Berlin April 1945: Hitler’s 1000 year Reich must face its final reckoning as the Red Army closes in on the German capital and the last savage chapter in the Battle for Europe begins.
Stalin’s plan is to attack Berlin on three fronts and encircle it. The Western powers stand back as his Marshals, Zhukov, Konev and Rokossovsky compete to avenge the Nazis murderous war in the East and raise the Red Flag over the Reichstag. Zhukov’s forces are first to cross the river Oder in overwhelming numbers to attack the main German defensive line at Seelow Heights, but they meet with huge resistance.
Hitler’s capital will not fall easily, some of the most die-hard SS units; many of them foreign volunteers with nowhere left to run, will make their last stand amid its ruins. A Panzer Army and two army groups, supported by a home guard made up of police, old men and Hitler Youth will fight for every suburb, street and, eventually, every room against a Red Army comprised of over two million troops and thousands of artillery pieces, planes and tanks. For their part Stalin’s commanders are willing to sacrifice any number of men to meet his punishing schedule and capture the political heart of Berlin by May Day 1945. Zhukov loses 30,000 men at Seelow before he is able to press on into the city.
Many of the surviving Nazi high command, including the Fuhrer, shelter from the unrelenting Soviet onslaught deep below the ruined streets. During the battle the Red Army and the Western Allies finally meet on the banks of the Elbe. In the Führerbunker, Hitler marries Eva Braun and shortly afterwards the two of them commit suicide, their bodies buried and burned in the garden of the Reichs Chancellery on the 30th of April.
Over sixteen days of fighting the Soviets suffer enormous losses and Berlin’s civilian population pay a terrible price. As the Red Army range through the Berlin suburbs, they wreak the revenge that many expected. But it is on a scale no one dared imagine. Over 100,000 women and girls are raped and thousands die as a result. Many more civilians die as they attempt to escape west towards the US and British lines.
Just one day after the great Soviet festival of May Day, with the battle still raging below, several soldiers and official photographers scale the exterior of the Reichstag and hoist the Red Flag from its shattered roof. It is an act of carefully staged political propaganda that delivers to Stalin exactly what he’s ordered, the Fall of Berlin and the symbolic capitulation of the entire Nazi regime. It would soon be followed by the actual German surrender and the end of the war in Europe.
#ww2 #westernfront #documentary #rommel
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Interesting links and sources: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Erwin-Rommel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Jupiter_ (1944) https://www.battleofnormandytours.com/the-capture-of-caen-hill-112.html https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/erwin-rommel
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