May 2nd In German History. The German Surrender of Italy and Berlin

Surrender of Berlin - Europe Remembers
German Prisoners of War are grouped together after the surrender. Image Credit: Europe Remembers

Far from being the soft underbelly in Europe, Italy had proven a difficult theater ever since the Allied invasion had begun in 1943. German troops had held most famously at the Gustav Line during the Battle of Monte Cassino. The slow progress in Italy along with Soviet impatience had forced the Allies to invade Normandy in 1944. Progress was made, however, and the German forces supporting their puppet Italian Socialist Republic were pushed from the Gustav then from line and finally from the Gothic line. Once that line broke, the German forces lost all hope of holding Northern Italy and the Allied forces took city after city with little opposition. The German forces were largely destroyed in the Allied Spring Offensive in 1945 and what was left had little ammunition and no heavy equipment, and no hope of resupply as allied air raids had destroyed bridges and railroads that would have carried them. Realizing that they had no hope of holding as the larger German war effort faltered, the German commanders in Northern Italy signed a surrender agreement on April 29th. This agreement took effect on May Second and fighting in Italy ceased. On the same day, Berlin surrendered to General Zhukov and the Soviet Union. Although fighting had stopped, the people of Berlin would still have to endure the retribution of Soviet soldiers for several weeks. Nevertheless, Allied victory did bring the restoration of food and fuel supply to the capitol. Over a million prisoners were taken between both surrenders. After the surrenders, German controlled only parts of the middle of Germany and Austria.

The surrender of German troops was a recognition of reality on the part of German commanders. The nation should have surrendered months earlier, before its cities became battlegrounds, but its fanatic leaders would not allow such a move. In doing so they cost hundreds of thousands of lives on all sides and were responsible for unnecessary death and destruction.

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