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Allied Advances Against Germany

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By March 26, 1945, the main body of U.S. and British forces in Europe had crossed the Rhine, their last major obstacle in the conquest of Germany. Advancing as much as 50 miles a day against crumbling German defenses, the U.S. First and Ninth armies encircled the Ruhr, capturing the industrial heart of Germany and trapping some 325,000 German troops. The British Second Army, meanwhile, moved across northern Germany, and the Canadian First Army drove into the occupied Netherlands. The U.S. Third Army raced through southern Germany. On April 12, the U.S. Ninth Army crossed the Elbe River and was within 75 miles of Berlin. Four days later, the Soviets began a drive on the German capital. On April 25, the two great Soviet armies completed the encirclement of Berlin--with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler trapped within, and Soviet and American forces linked up on the Elbe River. On the night of April 30, with Soviet troops less than half a mile from his underground bunker, Hitler committed suicide with his mistress, whom he had married the night before. His chosen successor, Admiral Karl Doenitz, had no choice but to surrender, and at midnight on May 8, 1945, the war in Europe was officially over.