I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1945 in this post.
A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1945
The Nazis continued marches of concentration camp and prisoner of war camp inmates. Some were marched westward away from advancing Soviet troops and some were marched eastward away from advancing American and British troops. At the same time, German civilians fleeing the advancing Russians often shared the road with the inmates marching.
The Allies discovered stolen Nazi art and wealth hidden in German salt mines.
Yugoslav Communist leader Josip Tito’s Partisan units captured Zagreb and toppled the Ustasa regime. Top Ustasa leaders fled to Italy and Austria.
Early April 1945
The Soviets drove the Germans and their Hungarian collaborators out of Hungary.
April 1, 1945
American troops encircled German forces in the Ruhr.
In the Pacific Theater, the Battle of Okinawa began with the final amphibious landing of the war when the U.S. Tenth Army invaded Okinawa.
April 4, 1945
The Soviets forced the surrender of Slovakia with the capture of Bratislava.
The Ohrdruf camp, a subcamp of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, was liberated. It was the first Nazi camp liberated by U.S. troops. It was later visited by General Dwight D. Eisenhower (on April 12).
April 6, 1945
Codename “Operation Grapeshot” began. It was the Spring 1945 Allied offensive in Italy, the final Allied attack during the Italian Campaign near the end of WWII. This attack into the Lombardy Plain in Northern Italy by the 15th Allied Army Group ended on May 2 with the formal surrender of German forces in Italy.
April 7, 1945
American fighter pilots based on Iwo Jima escorted Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers in their first P-51 Mustang fighter-escorted mission against Japan.
U.S. Aircraft Carrier-based fighters sank the Japanese super-battleship Yamato and several Japanese escort vessels which planned to attack U.S. Forces at Okinawa.
April 11, 1945
U.S. troops from the 6th Armored Division of the Third Army liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp shortly after the prisoners stormed the watchtowers and seized control of the camp.
U.S. forces liberated the Dora-Mittelbau camp.
April 12, 1945
President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage at his Warm Springs, Georgia vacation home. Vice President Harry Truman, who had held the office for eighty-three days and had had little contact with Roosevelt, was summoned to the White House. Truman was unaware that Roosevelt had died. After being sworn in as President, one of Truman’s first acts was to meet with Roosevelt’s advisers to learn of matters of national security, including the existence of the atomic bomb.
Canadian forces liberated prisoners at the Westerbork camp in the Netherlands.
April 13, 1945
The Soviets captured Vienna, Austria.
April 15, 1945
British troops liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Anne Frank and her sister Margot died of typhus at this camp a month earlier.
April 16, 1945
The Soviets launched their final offensive and encircled Berlin.
April 18, 1945
German forces in the Ruhr surrendered.
Pulitizer prize winner Ernie Pyle was killed by a Japanese sniper’s bullet while reporting on the Battle of Okinawa.
April 23, 1945
Soviets troops reached Berlin.
The 358th and 359th U.S. Infantry Regiments (90th US Infantry Division) liberated Flossenbürg.
April 28, 1945
The Allies took Venice.
Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, captured as they attempted to flee to Switzerland, were executed by Italian partisans.
April 29, 1945
The U.S. 7th Army liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp.
Adolf Hitler married longtime mistress, Eva Braun.
April 30, 1945
Holed up in a bunker under his headquarters in Berlin, Adolf Hitler committed suicide. He and Eva Braun poisoned themselves and their dogs with cyanide capsules and Hitler shot himself in the head with his service pistol.
Allied troops conquered Okinawa, the last island stop before the Japanese islands.
May 1, 1945
Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Reich Minister of Propaganda, and his wife Magda committed suicide after murdering their six children.
May 2, 1945
German troops in Italy surrendered.
The Theresienstadt Ghetto/Concentration Camp in the Czech Republic was taken over by the Red Cross.
The BBC History website reported about this date,
…After one of the most intense battles in human history, the guns at last stopped firing amongst the ruins of Berlin. According to Soviet veterans, the silence that followed the fighting was literally deafening. Less than four years after his attack on the Soviet Union, Hitler’s self-proclaimed thousand-year Reich had ceased to exist.
George Edwin Farrar, Lawrence Newbold, and other POW’s of Stalag Luft IV were liberated on the road near Gudow, Germany by the British Royal Dragoons.
May 5, 1945
The Mauthausen Concentration Camp was liberated. The camp was known for its “Todesstiege” (Stairs of Death) in the rock quarry at Mauthausen. The Nazis forced prisoners to repeatedly carry heavy granite blocks up 186 stairs until they died or were murdered if they failed.
May 7, 1945
Germany surrendered to the western Allies at General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Headquarters in Reims, France. German Chief-of-Staff, General Alfred Jodl, signed the unconditional surrender, to take effect the following day.
May 8, 1945
V-E (Victory in Europe) Day was declared as German troops continued to surrender to the Allies throughout Europe.
May 9, 1945
Germany surrendered to Russia at Soviet headquarters in Berlin. The Soviets had insisted that a second ceremonial signing take place in Soviet-occupied Berlin.
Hermann Göring was captured by members of the U.S. 7th Army.
May 14, 1945
The Austrian Republic was re-established.
May 20, 1945
The Japanese began withdrawal from China.
May 23, 1945
The German High Command and Provisional Government were imprisoned.
SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler committed suicide while in British custody.
May 25, 1945
The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff approved “Operation Olympic,” the invasion of Japan, scheduled for November 1, 1945.
June 5, 1945
The Allies divided up Germany into four Zones of Occupation and took over the government.
June 9, 1945
Japanese Premier Suzuki announced Japan would fight to the very end rather than unconditionally surrender.
June 18, 1945
Japanese resistance ended on Mindanao in the Philippines.
American President Harry Truman authorized “Operation Olympic.”
June 22, 1945
In the Battle of Okinawa, which had begun on April 1, Japanese resistance ended as the U.S. Tenth Army completed its capture of Okinawa.
June 26, 1945
The United Nations charter was signed by fifty nations in San Francisco, California, USA.
June 28, 1945
General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters announced the end of all Japanese resistance in the Philippines.
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.
Spring 1945 Offensive in Italy
Most recent post from the series:
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020