I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1945 in this post.
A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1945
As Allied troops advanced, the Nazis conducted marches of concentration camp and prisoner of war camp inmates away from outlying areas. Some were marched westward away from advancing Soviet troops and some were marched eastward away from advancing American and British troops. Prisoners received little aid from people in towns they passed through, and in some cases were harassed and assaulted. At the same time, German civilians fleeing the advancing Russians often shared the road with the marching camp inmates.
By January of 1945, the combined efforts of the Allied armies drove the Germans back to their original starting positions in the Battle of the Bulge. American troops reached the sight of the Malmedy Massacre of December 17, 1944 (see Fall 1944 post), now buried under two feet of winter snow.
The bodies of the eighty-one American POW’s lay frozen in the same spot they were murdered the previous month. They were located through the use of mine detectors and were numbered as each was uncovered. Forty-one of the POW’s had been shot in the head.
Columns of German POW’s were led by the site by their American captors during the U.S. medical team’s identification and recovery process, but no act of vengeance was perpetuated on the enemy soldiers.
January 1-17, 1945
German forces withdrew from the Ardennes.
January 3, 1945
In preparation for planned assaults against Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and mainland Japan, American General Douglas MacArthur was placed in command of all U.S. ground forces and American Admiral Chester Nimitz in command of all U.S. naval forces.
January 4, 1945
The British occupied Akyab in Burma.
January 6, 1945
The Russians liberated Budapest, Hungary, and in doing so, freed over 80,000 Jews.
January 9, 1945
The U.S. Sixth Army invaded Lingayen Gulf and landed on the island of Luzon in the Philippines.
January 11, 1945
U.S. Aircraft Carrier-based planes carried out an air raid against Japanese bases in Indochina.
January 12, 1945
In the Vistula–Oder Offensive, the Soviet Red Army made a major advance into German-held territory in Poland.
January 14, 1945
Russian troops invaded eastern Germany.
January 16, 1945
The U.S. 1st and 3rd Armies reconnected after a month-long separation during the Battle of the Bulge.
January 17, 1945
As part of the Vistula–Oder Offensive, Soviet troops captured and liberated Warsaw, Poland.
Swedish Foreign Ministry diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who in 1944 had saved nearly 33,000 Jews, was detained by Soviet agents and was never heard from again. (See post for July 1944 in Summer 1944 timeline series).
January 18, 1945
The Nazis evacuated 66,000 prisoners from Auschwitz.
January 19, 1945
As part of the Vistula–Oder Offensive, Soviet troops captured and liberated Krakow, Poland.
January 20, 1945
Crematory II at Auschwitz-Birkenau was destroyed by the SS using explosives, along with Crematory III, just seven days before the death camp was liberated by the Soviets.
U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in for his fourth and final term in office.
January 26, 1945
Crematory V at Auschwitz-Birkenau was blown up by the SS as the Soviets were approaching.
January 27, 1945
Soviet troops liberated the remaining prisoners at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. By this time, an estimated 2,000,000 persons, including 1,500,000 Jews, had been murdered there.
January 28, 1945
The Allies finally eradicated the Ardennes salient (the Bulge).
The Burma road was reopened.
January 30, 1945
Adolf Hitler delivered his final radio address.
A Soviet submarine sank the MV Wilhelm Gustloff, a German armed military transport ship, in the Baltic Sea while evacuating German civilian refugees from East Prussia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, and Estonia and military personnel from Gotenhafen as the Red Army advanced. An estimated seven thousand to more than nine thousand died.
Peru, Lebanon, Turkey, Uruguay, Paraguay, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt joined the Allies and declared war on Nazi Germany and Japan.
Iran declared war against Japan.
February 3, 1945
The U.S. Sixth Army attacked the Japanese in Manila.
February 4, 1945
The U.S. First Army took the first of seven Ruhr Valley dams in Germany.
February 4 – 11, 1945
American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Union Premier Joseph Stalin attended the conference at Yalta on the Crimean Peninsula to discuss post-war spheres of influence.
February 6, 1945
The march of prisoners of war of Stalag Luft IV, of which my father George Edwin Farrar was one, began.
Tens of thousands of German civilians fled Breslau (now Wrocław), Poland before the westward advance of the Soviet Red Army.
February 12, 1945
All German women between the ages of 16 and 60 were called to service in the Volkssturm, the German people’s army.
February 13, 1945
The Soviets captured Budapest, Hungary after a two-month siege.
The 70th motorized infantry brigade of the Soviet Red Army liberated the Gross-Rosen concentration camp.
February 13 – 15, 1945
The German city of Dresden was destroyed by firestorm after Allied (British Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces) aircraft conducted bombing raids. Between 20,000 and 45,000 civilians were killed.
February 16, 1945
U.S. troops recaptured Bataan, a province on the Philippine island of Luzon, in the Philippines.
February 19, 1945
U.S. Marines invaded Iwo Jima with an amphibious assault.
February 23, 1945
U.S. Marines raised the flag atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
March 1, 1945
A U.S. submarine sank a Japanese merchant ship loaded with supplies for Allied POWs. The act resulted in a court martial for the captain of the submarine since the ship had been granted safe passage by the U.S. Government.
March 2, 1945
U.S. airborne troops recaptured Corregidor, an island located at the entrance of Manila Bay in southwestern part of Luzon Island in the Philippines.
March 3, 1945
U.S. And Filipino troops took Manila.
March 6, 1945
The last German offensive of the war began in an effort to defend the oil fields in Hungary.
March 7, 1945
The Allies took Cologne.
U.S. troops of the US 9th Armored Division captured the Ludendorff Railroad Bridge at Remagen, between Koblenz and Bonn, Germany, and crossed the Rhine River .
March 9/10, 1945
U.S. B-29 aircraft firebombing raids on Tokyo destroyed sixteen square miles of the city and killed an estimated 100,000 people.
March 10, 1945
The U.S. Eighth Army invaded the Zamboanga Peninsula on Mindanao in the Philippines.
March 15, 1945
Anne Frank died of typhus at the Bergen-Belsen Nazi Concentration Camp.
March 20, 1945
British troops liberated Mandalay, Burma.
March 26, 1945
The Battle for Iwo Jima ended with the Allied capture of the island from the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA).
March 27, 1945
The last German V-2 rocket struck Great Britain. The V-2 campaign killed nearly three thousand Britains.
B-29 aircraft laid mines in Japan’s Shimonoseki Strait to interrupt shipping.
March 30, 1945
Soviet troops captured Danzig, a port city on the Baltic Sea.
This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:
The History Place:
The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.
Most recent post from the series:
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020