Germany

By the time the 45th Infantry Division made it into Germany, the German Army was in bad shape. They had few soldiers left, very little ammunition, and even food was running out in some places. German soldiers began surrendering to the Allies in large groups, like when 325,000 soldiers and civilians surrendered in the Ruhr Pocket. That is the same as four football stadiums full of people.

The 45th Infantry still fought small pockets of resistance, but they ultimately ended up in Southern Germany. The war ended nine days after the 45th Infantry reached a large camp in Dachau, Germany. The camp was a concentration camp where parts of the Holocaust were carried out. The 45th Infantry was one of the first units into Dachau where they helped liberate tens of thousands of prisoners. The 45th was headed to Munich when it found the concentration camp, so the Thunderbirds quickly moved on after a hospital unit was able to take over care of the liberated prisoners.

The 3rd Infantry, 42nd Infantry, and 45th Infantry took control of Munich by May 1, 1945. The Empire of Germany surrendered six days later on May 7, 1945.

As the 45th moved into Germany, the German Army was losing more and more troops. The soldiers the 45th fought in Germany were often young boys or old men that the military had pressed into service.
Image courtesy of the Oklahoma Museum of History.

Nazi Germany built the first “interstate” in the world, the Autobahn. Allied troops were happy to use these roads after driving through sand, mountains, and mud for three years.

Image courtesy of the Oklahoma Museum of History.

World War II is an example of a “Total War.” This means that the armies involved attacked cities and civilians as well as each other. Allied bombers destroyed this church, possibly the Heilig Geist Kirche (Church of the Holy Spirit), in Munich.

Image courtesy of the Oklahoma Museum of History.