Following the Normandy landings, the Allied troops had been successfully moving towards Germany. In the autumn of 1944, they finally entered the core of Nazi Germany. In the run-up to the battle of Aachen, many soldiers were worried that heavy fighting lay ahead, but at first there appeared to be little resistance. In Roetgen, which was reached on 12 September 1944 and was the first place in Germany to be reached by US forces, German civilians welcomed them with roses and coffee.
The battle for Aachen, about 30km away, was very symbolic and German war propaganda evoked a relentless defensive struggle for the city. From the beginning of October, the US troops made their first advances against the city. Although the priority was to advance to the Rhine, the city had to be captured. The battles lasted until 21 October 1944. The liberators' takeover was rather slow, as the German forces repeatedly put up a fierce resistance.
The German soldiers had been forbidden to surrender to the enemy superiority, and there was massive destruction in the city. However, it was in this first major city of the entire German Reich, that the National Socialist dictatorship thus came to an end, and the period of occupation began.