The Battle of Berlin was the final major offensive of the European Theatre of World War II and was designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union.
Starting on 16 January 1945, the Red Army breached the German front as a result of the Vistula–Oder Offensive and rapidly advanced westward as fast as 30–40 kilometres a day, through East Prussia, Lower Silesia, East Pomerania, and Upper Silesia, temporarily halting on a line 60 kilometres east of Berlin along the Oder River. During the offensive, two Soviet fronts (army groups) attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third overran German forces positioned north of Berlin. The Battle in Berlin lasted from late 20 April 1945 until the morning of 2 May and was one of the bloodiest battles in history.
The first defensive preparations at the outskirts of Berlin were on 20 March, when the newly appointed commander of the Army Group Vistula, General Gotthard Heinrici, correctly anticipated that the main Soviet thrust would be made over the Oder River. Before the main battle in Berlin commenced, the Soviets managed to encircle the city as a result of the smaller Battles of the Seelow Heights and Halbe. During 20 April 1945, the 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov started shelling Berlin's city centre, while Marshal Ivan Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front had pushed in the north through the last formations of Army Group Centre. The German defences were mainly led by Helmuth Weidling and consisted of several depleted, badly equipped, and disorganised Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions, as well as many Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members. Within the next days, the Soviets were rapidly advancing through the city and were reaching the city centre, conquering the Reichstag on 30 April after fierce fighting.
Before the battle was over, German Führer Adolf Hitler and many of his followers committed suicide. The city's defenders finally surrendered on 2 May. However, fighting continued to the north west, west and south-west of the city until the end of the war in Europe on 8 May (9 May in the Soviet Union) as German units fought westward so that they could surrender to the Western Allies rather than to the Soviets.
BATTLEFIELD - Series One
Documentary which explores the some of the most significant battles of the Second World War, including: The Battle Of France, The Battle Of Britain, Midway, Stalingrad and The Battle Of Normandy and Berlin.
1) The Battle of France Blitzkrieg's most astonishing triumph, establishing Hitler as unassailable within continental Europe.
2) The Battle of Britain The two mightiest air fleets in the world clashed in tumultuous mortal combat. At issue was Britain’s very survival.
3) The Battle of Midway The stakes were no less dramatic when Americans met Japanese in this enthralling carrier-to-carrier battle of Midway. Both sides knew that the victor would rule the Pacific for years to come.
4) The Battle of Stalingrad The annihilation of an entire army amidst the charred and frozen ruins of Stalingrad was catastrophe for Nazi arms. Thereafter, the colossus of the Red Army was never to lose the initiative in the East.
5) The Battle of Normandy D-Day was the biggest amphibious operation in history. But even after the Allied troops had successfully forced a landing in strength, they still had to face a foe whose tenacity and resilience in defence was legendary.
6) The Battle of Berlin The furious, climatic last battle of Hitler’s war. Over half a million lives were lost as the Red Army finally crushed the last Nazi citadel.
Viewers Reviews, from Amazon.com
givbatam3 "givbatam3" (REHOVOT Israel) - See all my reviews
This is one of the most important television documentaries about the Second World War ever produced. Unlike other series, such as "The World at War", there are no interviews with either historians or participants and no descriptions of small-scale engagements, just the hard strategic facts of the engagement as seen by the top leaders. A considerable part of each film describes the run-up to the actual battle, with considerable use of maps, descriptions of the leaders, the commanders, the armies and the weapons that decided the engagement. What is emphasized is the importance of the battle within the whole strategic picture of the war. After this, a detailed presentation of how the battle played itself out is given. Finally, the strategic results of the engagement is described, showing how the entire course of the war was affected. This series is designed for someone who has more than just a casual interest in the history of the war, and I highly recommend it for this audience.
J.S. McIntyre "Mc" (San Francisco, CA USA)
I watched this entire series years ago on the American PBS network. Absolutely riveting. The novel approach of treating each battle as the climactic event of an extended series of events the preceded it was particularly effective in giving the battle a perspective you never get in most war documentaries. For example, the Battle of Midway is discussed as the climactic engagement of a battle the started months before in another region of the Pacific. This device allows the viewer to understand the varying influences at play; the strategic concerns, the manner in which weaponry affected engagements, and how chance, human error and material loss played a part in setting the stage for the final battle over the extended time frame.
Along with the "The World at War" this rates as one of the best World War II documentaries I have seen. And I absolutely hate the fact that it isn't available in a format that works in the United States region.
This excellent series provides a logical, clear, step by step guide to various major engagements of WWII. Broken down into stages such as; prelude, planning, weapons, armies, battle etc, the engagement is explained in comprehensive and easily intelligible detail. It is never over technical or textbook like and I found it absorbing. Tim Piggot Smith's totally professional narration enhances the overall experience. This is one of the best documentaries of its' kind (and I've seen a lot) and is suitable for beginner or history buff. Thoroughly recommended.