- Point of Interest
- Reichstagsgebäude, Platz der Republik 1, 10557 Berlin, Allemagne
On 16 April 1945, the Soviet forces started to encircle Berlin in a pincer movement. Five days later first Soviet units entered Berlin from the east and fought their way to the city center. On 2 May, two days after Adolf Hitler committed suicide, all remaining German forces in Berlin were ordered to surrender.
On 16 April 1945, the Soviet forces under the command of Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky, Marshal Georgy Zhukov and Marshal Ivan Konev, started to encircle Berlin in a pincer movement from the north, the east and the south. But rather than achieving a fast advance, it took several days to breach the German defenses.
On 21 April, first Soviet units entered Berlin from the east and slowly made their way to the city center. Desperate German resistance and widespread house-to-house fighting caused thousands of casualties on both sides. But the German forces, made up of regulars, SS and Volkssturm units could not stop the final Soviet advance.
Early on 29 April, the Soviet troops managed to cross the Moltke Bridge and attacked the Interior Ministry. After capturing the Secret State Police headquarters later that day, the Soviets pressed on to the Reichstag.
The Battle for the Reichstag was one of the last fights in the conquest of Berlin. After seizing the iconic building, two Soviet soldiers raised the Soviet flag on the top of the Reichstag. A further two days were needed to conquer the building completely.
The city’s remaining 10.000 German soldiers under General Helmuth Weidling were forced into a shrinking area in the city center. On 2 May, two days after Adolf Hitler committed suicide, all remaining German forces in Berlin were ordered to surrender to the Soviet troops.
Feelings of revenge were common among the Soviet soldiers. Many German women were raped and a lot of them died or committed suicide. After the surrender the Soviet military administration tried to restrain acts of violence and to re-establish civilian life.
Gisela Stange experienced the Battle of Berlin up close when she was 16 years old and assigned to the Volkssturm medical service as a Gesundheitsdienstmädel, a member of the League of German Girls trained in first aid. She risked death rescuing and nursing wounded soldiers and assisting in operations.
Soviet Colonel-General Nikolai Berzarin commanded the 5th Shock Army during the Berlin campaign that lasted from 16 April until 2 May 1945. As the first city commandant of Berlin he worked hard to get the city moving again. He died in a motorcycle accident on 16 June 1945.
Ralph Neumann grew up in Berlin as the son of Jewish parents. In early 1943, the then 16 year old Neumann eluded deportation to a concentration camp and went underground. Two weeks before the capitulation of Nazi Germany, he participated in an action of resistance in Berlin against the regime’s morale-boosting slogans.