy (1977). The Secret Betrayal . Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 360. ISBN   0-684-15635-0.
  36. Murray-Brown, Jeremy (October 1992). "A footnote to Yalta". Boston University.
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  38. A Step Forward Time Magazine Monday, 28 November 1949
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  40. War's End Time Magazine, 16 July 1951
  41. Elihu Lauterpacht, C. J. Greenwood. International law reports. Volume 52, Cambridge University Press, 1979 ISBN   0-521-46397-1. p. 505
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  46. Spreading Hesitation Time Magazine Monday, 7 February 1955

Sources

Further reading