Source: The Library of Congress Country Studies
In June 1944, American, British, and Canadian forces invaded France, driving the Germans back and liberating Paris by August. A German counteroffensive in the Ardennes began in late December was beaten back after heavy fighting in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. Soviet troops, meanwhile, advanced from the east. Western forces reached the Rhine River in March 1945; simultaneously, Soviet armies overran most of Czechoslovakia and pressed on toward Berlin. Although faced with certain defeat, Hitler insisted that every German city, every village, and "every square meter" be defended or left behind as "scorched earth." The Western Allies and the Soviet forces made their first contact, in Saxony, on April 27. Three days later, Hitler committed suicide in a Berlin bunker. Berlin fell to the Soviet forces on May 2; on May 7, the Third Reich surrendered unconditionally. It is estimated that about 55 million people died in the European theater during World War II. About 8 million of these dead were German.
* * *
A good introduction to German history is Mary Fulbrook's A Concise History of Germany , which not only presents the most important events but also examines various interpretations of them. The book closes with a bibliography of recent scholarship. Geoffrey Barraclough's The Origins of Modern Germany is a classic study of the German Middle Ages. Early Modern Germany, 1477-1806 by Michael Hughes is a good introduction to this period. C.V. Wedgwood's classic, The Thirty Years' War , is engrossing reading and is widely available. A more recent treatment of the war is found in The Thirty Years' War , a well-integrated collection of articles about the conflict by noted specialists edited by Geoffrey Parker.
James J. Sheehan's subtle and learned German History, 1770-1866 is the standard work in English on the period. Theodore S. Hamerow's Restoration, Revolution, Reaction , concise and beautifully written, deals with the main political, economic, and social trends between 1815 and 1871. Gordon A. Craig's Germany, 1866-1945 , a survey of these years by the English-speaking world's dean of German studies, can be found in many libraries. Volker Rolf Berghahn's Imperial Germany, 1871-1914 provides a sophisticated analysis of Germany between unification and the outbreak of World War I. James Joll's brief The Origins of the First World War examines interpretations of why this war occurred. The German Dictatorship by Karl Dietrich Bracher is an excellent treatment of the ideological sources of national socialism and provides an analytical history of Hitler's regime. Donald Cameron Watt's magisterial How War Came examines the diplomatic maneuvering leading up to World War II. Gerhard L. Weinberg's A World at Arms is an authoritative and comprehensive survey of the war. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)
Data as of August 1995
NOTE: The information regarding Germany on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Germany Defeat information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Germany Defeat should be addressed to the Library of Congress.