By Karl Bahm
Berlin 1945: the ultimate Reckoning
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Extra info for Berlin 1945. The Final Reckoning
A government building in Berlin, showing the Nazi insignia - a fierce eagle, clutching a swastika emblazoned wreath, on top ofthe globe - lies in rubble. BERLIN Left: By 1945, Berlin was a city ofwomen and children. Roughly two million ofthe city's nearly 3 million official inhabitants were female. There were only about 100,000 civilian men aged between 18 and 30. in the years before the Nazis. The nearly simultaneous Allied offensives from the east and west during early 1945 were wreaking catastrophic destruction on the German armed forces, and the capture of territory was severely interrupting the German economy, as well as the ability of the remaining forces to maintain a sound defence.
Take them as your lawful booty. Kill! As you storm onward, kill! ' Those who had personally witnessed Red Army brutality in the conquered territory, or who had personal knowledge of the atrocities committed by the German troops during their advance in Russia, expected the wOrst. However, a significant portion of the stories were the results of Goebbels' Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, which aimed to frighten the population into supporting the costly war effort. 'Our propaganda as to what the Russians are like, as to what the population can expect from them in Berlin, has been so successful that we have reduced the Berliners to a state of sheer terror,' admitted Goebbels' assistant, Dr Werner Naumann, at the end of 1944.
Hitler's general staff had warned that an offensive of the size he demanded would mean committing huge numbers of reserve troops and tanks which, as well as risking them in a venture which could fail, would deprive the hard-pressed army groups trying to hold on to the Vistula and Narew in Poland and East Prussia of their much-needed reinforcements. A massive Russian offensive was expected at any time: 225 divisions and 22 armoured corps, estimated Guderian's chief of intelligence, Reinhard Gehlen.
Berlin 1945. The Final Reckoning by Karl Bahm