In March of 1945, the collapse of Nazi Germany was imminent. American and British bombers were laying waste to nearly every German city. The German army was reaching its breaking point: Western armies were pushing from the west and in the south, they were driving the German’s inexorably back from Italy. Meanwhile, the Soviets were pushing from the east having reached Poland.

With the end approaching, the Nazi government pulled the very old and young into civilian militia units, the Volkssturm, to augment Wehrmacht units, but their military value was dubious at best. The end was a matter of time. 

In the west, the last, and greatest obstacle was a natural one, the Rhine river. Since the days of the Roman Empire, the Rhine had been a formidable natural obstacle keeping invading armies out of Germany. The Roman legions first built a settlement there in the first century A.D.

During World War I, Russian POWs built a railroad bridge over the Rhine, the Ludendorff Bridge. And the tiny town of Remagen, where the bridge was located, would become famous as the U.S. Army would push thousands of troops across the only span standing over the river.