General military situation Germany Spring 1945
This chapter describes the military situation in southern Germany in the final month of the war.
This map gives an overview.
In southern Germany the days of the big battles were over. The Germans had concentrated their last resources to defend Germany’s core country but in vain. From the west US troops had taken the defence positions at the river Rhine. In the east Russian armies overran the German lines at the river Oder in the middle of April. Once these defence lines were taken the allied US-Russian attack made good progress. That is why the Time magazine compared the situation of April 45 with a flood that crushed the dams.
The situation in the north-eastern part of Germany is beyond the scope of this account. Nevertheless it should be mentioned that the Russians had a much more difficult task in these last weeks of the war than their US allies. The Russians attacked Berlin. This was a horrible target that took the live of 300.000 Russian soldiers in the last three weeks of the war and created landscapes where metal detecting is prohibited today due to large amounts of live ammunition. German casualties were also very high since the German war machine made every effort to protect its heart. Even today skeletons of 16 year old German soldiers are sometimes found in forests and meadows and give testimony of the fierceness of the combat.
In the western and southern parts of Germany the US troops did not meet any organized resistance on a large scale in April 45. They advanced swiftly and with relative little casualties. Their German opponents suffered a desperate lack of experienced man and, above all, material.. Almost 6 years of fighting the rest of the world took their toll. The Germans could do little more than delaying the US advance by day and retreating by night.
The more the allied approached Germany the worse the situation became for the Germans. Allied air superiority, allied bombing raids, and allied economic superiority all added up. By April 45 this battle had become so single sided that it was hardly possible to call it a battle. In southern Germany the end did not come with a big bang. It came silently.
The goal of the US high command was to reach the northern entrances into the alps before major German units reached them. Rumours said that Hitler had plans to use the alps as a hideout. The Time illustration shown above calls it the “inner fortress”. Today we know that there was never a realistic option for the Germans to continue modern i.e. material intensive warfare on a large scale from the alps. Cut off from resources they had very few heavy weapons and hardly any fuel. The only option was to lead a partisan war but this did not happen.
Hitler committed suicide on April 30.US soldiers reached Munich April 30 and May 1. The next days were spent with occasional skirmishes. Both sides knew that the end was near and nobody was very motivated to risk his life. On May 8, 1945 the war ended.
(C) Thorsten Straub www.metal-detecting.de 2006-2011.