Encyclopedia of War

World War II

Berlin 1945

January 12 1945, Soviet forces burst out of its bridgeheads, and what lay ahead was berlin. Soviet commanders raced for the capital but it wasnt going to easy, and would brutal struggle for control, Hitler order berlin to become a fortress, with three defensive lines which would constist of anti ditches and gun emplacements along a line that would be 200 miles long.

The main densive postions was the Seelow Heights that lay directly in front of Berlin where the Soviets were expected to attack. The Allies could have reached berlin before the Soviets but thought the cost would have been too high to justify, and also the possiable clashes withe Red Army as tenisons already began between the soviets and Allied forces. Marshal Zhukov, commander of the Red Army laid out his plans to Stalin, It was simlpe and direct and as the Germans predicted would come from the Seelow Heights with flanking movements from the north that would curve around and attack from the west, Also the 1st Ukrainain under the command of General Koniev would complete the encirclement by attacking from the south. This plan would take time 2 weeks was needed to postion the 29 soviet armies,With over 2 million people still in Berlin, the soviets expected a final battle that would come at a very high cost, But they had vengeance in their hearts,The Germans knew this and over one million German men were ready to gives there lives to protect their city, Along side them were the (Volkssturm) which was a militia and had numerous young and elder volunteers. Formidable barricades were erected everywhere arond the city, The Red Army knew this and couldnt risk being held up, so before the force of Two million troops with thousands of guns tanks and rocket-lauchers began their assault, a massive barriage began, The bombardment was so intense that the following soviet troops found it hard to move across the rumble and churned-up ground, When the reached the frist defensive line they found it abandoned with much of the bombardment falling on empty positions. Tanks and vehicles became stuck in the in the mud, a dence cloud of smoke and dust also hindered the adavnce, This left Tanks open to german counter-attacks, and losses began to mount and stalins worse fear began and he urged Koniev to take the city from the south, Zhukov's troops slowly raeched the northern outskirts of the city by 20 April.