Germany was on the defensive in the second Great War. The final defeat inched nearer. Two weeks earlier, the 156,000 Allied troops on nearly 5,000 amphibious vehicles had landed in Normandy, France and began fighting their way east through occupied Europe. While Schön laced up his leather boots in the bowels of Berlin's Olympic Stadium on the afternoon of Sunday June 18, 1944, thousands of predominantly American, British, and Canadian men forced German warriors from strongholds across France.
In the port city of Cherbourg, roughly 200 miles from Paris, raids by United States P-47 Thunderbolt planes killed or wounded 800 of Schön's countrymen. In the nearby Brittany capital of Rennes, Marauder and Havoc bombers blew up rail yards. In Washington D.C., Representative Clarence Cannon, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, told American officials, "There is a general belief that the German armies will collapse not later than the first or second week of September, and perhaps much sooner." In Algiers, General Charles De Gaulle presided over a ceremonial session observing the fourth anniversary of the French resistance. More than 2.3 million Soviets troops were poised to fight west through Eastern Europe. The reign of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, and the National Socialist German Workers' Party was not over, but the tide had turned. In less than a year, Germany would be defeated and the war in Europe would come to an end.