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TheBattleofBerlin

THEBATTLEOFBERLIN

ADOLFHITLER

Duringthesummerof1942,theGermanThirdReichwasatitszenith.HitlerhadcreatedanempirewhichdominatedallEurope,stretchingfrom
AtlanticcoastlineofFrancetodeepwithintheheartlandsofSovietRussia.Germany'spowerfulwarmachineseemedunstoppable.

AfterthedisastrousGermandefeatatStalingrad(October42February43)theGermanWhermachtinRussiawasseverelycrippledandforce
thedefensive.AlthoughthesuccessfulGermancounteroffensiveatKharkov(FebruaryMarch43)hadrevivedhopesforvictoryintheeast,t
RussianvictoryatKurskinthesummerof1943quicklyendedthisfalseoptimismandthelongretreatwasresumed.

Bymid1944Germany'ssteadydeclinewasirreversible.ShehadbecomepowerlesstostoptheAlliessteadyadvance.Withherreservesexh
Germany'sstaggeringlossesinbothmenandmaterialscouldnolongerbereplaced.

Atthestartof1945Hitlerhadclearlylosthisempire,Germanynowfounditselfeffectivelyundersiege.Aftersixyearsofwaronaglobalscale,
oncemightyGermanarmedforceshadbeenutterlydestroyed,withit'spatheticremnantspushedbacktoowithintheirownborders.

ByApril,muchofGermanyhadbeenoccupiedbytheAlliedarmies.Althoughtheirstillremainedstrongpocketsofresistance,thewarwasclea
drawingtoanend.TheGermanforcesintheeasthowevercontinuedtofightonmorebitterlytoallowGermanrefugeestoescapewestward.

AstheRussian'sclosedontheGermancapital,HitlerdesignatedBerlinandimpregnablefortresswhichmustbedefendedtothelast.Concent
theBerlinsector,theGerman'scouldmuster(1,000,000men,1,500tanks,10,400artillerypiecesand3,300aircraft,withtheBerlingarrisonits
amountingto200,000men).

Althoughthiswasapowerfulforceonpaper,therealityofthesituationwastheGerman'swereinfactscrapingthebottomofthemanpowerba
TheirfrontlineswereformedbypoorqualitytroopsbolsteringmainlyVolksstrumunits(Germancitizenspressedintoservice)rangingfromsixte
yearoldboystoveteransoftheFirstWorldWar.OftheBerlindefenders60,000comprisedVolksstrumpersonal.

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YOUNGANDOLDAWAITTHESOVIETONSLAUGHT

InresponsetheRedArmycouldfieldaformidableforceconsistingof(2,500,000men,6,250tanks,41,000artillerypiecesand7,500aircraft).U
theirfoethesewereveterantroops,highlytrainedandwellequipped.EachsoldieralsopossessedabloodlusttodestroytheGermancapitalan
ittotheground.

OnApril12th,PresidentRooseveltdied.Hitlerbythistimewasseverallydelusional,notonlydidhebelievethesuddendeathoftheU.Sleade
provoketheAlliestoturnupononeanother,Hitlerwasnowpositivelysurethatanoracle'srecenttellingoftheThirdReich'sfuturewascomple
accurateinthat"ItiswritteninthestarsthatthesecondhalfofAprilwouldbeaturningpointinthewarforGermany."

OnApril16th,Hitler'svainhopeswerefinallyshatteredasthreeSovietfrontslaunchedamassiveassaultagainsttheGermansectorstotheno
eastandsouthofBerlin,whichOutnumberedtheirfoe5:1inmen,15:1inartillery,5:1intanksand3:1inaircraft.

Despitetheoverwhelmingoddsagainstthem,theGerman'sstillmanagedtoputupastubborndefenceinflictingthousandsofcasualtiesupon
enemyformations.AfterverybitterfightinghowevertheOderNeissedefencelinefinallycrumbledundertheweightoftheSovietattackandR
forcespouredunopposedintotheopenGermancountryside.

OnApril20th,Hitlercelebratedhisfiftysixthbirthday.ThiswastobethelastofficialceremonyoftheThirdReich.Amongthelistofhighranking
dignitariesinattendancewereGoring,Himmler,Goebbels,SpeerandBormann.Asthevisitorslinedthebunkerscentralcorridor,Hitlerwalked
amongstthemshakingtheirhandsandexpressinghisgratitudefortheirservicestotheregime.

OnthemorningofApril21st,HitlerorderedSSGeneralFelixSteinerandhis3rdSSpanzerarmystationednorthofBerlintolaunchamajoroff
anddenyZhukovthenorthernapproachestothecapital.InrealitySteiner'sforcewassounderstrengththatitamountedtolittlemorethanrem
ofvariousretreatingformationsscrapedtogetherfromthehighways,thuswhentheattackwentforwarditwasrepulsedthatsamedayafterga
onlyafewkilometres.

Ontheeveningofthe21st,SoviettroopsreachedthesmallvillagesliningtheoutskirtsofBerlin.Thereportsofrape,tortureandmurderbythe
villagershorrifiedtheterrifiedBerliners.ThedefenderswithintheReichcapitalknewoftheterrorthatapproachedandfelttheynowhadnocho
toresisttheRussian'stotheverylast.

April25thclearlysignaledthatanendtoHitler'smadnesswasdrawingnear.RussianandU.SforceshadmeetatTorgausplittingGermanyint
ThearmygroupsofMarshall'sZhukovandKonevalsolinkeduptothewestofBerlincompletingtheencirclementofthecityandnearthetown
Stettin,MarshallRokossovsky's2ndBelorussianfrontbrokethroughtheGermandefensesandutterlydestroyedtheThirdPanzerArmy.

Despitetheobvioushopelessnessofthesituation,HitlerstillputhisfaithinGeneralWenck's70,000strong12tharmywhichhadbeenrecently
withdrawnfromthewesternfront,tolinkupwithGeneralBusse's40,000menofthe9tharmyretreatingfromtheOderriverline.Oncethisjunc
wascompletedbothcommandersweretolaunchacounteroffensiveandreliveBerlin.

Advancingfromthesouth,MarshallKonev'smobilereservearmiesquicklycaughtupandovertookBusse'sexhaustedmen,trappingthemwith
forestssurroundingthesmalltownofHalbe.BecausetheseRussianforcesweredeniedthehonorofthehistoricassaultonBerlin,theircomma
choosetoignoreallGermanrequestsofsurrenderandinsteaddecidedtoannihilatetheirGermanfoe.
Busse'smenhadlittleornoammunition,armor,artilleryandnoaircovertocallupon,theysimplyhadnothinglefttodefendthemselves.The
subsequentRussianmassacreoftheGerman9tharmywassimplyhorrific.

TheRussianattackeasilyrolledoverthehastilypreparedGermanpositionsleavingnosurvivors.Konev'smensimplyleftthewoundedGerma
screamingbytheroadsidetodieaslowdeathastheymarchedonwardtoinflictmoredestructionontheGermancountryside.

Uponhearingof9tharmiescompletedestruction,Wenckimmediatelyorderedhisforcestohalt.InthemidstofsuchacatastrophiceventHitler
frenziedorderstocontinuewiththeoperationtookonasinisteralmostnightmarishquality.

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ForasoldierwhohadalwaysadheredtothestrictGermancodeofdiscipline,Wenckdecidedforthefirsttimeinhismilitarycareertodisobeyh
Fuhrer'sorders,resolvinginsteadtofallbackandleadhismentowardstheAmerican'ssoastosparethemthefateofbeingtakenprisonerby
Russian's.

UnknowntoHitler,allremainingGermanforceswerenotmarchingtorelieveBerlinasordered,butinfactwereturningwestwardtosurrendert
Allies.WithnoseriousGermanoppositionremainingwithintheBerlinsector,KonevandZhukovlaunchedtheiroffensivetocapturetheReichc

OnApril26thasmanyas500,000RedArmytroopsswarmedintoBerlinfromalldirections.Fierceandbloodybattlesnowensuedasthefightin
becamestreettostreetandhousetohouse.Russia'svasttanksuperioritycountedforlittleastheysufferedheavylossesattemptingtoadvanc
throughthedebrisriddenstreetsofthecity.

NightanddayRussianartilleryandKatyusharocketbatteriesbombardedGermandefensivepositionsatpointblankrange,insomecasesleve
entirecityblocks.Despitetheseeminglyhopelessnessofthesituation,Germandefenderscontinuedtocontesteveryyardofrubble,puttingup
fanaticalresistanceagainsttheSovietonslaught.

Duringthisperiodofheavyfighting,SSexecutionsquadsfreelyroamedtheinnerstreetsofthecitywithanincreasedurgencyandcoldfanatici
lookingfordesertersandshirkers.Allablebodiedmalesfromyoungtooldwhichwerecaughtnotparticipatinginthecitiesdefense,weremerc
executedincoldblood,orhangedfromthenearestlightpost.

BythistimeHitlerhadbutonelastGermanforceremainingtothrowattheRussian's,the5,000strongHitleryouthcorpsleadbyArturAxmann
Comprisingelevenandtwelveyearoldboysthesechildrenarmedwithlittlemorethansmallarmsandportableantitankweaponry,wereorder
holdthestrategicPichelsdorfbridgestotheverylast.
ThecommanderofBerlin'sdefense,GeneralReymann,steadfastlyprotestedtheordertooccupydefensivepositionswithmerechildren,for
expressinghisconcernshewassubsequentlyrelivedofcommandbyHitlerandreplacedbyamuchyoungerLieutenantGeneralWeilding.

HITLERDECORATESBOYSOLDIERSOFTHEHITLERYOUTH

DespitetwodaysoffanaticalGermanresistance,theRussian'shadpenetratedtowithin600metersoftheFuhrerbunkeritself.Thegovernmen
districtsurroundingtheReichstagwasnowheavilygarrisonedwiththeremnantsofthecitiesdefendersamountingtonearly10,000men.

ThemixtureoftroopsscrapedtogetherinthislastgreatefforttoresisttheRussian'swastrulyastounding.UnitsrepresentingtheKreigsmarine
Luftwaffe,WaffenSS,Volksstrum,HitleryouthandForeignSSnowcomprisedHitler'sfinalPraetorianGuard.

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SOVIETTROOPSREACHTHEGOVERNMENTDISTRICT

OnthemorningofApril29th,HitlerreceivedreportsthatSoviettroopswereadvancingthroughasubwaytunnelundertheriverSpree.Hitlerwa
notimeinorderingBerlin'sentireundergroundsubwaysystemtobeflooded.

NotonlydidthesubsequentwatersurgeengulftheRussianassaulttroops,italsodrownedtensofthousandsofwoundedGermansoldiersand
civilianswhichweretakingrefugefromthefightinginthecitystreetsabove.
LaterinthedaynewshadreachedHitlerofBenitoMussolini'sexecutionbypartisansandhowthebodiesofhisItaliancomradeandthatofhis
mistresshadbeenhangedupsidedownandmutilatedinatownsquarebythepopulaceofMilan.

DuringthateveningconfirmationhadalsobeenreceivedfromFieldMarshallKeitelthatnoreliefofthecitycouldbeexpected,thiscoupledwith
GeneralWeidling'sreportthattheRussian'swerenowamere200metersfromthebunkerandthatresistancewouldcollapsewithinthenexttw
fourhours,cementedHitler'sresolvetoendhislife.

Justbeforemidnight,HitlermarriedhislongtimemistressEvaBraun,givinghertheonetitleshehaddreamedofalltheselongyearsattheFu
side,thatofMrsAdolphHitler.ThroughouttheremainderofthenightHitlerdictatedhislastwillandtestamentnamingGrandAdmiralDonitzas
successorandleavingallhisworldlypossessionstohisbelovedNaziparty.

OnthemorningofApril30th,theatmospherewithintheFuhrerbunkerwastenseandemotional.Hitlerappearedquitecalmashespentthemo
silentlyroamingthebunkercomplex.DuringtheafternoonHitlerassembledtheNaziinnercircleandmadehisfinalfarewellsandthenretiredto
roomwithhiswife.

At3.15pm,asinglepistolshotwasheard.Goebbels,BormannandtherecentlyarrivedAxmanncautiouslyenteredHitler'ssittingroom.Both
andEvawereslumpedonthecouch,HitlerwithasinglebulletwoundtotheheadwhileEvalayathisside,herlipspuckeredandbluefromthe
shehadingested.

Goebbelsreportedlystatedtothegalleryofshockedonlookers"TheheartofGermanyceasestobeat".Hitler'sbodywiththatofEva'swerethe
carriedupthestairstotheChancellerygarden,drenchedinpetrolandsetaflame.

AlongwithhiswifeMagda,GoebbelshaddecidedtoremainloyaltotheFuhrertotheveryend.Accompanyingthemwithinthebunkerwereth
childrenrangingfromthreetotwelveyearsofage.TosparethemthewrathoftheSoviets,Magdahadgiventheunsuspectingchildrenchocola
treatswhichwerelacedwithaslowactingpoison.OncetheywerealldeadGoebbelsandMagdathenwalkeduptotheChancellerygardenwh
SSguardshotthembothandthenburnedtheirbodies.

ThemostdesperatefightingwithinthecitynowragedovertheReichstag.WerethelastoftheBerlindefendershadassembledtomaketheirfin
stand.TheRussian'snowbroughtup205mmhowitzerstoreducetheReichstagtodust.

Firingatpointblankrange,theRussianheavygunsreleasedathunderousbarragewhichblastedhugeholesintheReichstag'ssuperstructure
failedtobringdownitswalls.TheRussian'swerenowforcedtosendinSovietassaulttroopstocapturethebuilding.Aftertwobloodydaysinw
thefightingdegeneratedintosavagehandtohandcombat,theReichstagwasfinallycapturedafterfanaticalresistancebythelastoftheSStr
whichhadfoughtontotheverylast.

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THEFALLOFTHEREICHSTAG

OnMay1st,theRedFlagwashoistedatopthestatuarywhichrisesabovethecolumnsofthemainentrancetotheReichstag.Thatsamedayt
PichelsdorfbridgeswerefinallycapturedafterheavyRussiancasualtieswiththesurrenderofthelast500boysoldiersoftheHitleryouthcorp
remainingalive.

OnMay2nd,GeneralWeildingvisitedMarshallChuikov'sheadquartersandsignedthedeclarationforallremainingGermanforcesstilldefendi
smallpocketswithinthecity,tolaydowntheirarms.

RussiancasualtiesintheeightdaycampaignfortheGermancapitalamountedto80,000deadand275,000woundedalongwithanastounding
tanks.GermanlossesinBerlin'sdefensenumbered150,000deadand134,000takenprisoner.

GERMANTROOPSBEGINTOSURRENDER

TheworstmistakemadebytheGermanmilitaryauthoritieswithinBerlinwastheirrefusaltodestroythecitiesvastquantitiesofalcoholstocks.
decisionwasbasedonthebeliefthatadrunkenenemycouldnotfighteffectively.

Tragicallyforthefemalepopulation,thisdecisionwouldprovedisastrousasGermanwomenofallageswereassaultedasapartoftheextende
victorycelebrations.EstimatesfromtheBerlinhospitalsdeducedthatoutofapproximately100,000womenraped,some10,000diedwithanoth
30,000committingsuicide.

AlthoughBerlinhadcapitulated,thewarwouldcontinueforanothersixbloodydaysduetotherefusalofFieldMarshallSchorner'sarmygroup
surrenderingtheCzechoslovakiancapitalofPragueandthestubbornresistanceputupbyGeneralvonSaucken'sforcesstilltrappedintheCo
Vistulaestuary.
OnlyonMay7th,whenrepresentativesoftheGermanHighCommandheadedbyFieldMarshallKeitel,signedthedocumentofunconditional
surrenderdidallremainingGermanforceslaydowntheirarms,finallyendingthewarinEurope.

Europenowlaydevastatedandinruins,itspeopleshadsufferedimmenselyforHitler'swarofglobaldominationsuffering55,000,000deathso
30,000,000wereciviliansincludingthesystematicexterminationbytheNazi'sof6,000,000Jews.

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TheGermanpeoplealsopaiddearlyunderHitler'stwelveyearregimesuffering7,060,000deathsofwhich3,810,000werecivilians.TorepelH
invasionoftheSovietMotherland,Russiasufferedastaggering21,300,000casualtiesofwhich7,700,000werecivilians.

BACKTOWORLDWARII
BACKTOGREATMILITARYBATTLES
ThisLiteraryworkGreatMilitaryBattles.com

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