18.5 Victory for the Allies

By early spring 1945, the war in Europe was nearing its end. That April, the Allies lost a key leader, Franklin Roosevelt. Though he did not live to see the final victory, he knew the defeat of the Nazis was inevitable.

Photo of two groups of soldiers shaking hands across a pile of rubble.

The Allied strategy in Europe was to encircle Germany, advancing from the south, west, and east. Here, Soviet and American soldiers meet at the Elbe River in eastern Germany.


  • Understand the reasons for the final defeat of the Nazis.
  • Describe how the Allies began to push back the Japanese in the Pacific.
  • Explain how the dropping of the atomic bombs ended the war.
  • Describe the aftermath of World War II and the founding of the United Nations.

Key Terms

  • Douglas MacArthur
  • kamikaze
  • Hiroshima
  • Nagasaki
  • Nuremberg Trials
  • United Nations (UN)
  • Bataan Death March
  • “island-hopping”
  • Manhattan Project
  • Harry Truman
  • V-E Day

End of the War in Europe

Germany Is Defeated

By March 1945, the Allies had crossed the Rhine into western Germany. From the east, Soviet troops closed in on Berlin. In late April, American and Soviet soldiers met and shook hands at the Elbe River. All over Europe, Axis armies began to surrender.

In Italy, guerrillas captured and executed Mussolini. As Soviet troops fought their way into Berlin, Hitler committed suicide in his underground bunker. After just 12 years, Hitler's “thousand-year Reich” was bomb-ravaged and in ruins. On May 7, Germany surrendered.

Officially, the war in Europe ended the next day, May 8, 1945, which was proclaimed V-E Day (Victory in Europe).

Reasons for Victory in Europe

The Allies were able to defeat the Axis powers in Europe for a number of reasons. By 1942, Germany and its allies had to fight on several fronts simultaneously. Hitler insisted on making major military decisions himself and some proved disastrous, especially the invasion of the Soviet Union. He underestimated the ability of the Soviet Union to fight in defense of their land.

The enormous productive capacity of the United States was another factor. By 1944, the United States was producing twice as much as all of the Axis powers combined. Meanwhile, Allied bombing hindered German production. Oil became so scarce because of bombing that the Luftwaffe was almost grounded by the time of the D-Day invasion.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments