Allied forces solidified their hold in Europe and continued to make gains in Asia as summer began in 1945. The World War II timeline below summarizes important events in early June 1945.
World War II Timeline: June 1-June 14
June 1: As many as 700 of 40,000 Cossack troops who fought alongside the Nazis die when they resist British efforts to forcibly repatriate them to the Soviet Union.
Some 27 American P-51 Mustang fighters are lost to foul weather en route to an assault on Osaka, Japan.
June 5: Brazil, which had long been at war with Germany, declares war on Japan.
Nearly 500 U.S. B-29 bombers drop 3,000 tons of incendiaries on the Japanese city of Kobe.
A powerful typhoon strikes Okinawa, badly damaging more than 30 U.S. warships.
June 7: Norway's King Haakon returns to the throne of his liberated nation.
All German civilians living in the Western Allies' occupation zones are made to watch films of the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen.
Osaka suffers heavy damage as 400 American B-29 bombers rain terror on the Japanese city.
June 9: The RAF Vampire jet, boasting a maximum speed of more than 500 mph, is unveiled in Britain.
June 11: Czech police and civilians continue the process of driving ethnic Germans from the Czech Sudetenland into occupied Germany.
June 12: With a U.S. Marine victory on Okinawa's Oroku Peninsula a virtual certainty, Japanese troops on Okinawa commit suicide en masse.
June 13: The U.S. 24th Corps attacks Japanese-held caves on Okinawa with flamethrowers.
June 14: U.S. military leadership in the Pacific Theater receives orders from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare for the invasion and occupation of Japan.
Former Nazi foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop is captured in Hamburg.
World War II Headlines
Below are more highlights of the events of World War II in 1945, as the war slowly drew closer to its end.
Soviet Union casualties include millions of soldiers and civilians: Russian soldiers who returned from the Great Patriotic War were the lucky ones. Of the 30 million Soviets who fought in World War II, more than eight million died. Of the survivors, many returned to find that their families were among the 11.5 million civilians who perished in the conflict. According to Soviet Union records, military dead from 1941 to 1945 totaled 8,668,400, including 500,000 missing in action. Another 1,283,300 were taken prisoner. Nearly 14 percent of the total population died, as compared to U.S. losses of 0.32 percent.
Irma Grese and Josef Kramer are the "Beast" and "Bitch" of Belsen: Irma Grese and Josef Kramer were two of many German concentration camp commanders and guards who faced postwar prosecution as war criminals. Kramer, commandant of the Bergen-Belsen camp, was called the "Beast of Belsen" by the inmates. He placed few controls over the activities of his guards, including Irma Grese, the most notorious of the female guards at all the camps. Grese had been transferred to Auschwitz at age 19. She was then sent in March 1945 to Bergen-Belsen, where she was known as "Bitch of Belsen" for torturing and murdering inmates. Kramer and Grese were tried with more than 40 other guards from the camp. Both were found guilty and were hanged for their war crimes on December 13, 1945.
Operation Olympic, the planned invasion of Kyushu, Japan: An American pilot points out a target on a scale model of the Yokosuka naval base. Operation Olympic, the planned invasion of Kyushu on November 1, 1945, called for massive air attacks on the Japanese home islands. Hundreds of Navy fighters, dive-bombers, and torpedo planes were assigned to hit targets all over the island of Honshu in support of the operation. As Allied landing craft neared the beaches of Kyushu on November 1, waves of planes from no less than 66 aircraft carriers would bomb, rocket, and strafe enemy fortifications and troop concentrations along the beaches.
See the next page for a detailed timeline of World War II events in June and July 1945, including unrelenting attacks on the Japanese home islands.