The Fall of Berlin was a bloody affair from any angle - military or civilian. As the Red Army noose placed a stranglehold on those unfortunate enough to still reside in the German capital. Some 200,000 German soldiers remained, along with some 2,000,000 German civilians. The Red Army was poised to handle Germany a terrible defeat and the German Army was ready to fight to the last man and woman.
Hitler had already retreated to his underground bunker with his closest associates including propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and soon-to-be-wife, Eva Braun. From this poetic perch, Hitler orchestrated the last days of his renewed German Empire but not before celebrating his 56th, and final, birthday in the Chancellery Gardens by decorating some Hitler Youth - seemingly unaware of the war raging around him.
By this time in the war, the Germany Army was a shell of its former self. Within its ranks of the disciplined were now pensioners, children, criminals and the mentally ill-fit. Such was Hitler's grand army, whom, after some short years, owned half of Europe and portions of Africa before turning his attention on the Red Army and Stalin.
The Allies to the West had made superb progress since Operation Torch in Africa. From there, it was the conquest of Italy and the Normandy beach invasions. Paris fell to the invaders, freeing France. Then came the liberation of Belgium, Holland and The Netherlands, all wrestled away from Hitler's grasp through blood and valor. The Allies repelled the final German offensive in the Battle of the Bulge and now Berlin was ripe for the taking.
Out East, the Soviet Army, after some early setbacks, began steamrolling the aggressive Germans with a taste of their own medicine. Such was the push from an awakened war machine that the Soviet nation represented. Her troops could finally receive the guns, ammunition and mortars that they needed. This along with large stockpiles of tanks, artillery and aircraft. While the Soviet military grew is stature, the German military seemingly shrank in its shadow.
Stalin was convinced of an Allied plan to take Berlin and saw to it that his two top generals felt his anguish - these being Marshals Georgi Zhukov and Ivan Koniev. In a meeting in Moscow, the plan was laid down to march on Berlin in April of 1945 in an attempt to beat the Western Allies to the prize. The offensive was launched in the morning hours of April 16th with a stellar barrage of artillery followed by air attacks, tanks and men. Competition between the two Soviet generals drove them through the German defenses though fighting was bitter and earned in blood.
Soviet forces pushed into the German suburbs before eventually breaking through the final German defenses in Berlin, ultimately capturing the iconic Reichstag administration building.
Hitler preceded to wed Braun and then poisoned both his dog and Braun before committing suicide himself. A day later, Goebbels murdered his six children and wife in similar fashion before taking his own life. With predetermined orders from Hitler, his body and that of Braun were taken to the Chancellery Gardens to be burned. Admiral Doenitz was given Hitler's authority of what was left of Germany. Soviet Army forces came across the burning heaps in the closing hours of the battle.
A fitting end for a man who sought to raise Germany up from the ashes, only to bring her back down and beneath them in little over a decade.
On May 1st, German Generaloberst Hans Krebs approached Soviet General Chuikov with the flag of surrender, formally declaring the unconditional intentions of the German military. The official surrender occurred the following day with General Jodl signing for Germany and Generals Bedell Smith and Suslaparov for the victors.
The war in Europe was over - marked by VE Day on May 8th - but the war in the Pacific against the Empire of Japan would rage on a few more terrible months. ©www.SecondWorldWarHistory.com
There are a total of (31) entries in the Timeline of the Fall of Berlin (April 16th - May 2nd, 1945). Entries are listed below by earliest date to latest date.