When Berlin fell, there was still a week left before Victory.

Fall of Berlin in May 1945

Today it is especially important to remember this date, when Nazism again raises its head.
When Berlin fell, there was still a week left before Victory.

On May 2, 1945, the Berlin garrison capitulated. The capital of the Third Reich fell at the feet of the victorious Red Army.

At one o’clock in the morning on May 2, the radio stations of the 1st Belorussian Front received a message in Russian: “We ask you to cease fire. We are sending envoys to the Potsdam Bridge.” A German officer who arrived at the appointed place, on behalf of the commander of the defense of Berlin, General Weidling, announced the readiness of the Berlin garrison to stop resistance.

At 6 a.m. on May 2, Artillery General Weidling, accompanied by three German generals, crossed the front line and surrendered. An hour later, while at the headquarters of the 8th Guards Army, he signed an order of surrender, which was duplicated and, with the help of loudspeaker installations and radio, brought to the German units defending in the center of Berlin. As this order was communicated to the defenders, resistance in the city ceased. By the end of the day, the troops of the 8th Guards Army cleared the central part of the city from the enemy.

Individual German units that did not want to surrender tried to break through to the west, but for the most part were destroyed or scattered. The main direction for the breakthrough was the western Berlin suburb of Spandau, where two bridges across the Havel River remained intact. They were defended by members of the Hitler Youth, who were able to hold on to the bridges until the surrender on May 2. The breakthrough began on the night of May 2. Parts of the Berlin garrison and civilian refugees, frightened by Goebbels’s propaganda about the atrocities of the Red Army, entered the breakthrough because they did not want to surrender.

One of the groups under the command of the commander of the 1st (Berlin) Anti-Aircraft Division, Major General Otto Sydow, was able to infiltrate Spandau through the metro tunnels from the Zoo area. In the area of ​​the exhibition hall on the Mazurenallee, it linked up with German units retreating from Kurfürstendamm. The units of the Red Army and the Polish Army stationed in this area did not engage in battle with the Germans breaking through from the city, apparently due to the exhaustion of the troops in previous battles. The systematic destruction of the retreating units began in the area of ​​the bridges over the Havel and continued throughout the flight towards the Elbe.

The last remnants of German units were destroyed or captured by May 7. Units managed to break into the Elbe crossing area, which until May 7 was held by units of General Wenck’s 12th Army, and joined German units and refugees who managed to cross into the zone of occupation of the American army.

Some of the surviving SS units defending the Reich Chancellery, led by SS Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke, attempted to break through to the north on the night of May 2, but were partially destroyed, while the rest managed to get to Schönhauser Allee in the Wedding area, where in one of the basements all they (with the exception of those who committed suicide) were captured around 10:30 am on May 2. Mohnke himself was captured by the Soviets, from which he was released as an unpardoned war criminal in 1955.

With the fall of Berlin and the loss of vital areas, Nazi Germany lost the opportunity for organized resistance and soon capitulated. With the completion of the Berlin operation, favorable conditions were created for the encirclement and destruction of the last large groupings of German troops on the territory of Austria and Czechoslovakia.

Klim Zhukov

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