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On 1 January 1945, Hitler and his generals launched Operation North Wind. The goal was to break through the lines of the US 7th Army and French 1st Army to support the southern thrust in the Ardennes offensive, the final major German offensive of the war. After limited initial gains by the Germans, the Americans halted the offensive. By 25 January, Operation North Wind had officially ended.
Hitler transferred his headquarters to the Führerbunker ("Leader's bunker") in Berlin on 16 January 1945, where he (along with Bormann, his secretary Else Krüger, and others) remained until the end of April.
In 1944, Planck's son Erwin was arrested by the Gestapo following the attempted assassination of Hitler in the 20 July plot. He was tried and sentenced to death by the People's Court in October 1944. Erwin was hanged at Berlin's Plötzensee Prison in January 1945. The death of his son destroyed much of Planck's will to live.
On the nights of 13–15 February 1945, some 1,200 British and US bombers attacked the German city of Dresden, which was crowded with wounded and refugees from the Eastern Front. The attacks were part of an area bombing campaign that was initiated by Churchill in January with the intention of shortening the war. Churchill came to regret the bombing because initial reports suggested an excessive number of civilian casualties close to the end of the war, though an independent commission in 2010 confirmed a death toll between 22,700 and 25,000.
The Allied advance from Paris to the Rhine (25 August 1944–7 March 1945), also known as the Siegfried Line campaign, was a phase in the Western European campaign of the World War.
Himmler and Hitler met for the last time on 20 April 1945—Hitler's birthday—in Berlin, and Himmler swore unswerving loyalty to Hitler. At a military briefing on that day, Hitler stated that he would not leave Berlin, in spite of Soviet advances. Along with Göring, Himmler quickly left the city after the briefing.
On 20 April, Hitler's 56th birthday, he made his last trip to the surface. In the ruined garden of the Reich Chancellery, he awarded Iron Crosses to boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth. That afternoon, Berlin was bombarded by Soviet artillery for the first time.
By 21 April, Georgy Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front had broken through the defenses of General Gotthard Heinrici's Army Group Vistula during the Battle of the Seelow Heights and advanced to the outskirts of Berlin.
On 23 April, Goebbels made the following proclamation to the people of Berlin: I call on you to fight for your city. Fight with everything you have got, for the sake of your wives and your children, your mothers, and your parents. Your arms are defending everything we have ever held dear, and all the generations that will come after us. Be proud and courageous! Be inventive and cunning! Your Gauleiter is amongst you. He and his colleagues will remain in your midst. His wife and children are here as well. He, who once captured the city with 200 men, will now use every means to galvanize the defense of the capital. The battle for Berlin must become the signal for the whole nation to rise up in battle ...".
On 23 April, Himmler met directly with Bernadotte at the Swedish consulate in Lübeck. Representing himself as the provisional leader of Germany, he claimed that Hitler would be dead within the next few days. Hoping that the British and Americans would fight the Soviets alongside what remained of the Wehrmacht, Himmler asked Bernadotte to inform General Dwight Eisenhower that Germany wished to surrender to the Western Allies, and not to the Soviet Union.
On 27 April, Himmler's SS representative at Hitler's HQ in Berlin, Hermann Fegelein, was caught in civilian clothes preparing to desert; he was arrested and brought back to the Führerbunker.
On the evening of 28 April, the BBC broadcast a Reuters news report about Himmler's attempted negotiations with the western Allies. Hitler had long considered Himmler to be second only to Joseph Goebbels in loyalty; he called Himmler "the loyal Heinrich".
Göring sent a telegram from Berchtesgaden, arguing that since Hitler was isolated in Berlin, Göring should assume leadership of Germany. Göring set a deadline, after which he would consider Hitler incapacitated. Hitler responded by having Göring arrested, and in his last will and testament of 29 April, he removed Göring from all government positions.
In the early morning hours of 29 April 1945, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Goebbels, Hans Krebs, and Bormann witnessed and signed Hitler's last will and testament. Bormann was named executor of the estate. That same night, Hitler married Eva Braun in a civil ceremony.
Soviet and Polish forces stormed and captured Berlin in late April. In Italy, German forces surrendered on 29 April. On 30 April, the Reichstag was captured, signaling the military defeat of Nazi Germany, Berlin garrison surrendered on 2 May.
As Soviet forces continued to fight their way into the centre of Berlin, Hitler and Braun committed suicide on the afternoon of 30 April. Braun took cyanide and Hitler shot himself. Pursuant to Hitler's instructions, their bodies were carried up to the Reich Chancellery garden and burned.
In accordance with Hitler's last wishes, Bormann was named as Party Minister, thus officially confirming his top position in the Party. Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz was appointed as the new Reichspräsident (President of Germany) and Goebbels became head of government and Chancellor of Germany. Goebbels and his wife Magda committed suicide later that day.
Later on 1 May, Vice-Admiral Voss saw Goebbels for the last time: "... While saying goodbye I asked Goebbels to join us. But he replied: 'The captain must not leave his sinking ship. I have thought about it all and decided to stay here. I have nowhere to go because with little children I will not be able to make it, especially with a leg like mine.
Goebbels carried out his sole official act as Chancellor. He dictated a letter to General Vasily Chuikov and ordered German General Hans Krebs to deliver it under a white flag. Goebbels' letter informed Chuikov of Hitler's death and requested a ceasefire. After this was rejected, Goebbels decided that further efforts were futile.
On the evening of 1 May, Goebbels arranged for an SS dentist, Helmut Kunz, to inject his six children with morphine so that when they were unconscious, an ampule of cyanide could be then crushed in each of their mouths.
Bormann's group left the Führerbunker and travelled on foot via a U-Bahn tunnel to the Friedrichstraße station, where they surfaced. Several members of the party attempted to cross the Spree River at the Weidendammer Bridge while crouching behind a Tiger tank. The tank was hit by Soviet artillery and destroyed, and Bormann and Stumpfegger were knocked to the ground. Bormann, Stumpfegger, and several others eventually crossed the river on their third attempt. Bormann, Stumpfegger, and Axmann walked along the railway tracks to Lehrter station, where Axmann decided to leave the others and go in the opposite direction. When he encountered a Red Army patrol, Axmann doubled back. He saw two bodies, which he later identified as Bormann and Stumpfegger, on a bridge near the railway switching yard. He did not have time to check thoroughly, so he did not know how they died. Since the Soviets never admitted to finding Bormann's body, his fate remained in doubt for many years.
On 2 May, the Battle in Berlin ended when General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defense Area, unconditionally surrendered the city to General Vasily Chuikov, the commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army.
Himmler bit into a hidden potassium cyanide pill and collapsed onto the floor. He was dead within 15 minutes. Shortly afterward, Himmler's body was buried in an unmarked grave near Lüneburg. The grave's location remains unknown.
On 11 July, Allied leaders met in Potsdam, Germany. They confirmed earlier agreements about Germany, and the American, British, and Chinese governments reiterated the demand for the unconditional surrender of Japan, specifically stating that "the alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction". During this conference, the United Kingdom held its general election, and Clement Attlee replaced Churchill as Prime Minister.
At the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, the Combined Chiefs of Staff decided that Indochina south of latitude 16° north was to be included in the Southeast Asia Command under British Admiral Mountbatten. Japanese forces located south of that line surrendered to him and those to the north surrendered to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
Churchill was Great Britain's representative at the post-war Potsdam Conference when it opened on 17 July and was accompanied at its sessions not only by Anthony Eden as Foreign Secretary but also, pending the result of the July general election, by Attlee. Potsdam went badly for Churchill. Eden later described his performance as "appalling", saying that he was unprepared and verbose. Churchill upset the Chinese, exasperated the Americans, and was easily led by Stalin, whom he was supposed to be resisting.