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History As It Happens

Jun 6, 2023

June 6, 1944 continues to hold a central place in Americans' popular memory of the Second World War. It is synonymous with D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy, which took place 79 years ago today. The largest amphibious assault in human history, immortalized in pop culture by epic films such as “The Longest Day” and “Saving Private Ryan,” initiated the battle for France and the downfall of Hitler’s Third Reich in the Western theater of operations. In this episode, military historian Cathal Nolan discusses what took place after D-Day, the overshadowed difficulties encountered by U.S., British, and Canadian armies as they drove east toward the Rhine. The Allies didn’t cross the Rhine until March, 1945 – a testament to the strength of German resistance, Allied logistical challenges, mistakes by Allied commanders, and the typical vagaries of war fought on a massive scale. The war, contrary to contemporary hopes, would not end by Christmas.