Central Europe by Edward N. Bedessem, Center of Military History

By Edward N. Bedessem, Center of Military History

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Of the land still under Nazi control almost none was actually in Germany. With his escape route to the south severed by the 12th Army Group’s eastward drive and Berlin surrounded by the Soviets, Adolf Hitler committed suicide on 30 April, leaving to his successor, Admiral Karl Doenitz, the task of capitulation. After attempting to strike a deal whereby he would surrender only to the western Allies—a proposal which was summarily rejected—on 7 May Doenitz granted his representative, General Alfred Jodl, permission to effect a complete surrender on all fronts.

Emil F. Reinhardt, met Maj. Gen. Vladimir Rusakov of the Russian 58th Guards Infantry Division at Torgau in the first official link-up ceremony. After a nearly flawless thrust through the middle of Germany, the 12th Army Group had succeeded in splitting Hitler’s forces in two. 30 Each house in a German village displays a white flag of surrender. (National Archives) While the 12th Army Group made its eastward thrust, General Devers’ 6th Army Group to the south had the dual mission of protecting the 12th Army Group’s right flank and eliminating any German attempt to make a last stand in the Alps of southern Germany and western Austria.

Patton, War As I Knew It (1947). For the British view, see Field Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Normandy to the Baltic (1947). Two worthwhile volumes which explore the Supreme Commander’s decision-making processes are Walter Bedell Smith, Eisenhower’s Six Great Decisions (1956), and Stephen E. Ambrose, Eisenhower and Berlin, 1945—The Decision to Halt at the Elbe (1967). CMH Pub 72–36 Cover: Loaded with troops, assault boats cross the Rhine at St. Goar, Germany.

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