German Defeats in the South and East
“Fortress Europe”, which Hitler promised to defend fanatically after the retreat from Africa, also steadily crumbled as the “Third Reich’s” allies gradually deserted Germany. Italy started, surrendering on September 8, 1943 and declaring war on Germany.
The former allies Romania and Bulgaria followed Italy’s example one year later on August 25 and September 8, 1944, respectively. German troops withdrew from the southern Balkans on October 30, 1944 after Tito had formed the new Yugoslavian government on October 20, 1944. A peace treaty between the Hungarians and Soviets had come shortly before, on October 16, 1944.
Without a doubt however, the army of a likewise murderous dictator, Stalin’s Red Army, contributed the most to Hitler’s defeat. Following the military and, above all, psychological success at Stalingrad, the major Soviet offensive began on July 17, 1943. Soviet troops already reached Polish territory on January 4, 1944 and broke through the German line encircling Leningrad on January 14. The major offensive in Ukraine was launched less than two months later on March 4, 1944. Soviet troops broke through to Romania at approximately the same time.
Pushed fanatically by Hitler to hold out, German soldiers put up bitter resistance. The war became more murderous and bloodier. Approximately just as many people died on all sides in the final year of the war, i.e. roughly from Stauffenberg’s assassination attempt on July 20, 1944 until Germany’s surrender in early May of 1945, as in the preceding four years of war.