Battle of Berlin
The Battle for Berlin was all about securing victory, one that had already been hard fought. With the Allied Forces in Germany territory, D-Day had already done the majority of the damage needed to end World War II in Europe. Russia had the numbers, the equipment and an unbelievable amount of morale in their troops. As Germany had shown a penchant in wars for getting out of tight situations, Russia sent in extra soldiers and supplies while marching towards Berlin. This was to be the final blow, and no mistakes could be made.
On the way to Berlin Russia started out with over 1.5 million soldiers, 3,300 tanks and over 10,000 aircraft. By the time they reached Berlin, the numbers ballooned to over 2.5 million men and 6,250 tanks. By comparison Germany had 1 million men and 1,500 tanks. The numbers don’t tell the entire story, as much of their equipment was not up to standards, and many of the soldiers fighting were not battle ready.
The numbers kept going up for the Russian army, as General Secretary Joseph Stalin knew that superior numbers didn’t mean it would be an easy fight. His order to his two best generals Zhukov and Konev was to rally with the rest of the group and help with the assault. While the Russians marched forward still improving their numbers, Germany retreated further back into Berlin to get better positioning for a counterattack.
With their equipment low and their ranks busted, Germany had resorted to using child soldiers and old pensioners as their last line of defense. Hitler was outmanned at every position, but refused to give in. He personally planned out the attack in Berlin, and put his last remaining faith in the German 12th Army.
In the beginning, the numbers for Russia worked against them in the crumbling city of Berlin. The huge tank numbers meant little in the battle as the machines were forced to fight the terrain more than the men that were firing at them. Hitler had also prepared well, equipping his soldiers with anti-tank weapons that allowed them to strike quick and duck for cover.
Russia changed up the battle plan and began to sweep specific areas to eliminate any cover or height advantage that they could use. It was a slow but effective charge, and with their supreme numbers and patience, Russia simply blew up any obstacle that could possibly old any enemy soldier. The city was completely eradicated, and it was on May 2nd 1945 that Berlin surrendered and finally had enough. The official surrender and end of Nazi Germany was on May 7th, 1945.
Why Was the Battle of Berlin Important?
It served as a way for Russia to right the wrongs of Germany in World War II. Germany was already defeated, yet refused to yield. It was very symbolic since Russia agreed to a forced peace in World War I, sparing its country from any more warring when it knew all was lost. What was seen as a cowardly move by Russia actually took more courage than Germany, who chose to stay in a War that was lost several times over. When Berlin finally surrendered, 150,000 German men and children had lost their lives for nothing.
Who Was Affected?
Hitler, who chose to take his own life shortly after the loss of Berlin. Russia was equally affected, as the country earned their pride and land back through a hard fought war. Both sides lost a lot of lives, but the outright tragedy of the German child soldiers that were forced to fight is something that history will never forget.
Names to Remember
Sergeant Shcherbina was the infantry soldier that raised the Red Flag on top of the Reichstag, leading to the official end of the World War II campaign in Europe.
Here are some important things to remember about the Battle of Berlin.
- January 12th 1945 is when Russia began the Vistula–Oder Offensive
- D-Day played a major role in the success of the Battle of Berlin
- 1,100,000 Soviets were awarded the Medal “For the Capture of Berlin”
The Russians pushed the Germans back and forced an official surrender, ending the tyranny of the Nazi German Empire.