Even the most battle-hardened soldiers who thought they had seen it all in a terrible war witnessed depravity of unfathomable proportions. They found still-warm crematoriums and bins filled with hair, eyeglasses, baby shoes and dentures harvested from victims. Even grizzled Lieutenant General George S. Patton became physically sick at the stench and the sights as he toured Ohrdurf with Eisenhower on April A few hours later, the news crackled over the radio that President Franklin D.
Roosevelt had suddenly died of a cerebral hemorrhage at his personal retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia. Some young GIs, who had few recollections of any other president than the American wartime leader, thought at first the bulletin was just Nazi propaganda, but the news was true.
By this point, the Americans had reached the Elbe River within 50 miles of Berlin, but Eisenhower ordered them no closer so that the Soviets could capture the symbolic prize of Berlin for themselves. The Red Army would sustain more than , casualties in the battle for Berlin, and Eisenhower had no stomach to suffer such a toll for territory that he would have to cede to the Soviet Union anyway under the terms of postwar occupation agreed to by Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference months earlier. On April 20, the first Soviet shells exploded in Berlin.
The End: Germany, 1944-45
Hitler emerged from his bunker that day and forced a smile as he awarded the Iron Cross to fanatical members of the Hitler Youth for the bravery displayed in fighting the Red Army, which continued to close in. As the bombs dropped above his bunker on April 30, Hitler committed suicide. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order.
Start your review of Berlin: The Story of a Battle. Excellent account of the battle for Berlin This book tell this story from both sides. I believe it tends to gloss over the many atrocities on both sides but mostly the rape of German women by the Russian. It doesn't big down with intricacies of tactics but describes how some units were successful and how others failed.
If you are interested in this topic you should definitely read this book.
WWII and Cold War sites in Berlin | Rachel's Ruminations
Mar 16, Rosemary rated it it was amazing. This unique and historically valuable story I found fascinating for Tully, besides being one of the first war-correspondents to arrive in Berlin in April , gathered information including eye-witness statements for the next 17 years. The horrible fog of war could not be clearer than in this account of a leadership in disarray. A gruesome time of Berlin's history is exceptionally real here and the human dimension is tangible. Lawrence rated it really liked it May 16, Lee rated it really liked it Jan 10, Ravi rated it liked it Oct 12, Paul Janiszewski rated it really liked it Aug 24, Daniel Dias rated it it was amazing Feb 04, Jim rated it really liked it Feb 27, Dana Sills rated it it was amazing Dec 29, Ronald Collins rated it it was amazing Jul 12, Dustin Duke rated it really liked it Jul 21, David Roberts rated it it was amazing Mar 03, James Markenson is currently reading it Nov 11, Kwame Addo marked it as to-read Feb 05, Cold War Conversations Podcast marked it as to-read Mar 05, Brittany Kay marked it as to-read Mar 05, Jonathan marked it as to-read Mar 14, Tony added it Jun 28, Pilar marked it as to-read Sep 02, The Todt Organization, and to a lesser degree the Reich Labor Service, followed military directives only within limits.
The lack of co-ordination and the antagonism between the Wehrmacht and the Party led to strong tensions. The cause of this confusion in the distribution of authority, which was an expression of profound spiritual disorganization, lay above all in Hitler's deep-rooted mistrust of his generals and the General Staff.
By dividing authority, he tried to keep all the reins of command in his own hand. These circumstances were bound to have a fatal effect on the defense plans and on the battle for the capital, the seat of all top-level agencies of the Reich. It is a basic military principle that under such.
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In Berlin, however, this principle was disregarded to an even greater extent than in Breslau or Koenigsberg. Until 1 February the military needs of Berlin were the responsibility of the Wehrmacht Area Headquarters. When at the beginning of February - probably on 1 February - Berlin was declared a fortified place, Deputy Headquarters, III Corps, while still retaining the functions previously assigned to it, was designated the office of "Commander of the Berlin Defense Area.
On the same day General Reymann was relieved of his post as Commander of the Defense Area and assigned as commander of Armeegruppe 7 Spree. Colonel Kaether succeeded him as Commander of the Defense Area. The date indicated here, given by Heinrici, is the most probable since it is based on diary entries. Wehrmacht Area Headquarters. Its tasks included the usual administrative and housekeeping duties of a garrison headquarters, as well as the guarding of bridges, supply depots, and foreign workers, a great number of whom were in Berlin.
It also collaborated in removing debris caused by bombing and especially in clearing thoroughfares. For this purpose the Wehrmacht Area Headquarters had at its disposal military police, guard battalions local security units , a few construction battalions, and the Berlin Guard Regiment. The Wehrmacht Area Headquarters retained its earlier functions, with emphasis placed on rounding up the numerous stragglers.
Its participation in the defense was consequently of a secondary nature, especially since, with the beginning of the battle, the task of rounding up stragglers was largely taken over by the Party Security Service. In addition to its function as Deputy Headquarters, this agency was responsible for the defense of the Wehrkreis 8 and of the Berlin Defense Area. Accordingly, after the collapse of the Vistula front, the commanding general - initially General der Infanterie von Kortzfleisch - organized a rear defense position east of the Oder and, when this was immediately pierced, another position on the Oder itself.
In the midst of this undertaking, at the beginning of February , General von Kortzfleisch was removed from his post. The reason for this action is to be sought in the poor relations which had developed between him and the Gauleiter 9 for Berlin, Goebbels, whose encroachments on the authority of the Army General von Kortzfliesch had sharply opposed. Generalleutnant Ritter von Hauenschild was appointed his successor, and was relieved of responsibility for the Oder front by Army Group Vistula. Under his command the preparations for the defense of Berlin were begun.
To have one person performing a dual mission proved to be a disadvantage, however. As commanding general of the Deputy Headquarters and commander of Wehrkreis III, General von Hauenschild's primary task was to send as many troops as possible to the Oder front. As Commander of the Berlin Defense Area, it was in his interest to retain as many troops as possible in Berlin. As a result, the defense of Berlin received secondary consideration. When General von Hauenschild became sick at the beginning of March , Generalleutnant Reymann was appointed his successor.
The new commander separated the Defense Area and the Deputy Headquarters. The Deputy Headquarters was thereby excluded from command in the defense of Berlin.
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The headquarters staff left the city shortly before the encirclement. Generalleutnant Reymann was assigned his own staff. Under Generalleutnant Reymann all preparations for the defense were energetically continued, even though, because of limited means, only makeshift measures could be taken. The Defense Area was divided into eight sectors, designated by the letters A through H. These sectors radiated outward from the position along the town circuit railroad. In each sector a field grade or general officer was assigned as sector commander with the authority of a division commander.
For this it was necessary to fall back on officers from antiaircraft artillery and home army units who lacked practical combat experience.
Berlin at War
Even in filling sub-sector command positions, persons with front-line experience were rarely available. On 23 April , just as the Russians were at the very gates of the city, Generalleutnant Reymann was relieved of his post and appointed commander of Armeegruppe Spree, which for practical purposes consisted of one under strength division.
His removal from Berlin was obviously ordered at the insistence of Goebbels whose initially favorable attitude toward General Reymann had radically altered.
When Generaloberst Heinrici, to whom Berlin was at this time subordinate, learned of the change, he ordered General Reymann to remain at his post because it seemed to him foolhardy to change commanders at a time when the danger was most acute. He was not able to make his orders prevail, however, and General Reymann was forced to take over command of Armeegruppe Spree. With part of this force he was driven back to Potsdam and surrounded.
Meanwhile, on 22 April, a new commander was sought. General Kuntze was named first, but for reasons of health he declined. Next a major was considered for the appointment, but was rejected as too young. For this. This was a unique occurrence in the German Army; but the promotions were of little use to Kaether, as he was in command for barely two days. It was generally supposed that General Weidling would be shot because his troops had been thrown back by the Russians.
Weidling, however, made such a favorable impression that Hitler immediately appointed him Commander of the Defense Area while retaining him as commander of the panzer corps. Thus he became the fifth commander of the Defense Area in less than three months and the third within two days.