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(2/12) Battlefield I The Battle of Berlin Episode 12 (GDH) 1
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The Battle of Berlin was a colossal battle that ended the war in Europe. The Western Allies, pushing from the West, and the USSR encircling Berlin from North and South doomed Nazi Germany. Controversy still remains in Eisenhowers decision not to take Berlin and leave the greatest trophy claimed in World War II to Stalins Soviet Union.
Many in the American and British high commands, recommended to Eisenhower the taking of Berlin by Allied forces. Probably the only decision that Montgomery and Patton agreed on, was the taking of Berlin. Both reasoned it symbolized the destruction of Nazi German by the Allies. Of course both had their selfish dreams of glory in mind. Eisenhower had several reasons deciding against the capture of Berlin. No matter what nation captured Berlin, Berlin would become a four nation occupation zone. Planners had estimated the capture of Berlin would cost 100,000 KIA Allied troops. Intelligence reports and Nazi propaganda indicated that several Waffen SS divisions were planning a national redoubt in the mountains of Austria. The latter proving to be utter nonsense. For these reasons, Eisenhower declined to capture Berlin. The Allies were amazed at Stalins seemly lack of interest in taking Berlin. In actuality it was his greatest dream to capture Berlin with USSR forces.
The USSR attacked the German lines before Berlin with three massive Soviet Fronts (Army Groups). First Belorussia Front (Marshal Georgy Zhukov) was to attack the German Oder-Neisse area on April 16th, 1945. First Ukrainian Front (Marshal Ivan Konev) would attack the south Berlin Oder area on April 16th, 1945. Second Belorussian Front (Marshal Konstantin Rokossovskiy) would strike north out the Stettin bridgehead on April 20th, 1945. The estimated combined strength of the USSR forces before Berlin and surrounding areas was; 2,500,000 soldiers, 6,250 tanks and AFV, 7,500 aircraft, 41,600 artillery pieces. Total USSR troops in the Berlin Defense Area would consist of an estimated 1,500,000 troops
Nazi Germany would defend Berlin with 2 Army Groups. Army Group Vistula (Heeresgruppe Weichsel) (Col. Gen Heinrici) would defend the approaches to Berlin and the Seelow Heights. Army Group Center (Heeresgruppe Mitte) (Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner) would defend the southern approaches to Berlin, and Prague. The German defense of the Berlin would consist of an estimated; 766,750 soldiers, 1,519 tanks and AFVs, 9,303 artillery pieces. Total German strength in the Berlin Defense Area would consist of an estimated 45,000 troops.
Zhukov was convinced his past victories would elevate him to supreme commander of all Soviet forces. However, Zhukov was in for a rude awakening. Stalin announced that Zhukov and Konev would race for the honor of taking Berlin. Both commanders would ruthlessly throw everything they had into the capture of Berlin no matter the cost in lives.
Col. Gen Heinrici was a master at defensive tactics. Heinrici had discovered the Soviet time table for their offensive. His plan was to retreat from his first line of defense and fortify his second line of defense. The Soviet opening barrage would fall on a skeleton force. Zhukov planned to blind the defenders with search lights. The last set piece battle of World War II in Europe began on April 16, 1945.
The battles of the Seelow Heights and Halbe were a horrific nightmare. Zhukov keep pouring in unit after unit until the German lines broke. On April 19th Zhukov broke through. To the north and south of Berlin other spearheads had broken through. Konev encircled the 9th Army (Busse) near Halbe. Hitler ordered the 12 Army (Wenck) to link up with 9th Army and counterattack the Soviet forces encircling Berlin. This last ditch effort hadnt a pray from the start. After the encirclement of Berlin Soviet forces crushed the remaining, mostly irregular forces, inside the defenses. Berlin surrendered on May 2nd, 1945. (GDH)
Enjoy this excellent episode of Battlefield I The Battle of Berlin.
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