This map is part of a series of 15 animated maps showing the history of The second World War, 1939-1945.
By the end of 1943, the Axis powers had lost ground on three major fronts: USSR, the Mediterranean and Asia-Pacific.
In the coming months, the Allies continued to concentrate their efforts against Germany before seeking victory over Japan.
In the USSR, thanks in part to support from the Americans, the Red Army had now acquired substantial fire power. In January 1944, the siege of Leningrad, dating back to September 1941, was broken by Russian troops who then continued their advance through the Baltic nations and Belarus until they reached the Vistula in Poland. There the Red Army came to a halt outside Warsaw during the summer, while German troops destroyed Polish resistance in the city.
In the South, the Crimea and the Ukraine were liberated, and Soviet troops continued their march into the Balkans. Romania and Bulgaria signed armistices with the Russians, while Tito’s Yugoslav resistance forces freed their country. German troops withdrew from Greece to avoid entrapment by the Red Army.
Meanwhile, the Allies succeeded in breaking through the Gustav Line in Italy and liberated Rome on 5 June.
But, despite Stalin’s insistence, the second front in the West had to wait until the landings in Normandy.
Once a solid bridgehead had been established, the Allied armies broke through the German front and advanced in two directions towards the Rhine.
A second landing took place in Provence on 15 August. Paris was liberated on 25 August and, despite a desperate last ditch effort by the Germans in the Ardennes from mid-December to mid-January 1945, France and Belgium were almost entirely liberated by the end of 1944.
The final assault against Germany took place during the first months of 1945.
In the West, the Rhine was crossed on 7 March, and American troops reached the Elbe by mid-April.
In the East, Russian troops reached the Oder by late January and then joined up with the Allied forces on the Elbe.
The Red Army launched the last battle in Berlin. On 2 May, after a week of combat, the city was totally in its hands.
The day before, Hitler committed suicide in his Bunker and on 8 May, Marshall Keitel signed the Reich’s unconditional surrender.
Japan was now the only Axis power still at war.
Throughout 1944, the United States maintained its strategy of moving from island to island, gradually approaching the Japanese archipelago.
The Mariana Islands were captured during the months of July and August.
The reconquest of the Philippines began in October and was completed on 4 February 1945 with the fall of Manila.
The capture of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in March and June 1945 were the last steps prior to landing troops in Japan.
Nevertheless, even though the Japanese had lost most of its navy, it retained its formidable army. In order to bring a quick end to the conflict and reduce further war casualties, President Truman gave the order for dropping the recently developed atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima on 6 August and on Nagasaki three days later.
The Emperor Hirohito agreed to surrender, and the official documents were signed on 2 September 1945.