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German History in Documents and Images
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Adolf Hitler with Alfred Jodl and Hermann Fegelein at a Briefing (1944)
By the middle of 1944, Germany's military situation was hopeless. While the Red Army was marching toward the Vistula, British and American troops began "Operation Overlord" on the Western Front. On average, between the summer of 1944 and May 1945, 300,000 to 400,000 German soldiers and civilians died each month, more than in all of the other years of war put together. Hitler withdrew almost completely from public life. His commands became increasingly irrational and detached from reality. On April 30, 1945, he committed suicide in his bunker under the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. In the "political testament" he dictated shortly before his suicide, he blamed the "Jewish world conspiracy" for the war. The photo shows, in addition to Hitler, General Alfred Jodl (middle), the Chief of the Operations Staff of the High Command of the Wehrmacht. As the representative of the Flensberg Government (also known as the Donitz Government), Jodl signed the Wehrmacht's unconditional surrender on May 7, 1945, in the American headquarters in Reims. Photo by Herbert Hoffmann.