Battle of Berlin - April 1945

The Battle of Berlin, designated as the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, and also known as the Fall of Berlin, was one of the last major offensives in Europe    of World War II.

After the Vistula–Oder Offensive of January–February 1945, the Red Army had temporarily halted on a line 60 km east of Berlin. On 9 March, Germany established its defensive plan for the city with Operation Clausewitz. The first defensive preparations at the outskirts of Berlin were made on 20 March, under the newly appointed commander of Army Group Vistula, General Gotthard Heinrici.

When the Soviet offensive resumed on 16 April 1945, two Soviet army groups attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third overran German forces positioned north of Berlin. Before the main battle in Berlin commenced, the Red Army encircled the city after successful battles of the Seelow Heights and Halbe. On 20 April 1945, the 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, advancing from the east and north, started shelling Berlin's city center, while Marshal Ivan Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front broke through Army Group Center and advanced towards the southern suburbs of Berlin. On 23 April 1945 General Helmuth Weidling assumed command of the forces within Berlin. The garrison consisted of several depleted and disorganized Army and Waffen-SS divisions, along with poorly trained Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members. Over the course of the next week, the Red Army gradually took the entire city.

The city's garrison surrendered on 2 May 1945 but fighting continued to the north-west, west, and south-west of the city until the end of the war in Europe on 8 May 1945 as some German units fought westward so that they could surrender to the Western Allies rather than to the Soviets.

Fallschirmjäger Regiment 27

Established in February 1945, FJR 27 was created from different ad hoc groups in the Szczecin region (Poland) and until early April 1945, FJR 27 was involved in heavy fighting east of the Polish cities Szczecin and Pyrzyce with heavy losses as a consequence. In the beginning of April 1945, the Battalions only had about 80 combat ready soldiers available each. On 6 April 1945, FJR 27 became part of the 9. Fallschirmjäger Division and the Division was tasked to take up defensive positions West of the Oder river between Seelow and Letschin, close to the Soviet bridgehead in Küstrin. It was from there that, on 16 April 1945, the Soviet offensive against Berlin was initiated. The positions of the Division were breached and the 2nd Battalion of the Regiment was destroyed in its defensive positions. On 17/18 April 1945, the remainder of the Division was withdrawn from their positions on both sides of Zechin, via Gusow and Bukow, to the Strausberg-Müncheberg line. Other elements of the Regiment which where pulling back returned with the Division to Berlin via Hoppegarten and Hennickendorf and defended the southern part of the city between Köpenik, Licherfelde and the Teltow canal. On 24 April 1945 Berlin was surrounded. What was left from the 9th Fallschirmjäger Division and the 27th Regiment were instructed to move to the northern part of the Division. In a 1st stage to Neukölln and afterwards to Schönhauser Allee. On 2 May 1945, the regiment was destroyed in Berlin. Anybody who survived was taken prisoner by soldiers of the Red Army.

All pictures attached are taken in present day in co-operation with modern day re-enactors to portray the last weeks of Fallschirmjäger Regiment 27 during the Battle of Berlin. 

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