Fall of the Ruhr file photo

Fall of the Ruhr

25 Mar 1945 - 18 Apr 1945

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

With the natural obstacle of the Rhine River breached, instead of marching for Berlin, Dwight Eisenhower instead chose to secure the industrious Ruhr region to eliminate threats on the British and Canadian armies' right flank. This region was the heart of the German steel and coal production, characterized with the headquarters of the Krupp manufacturing empire.

In the last week of Mar 1945, the Allied troops had already formed an envelopment around the region, with the American Ninth Army securing the north bank of the Ruhr, while the American First Army swept northeast from the Remagen bridgehead. George Patton and Courtney Hodges aimed their tank armies at the city of Münster, the headquarters of the German 6th Military District, which had already become shambles after consistent Allied bombings. Münster and surrounding regions were sacred ground to the German Army; it was were the finest Panzer crews were trained in Krupp-made armor. There was little they could do, however, despite their valiant defense efforts. By 1 Apr, the Germans were overwhelmed, and Hamm on the Lippe and Lippstadt on the Ruhr became the locks that completed the envelopment, trapping approximately 350,000 German troops inside.

The Allied attack into the surrounded pocket region began on 2 Apr. The German garrison at the Ruhr region was commanded by Field Marshal Walther Model, who attempted to counterattack first to the north then the south; both attempts yielded little success. Omar Bradley continued to call for constant attacks on the enemy lines to assert pressure on this surrounded garrison, and by 14 Apr the German pocket was divided in two. On 16 Apr, the eastern half gave in to the pressure and surrendered, and two days later the western half did the same. 325,000 prisoners of war were taken, 30 of which were high ranking officers, making the fall of the Ruhr a greater disaster in the history of the German Army than Stalingrad in terms of men captured.

Sources: the Arms of Krupp, Crusade in Europe.

Fall of the Ruhr Timeline

4 Feb 1945 The first of seven Ruhr dams in Germany was captured by the US First Army.
7 Feb 1945 German demolition of Ruhr floodgates flooded the area west of Köln, Germany, inhibiting Allied action.
10 Feb 1945 US First Army captured the last of seven Ruhr dams in Germany, but in general Canadian and American troops continued to make very slow progress as key areas had been flooded by retreating Germans.
7 Mar 1945 US First Army captured Köln (Cologne), Germany.
24 Mar 1945 US 9th Army began to seal off the Ruhr region in Germany.
1 Apr 1945 US First and Ninth Armies complete the encirclement of the Ruhr industrial area at Lippstadt, cutting off the 21 divisions (about 500,000 men) of the German Army Group B.
3 Apr 1945 British Second Army arrived at Münster, Germany while the US Ninth Army captured Recklinghausen.
5 Apr 1945 18 US Divisions began to clear the Ruhr Pocket in Germany.
11 Apr 1945 US Ninth Army captured Bochum, Essen, and Goslar, Germany.
14 Apr 1945 The Ruhr Pocket was cut in two near Hagen, Germany.
16 Apr 1945 US First Army captured Solingen and Wuppertal, Germany.
17 Apr 1945 Field Marshal Model gave his remaining troops the choice of trying to get home, of trying to fight their way out of the Ruhr region in Germany, or of surrendering. Most chose to surrender.
18 Apr 1945 Over 300,000 encircled German troops in the Ruhr region of western Germany surrendered. US First Army entered Düsseldorf.
21 Apr 1945 At the end of the Ruhr battle in Germany, 325,000 Germans were taken prisoner.

Photographs

Canadian Infantry of the Regiment de Maisonneuve, moving through Holten to Rijssen, Netherlands, 9 Apr 1945Private H. E. Goddard of Perth Regiment of the Canadian 5th Armored Division near Arnhem, Netherlands, 15 Apr 1945

Maps

Map depicting the Allied encirclement of the Ruhr region, 29 Mar-4 Apr 1945Map depicting Allied campaign in the Ruhr, Elbe, and Mulde regions, 5-18 Apr 1945




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More on Fall of the Ruhr
Participants:
» Hodges, Courtney
» Model, Walter
» Patton, George

Location:
» Germany


Fall of the Ruhr Photo Gallery
Canadian Infantry of the Regiment de Maisonneuve, moving through Holten to Rijssen, Netherlands, 9 Apr 1945
See all 2 photographs of Fall of the Ruhr



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