Battle of Berlin
On 15 Apr, Zhukov’s troops began to shell the city to soften the initial German resistance. For thirty minutes he pounded the city, raining half a million shells five miles deep into the German lines. There was no answer from German guns. A moment later, still before dawn, a single search light beam shined vertically upwards into the sky, followed by 143 other search lights that followed suit. The lights were Zhukov’s secret weapon.
Operated by women, the search lights were dipped low to aim into the eyes of the German defenders as the Soviet infantry and armor charged forward. Although the search lights were initially effective in aiding the Soviet attackers, they eventually became a psychological weapon against his own troops: the Soviet troops felt naked as they ran across the battlefield, feeling that they were silhouetted against the light. As the battle waged on, the battlefield soon filled with a fog made of smoke and dust that actually reflected the light back into the eyes of the Soviet soldiers.
The offensive soon broke into chaos until the situation of the front lines finally was passed to the rear, and the order to switch off the lights was given. Most soldiers simply waited behind cover for the sun to come up.
After some delay, Konev’s troops reached Zossen, a major headquarters of Germany’s military since 1939. This vast underground facility designed by Hans Beltow once was the center of all communications across the entire continent.
The first Soviet troops on site were amazed at the extent of the underground facilities, seeing that fully-equipped offices, libraries, and residences were all present for the men who used to serve here. All the telephones at Zossen were still working, and rumor had it that Berlin attempted to call Zossen to request the latest news, and a Soviet soldier named Ivan picked up the call. He colorfully responded to the caller “this is Ivan. You can go fuck yourself!”
On 23 Apr, Hitler named Helmuth Weidling the new commander of Berlin’s defenses. Knowing the dire situation, Weidling’s immediate response was “you might just as well have me shot” to the messenger, though he regained composure soon after and accepted the duty. Meanwhile, the generally orderly situation in Berlin finally crumbled on a large scale. Previously disciplined citizens followed rumors on what government warehouses stored excess food, and looted the rumored locations.
People staggered along the streets hauling butter and preserved meat. The SS tried to keep order, going as far as shooting several looters, but finally some of them gave in to the needs of the starving citizens. Some guards allowed the people to march right into the Karstadt department store and carry out necessities; some tried to take advantage of the situation and carry out luxury items such as fancy dresses and fur coats, but the SS men ordered the people to drop them.
While the people in Berlin did all they could the secure the last supplies of food for their families, the Soviet armies made tremendous progress: Zhukov and Konev’s forces linked up near Schönefield airfield. In fact, it was so tremendous that Zhukov was surprised as well. A complete encirclement of Berlin would happen less than two days from then as Konev’s Fifth Guards Army would link up with the forward units of the First Ukrainian Front and First Byelorussian Front.
Also on 25 Apr, General Courtney Hodges’ 69th Division and Konev’s Fifth Guards Army met each other near Torgau on the River Elbe. By this time, Berlin had no airfields left to evacuate any top commander who remained in Berlin; the last two airfields, Gatow and Tempelhof, were both taken after the last flights left in the early mornings of 26 Apr under heavy Soviet fire.
Around that time, a German counterattack from outside the city led by General Walther Wenck began with promise, but very soon was bogged down by the Soviet defenders, therefore failing the last attempt to link up with the forces in Berlin.
The army commanded by Hasso von Manteuffel, on the other hand, realized the impending doom, and began an organized retreat into Berlin. When Keitel discovered the retreat, he furiously ordered the front lines reinstated, but he no longer had any authority over most of the men who had already lost the fighting spirit. Of the few who remained on guard, many were incompetent as soldiers and officers. Keitel noted in his memoirs that on 25 Apr he met an officer who evacuated into a town early on mere rumors of Soviet advance; Keitel had to take him personally to the front lines to show him that, beyond a few long-range shell bursts, there were no signs of the enemy, and ordered him to bring his artillery back to the front lines and to dig in his men.
In Moscow, after some consideration, Stalin drew new boundaries between Konev and Zhukov’s advancing armies. The line went from Lübben through Mariendorf to Anhalter station, which means that Reichstag, symbol of the German government and the Soviets’ final target, went to Zhukov. However, Zhukov was not notified of it quite yet. Stalin wished to squeeze a final ounce of gain out of the competition between his Field Marshals.
In Berlin, German women uglied themselves as rumors of Soviet retribution flooded the streets. Zhukov’s first echelon troops were proud and disciplined veterans, but the second echelon, filled with replacements recently freed from prisons and concentration camps, committed heinous atrocities. They looted stores and banks, shot innocent civilians, and raped countless number of women. Over 90,000 women visited doctors in Berlin as a result of rape. No one knew how many simply kept silent.
Zhukov’s tactics were simple. His artillery and phosphorus-filled rockets would simply knock down and burn everything that might have given shelter to enemy troops or snipers. Sometimes heavy siege guns firing shells that weighed more than half a ton would be used as well. A Soviet reporter traveling with the troops recalled, “[o]ur guns sometimes fired a thousand shells on to one small square, a group of houses, or even a tiny garden.”
Casualties were especially high as neither side was taking prisoners. With this tactic, Chuikov’s men neared Reichstag by the end of 27 Apr. Because of Chuikov’s position blocked other Zhukov’s generals, some were only several yards behind him, therefore securing his eventual fame as the one who would take the Reichstag. Naturally this pleased Zhukov and disappointed Konev.
A day later, Konev redirected his men toward Savignyplatz instead of toward the Reichstag, therefore officially ending his army’s bid for it. The city was now for Zhukov’s taking alone. On the same day, Red Army Colonel General Nikolai Berzarin was named the Chief of Garrison and City Commandant of Berlin. Berzarin promptly issued orders to German citizens announcing the institution of a curfew and enforcing the registration of all men of the German armed forces, SS, SA, and police and firefighting services.
In the early hours of 29 Apr, Hitler married his long-time mistress Eva Braun. The celebration was kept brief.
On 30 Apr, Hitler met with his SS guards to offer his last thanks, then the newly weds locked themselves in Hitler’s room. Several minutes later, a gunshot was heard. Hitler was found with gun wound to his right temple, and Braun with cyanide in her body. Their remains were wrapped in blankets and doused in fuel, then burned in a shallow ditch by the Chancellery. On the same day, main assaults on the Reichstag commenced with howitzers and rockets pounding the Reichstag and the buildings surrounding it.
The Reichstag was secured at 2250 that night and a large Soviet flag was sent to its rooftop. The next morning the flag flying was re-enacted once again during daylight for the reporters to take photographs. At 0600 on Wednesday, 2 May 1945, Weidling crossed the front lines and officially surrendered the city to the Soviets after a day of failed negotiations for a conditional surrender.
Geopolitics Nations Crisis
- eurasiareview.com – Is Moldova a twin of Ukraine? – The political crisis in Moldova goes back to 2005 when the country had become a part of the Associations Agreement with the European Union. According to Iuri Vitneanschi, a city council member, “the Moldavian people were brainwashed by the pro-European propaganda while the government announced a pro-European political course for the country”. However, the reality the reality proved to be different from promising slogans.
- voltairenet.org/ – Multipolar world with media hegemony? – States struggling against imperialism are probably not sufficiently aware of the importance of having non-aligned media. Yet, obviously, Russia Today, Press TV, Telesur and Al Mayadeen are better at defending freedom than other weapons. For these are indeed weapons we are talking about. The first magic tool that the US uses for world domination is the dollar. The word “magic” is not just hyperbole; the dollar is indeed a magical creation since the Federal Reserve can create unlimited amounts in its computers, and the world sees these dollars as having an effective value, with an ulterior motive: petrodollars.
- stratfor.com/analysis/ – Who will get Moldova. A Roulette Wheel – Like Ukraine, Moldova is both weak and divided. Unlike Ukraine, Moldova does not have traditional or ethnic ties to Russia; it is ethnically and linguistically Romanian. This, along with Moldova’s small size and strategic location, is a main factor in the weakness of the state and its ability to balance between external power
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