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Support for the WWII Online Exhibit is provided in part through a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission and The Century Fund.

 

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WW II War Front - The Road to Victory  

As British and American troops advanced eastward into Germany their air forces were bombing Berlin day and night.  Allied victory appeared increasingly certain. Paul Yoder of Souderton wrote home on February 10, 1945, “Maybe one of these days the war will be over, we keep praying that it will.”  Tragically, the next day, Paul was killed in action.  He occupies a station of high honor in this exhibit.

On April 16, 1945, Soviet troops launched a major drive toward the city.  Old men of the Volkssturm (German militia) and boys of the Hitler-Jugend (Hitler Youth) found themselves defending the city in house-to-house combat.  With Berlin all but lost, Hitler married his longtime mistress Eva Braun in his bunker on April 30; the two then committed suicide.  Berlin lay in ruins.  On May 7, 1945, German representatives signed an unconditional surrender.  May 8 was celebrated as V-E (Victory in Europe) Day in the U.S. and Britain.

While “island-hopping” had brought American troops victories in the Pacific, it was anticipated that an invasion of the Japanese mainland would have cost hundreds of thousands of American casualties as well as many Japanese military and civilian deaths.  On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.  About 90% of the city’s buildings were damaged or destroyed and an estimated 70,000 people died instantly. Burns and radiation-related illnesses killed thousands more (perhaps as many as 200,000 by 1950 alone).  A similar bombing at Nagasaki on August 9th convinced the Japanese government to surrender unconditionally, ending WWII on August 15th (the 14th U.S. time).

 

     
 

Destruction of Berlin