The Unconditional Surrender of GermanyThree major battles, internal problems in Germany, and the United States' involvement in the war all contributed to the unconditional surrender of Germany.

America Joins the War

One major factor of the Germans’ downfall was the United States’ involvement in the war. As for how the U.S. became involved, most Americans were split into two groups of views on joining World War II during the Great Debate. On one side, there were the Interventionists, who believed that the United States should join the Allies to prevent the Nazi takeover of Europe. The Isolationists, on the other hand, believed that the U.S. should stay out of European affairs to avoid unnecessary casualties. The decision was finally made for the United States on December 7, 1941, when Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor. The United States, in turn, declared war on Japan. Four days later, Germany declared war on America (Stein 33-34). The U.S.A. supported the British Navy primarily by creating the Land-Lease Act. This gave fifty destroyer ships to Britain in exchange for the U.S. being able to lease British military bases in the Caribbean and Newfoundland for 99 years. Another instance in which the American forces supported the Allies against the Germans was in the D-Day Invasion at Normandy. The Americans helped by bombing German positions and also by combining with the British and Canadian forces during the amphibious assault (Grobman).

Allies Approach Germany

The Battle of Stalingrad: "The war in the east was fought with a ferocity almost unkown on the western fronts" (Overy 321). This manifestly conveys the enmity between the Germans and the Soviets. However, German attacks and advances in USSR were slowed due to harsh Russian winters. Once warm weather settled in the area Germany launched an attack on Stalingrad and the surrounding oil fields along the Volga River. The German air force, or the Luftwaffe, lead the attacks with nightly raids on the city of Stalingrad in August 23, 1942. Victory looked inevitable; however, Stalin's troops surrounded Stalingrad and cut off supplies to the German army. The lack of supplies forced Germany to surrender and they retreated with Stalin's troops at their heels forcing them west (Beck 507).
A Soviet Soldier hangs the red flag over Stalingrad after Russia defends it from the Germans in 1943

D-Day: Another key factor leading to the weakening of Nazi Germany and thus the unconditional surrender was the D-Day Invasion on German controlled France. Under General Dwight Eisenhower the invasion plans began with the preparation of a fake army to fool Hitler in to believing the attack was on Calais, France. With Hitler fooled, the attack was launched on June 6, 1944 on Normandy beach in France. The Allies faced heavy resistance, but soon, with the help of one million more reinforcements, the Allies managed to overcome the resisting Germans and make their way to Paris. With Paris captured by the Allies, the German armies in France were forced back towards Germany, which left Hitler on the run from the Allies in the east and the west. A two-front war now seemed inevitable (Beck 509-510).
United States soldiers prepare to land on Omaha Beach on D-Day

Battle of the Bulge: Hitler made a last effort to hold off the Allies in the west by attempting to drive his tanks through the American line of defense. Hitler's plan had caught the Americans off guard, but soon enough the Germans were driven back and forced to retreat. By 1945, the Allies approached Germany from the east and the west (Beck 510).

German Panther tank preparing for the Battle of the Bulge in 1944

Internal Problems in Germany

With the Allies closing in on Germany internal problems also contributed to the downfall and unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. Around forty assassination attempts on Hitler which contributed to his paranoia. During vital situations, Hitler would make poor military through indecisiveness and carelessness. These poor decisions led to the Germans fighting the Soviets in the Russian winter at Stalingrad which weakened troops. Poor judgement from Hitler also contributed to the costly two-front war. The anti-semitism movement in Nazi Germany also contributed to the German downfall since it eliminated the Jews that could have contributed to the workforce which would have greatly improved German economy. Also, unlike most Allies, Germans did not utalize women on the home front to help work in factories to fuel the military during the war, which also led to a weaker economic backbone (Overy).

The Fall of the Nazi Regime

By April of 1945 the Soviets from the west had made their way through weak German defenses and had surrounded Berlin. Berlin was taking heavy artillery fire from the surrounding Soviets, and Hitler knew he had lost. With defeat in the air, Hitler shot himself in the head in his underground facility. Prior to his death, Hitler had left Admiral Dönitz in charge of the regime. As the Allies surrounded Berlin, Dönitz began to negotiate treaties in the west. He wished to surrender to Britain and the United States, but keep fighting the Soviets in the east. General Eisenhower refused to accept this proposal and forced Dönitz to accept the unconditional surrender documents that stated Germany would surrender to Allies in the west, and the Soviets. These documents were signed by Dönitz in Eisenhower's base in Reims, France on May 9, 1945. The signing of these documents marked V-E Day, or Victory in Europe Day (Hansen).

Grand Admiral Dӧnitz signs the German surrender document

United States Presidents In WWII

During the war Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, however soon after the German surrender, he died on April 12, 1945 ("Franklin D. Roosevelt"). After his death Harry Truman became president and ended the war with Japan by ordering the delivery of the atomic bombs ("Harry Truman").

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