The World War II Multimedia Database

For the 72 Million


The weight of the United States’ war production is felt on every front. Stagnated in Italy, the Western Allies plan to assault Hitler’s Atlantic Wall. A new weapon attacks London. The Germans bleed Occupied Europe of anything of value and ship millions to death camps. The last year of the war is the most bloody of any war in human history. Airborne landings in Holland are badly timed and planned, but even the defeat of the paratroopers can’t stop the Allied juggernaut. Nevertheless, Hitler tries a desperate gamble at the end of the year to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the Belgian Ardennes forest.

The Soviets begin a sustained offensive that will end in Berlin in May 1945. Operation Bagration reduces the Nazi Army Group Center and drives them back through Poland. Finally able to practice combined operations, the Russians are using massed artillery and unguided rockets to pound the Germans before attacking. Losses are still ghastly but not nearly as debilitating as the 1941 battles. The Red Army is a transformed force.

Half of all the casualties in the Pacific War were in the last year. As the Allies moved closer to the Japanese Home Islands, the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces adopted the only plan they could: kill as many Allied soldiers as possible, cripple their morale, and negotiate an armistice that was to Japan’s favor. This plan underestimated the resolve the Allies had since Pearl Harbor three years before. But as the Allies got closer to Japan, the fighting grew more vicious. The Allies could not comprehend the willingness to die on the part of the Japanese; the Japanese were left with no other alternative. At the end of 1944, the Allies were within bombing range of the Home Islands. For the first time in two years, strategic targets within Japan were targeted. Soon the shift to area bombing would kill hundreds of thousands.

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