America Beats The Nazis

Join the fighting GIs on their long, dangerous journey across Europe to end the tyranny of the Third Reich.

B-17 over SchweinfurtLong before GI boots marched against Adolf Hitler’s Fortress Europa, US and British bombers were turning German industry to rubble. Here, a B-17 Flying Fortress heads home after a raid on Schweinfurt’s ball bearing factories in October 1943. (National Archives)

German defenses at Normandy on D-DayThe Americans and other Allies arrived in person to battle the Nazis on June 6, 1944, landing on France’s Normandy beaches. German defenders posted alongside this 77mm gun witnessed the arrival of the massive Allied invasion fleet. (National Archives)

Landing craft on D-DayOn June 6, 1944—D-Day—American GIs pour from their Coast Guard landing craft onto a smoke-covered Normandy beach. (National Archives)

American troops wade into German fire on D-DayCarried to Normandy’s Omaha Beach by LCIs (Landing Craft, Infantry) 553 and 410, American troops wade into German fire on D-Day. (National Archives)

3rd Division lands in Southern France in August 1944The Yanks kept coming. Here, 3rd Division GIs hit a beach in Southern France on August 15, 1944, in an invasion intended to strengthen the Allied right flank in the sweep east toward Germany. (National Archives)

German tankers near Falaise, FranceThis aerial shot of a field near Falaise, in northern France, shows the desperate but futile maneuvering German tankers undertook to evade capture and bombs during the Allies’ breakout from Normandy in early August 1944. (National Archives)

Anti-tank GIs lay low amid German shelling in Avranches, FranceMembers of an American anti-tank unit lay low to avoid German shelling during the July 31, 1944, push to liberate Avranches, France. (National Archives)

Americans advance through St. Fromond, FranceA month after the Normandy landings, American troops and tanks advance through the village of St. Fromond in France. (National Archives)


GIs parade through the Arc de Triumph in ParisThe Allied sweep across France paused for a moment full of symbolic importance on August 29, 1944. That day, American columns paraded through Paris’s Arc de Triumph amid cheers from the city’s residents. (National Archives)

The ruins of Monte CassinoWhile some GIs pressed toward Germany, others confronted German armies in Italy. An icon of that destructive chapter of the war—the ancient abbey of Monte Cassino—lies in ruins, hammered by American bombers. (National Archives)

The 88th Division marching on Route 64 on the way to BolognaThe Italian campaign would push steadily north toward Bologna, gateway to the Po Valley—and, for the Germans, the entrance to a trap. These 88th Division infantrymen march along a quiet stretch of Route 64 en route to Bologna in spring 1945. (National Archives)

Lloyd G. Taylor rests near Beho, Belgium.In the Ardennes forest of France and Belgium in the winter of 1944-45, GIs endured a German counterattack that bent the Allied line, starting the Battle of the Bulge. In the battle’s final days, 75th Division Private 1st Class Lloyd G. Taylor of West Virginia rests near Beho, Belgium. (National Archives)

GI driving a Weasel toward Schopen, BelgiumUnable to navigate through the Ardennes’ thick snow in anything else, an American soldier drives a tracked Weasel down the only road into Schopen, Belgium. (National Archives)

Back from the Ardennes, William Rush shares a Christmas present with his buddiesSergeant William Rush, just back from a month of hard fighting in Belgium’s frigid Ardennes, shares a belated Christmas package with his buddies. (National Archives)

GIs cross the Rhine in an assault boat near St. Goar, GermanyAfter evicting the Germans from the Bulge, the Allies moved into Germany to face the next great obstacle: the Rhine River. These GIs, packed like sardines into an assault boat, duck German bullets while crossing the Rhine near St. Goar, Germany. (National Archives)

A Ninth Army MP stands guard along the Rhine at Erpel, GermanyA Ninth Army military policeman stands guard along the Rhine at Erpel, Germany, on March 13, 1945. The first GIs to cross the Rhine did so via the Ludendorff Bridge, seen in the background, from Remagen to Erpel. (National Archives)

GIs force Hitler Youth to look at bodies in rail cars at DachauAs the Americans moved deeper into Germany, they discovered ghoulish horrors: Germany’s concentration and extermination camps. Here, GIs force suspected Hitler Youth to gaze upon human wreckage stuffed into rail cars at Dachau. (National Archives)

A 9th Armored Division soldier guards a captured Me 163 Komet rocket-powered fighterThe end of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich was inevitable, but Germany fought on. Too late, German engineers churned out fantastic new weapons such as this captured Me 163 Komet rocket-powered fighter, guarded here by a 9th Armored Division soldier. (National Archives)

GIs and Soviets toast their meeting at the Elbe RiverA celebration broke out when eastward-moving US First Army units and westbound Soviet troops met at the Elbe River in late April 1945, sealing Nazi Germany’s fate. Here, GIs trade toasts with Soviet troops. (National Archives)

The bodies of the mayor of Leipzig and his wife and daughter, dead by suicideAs the war’s end approached, many Nazi leaders opted not to face the inevitable. In Leipzig, Germany, men of the 69th Infantry and 9th Armored Divisions discovered the city’s bürgermeister, along with his wife and daughter, dead by suicide. (National Archives)

German POWs being marched through GeilenkirchenOther Germans, like these POWs being marched through the rubble-strewn streets of Geilenkirchen by Ninth Army troops, surrendered and lived to see a new day. (National Archives)

GIs board a ship at Marseilles for reassignment in the PacificAs the war in Europe ended, GIs daydreamed about heading home. For some, however—like these men boarding a Pacific-bound ship at Marseilles, France—victory in Europe meant reassignment to the war against Japan. (National Archives)