Battle of Berlin, 1945

BATTLE OF BERLIN – WWII

16 April – 2 May 1945

SUMMARY

The final major offensive in Europe of WWII, the Battle of Berlin had 2,300,000 Red Army and 200,000 Polish troops attacking defensive positions of 766,750 soldiers in 36 Nazi Divisions, plus an additional 45,000 troops, police force, Hitler Youth, and 40,000 Volkssturm in the Berlin Defense Area.  The Soviets also had river boats of the Dnieper Flotilla—the only navy contingent involved in the battle.

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BACKGROUND

After the Vistula-Oder Offensive in January 1945, the Soviet Red Army continued its offensive advance towards Berlin at a pace of about 25 miles (40 km) per day.  By June of 1944, the Nazis had lost more than 1,000,000 men and lacked fuel and ammunition to be combat effective.  After the Soviets took Belarus, the Nazis attempted a counter-attack, but failed.  The Red Army advanced to Berlin, which had been constantly bombed during daylight hours by US and British bombers.

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LOCATION

Berlin, Germany

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A Russian SU 76 Self-propelled gun fires in a Berlin street fight. April 1945, historyimages.blogspot.com, Public Domain

SOVIET UNION

1st Belorussian Front

2nd Belorussian Front

1st Ukrainian Front

Dnieper Flotilla

Soviet riverboats in Berlin, 1945, static.cambridge.org, Public Domain

Led by

Marshal Georgy Zhukov

Zhukov, 1945, Life magazine, Volume 18, Number 7 (page 94), Public Domain

Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky

Rokossovsky, 1945, http://waralbum.ru/55660, Public Domain

Marshal Ivan Konev

Konev, 1945, commons.wikimedia.org, Public Domain

Rear Admiral Vissarion Grigoriev

Grigoriev, April 1945, borda.ru, Public Domain

Supported by

UNITED STATES ARMY AIR FORCES

Eighth Air Force

ROYAL AIR FORCE

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NAZI GERMANY

Army Group Vistula

Army Group Centre

Berlin Defense Area

Led by

Generaloberst Gotthard Heinrici

Heinrici, 1943, commons.wikimedia.org, Public Domain

General der Infanterie Kurt von Tippelskirch

Tippelskirch, date unknown, www.historia.ro, Public Domain

Generalfeldmarschall Ferdinand Schörner

Schörner, April 1941, Deutsches Bundesarchiv, Public Domain

Generalleutnant Hellmuth Reymann

Reymann, 1940s, Deutsches Bundesarchiv, Public Domain

General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling

Weidling, 1943, Deutsches Bundesarchiv, Public Domain

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RESULT

A victory for the Soviet Union

Red Army soldier Mikhail Alekseevich Yegorov of Soviet 756 Rifle Regiment flying the Soviet flag over the Reichstag, Berlin, Germany, 2 May 1945, ww2db.com, Public Domain

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CONSEQUENCE

Soviet forces suffered 81,116 dead or missing; 280,251 sick or wounded; 1,997 tanks and SPGs destroyed; and 2,108 artillery pieces and 917 aircraft lost.

German losses are estimated at 92,000–100,000 killed; 220,000 wounded with 480,000 captured.

Soviet soldier capturing a German defender from a underground position, Berlin, Germany, May 1945 ww2dbase, Public Domain

Inside Berlin Defense Area, about 22,000 military dead and 22,000 civilians.

During the early hours of 30 April, Weidling informed Hitler in person that the defenders would probably exhaust their ammunition during the night.  Hitler gave him permission to attempt a breakout through the encircling Red Army lines.  That afternoon, Hitler and his new wife, Eva Braun, committed suicide and their bodies were cremated not far from the bunker.

After the fall of Berlin, the war ended on 8 May 1945 and the occupying Allied forces divided the city, and Germany, into separate sectors—eventually leading the Berlin Wall separating Germany for the next 45 years.

Actual color combat footage of the Battle of Berlin

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