Halbe Pocket

  • Point of Interest
  • Ernst-Teichmann-Straße, Halbe, Allemagne

On 22 April 1945, German troops withdrawing from the Seelow Heights, situated about 70 km east from Berlin, were encircled by the Soviet army in the Spreewald area near the village of Halbe. Instead of surrendering, the German forces tried, unsuccessfully, to break out westward. A staggering 40.000 lives were lost.

On 19 April 1945, the 1st Belorussian Front under Marshal Georgy Zhukov broke through the German line situated about 70 km east from Berlin. German troops were forced to withdraw. Some units moved south-westward into the area of Halbe and Märkisch-Buchholz – between the positions of the 1st Belorussian Front and the 1st Ukrainian Front under Marshal Ivan Konev, both of which had pushed forward to the edge of Berlin.

As of 22 April 1945, the German forces were entirely encircled, and were operating within a shifting and ever more constricted pocket, which moved toward Halbe. The surrounded forces included the high command of the German 9th Army led by General Theodor Busse. With them were thousands of refugees, local civilians and military dependents. The number of soldiers in the pocket is estimated at between 150.000 and 200.000. Busse gave the order to break out of the pocket. The goal was to reach the positions of the 12th Army under General Walther Wenck, and then jointly move to the West Bank of the Elbe.

On 24 April 1945, the first attempt at a breakout was made at Halbe. Several further attempts followed. Bitter fighting ensued in and round Halbe. The effect of the Soviet fire, supported by massive air attacks, was devastating. The German troops suffered very heavy losses. More than 40.000 men died in the Halbe pocket. Some 25.000 German soldiers managed to break through to the Elbe, where they surrendered to the American troops.

Halbe Pocket