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Berlin Operation

16 April-2 May 1945
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You can read about other events of the victorious 1945 in the following sections:

Victorious May
3 — 31 May
Peaceful Conversion
1 June — 6 August

Berlin Operation 16 April — 2 May


2 May. Day 1411 of the War

Berlin Operation

The troops of the 1st Belorussian Front under the command of Marshal of the Soviet Union Zhukov, with the assistance of the troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front under the command of Marshal of the Soviet Union Konev, after the persistent street battles completed the defeat of the Berlin group of German troops and 2 May fully seized Berlin, the center of German imperialism and the hotbed of German aggression. Having seized the capital of Germany, the valiant Red Army won a brilliant victory and forever glorified its battle flags.

Soviet tankers and infantrymen, supported by artillerymen and guardsmen, broke the resistance of the Germans, who fortified themselves in the park Tiergarten. The main stronghold of the enemy in Berlin was crushed by the Soviet armies. Ferocious battles also took place near Friedrichs-Hein Park. Hitlerites, leaning on fortified houses and street barricades, fiercely resisted. Soviet assault groups, reinforced with tanks and guns, persistently moved forward, knocking the Nazis out of their hideouts. With clever and decisive actions Soviet troops crushed the enemy forces into separate isolated units and destroyed them. The suppressed and demoralized German soldiers and officers began to drop their weapons and surrender one by one.

At 1:00 on 2 May, radio stations of the 1st Belorussian Front received the message "We ask you to cease fire. We are sending parliamentarians to Potsdam bridge". The German officer, who arrived at the designated place, on behalf of General Weidling, the Berlin Defense Commander, reported on the readiness of the Berlin garrison to stop the resistance. At 6:00 on 2 May 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 wrote an order to surrender, which was multiplied by loudspeakers and radio transmission to enemy units in central Berlin. As this order was brought to the defending units, the resistance in the city stopped.

Order of the Berlin Defense Commander to the German troops to immediately end the resistance, 2 May  1945.

On 30 April 1945, the Fuhrer committed suicide. We, who swore loyalty to him, have been left to our fate.

According to the Fuhrer's order, you must continue to fight for Berlin, despite the fact that the lack of heavy weapons, ammunition and the general situation makes this fight senseless.

Every hour you continue your fight prolongs the terrible suffering of Berlin's civilians and our wounded.

Everyone who falls in the struggle for Berlin will make a vain sacrifice.

In agreement with the Supreme Command of the Soviet troops, I demand that the fight be stopped immediately.

The Commander of Berlin's Defence, General Weidling

On 2 May at 15:00 the Berlin garrison stopped resistance, laid down its arms and surrendered.

By 21:00 Soviet troops had captured more than 70,000 German soldiers and officers in Berlin. Among the captives: Lieutenant General Kurt Wetasch and Lieutenant General Walter Schmidt-Dankwart, representative of the General Staff Vice-Admiral Voss, Chief of Defence Staff of Berlin Colonel Hans Rehior, Chief of Staff of the 56th German Tank Corps Colonel Theodor von Diefving, Goebbels' first deputy for propaganda and printing Friche, Head of the Press Klik, and Government Advisor Heinrichsdorf.

Southeast of Berlin, the troops of the 1st Belorussian and 1st Ukrainian Fronts completed the liquidation of the encircled group of German troops.

During the fighting in mentioned area from 24 April to 2 May Soviet troops captured more than 120,000 German soldiers and officers. During the same time the Germans lost more than 60,000 people killed. Among the captured were Deputy Commander of the 9th German Army Lieutenant General Bernhard, Commander of the 5th German SS Corps Lieutenant General Eckel, Commander of the 21st German SS Tank Division Lieutenant General Marx, Lieutenant General Radchy, commander of the 169th German Infantry Division, Major General Biel, commander of the Frankfurt-upon-Oder Fortress, Major General Strummer, artillery commander of the 11th  German SS Tank Corps and aviation general Zander.

During the same time Soviet troops captured the following trophies: 304 tanks and self-propelled guns, more than 1,500 field guns, 2,180 machine guns, 17,000 vehicles and many other weapons and military equipment.

On May 2, after 21:00 in Berlin, the front troops captured more than 20,000 more German soldiers and officers; in addition, 10,700 wounded German soldiers were taken to hospitals. A total of 100,700 German soldiers and officers were taken prisoner in Berlin on 2 May. Among the captured were Lieutenant General Baur, commander of the government air squadron, Major General Wrubel, chief of the Berlin police medical service, Lieutenant General Rattenguber, chief of the Goebbels’ office Sailer.

Throughout 2 May in the area of Berlin, the troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front captured more than 34,000 German soldiers and officers and seized 37 tanks and more than 140 field guns. Among the prisoners was the commander of the 236th German Infantry Division, Major General Roben.

In total, more than 134,000 German soldiers and officers were captured near Berlin on 2 May, of which 100,000 were taken by the troops of the 1st Belorussian Front and 34,000 by the troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front.

The Berlin Strategic Offensive, the biggest battle in history, came to an end. On both sides it involved about 3.5 million people, 52,000 guns and mortars, 7,750 tanks and 11,000 planes. The main result of the operation was the destruction of the largest group of German troops, the capture of Berlin, the capture of the highest military and political leadership in Germany. All this led to the complete cessation of organized resistance by the German armed forces.

On Other Fronts

Troops of the 2nd Belorussian Front, developing the offensive, captured the cities of Rostock and Warnemünde, large ports and important naval bases of the Germans on the Baltic Sea, as well as the cities of Ribnitz, Marlov, Laaghe, Teterov, Mirov and large settlements of Altenplen, Rechtenberg, Franzburg, Tribesse, Syulce, Dargun, Türkow, Jabel, Zechlin, and Herzsprung.

In the battles of May 2, the front troops captured 10,600 German soldiers and officers and captured 328 planes. Among the captured was the commander of the 5th Schtetin District in charge of labour conscription Major General Mato.

Troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, continuing the offensive East of the city of Brno, took the large settlements of Broumov, Valasshke, Klobouki, Slavichyn, Luhačovice, Brzazówki, Ugereski Hradistef, and Napaedla.

During 2 May, the front troops captured more than 1000 German soldiers and officers. Partisans of Czechoslovakia captured and handed over to the Soviet troops the commander of the 16th German Tank Division, Major General Mueller.

Troops of the 4th Ukrainian Front, continuing the offensive in the Western Carpathians, took the large settlements of Laskov, Orlova, Dembovets, Gordzishou, Turzivka, Velyka Rivne, Styavnik, Papradno, and Modlatin.

In the battles of 2 May, the front troops captured more than 1,400 German soldiers and officers.

On the night of 2 May, Soviet heavy bombers attacked German military facilities in Swinemünde. As a result of this attack, there were many fires in the shipyards and the port, which were accompanied by strong explosions.

During 2 May, 53 German tanks and self-propelled guns were hit and destroyed on all fronts.

May Day

May Day order of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Marshal of the Soviet Union, Comrade Stalin caused a huge excitement in cities and villages of the Soviet Union. At meetings and rallies workers unanimously declared that they would honorably follow the instructions of Comrade Stalin, their beloved leader.

A crowded rally at the artillery factory under Comrade Yelyan, Hero of Socialist Labor, was a great success. Artillery guns made by the hands of workers and specialists of this plant bustled the Germans on the outskirts of Moscow, near the walls of Stalingrad, on the Dnieper, on the Vistula, and the streets of Berlin.

"Our hearts are filled with great joy and pride,” said the locksmith, Comrade Zorin. “6 November last year during his speech at the solemn meeting of the Moscow Council of Workers' Deputies comrade Stalin said: "Now the Red Army is left with its last final mission: to complete, together with the armies of our allies, the defeat of the German-Fascist army, finish the fascist beast in his own lair and erect a banner of victory over Berlin.” These Stalinist words came true. Our troops have erected a victory banner over Berlin. The victorious end of the Great Patriotic War is a matter of the near future. We will continue to work tirelessly. We will give the front countless new echelons of formidable guns".

Mass rallies were held in the heroic city of Stalingrad. Brigadier of the best youth brigade Comrade Moiseyev spoke at the rally in Kirovsky district. He said: "Under the leadership of Comrade Stalin our Red Army passed a glorious heroic way from Stalingrad to Berlin. Fascist Germany is living its last days. Comrade Stalin has set the Soviet people a noble task: to multiply the aid to the front, to heal the wounds caused to the country by the war and raise the power of the Soviet state even higher. We swear that we will follow these instructions.”

Brigadier Ubaidullaev made a speech during the meeting at Stalin collective farm, Namangan district, Uzbek SSR. He said: "Today is a joyful holiday. The Red Army smashed the enemy in the head. Together with the allied forces, it will finish off the fascist beast. We, the collective farmers, will help the Red Army to fulfill the order of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.

The chairman of the collective farm Nurmuratov made a speech at the rally in the village of Lenin (Turkmen SSR). He said: “The collective farmers of the Turkmen SSR send a warm welcome to the valiant Red Army soldiers who are abroad of the Soviet land. The Great Patriotic War has been going on for almost four years. The Soviet people denied themselves much and provided the front with everything it needed to bring the victory closer. Now we know that the fascist beast is at its last breath. The glorious victories won by the Red Army inspire us for new labor exploits. We assure our beloved leader Comrade Stalin that the collective farmers of Turkmenistan will work hard and will grow a big harvest this year."

Moscow Salutes

Order of the Supreme Commander # 357

To:

the Commander of the Troops of 1stBelorussian Front

Marshal of the Soviet Union Zhukov

and

the Chief of Staff of the Front

Colonel-General Malinin

the Commander of the Troops of 1st Ukrainian Front

Marshal of the Soviet Union Konev

and

the Chief of Staff of the Front

Colonel-General Petrov

Today, 2 May, the troops of the 1st Belorussian Front and of 1st Ukrainian Front, terminated the remains of the German armies South-East of Berlin and captured over 120,000 soldiers and officers.

During the battles for the possession of the aforementioned city, the following units and formations have distinguished themselves [a list follows].

To commemorate this victory, the units and formations that distinguished themselves most in the battle are to be presented with military awards.

Today, 2 May April, at 21:00, the capital of our Motherland, Moscow, on behalf of the entire Motherland, will honor to the valiant troops, who have defeated the enemy South-East of Berlin, with fireworks launched with twenty artillery volleys of two hundred and twenty-four guns.

For their excellent fighting, I declare gratitude to the troops led by you in the battles for capturing Brandenburg.

Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in the battles for freedom and independence of our Motherland!

Death to the German invaders!

Supreme Commander-in-Chief

Marshal of the Soviet Union

Joseph Stalin

Order of the Supreme Commander # 358

To:

the Commander of the Troops of 2nd Belorussian Front

Marshal of the Soviet Union Rokossovsky

and

the Chief of Staff of the Front

Colonel-General Bogolyubov

Today, 2 May, the troops of the 2nd Belorussian Front, continued the offensive and captured the cities of Rostock and Warnemünde, important German strongholds as well as the cities of Ribnitz, Marlov, Laaghe, Teterov, Mirov.

During the battles for the possession of the aforementioned cities, the following units and formations have distinguished themselves [a list follows].

To commemorate this victory, the units and formations that distinguished themselves most in the battle for the conquest of the cities Rostock and Warnemünde and other settlements are to be presented with military awards.

Today, 2 May, at 22:00, the capital of our Motherland, Moscow, on behalf of the entire Motherland, will honor to the valiant troops of the 2nd Byelorussian Front, who have captured the said cities, with fireworks launched with twenty artillery volleys of two hundred and twenty-four guns.

For their excellent fighting, I declare gratitude to the troops led by you in the battles for capturing the named cities.

Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in the battles for freedom and independence of our Motherland!

Death to the German invaders!

Supreme Commander-in-Chief

Marshal of the Soviet Union

Joseph Stalin

Order of the Supreme Commander # 359

To the troops of the Red Army and the Navy.

The troops of the 1st Belorussian Front under the command of Marshal of the Soviet Union Zhukov with the assistance of the troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front under the command of Marshal of the Soviet Union Konev after the persistent street battles completed the defeat of the Berlin group of German troops and today, 2 May fully seized the capital of Germany, Berlin, the center of German imperialism and the hotbed of German aggression.

Berlin garrison, which defended the city, led by the Chief of Defence of Berlin, General of Artillery Weidling and his headquarters at 15:00 today stopped their resistance, laid down arms and surrendered.

On 2 May at 21:00 more than 70,000 German soldiers and officers were captured by our troops in Berlin.

During the battles for the possession of the aforementioned cities, the following units and formations have distinguished themselves [a list follows].

To commemorate this victory, the units and formations that distinguished themselves most in the battle for the conquest of the city of Berlin, are to be given the honorary title Berlinsky and to be presented with military awards.

Today, 1 May April, at 23:00, the capital of our Motherland, Moscow, on behalf of the entire Motherland, will honor to the valiant troops of the 1st Belorussian Front, who have captured the Berlin, with fireworks launched with twenty artillery volleys of two hundred and twenty-four guns.

For their excellent fighting, I declare gratitude to the troops led by you in the battles for capturing Brandenburg.

Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in the battles for freedom and independence of our Motherland!

Death to the German invaders!

Supreme Commander-in-Chief

Marshal of the Soviet Union

Joseph Stalin

Photo: Tankers of the 6th Guards Heavy Tank Regiment of the 2nd Guards Tank Army sitting on the trunk of the IS-2 tank and watching the prisoners of the Germans in the Berlin garrison. 

Photo by Anatoly Morozov, photo correspondent for the Front Illustration newspaper.


Photo: Red Army soldiers wash up near ISU-122 self-propelled vehicles and IS-2 tanks on Berlin street.


Photo: Poet Evgeny Dolmatovsky recites his poems at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Next to him is the writer Vsevolod Vishnevsky. 2 May 1945.

Photo by Yevgeny Khaldey, photo correspondent of TASS Photocronics.


Evgeny Dolmatovsky recites a poem he just wrote:

Guards are walking through Berlin.

And they remember Stalingrad.

So that's the limit of a long road,

A cluster of dusky giants.

Petrified battle,

The columns of prisoners in the rain...

But as if the sun were a reflection

It shines on your bayonet.

Friends don't talk. What's the phrase

We have to pronounce here,

To embrace with all my heart at once

The greatness of our journey?

Shut are the guns and the Katyushas,

The silence breathes quietly.

We have quenched our souls,

Germany has been defeated.

Dreams like this aren't easy to make happen,

We started out hard,

It took four years to fight,

And so many glorious comareds have not made it.

Their will, their dying thirst.

"In battle, it was the living.

That's why everyone has fought

And for two and three.

Here comes the happy infantry,

Grey giants keep an eye on you.

We opened the gates to Berlin,

We had a key to them a long time ago;

Not the one that's been preserved in the museum.

Tough memory of the ages,

And the one that's bitterly blown up...

By the crossings and by the fires.

[literal translation]

1 May. Day 1410 of the War

Berlin operation

Troops of the 2nd Belorussian Front, developing a rapid offensive, captured the cities of Stralsund, Grimmen, Demmin, Malchin, Waren and Wesenberg on 1 May. They also occupied important road junctions and strongholds for the German defense, such as the major population centres of Steinhagen, Abtshagen, Gremersdorf, Deyelsdorf, Gnoien, Dargun, Neukalen, Stavenhagen, Gielow, Schwinkendorf, Möllenhagen, Kratzeburg, Kwaltsow, and Strasen.

All attempts of the enemy to stay on the intermediate borders were thwarted by the decisive actions of the Soviet troops. On the Greifswald – Stralsund highway Soviet tank brigades attacked and crushed large columns of German infantry. Several thousand prisoners were taken. In the town of Stralsund, a major railway and highway junction, 23 locomotives, over a thousand carriages and many other trophies were captured.

On 1 May, the troops of the 1st Belorussian Front stormed the city of Brandenburg, the center of the Brandenburg province and a powerful German defence stronghold in Central Germany. Simultaneously, North-West of Berlin, the front troops, continuing the offensive, took the city of Linda and the large settlements of Alt Ruppin, Herzberg, Wuthenow, Lichtenberg, Narwe, Beetz, Sommerfeld. In Berlin, the front troops cleared the city districts of Charlottenburg and Schöneberg from the enemy and occupied more than 100 blocks in the central part of the city.

In Berlin, the front troops were engaged in fierce street battles. The Soviet units suppressed the resistance knots on the Bismarck-Straße and approached the Tiergarten park from the West. Battles were fought for every street, block, individual houses, apartment and cellars inhabited by Hitlerites. Soviet assault teams have taken over a hundred blocks in the city centre. By the end of the day, the city districts of Charlottenburg and Schöneberg had been completely cleared of the enemy. Over 8,000 German soldiers and officers were killed during the battle day. Many trophies were seized.

Chief of German General Staff, General Krebs arrived to the headquarters of the 8th Guards Army Vassily Chuikov. He reported on Hitler's suicide and proposed to conclude a truce. The Soviet command strongly insisted on unconditional surrender. At 18:00 the Germans rejected the surrender proposal, and at 18:30 Soviet artillery struck the central districts of Berlin.

Pilots of the 2nd Air Army under the command of Colonel-General Krasovsky during a flight over Berlin dropped two red cloths with "Victory" written on the first one. and "Long live May 1st!" on the second.

South of Berlin, Soviet troops continued to fight and destroy the remains of an encircled group of German troops in the forests east of Lukenwald. During the battle, Soviet troops split the enemy into two isolated units and fought successfully to destroy them.

The Soviet infantrymen, tank brigades and artillerymen covered the enemy with an impenetrable wall of fire from all kinds of weapons. One Soviet infantry unit alone destroyed 4,000 German soldiers and officers in one day. The soldiers of this unit captured 28 tanks, 31 armoured vehicles, 78 guns and other trophies.

Storming of Reichstag

At 10:00 on 1 May, German troops launched a coordinated counterattack from inside and outside the Reichstag. From the Brandenburg Gate, the 674th regiment of the 150th rifle division of Idritz supported by a dozen tanks attacked up to 300 Hitlerites. At the same time, the German units remaining in the Reichstag, went into attack.

The fight in the burning building continued until late at night. Only after a successful attack in the rear, fighters from the Neustroyev group managed to drive the Nazis into the basement. The Reichstag garrison command offered to start negotiations on the condition that an officer with the rank no lesser then a colonel should take part in them. There was no colonel among the officers of the regiment, and it was decided to send Lieutenant Berest, dressed in the appropriate uniform.

The negotiations were conducted by Berest, Neustroev acting as his aide and Private Prygunov as an interpreter. The Soviet "colonel" unconditionally rejected the proposal for the withdrawal of Soviet troops and other conditions of the Germans and demanded an unconditional surrender. In the morning of 2 May, the German garrison capitulated.

Across from the Reichstag, on the opposite side of Königplatz, the battle for the Krol Opera House was taking place on 1 May. By 23:30 the 597th and 598th regiments of the 207th Rifle Division had taken possession of the theatre building and hoisted the red flag of the 3rd Shock Army Military Council over it. 850 German soldiers and officers surrendered.

On other fronts

During 1 May, Southwest of the city and port of Pillau, troops of the 3rd Belorussian Front fought to clear the Frische Nehrung Spit from the enemy and occupied the settlements of Narmeln, Brandheidscher, Neukrug and Feglers.

East of of Brno, the troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front occupied the city of Vyskov and the large settlements of Puchov, Lednické, Koshetsa, Ilyava, Dubnica, Nemshova, Zhytkova, Biskupice, Bilovice, Babice, Roshtyn, Pustymerz.

Troops of the 4th Ukrainian Front, continuing their offensive, captured the cities of Bohumyn, Frishtat, Skoczów, Czeda and Velyka Bitcha on 1 May. They also occupied the important road junctions and strong strongholds for the German defense in the Western Carpathians, and large settlements of Skrzypov, Markersdorf, Slatina, Bilovec, Klimkovice, Vitkovice, Dietmarovice, Petrovice, Skalite, Dogubari, Ochodnica, Nové Město, and Plewnik.

On the night of 1 May, Soviet heavy bombers dealt a massive blow to enemy military facilities in Swinemünde. As a result of this strike, 14 fires occurred in the shipyards and the port, which were accompanied by large explosions.

On 1 May, 37 German tanks were hit and destroyed. Air battles and fire of anti-aircraft artillery took down 10 enemy planes.

1 May 1945, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief Joseph Stalin decided to conduct the Prague Operation. The commander of the troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front Ivan Konev was ordered to finish fighting in Berlin by May 3 and move the released troops to attack Prague.

In the evening of 1 May 1945, Josef Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister and closest associate, committed suicide.

At 21:45, General Krebs, the last Chief of Staff of the Wehrmacht Supreme Command, shot himself.

In Czechoslovakia, spontaneous armed attacks against the Germans began.

Units of the Yugoslav army broke into Trieste and started fighting in the city.

Slovenian partisan units entered the area West of Trieste and on 1 May met with Anglo-American troops advancing in Northern Italy on the river Isonzo.

On 1 May the Red Sport newspaper published the following message: "The All-Union Committee on Physical Culture and Sports at the SNK of the USSR decided to hold the championship of the Soviet Union on football during the summer season of 1945. The first round of competitions for will begin on 13 May this year.

Among the participating teams in the competition for the championship of the Soviet Union in football are Torpedo, CDCA, Dynamo, Spartak, Wings of the Soviets (Moscow), Zenit, Dynamo (Leningrad), Tractor (Stalingrad), Dynamo from Kiev, Tbilisi and others.

Victorious May First

Supreme Commander-in-Chief order # 20 dated 1 May 1945

Comrades, Red Army men and Red Navy men, sergeants and petty officers, officers of the Army and Navy, generals and admirals! Working people of the Soviet Union!

Today our country is celebrating the First of May—the international festival of the working people. This year, the peoples of our Motherland are celebrating May Day under conditions of the victorious termination of the Great Patriotic War.

The hard times when the Red Army fought back the enemy troops at Moscow and Leningrad, at Grozny and Stalingrad, are gone—never to return. Now our victorious troops are battering the enemy’s armed forces in the centre of Germany, far beyond Berlin, on the River Elbe.

Within a short time Poland, Hungary, the greater part of Czechoslovakia, a considerable part of Austria, and her capital Vienna, have been liberated.

At the same time the Red Army has captured East Prussia, home of German imperialism, Pomerania, the greater part of Brandenburg and the main districts of Germany’s capital Berlin, having hoisted the banner of victory over Berlin.

As a result of these offensive battles fought by the Red Army, within three to four months the Germans have lost over 800,000 officers and men in prisoners and about one million in killed. During the same period the Red Army troops have captured or destroyed up to 6,000 enemy aircraft, up to 12,000 tanks and self-propelled guns, over 23,000 field guns and enormous quantities of other armaments and equipment.

It should be noted that in these battles Polish, Yugoslav, Czechoslovak, Bulgarian and Rumanian divisions successfully advanced against the common enemy side by side with the Red Army.

As a result of the Red Army’s shattering blows, the German Command was compelled to transfer dozens of divisions to the Soviet-German Front, baring whole sectors on other fronts. This circumstance helped the forces of our Allies to develop their successful offensive in the West. Thus by simultaneous blows at the German troops from East and West, the troops of the Allies and the Red Army were able to cut the German forces into two isolated parts and to effect a junction of our troops and the Allied troops in a united front.

There can be no doubt that this circumstance means the end of Hitlerite Germany. The days of Hitlerite Germany are numbered. More than half of her territory is occupied by the Red Army and by the troops of our Allies. Germany has lost the most important, vital districts. The industry remaining in the Hitlerites’ hands cannot supply the German army with sufficient, quantities of armaments, ammunition and fuel. The man-power reserves of the German army are depleted. Germany is completely isolated and stands alone, if her ally Japan is not counted.

In search of a way out from their hopeless plight, the Hitlerite adventurers resort to all kinds of tricks, down to flirting with the Allies, in an effort to cause dissension in the Allied camp. These fresh knavish tricks of the Hitlerites are doomed to utter failure. They can only accelerate the disintegration of the German troops.

Mendacious fascist propaganda intimidates the German population by absurd tales, alleging that the Armies of the United Nations wish to exterminate the German people. The United Nations do not set themselves the task of destroying the German people. The United Nations will destroy fascism and German militarism, will severely punish war criminals, and will compel the Germans to compensate damage they have caused to other countries. But the United Nations do not molest and will not molest Germany’s civilian population if it honestly fulfils the demands of the Allied military authorities.

The brilliant victories won by the Soviet troops in the Great Patriotic War have demonstrated the colossal might of the Red Army and its high military skill. In the progress of the war our Motherland has come to possess a first-rate regular army, capable of upholding the great Socialist achievements of our people and of securing the State interests of the Soviet Union. Despite the fact that the Soviet Union has for nearly four years been waging war on an unparalleled scale demanding colossal expenditures, our Socialist economic system is gaining strength and developing, while the economy of the liberated regions, plundered and ruined by the German invaders, is successfully and swiftly reviving. This is the result of the heroic efforts of the workers and collective farmers, of the Soviet intellectuals, of the women and the youth of our country, inspired and guided by the great Bolshevik Party.

The world war unleashed by the German imperialists is drawing to a close. The collapse of Hitlerite Germany is a matter of the nearest future. The Hitlerite ringleaders, who imagined themselves rulers of the world, have found themselves ruined. The mortally wounded fascist beast is breathing its last. One thing is now rewired is to deal the death-blow to the fascist beast.

Fighting men of the Red Army and Navy!

The last storming of the Hitlerite lair is on. Set new examples of military skill and gallantry in the concluding battles. Smite the enemy harder, skilfully break up his defence, pursue and surround the German invaders, give them no respite until they cease resistance. Beyond the border of our native land be especially vigilant! Uphold the honour and dignity of the Soviet soldier as heretofore!

Working people of the Soviet Union!

Increase your all-round assistance to the front by persistent and indefatigable work. Swiftly heal the wounds inflicted on our country by the war, raise still higher the might of our Soviet State! Comrades, Red Army men and Red Navy men, sergeants and petty officers, officers of the Army and Navy, generals and admirals!

Working people of the Soviet Union! On behalf of the Soviet’ Government and of our Bolshevik Party, I greet and congratulate you upon the First of May.

In honour of the historic victories of the Red Army at the front and of the great achievements of the workers, collective farmers and intellectuals in the rear, to mark the international festival of the working people, I hereby order:

Today, on May 1, a salute of 20 artillery salvoes shall be fired in the capitals of Union Republics—Moscow, Kiev, Minsk, Baku, Tbilisi, Erevan, Ashkabad, Tashkent, Stalinabad, Alma-Ata, Frunze, Petrozavodsk, Kishinev, Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn—as well as in the hero-cities of Leningrad, Stalingrad, Sevastopol and Odessa. Long live our mighty Soviet Motherland! Long live the great Soviet people, the people victorious! Long live the victorious Red Army and Navy! Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in the battles for the freedom and independence of our Motherland! Forward to the final rout of Hitlerite Germany! J. Stalin Supreme Commander-in-Chief Marshal of the Soviet Union Moscow

Moscow Salutes

In addition to the festive May Day salute, Moscow also saluted three more times in honour of the troops of 2nd Belorussian, 1st Belorussian, and the 4th Ukrainian Fronts.

Order of the Supreme Commander # 354

To:

the Commander of the Troops of 2nd Belorussian Front

Marshal of the Soviet Union Rokossovsky

and

the Chief of Staff of the Front

Colonel-General Bogolyubov

Today, 30 April, the troops of the 2nd Belorussian Front, continued the offensive and captured the cities of Stralsund, Grimmen, Demmin, Malchin, Waren and Wesenberg, important German strongholds.

During the battles for the possession of the aforementioned cities, the following units and formations have distinguished themselves [a list follows].

To commemorate this victory, the units and formations that distinguished themselves most in the battle for the conquest of the cities of Stralsund, Grimmen, Demmin, Malchin, Waren and Wesenberg are to be presented with military awards.

Today, 1 May, at 22:00, the capital of our Motherland, Moscow, on behalf of the entire Motherland, will honor to the valiant troops of the 2nd Byelorussian Front, who have captured the said cities, with fireworks launched with twenty artillery volleys of two hundred and twenty-four guns.

For their excellent fighting, I declare gratitude to the troops led by you in the battles for capturing the named cities.

Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in the battles for freedom and independence of our Motherland!

Death to the German invaders!

Supreme Commander-in-Chief

Marshal of the Soviet Union

Joseph Stalin

Order of the Supreme Commander # 355

To:

the Commander of the Troops of std Belorussian Front

Marshal of the Soviet Union Zhukov

and

the Chief of Staff of the Front

Colonel-General Malinin

Today, 1 May, the troops of the 1st Belorussian Front, continued the offensive and captured the city of Brandenburg and the province of Brandenburg, an important stronghold of Central Germany.

During the battles for the possession of the aforementioned city, the following units and formations have distinguished themselves [a list follows].

To commemorate this victory, the units and formations that distinguished themselves most in the battle for the conquest of the city of Brandenburg, are to be given the honorary title Brandenburgsky and to be presented with military awards.

Today, 1 May April, at 23:00, the capital of our Motherland, Moscow, on behalf of the entire Motherland, will honor to the valiant troops of the std Byelorussian Front, who have captured the said city, with fireworks launched with twenty artillery volleys of two hundred and twenty-four guns.

For their excellent fighting, I declare gratitude to the troops led by you in the battles for capturing Brandenburg.

Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in the battles for freedom and independence of our Motherland!

Death to the German invaders!

Supreme Commander-in-Chief

Marshal of the Soviet Union

Joseph Stalin

Order of the Supreme Commander # 356

To:

the Commander of the Troops of 4th Ukrainian Front

General Yeremenko

and

the Chief of Staff of the Front

Colonel-General Sandalov

Today, 1 May, the troops of the 4th Ukrainian Front, continued the offensive and captured the cities of Bohumyn, Frishtat, Skoczów, Czeda and Velyka Bitcha, a large industrial center and a powerful stronghold of German defense in the West Carpathians.

During the battles for the possession of the aforementioned cities, the following units and formations have distinguished themselves [a list follows].

To commemorate this victory, the units and formations that distinguished themselves most in the battle for the conquest of the cities of Mo Bohumyn, Frishtat, Skoczów, Czeda and Velyka Bitcha are to be presented with military awards.

Today, 1 May, at 23:30, the capital of our Motherland, Moscow, on behalf of the entire Motherland, will honor to the valiant troops of the 4th Ukrainian Front, including the Czechoslovakian Corps of the Brigade General Klepalek, who have captured the said cities, with fireworks launched with twelve artillery volleys of one hundred and twenty-four guns.

For their excellent fighting, I declare gratitude to the troops led by you in the battles for capturing the named cities.

Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in the battles for freedom and independence of our Motherland!

Death to the German invaders!

Supreme Commander-in-Chief

Marshal of the Soviet Union

Joseph Stalin


Photo: T-34-85 tank of the 7th Guards Tank Corps of the 3rd Guards Tank Army in Berlin.

Photo by: Vladimir Yudin, photo correspondent of For the Honour of the Motherland, newspaper of the 1st Ukrainian Front.


Photo: Military parade on the Red Square, 1 May 1945.

17 April 1945. Day 1396 of the War

During the East Prussian Offensive, the forces of the 3rd Belorussian Front took hold of an enemy’s powerful defensive post in Samland, the town of Fischhausen. The remnants of the group of German forces 15–20 thousand strong retreated to the Pillau area. As a result, the Germans ended up having control only over the southwestern tip of Samland.

In combats aimed at eliminating the remnants of the enemy’s East Prussian group, Soviet soldiers and officers demonstrated bravery and excellent military skills. Lieutenant Devin’s tank crew destroyed a heavy German tank, broke through into town and wrecked several enemy’s defensive fighting positions. Machine gunners Kovalenko and Limansky in one battle killed 27 Germans. Breaking a counterattack, senior sergeant Davydov knocked out two German tanks with an antitank gun.

During the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation, the 61st Army of the 1st Belorussian Front began the Oder River assault crossing. The 47th Army approached the enemy’s second defensive zone. The 3rd Shock Army advanced 8 kilometres and broke into the second line of German defense.

At the centre of Berlin direction, along the whole offensive front, the 5th Shock Army and the 2nd Guards Tank Army reached the Alte Oder river, forced the crossing and approached the Seelow Heights. Over the course of the day, the 8th Guards Army together with the 1st Guards Tank Army fought heavy battles on the Seelow Heights. By 15:00 the 8th Guards Army surrounded and took Seelow. The 33rd Army forced the crossing of the Oder–Spree Canal.

By the end of the day, in the section of the 13th Army of the 1st Ukrainian Front and at the right of the 5th Guards Army, the second line of German defense was broken that was located to the east of Cottbus– Weisswasser–Niesky line. Parts of the Red Army rushed to the third defense line along the Spree river and waded it through in the late afternoon.

In the evening of 17 April, due to the slow advance of the troops of the 1st Belorussian Front, Joseph Stalin signalled to the commander of the 1st Ukrainian Front Ivan Konev to turn the 3rd and the 4th Guards Tank Armies towards Berlin from the south.

An abstract from Konev’s order to commanders Rybalko and Lelyushenko:

“At the main direction advance the tanks more decisively and strongly. Get round towns and cities and do not engage in long front-face fighting. I urge you to realize that the success of tank armies depends on audacious maneuvres and aggressive actions.”

While advancing, the troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front took the city of Zistersdorf, the centre of the Austrian oil field. Over 2,000 enemy’s soldiers and officers were killed in the battle for the city. 15 German tanks and self-propelled artillery vehicle were burnt and knocked out.

During the Moravian-Ostrava Offensive, the 38th and 60th Army of the 4th Ukrainian Front forced the crossing of the Opava river and took a lodgment to the north of the town of Štítina to 15 kilometres along the front and 5 kilometres in.

During that day at all fronts 98 German tanks and self-propelled artillery vehicle were knocked out and destroyed. Ninety enemy’s aircraft were shot down in air fights and with air defense artillery.

On 17 April, in a battle by the Gari village near Cottbus Semyon Khokhryakov, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, Guards Major, commander of the 209th Tank Battalion of the 54th Guards Tank Brigade of the 7th Guards Tank Corps of the 3rd Guards Tank Army, died. He was one of the most efficient tankmen of the Great Patriotic War.

Before that, on 16 April, Khokhtyakov’s crew destroyed four tanks, two self-propelled artillery vehicles and up to 100 enemy’s soldiers. Berlin was just 100 kilometres away…

At 21:00 Moscow saluted brave troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front that took Zistersdorf with 12 artillery volleys from 124 weapons.

Photo: Heavy German tank Königstiger destroyed by the Soviet air force near Fischhausen, East Prussia (source: waralbum.ru).

 



16 April


On 16 April 1945, the Red Army launched its Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation. The main objectives of the operation were to capture the city of Berlin, the German capital, defeat the remnants of Army Group Centre south of Berlin, pushing them out towards the sea, crush the German forces north of Berlin, and reach the Allied front line on the Elbe river. The forces of the 1st Belorussian Front (Georgy Zhukov), the 2nd Belorussian Front (Konstantin Rokossovsky), the 1st Ukrainian Front (Ivan Konev), the Baltic Fleet (Vladimir Tributz) and the Dnieper Flotilla (Vissarion Grigoriev) all participated in the Berlin Operation. The total number of combatants and commanders of the Red Army involved amounted to 2,350,000, with numerous formations of the Polish First Army also joining the offensive. The Berlin Operation began with the Battle of the Seelow Heights, a major German defensive line.

 

Taken from Sovinformburo reports

On 16 April, troops from the 3rd Belorussian Front continued their offensive on the Samland Peninsula to the northwest and north of Königsberg, storming through some 40 settlements.

Our air force is carrying out continuous bombardments of the battle formations and rear of the German troops on the Samland Peninsula. The road from Fischhausen to Pillau, which is gridlocked with thousands of cars and wagons, is being subjected to heavy attack by Soviet attack aircraft and bombers. Four aircraft were shot down in dogfights, while 25 German planes were destroyed at air bases.

 

To the west of Vienna, the troops of the 3rd Ukrainian Front have fought their way along the south bank of the Danube. The Soviet forces, who yesterday captured the city of Sankt Pölten, have occupied a number of settlements.

 

At 23:52 on 16 April, the L-3 submarine of the Twice Red Banner Baltic Fleet, under the command of Vladimir Konovalov, sank the Goya, a large German transport ship.

  

Picture: artillery assault close to the Seelow Heights.