In 1942 British and Commonwealth forces defeated the Germans in North Africa at El Alamein. In the Soviet Union, in February 1943, the Germans surrendered at Stalingrad, following an abrasive and epic battle in what is generally considered the turning point of the war. Five months later, the Germans lost the biggest tank battle of the war at Kursk. In May 1943, the Germans surrendered in North Africa.
After a sustained campaign in Italy, the Allies eventually reached Rome, defeating the Germans along the way. Italy deserted the Axis and swapped sides, joining forces with the Allies. Mussolini fled, to be later caught and summarily executed.
As the armies of the Soviet Union began to recapture the territory that had been won by the Germans, the Allies launched the second front on 6 June 1944, landing in Normandy in occupied France. By August Paris had been liberated, followed nine days later by Brussels. In December 1944, Hitler launched the Battle of the Bulge, but this last-ditch offensive was pushed back as the Allies advanced through France and into Germany.
By April 1945, Berlin was surrounded by the Allies coming in from the west, and the Soviet armies from the east. The death camps were liberated, revealing to the world the full horror of the ‘Final Solution’ and Hitler’s determination to rid Europe of Jews. On 28 April, Hitler married his long-term girlfriend, Eva Braun (pictured with Hitler below), and two days later the couple committed suicide. A week later, on 7 May, Germany surrendered unconditionally.
Hitler and Eva Braun, 1942
Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F051673-0059 / CC-BY-SA
The war in Europe had ended. Three months later, following the dropping of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan also surrendered.
The Second World War, which had lasted 2,192 days, was over, and with it, after twelve years, the Nazi dream of the thousand-year Third Reich.