World War II
Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin was the last major battle in Europe during World War II. It resulted in the surrender of the German army and an end to Adolf Hitler's rule.
When did the Battle of Berlin take place?
The battle began on April 16, 1945 and lasted until May 2, 1945.
Who fought in the Battle of Berlin?
The battle was primarily fought between the German Army and the Soviet Army. The Soviet army vastly outnumbered the Germans. The Soviets had over 2,500,000 soldiers, 7,500 aircraft, and 6,250 tanks. The Germans had around 1,000,000 soldiers, 2,200 aircraft, and 1,500 tanks.
What was left of the German army was ill-equipped for the battle. Many of the German soldiers were sick, wounded, or starving. Desperate for soldiers, the German army included young boys and old men.
Who were the commanders?
The supreme commander of the Soviet army was Georgy Zhukov. Commanders under him included Vasily Chuikov and Ivan Konev. On the German side was Adolf Hitler, who remained in Berlin to help command and lead the defense of the city, as well as military commanders Gotthard Heinrici and Helmuth Reymann.
The Soviets Attack
The battle began on April 16 when the Soviets attacked along the Oder River near Berlin. They quickly defeated the German forces outside Berlin and advanced on the city.
By April 20th the Soviets began bombing Berlin. They worked their way around the city and had it completely surrounded in a few days. At this point, Hitler began to realize that he was going to lose the battle. He desperately tried to move a German army from western Germany to Berlin in order to save the city.
Once the Soviets entered the city, the fighting became fierce. With the city in ruins and the streets full of rubble, tanks were of little use and much of the fighting was hand-to-hand and building-to-building. By April 30, the Soviets were approaching the center of the city and the Germans were running out of ammunition. At this point, Hitler admitted defeat and committed suicide along with his new wife, Eva Braun.
The Germans Surrender
On the night of May 1st, most of the remaining German soldiers attempted to break out of the city and escape to the western front. Few of them made it out. The next day, May 2nd, the German generals inside Berlin surrendered to the Soviet army. Only a few days later, on May 7, 1945 the remaining leaders of Nazi Germany signed an unconditional surrender to the Allies and the war in Europe was over.
Ruined buildings in Berlin
Source: Army Film & Photographic Unit
The Battle of Berlin resulted in the surrender of the German army and the death of Adolf Hitler (by suicide). It was a resounding victory for the Soviet Union and the Allies. The battle took its toll on both sides, however. Around 81,000 Soviet Union soldiers were killed and another 280,000 were wounded. Around 92,000 German soldiers were killed with another 220,000 wounded. The city of Berlin was reduced to rubble and around 22,000 German civilians were killed.
Interesting Facts about the Battle of Berlin
- Around 150,000 Polish soldiers fought alongside the Soviet Union.
- Some historians believe that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was in a hurry to capture Berlin before the rest of the Allies so he could keep German nuclear research secrets for himself.
- Poland celebrates its Flag Day on May 2 to commemorate the day it raised the Polish flag over Berlin in victory.
- The battle left over a million Germans without homes, clean water, or food.
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