The assault on Breslau: how the Red Army took the city fortress of Hitler

History 15/01/20 Assault Breslau: how the Red Army took the city fortress of Hitler

Only 4 days after the fall of Berlin, Soviet troops managed to take the city of Breslau. It is now Polish Wroclaw, however, in 1945 the city was a fortified German fortress with a numerous garrison, to take which was not possible for more than 80 days.

City fortress

the allied Bombers did not reach Breslau, and surrounding area were concentrated a large number of enterprises of the military-industrial complex of the Reich. Transferred and a number of state institutions, after which the city has become the unofficial nickname – “the Shelter of Hitler.” Since the summer of 1944, 600 th of Breslau was turned into a fortress, helped by its convenient location with many rivers, canals and swampy areas.
For the indoctrination of the soldiers and the local population answered an ardent Nazi – Gauleiter Karl Hanke, and commandant of Breslau, was major General Hermann Nyhof. In the future defence of the strategically important town was involved 50 thousand soldiers of the Wehrmacht and 40 thousand soldiers of the Volkssturm. In January 1945 the city was in the path of the red army and Hanke ordered all residents not capable of fighting to leave Breslau.
the Evacuation took place in disarray, and in a stampede on a bridge across the Oder killed many children and women. Due to the lack of organization at the beginning of the fighting in the city left hundreds of thousands of residents. Of great importance in the future battle was the human factor. Gauleiter Hanke managed to convince the soldiers that help is at hand, and they must fight to the last.

the Beginning of the assault

the battle for the city began on 16 February 1945 and take to strengthen the area had the 5th and 6th Guards Army, with the support of the 7th and 4th tank corps. According to Soviet statements, the fighting strength in the battle for Breslau in the different stages of the battle was between 35 to 45 thousand soldiers. On the North side of the city were extensivethe black swamp, so the assault began on its southern and Western outskirts. The narrow medieval streets of Breslau, the Soviet tanks became easy prey of the enemy and German soldiers armed with bazookas arranged for armored vehicles to hunt.
in the second half of February, the Red Army lost in urban areas, more than 160 tanks and self-propelled guns, and the presence of an extensive road system enabled the Germans to rapidly transport their equipment to critical areas. Assessing the situation, the Soviet command decided to change tactics and did not bet on the large tank formations, and battle-hardened Russian infantry.

the Infantry goes into battle

the Main strike force was 62-I separate engineering-sapper brigade, specially trained for street fighting. The soldiers of the assault battalions in addition to small arms had flamethrowers, portable machine tools for rockets, captured Panzerfaust. Soldiers were protected by a metal shell and were professionals of subversive things.
Actively used “Molotov cocktails”, the day Soviet soldiers were spending 1000 bottles. Important element the fighting began smokescreens that assault battalions were covered from the German emplacements. Good showing three battalions of Marines of the Baltic fleet, which has always been famous for their durability and high combat readiness.
Tanks displayed at the firing position only after the infantry “strip” floors, basements and attics of buildings. Soviet soldiers threw grenades at the enemy, burned by his flame throwers, but the Germans still fought hard. Often become melee. Armored vehicles have also been used as a battering RAM. Tanks through street barricades or fire guns punched holes in the target objects.
the Ratio of defenders and attackers was almost the same and, despite the brilliant actions of the Russian soldiers, they suffered losses and were exhausted. However, after a short respite again, the men went into battle. By the end of April the Russian took over the Western and southern part of Breslau and by early may, the commander of the assault General Gluzdovsky, waiting for the German surrender, was ordered to go on the defensive.

the Fleeing Gauleiter and losses of the parties

the German garrison fought desperately, and still believing in the power, were not going to surrender. Unlike ordinary soldiers Gauleiter Karl Hanke knew about the real situation, and on may 5 he escaped from the besieged city by plane. The day before the city commandant Hermann Nihfw came local priests tried to persuade him to surrender and only after Gauleiter escaped on 6 may, the General ordered the soldiers to lay down their arms. A few days Gauleiter Hanke will be killed by Czechoslovak partisans.
In the battles for Breslau, the Red Army lost 9 thousand, and the Wehrmacht 7 thousand killed. Civilian casualties together with the soldiers of the Volkssturm has reached 80 thousand wounded and killed. While the German losses are even higher, as official data do not account for the downed aircraft supply and evacuation.
the commandant of the fortress General Nyhof in his memoirs wrote that his troops were lost 6 thousand killed and 29 wounded thousands. Soviet forces lost up to 40 thousand dead. The data of the German commander not been confirmed by documents. The assault on the city entered by the small forces of the 6th army, and it received reinforcements could only claim compensation for earlier losses, therefore such a large difference in the ratio of losses impossible.

Alexander Brazhnik

© Russian Seven

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