Manual Hitler, Stalin and the Destruction of Poland (Explaining History Book 15)

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It was a wall of attacking beasts who were trying to kill us. You yourself were no longer human.

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According to one Russian veteran, Soviet artillery was fired without proper guidance, killing scores of Red Army soldiers. They weren't human beings for us. It was a wall of attacking beasts who were trying to kill us It took Zukhov three days to break the German resistance, far longer than planned.

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Huge numbers of Soviet tanks were lost because they were used as battering rams against the German positions. Over 30, Soviet soldiers died compared to the 10, soldiers lost by the Germans.

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In the end, the high Soviet casualty rate was largely a result of Stalin's hurry to reach Berlin. Detail of one of a series of wall paintings inside Hitler's bunker, Berlin. Amongst the rubble of the city centre, Hitler was holding out in his underground bunker, cut off from the reality of the fighting above. During a staff conference on 22 April, Hitler came close to admitting defeat. But then his deputy, Martin Borman, insisted that there was still hope. He ordered them to unite with General Busse's 9th Army, retreating from the Oder.

They were then to launch a counter attack against the Red Army. But Hitler's final battle plan was pie in the sky. Advancing from the south, Marshall Konev's forces cut off and surrounded the Werhmacht's 9th Army in the forest south of Berlin, near the small town of Halbe.

Hitler’s world may not be so far away

Over 50, soldiers and civilians died. Most of the dead were German, many of them SS.

Battle of Stalingrad (1942-43)

It was the Nazi forces' desperate last stand. One local witness remembers how the narrow paths leading through the forest were piled high with corpses. It took the local population months to clear the site. Even today, a thousand corpses are found each year in and around Berlin. Many of them are detected in the now silent forests of Halbe. Ironically, the Soviets' use of tanks in the street fighting was not dissimilar to the tactics used so disastrously by the Germans in Stalingrad. Soviet Ts were highly vulnerable to the Panzerfaust, the German bazooka, fired by soldiers hiding in destroyed buildings.

It meant further unnecessary losses for the Red Army. But the 90, German defenders - mainly old people or members of the Hitler Youth - stood little chance against more than a million Red Army troops. Already, the civilian population was bearing the brunt of the Red Army's revenge. Though the first wave of Soviet troops was generally considered to be disciplined, it was the second that indulged in orgies of rape and violence, fuelled by large stocks of alcohol found in the city. Based on contemporary hospital reports and on surging abortion rates in the following months, it is estimated that up to two million German women were raped during the last six months of World War Two, around , of them in Berlin.

One woman remembered hiding in the loft of her apartment block, ready to jump out of the window if she was detected, whilst her best friend was being gang raped by Soviet soldiers in the apartment below. The authorities in Moscow traditionally deny German allegations of mass rape at the end of the war. But during his research, Beevor discovered internal Red Army documents that prove that the Soviet High Command was well aware that some of their soldiers were running out of control. Even more shocking is Beevor's discovery in the Red Army files that Red Army troops also raped Russian women after their release from Nazi slave labour camps in Germany.

On 30 April, Hitler committed suicide - together with his mistress Eva Braun, only hours after they were married. Hitler had given strict orders for his body to be burned, so that his enemies wouldn't do what they had done to Mussolini, who was publicly displayed hanging upside down.

BBC - History - World Wars: Invasion of Poland

By 2 May, the Reichstag, the old German parliament, had fallen. Berlin surrendered to Marshall Zukhov, who received the honour of being the conqueror of Berlin. The battle for Berlin had cost the Soviets over 70, dead. Many of them had died because of the haste with which the campaign was conducted. So what are the reasons for Stalin's hurry to reach Berlin? After all, he was happy to share the city with his western allies after the city's surrender. The traditional explanation is that it was a question of Soviet prestige and mistrust of the west.

However, during his research, Beevor discovered a startling new document: 'It struck me so powerfully that the moment I started to read it I knew I had to look at a totally different aspect of Stalin's interest in Berlin. The Soviets knew through their spies of the American atomic bomb programme. Stalin's own nuclear programme, Operation Borodino, was lagging behind and Soviet scientists wanted to find out exactly what the Germans had come up with during the war. As it turned out, the special NKVD troops despatched to secure the German institute discovered three tons of uranium oxide, a material they were short of at the time.

After the battle, more than a hundred thousand German prisoners of war were marched to labour camps in the Soviet Union. Only now did the totality of their defeat sink in on the German people. The country lay in ruins and the population was close to starvation. A group of Hitler youth receive instruction in the use of a machine-gun, somewhere in Germany, on December 27, A formation of Bs of Maj.

General Nathan F. Twining's U. The smoke created by their bombs mingles with that from the enemy's many smudge pots. A heavily armed German soldier carries ammunition boxes forward during the German counter-offensive in the Belgium-Luxembourg salient, on January 2, An infantryman from the U. Army's 82nd Airborne Division goes out on a one-man sortie while covered by a comrade in the background, near Bra, Belgium, on December 24, A Soviet machine gun crew crosses a river along the second Baltic front, in January of The soldier on the left is holding his rifle overhead while his comrades push a floating device with the artillery gun forward, followed by two men with several supply boxes.

Low flying C transport planes roar overhead as they carry supplies to the besieged American Forces battling the Germans at Bastogne, during the enemy breakthrough on January 6, in Belgium. In the distance, smoke rises from wrecked German equipment, while in the foreground, American tanks move up to support the infantry in the fighting. This image may contain graphic or objectionable content. The bodies of some of the seven American soldiers that had been shot in the face by an SS trooper are recovered from the snow, searched for identification and carried away on stretcher for burial on January 25, These German soldiers stand in the debris strewn street of Bastogne, Belgium, on January 9, , after they were captured by the U.

Refugees stand in a group in a street in La Gleize, Belgium on January 2, , waiting to be transported from the war-torn town after its recapture by American Forces during the German thrust in the Belgium-Luxembourg salient. A dead German soldier, killed during the German counter offensive in the Belgium-Luxembourg salient, is left behind on a street corner in Stavelot, Belgium, on January 2, , as fighting moves on during the Battle of the Bulge. The three leaders were meeting to discuss the post-war reorganization of Europe, and the fate of post-war Germany. Soviet troops of the 3rd Ukrainian front in action amid the buildings of the Hungarian capital on February 5, Across the Channel, Britain was being struck by continual bombardment by thousands of V-1 and V-2 bombs launched from German-controlled territory.

This photo, taken from a fleet street roof-top, shows a V-1 flying bomb "buzzbomb" plunging toward central London. The distinctive sky-line of London's law-courts clearly locates the scene of the incident. Falling on a side road off Drury Lane, this bomb blasted several buildings, including the office of the Daily Herald. The last enemy action of British soil was a V-1 attack that struck Datchworth in Hertfordshire, on March 29 With more and more members of the Volkssturm Germany's National Militia being directed to the front line, German authorities were experiencing an ever-increasing strain on their stocks of army equipment and clothing.

In a desperate attempt to overcome this deficiency, street to street collection depots called the Volksopfer, meaning Sacrifice of the people, scoured the country, collecting uniforms, boots and equipment from German civilians, as seen here in Berlin on February 12, So that you're proud your Home Guard man can show himself in uniform - empty your wardrobe and bring its contents to us".

Three U. A party sets out to repair telephone lines on the main road in Kranenburg on February 22, , amid four-foot deep floods caused by the bursting of Dikes by the retreating Germans. During the floods, British troops further into Germany have had their supplies brought by amphibious vehicles. This combination of three photographs shows the reaction of a year old German soldier after he was captured by U.

Flak bursts through the vapor trails from B flying fortresses of the 15th air force during the attack on the rail yards at Graz, Austria, on March 3, A view taken from Dresden's town hall of the destroyed Old Town after the allied bombings between February 13 and 15, Some 3, aircraft dropped more than 3, tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the German city. The resulting firestorm destroyed 15 square miles of the city center, and killed more than 22, A large stack of corpses is cremated in Dresden, Germany, after the British-American air attack between February 13 and 15, The bombing of Dresden has been questioned in post-war years, with critics claiming the area bombing of the historic city center as opposed to the industrial suburbs was not justified militarily.

Soldiers of the 3rd U.

Ian Kershaw on Hitler's Place In History: The Lecture Podcast

Army storm into Coblenz, Germany, as a dead comrade lies against the wall, on March 18, Men of the American 7th Army pour through a breach in the Siegfried Line defenses, on their way to Karlsruhe, Germany on March 27, , which lies on the road to Stuttgart. Manuel M.

Poliakoff, and Cpl. They were the first Jewish services held east of the Rur River and were offered in memory of soldiers of the faith who were lost by the 29th Division, U. American soldiers aboard an assault boat huddle together as they cross the Rhine river at St. Goar, Germany, while under heavy fire from the German forces, in March of An unidentified American soldier, shot dead by a German sniper, clutches his rifle and hand grenade in March of in Coblenz, Germany.

War-torn Cologne Cathedral stands out of the devastated area on the west bank of the Rhine, in Cologne, Germany, April 24, The railroad station and the Hohenzollern Bridge, at right, are completely destroyed after three years of Allied air raids.