D-Day To Berlin: The Struggle To Break Out
Airs Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV
This three-part series recounts the Allies' remarkable progress from the beaches of Normandy to their ultimate victory in Germany 11 months later.
"The Struggle To Break Out" - The battle for the beaches had been won, and the narrow sliver of French coastline gained on D-Day was slowly extending. But the optimism born of the successful D-Day landings quickly began to fade as the Allies confronted a skillful enemy who was determined to throw them back into the sea.
British troops became trapped in a terrible battle of attrition reminiscent of the grim battles of World War I. Sixty thousand men were killed or wounded in the first three weeks of the campaign. By the end of June a million men were caught in a grim struggle in the wheat fields and hedgerows of Normandy. Monty was obliged to crack down on a strange new sickness that appeared to be gripping his men – Tiger Fever – as they faced the Germans’ superior Tiger tanks.
It was not Allied ground forces that finally broke Hitler’s elite SS divisions in Normandy, but Allied air power. By the end of August 1944, Allied victory seemed assured. Rommel had been wounded and his replacement Field Marshal von Kluge had committed suicide. Hitler was directing the battle, and despite hysterical demands for self-sacrifice, the German army was in full retreat.