As Soviet troops took the Konigsberg

History 23/02/20 As Soviet troops took Kenigsberg

the Administrative, transport and cultural center of East Prussia – the city of Konigsberg was considered in Germany and in the USSR, the symbol of German power, aimed at the East. The capture of Koenigsberg Stalin attached importance, inferior, perhaps, only the value of the capture of Berlin.

At the Yalta conference, 4-11 February 1945, Stalin received a guarantee of Roosevelt and Churchill that after the war the Northern part of East Prussia with Konigsberg will go to the Soviet Union. Accordingly, for the Third Reich retention of Koenigsberg became the most important thing.

the Number of losses of Soviet troops

in Soviet times everyone knew that the mastery of East Prussia had cost the red Army a lot of lives of soldiers. Data about losses of the Soviet troops in the great Patriotic war was not published until the early 1990s, therefore, have been circulating in the rumors, a variety of numbers. Personally, the author heard about the “600 thousand dead Soviet soldiers and officers in the capture of one only of Konigsberg”.

In 1993, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation for the first time gave the official figures of the losses of Soviet troops in the great Patriotic war and its various battles. It was announced that during the East Prussian offensive, which lasted from 13 January to 25 April 1945, the armies of the two Soviet fronts (the 2nd and the 3rd Belarusian) and Baltic fleet lost in killed, died of wounds and missing 126,5 thousand people, and the wounded and sick 458 thousand

Even less has been lost, as we are assured, directly in the assault of Koenigsberg, which lasted from 6 to 9 April 1945. However, the exact figure is difficult to establish. Modern Russian military historian Gennady Kretinin (“the Truth about the assault of Koenigsberg”, journal “Moscow”, may 2013) claims that during 1-10 April 1945 near Konigsberg dead and goneand without a trace 3721 Soviet soldier. But he gives no sources, which bases its count. Meanwhile, his work tends to downplay the size and loss of Soviet troops and overstate, respectively, the German.

There is evidence 5597 fallen Soviet soldiers buried within the limits of Kaliningrad, however, it is unlikely that they fully reflect the number of victims. S. A. Golikov in the book “battleground Prussia” (2005) gives a figure of 9203 killed by the red army in the assault of Koenigsberg.

the Total number of troops of the Soviet 11th guards, 39th, 43rd and 50th armies, who took Konigsberg, usually estimated in the sources at 130 thousand, while the same Kretinin claims that their actually was no more than 101 thousand.

the Number of German losses

Even greater differences occur in numbers and losses of the German forces. The commandant of königsberg surrendered to the Soviet forces on 9 April 1945, General Otto von Lasch argued in his memoirs that the total number of field troops and garrison of Konigsberg in April 6 did not exceed 35 thousand people. However, he stipulated – excluding the parts of the Volkssturm.

In the German Wikipedia, the number of German soldiers in königsberg estimated at 47 800. Of them in captivity were 42 thousand. These data differ from the figures given in the Russian sources. According to reports of the command of the 3rd Belorussian front, the prisoner was taken 92 thousand Germans. However, Kretinin acknowledges that “by and large, 6-10 and even April 11 in Konigsberg was captured and detained all or almost all of the German soldiers and the bulk of the civilian population, were in the city. Virtually was produced a kind of conditional census the city’s population as of 10 April 1945”. Of course, the number of prisoners amounted to armed men of the Volkssturm, but it is unlikely that all 50 thousand of the difference between the German and Soviet data.

If we take the minimum of 35 thousand troops and regular German 101 thousand Soviet superiority red Army manpower is overwhelming. More was obviously superiority in military equipment. Before the beginning of the East Prussian offensive of the Soviet forces outnumbered the Germans, according to “the Strategic essay of the great Patriotic war” (1961) artillery in 3.5 times, the tanks are 4.7 times and the aircraft at 5.8 times. This ratio could not be better for the Germans after the loss of almost all of East Prussia, before the storming of königsberg.

If out of 47 800 German soldiers in captivity were 42 thousands, 5800 died. Losses of the Soviet troops mentioned above. Thus, significantly behind the red Army, especially in engineering, the Wehrmacht in Konigsberg managed to strike the advancing Soviet troops casualties, at least not inferior to their own losses.

Konigsberg is not defended to the end

This appears the more striking considering that the defense by the Germans of Koenigsberg was not as fanatical, as, for example, the defense of Berlin. Map of hostilities, by the capitulation on April 9, more than half of the Koenigsberg was still controlled by the Wehrmacht.

However, according to Otto von Lasch, “April 9, it became clear that I and my soldiers and the entire population of königsberg abandoned by a higher command in the lurch. Wait for assistance is not necessary. For three days the city was filled with death and destruction, there was not the slightest chance that we are able to stand on their own or to change a hopeless situation further resistance… From an operational point of view the future defense of Koenigsberg at the time already didn’t matter for the outcome of the war… But most of all to my decision to surrender was influenced by the fact that the continued struggle will result in a meaningless sacrifice, and will cost the soldiers and the civilian population of thousands of lives. To take on such a responsibility before God and his own conscience, I could not, and therefore decided to stop fighting and to end the horrors of war.”

Personsof course a great influence on the decision of Lasch, as can be seen, provided the behavior of the Gauleiter of East Prussia Erich Koch, who left Koenigsberg on the plane, but promised to die there along with the troops. “The so-called heroic last pockets of resistance – the Konigsberg castle — writes Lasch — was folded a lot of legends, but they are insolvent… the Castle was really equipped to party leadership after a heroic defense for his walls met his last hour. Gauleiter Erich Koch with a group of party functionaries visited the house on April 5… meanwhile, kreisleiter Wagner in March abandoned the plan to defend the castle the forces of the party, because he believed that in the case of the General Russian offensive, the castle will be a too visible target”.

Otto von Lasch argues that in the storming of königsberg by the red Army played a significant role, dressed in the uniform of the Wehrmacht and speak German sabotage unit of German prisoners of war that were part of the organization “Free Germany” General Walter von Sedlica. They attacked the defenders from behind and demoralized them.

Yaroslav Butakov

© Russian Seven

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