The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established after the 1917 October Revolution; the Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; the Red Army provided the largest land force in the Allied victory in the European theatre of World War II, its invasion of Manchuria assisted the unconditional surrender of Imperial Japan. During operations on the Eastern Front, it accounted for 75–80% of casualties the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS suffered during the war and captured the Nazi German capital, Berlin. In September 1917, Vladimir Lenin wrote: "There is only one way to prevent the restoration of the police, and, to create a people's militia and to fuse it with the army."
At the time, the Imperial Russian Army had started to collapse. 23% of the male population of the Russian Empire were mobilized. The Tsarist general Nikolay Dukhonin estimated that there had been 2 million deserters, 1.8 million dead, 5 million wounded and 2 million prisoners. He estimated the remaining troops as numbering 10 million. While the Imperial Russian Army was being taken apart, "it became apparent that the rag-tag Red Guard units and elements of the imperial army who had gone over the side of the Bolsheviks were quite inadequate to the task of defending the new government against external foes." Therefore, the Council of People's Commissars decided to form the Red Army on 28 January 1918. They envisioned a body "formed from the class-conscious and best elements of the working classes." All citizens of the Russian republic aged 18 or older were eligible. Its role being the defense "of the Soviet authority, the creation of a basis for the transformation of the standing army into a force deriving its strength from a nation in arms, furthermore, the creation of a basis for the support of the coming Socialist Revolution in Europe."
Enlistment was conditional upon "guarantees being given by a military or civil committee functioning within the territory of the Soviet Power, or by party or trade union committees or, in extreme cases, by two persons belonging to one of the above organizations." In the event of an entire unit wanting to join the Red Army, a "collective guarantee and the affirmative vote of all its members would be necessary." Because the Red Army was composed of peasants, the families of those who served were guaranteed rations and assistance with farm work. Some peasants who remained at home yearned to join the Army. If they were turned away they would prepare care-packages. In some cases the money they earned would go towards tanks for the Army; the Council of People's Commissars appointed itself the supreme head of the Red Army, delegating command and administration of the army to the Commissariat for Military Affairs and the Special All-Russian College within this commissariat. Nikolai Krylenko was the supreme commander-in-chief, with Aleksandr Myasnikyan as deputy.
Nikolai Podvoisky became the commissar for Pavel Dybenko, commissar for the fleet. Proshyan, Steinberg were specified as people's commissars as well as Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich from the Bureau of Commissars. At a joint meeting of Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, held on 22 February 1918, Krylenko remarked: "We have no army; the demoralized soldiers are fleeing, panic-stricken, as soon as they see a German helmet appear on the horizon, abandoning their artillery and all war material to the triumphantly advancing enemy. The Red Guard units are brushed aside like flies. We have no power to stay the enemy; the Russian Civil War occurred in three periods: October 1917 – November 1918: From the Bolshevik Revolution to the First World War Armistice, developed from the Bolshevik government's nationalization of traditional Cossack lands in November 1917. This provoked the insurrection of General Alexey Maximovich Kaledin's Volunteer Army in the River Don region; the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk aggravated Russian internal politics.
The situation encouraged direct Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, in which twelve foreign countries supported anti-Bolshevik militias. A series of engagements resulted, amongst others, the Czechoslovak Legion, the Polish 5th Rifle Division, the pro-Bolshevik Red Latvian Riflemen. January 1919 – November 1919: Initially the White armies advanced: from the south, under General Anton Denikin; the Whites defeated the Red Army on each front. Leon Trotsky reformed and counterattacked: the Red Army repelled Admiral Kolchak's army in June, the armies of General Denikin and General Yudenich in October. By mid-Nove
Hansestadt Stendal is a town in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is unofficial capital of the Altmark region. Situated west of the Elbe valley, the Stendal town centre is located some 125 km west of Berlin, around 170 km east of Hanover, 55 km north of the state capital Magdeburg. Stendal is the seat of a University of Applied Sciences and preserves a picturesque old town including a historic market and several churches; the nearby village Uchtspringe is home to a psychiatric rehabilitation clinic. Stendal station is the most important rail hub in the north of Saxony-Anhalt. Located on the Berlin–Lehrte railway and the parallel Hanover–Berlin high-speed railway line, it is served by Intercity and Intercity-Express trains. A direct connection to the German Autobahn network is planned with the extension of the BAB 14 from Magdeburg to Schwerin; the municipal area comprises the incorporated villages of Buchholz, Groß Schwechten, Insel, Möringen, Staats, Uenglingen, Vinzelberg and Wittenmoor. A settlement named Steinedal in the Eastphalian Balsamgau of Saxony a possession of Saint Michael’s Abbey in Hildesheim, was mentioned in a deed issued by Emperor Henry II in 1022.
However, the entry has proven to be a 12th-century forgery, as the original document contained no such record. The fortified town near the Elbe crossing at Tangermünde was founded and granted Magdeburg rights by the first Brandenburg margrave Albert the Bear about 1160; the parish church of St Mary's was first mentioned in 1283. Stendal prospered as a centre of commerce and trade. A Latin school is documented from 1338. In 1456 the Hohenzollern elector Frederick II Irontooth founded a convent of Augustinian nuns, which today is the site of a museum. In 1502 his descendant Elector Joachim I Nestor married Princess Elizabeth of Denmark at Stendal. Magnificent churches, the town hall and the two remaining city gates are still proof of Stendal's former wealth; the Stendal citizens turned Protestant in 1539. For centuries part of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, Stendal with the Altmark region passed to the Prussian Province of Saxony after the Napoleonic Wars. A Prussian garrison town since the 17th century, it hosted the 10th Hussars regiment from 1884.
Stendal was the site of a Luftwaffe airfield in World War II, the site of the first German Fallschirmjäger training school from 1936. The town suffered from strategic bombing. In April 1945, the aerodrome served as starting place of the Sonderkommando Elbe unit, only a few days before the local authorities surrendered to the US Army. On May 4, the commander of the Wehrmacht 12th Army, General Maximilian von Edelsheim signed the capitulation document at the Standal town hall. From 1949 until German reunification in 1990, the town belonged to East Germany, part of Bezirk Magdeburg from 1952; until 1994, the Stendal barracks served as home base for a riflemen division of the Soviet 2nd Guards Tank Army. In 1983 the construction of the Stendal Nuclear Power Plant was begun north of the town, but abandoned after reunification. In 2009 the Stendal citizens voted for the prefix Hansestadt; the area has a theatre named Stendal. It has always had a particular involvement in youth and children's theatre.
Theatrical performances and dance events are staged, as well as concerts and meetings. The Winckelmann Museum is named after Johann Joachim Winckelmann, the founder of classical archaeology, its holdings include biographical documents, works and diagrams as well as Greek sculptures or casts, along with other small artworks from antiquity. Since summer 2003 the museum has been the owner of the world's biggest Trojan horse. With its size of 15.60 m high, 13 m long, 9.50 m wide and its weight of 45 tons it offers a beautiful view over Stendal. Exhibitions are held relating to archaeology and the history of art from the 18th and 19th centuries; the museum is the seat of the Winckelmann-Gesellschaft. In addition, the museum has exhibits relating to the history and cultural history of the city of Stendal and of the Altmark dating from the prehistoric period through the area's early history right up to the present. There are exhibits pertaining to the Hanseatic League, Romanesque art and local archaeological material.
The town has the Landesfeuerwehrmuseum, showing the development of fire fighting and protection from the leather bucket to modern fire engines. Other buildings include the Gothic cathedral, St. Nicholas Church, the Town Hall with the statue of Roland and the two mediaeval town gates. There are other churches in the area. Stendal is part of the Altmark cycle path. Information and maps about this cycle path can be had for free from the tourist information office; the Lord Mayor of Stendal is Klaus Schmotz. He was elected in 2001 with 74,9 % of the votes, he was reelected in 2008 and 2015. Seats in the town's assembly as of 2015 local elections: Christian Democratic Union of Germany: 14 The Left: 11 Social Democratic Party of Germany: 8 Free Democratic Party: 1 Alliance'90/The Greens: 1 Alternative for Germany: 1 Pirate Party Germany: 1 Independent: 3After allegations of falsification were raised, the 2014 ele
Case Blue was the German Armed Forces' name for its plan for the 1942 strategic summer offensive in southern Russia between 28 June and 24 November 1942, during World War II. The operation was a continuation of the previous year's Operation Barbarossa, intended to knock the Soviet Union out of the war, it involved a two-pronged attack: one from the Axis right flank against the oil fields of Baku, known as Operation Edelweiss, one from the left flank in the direction of Stalingrad along the Volga River, known as Operation Fischreiher. Army Group South of the German Army was divided into Army Groups A and B. Army Group A was tasked with crossing the Caucasus mountains to reach the Baku oil fields, while Army Group B protected its flanks along the Volga. Supported by 2,035 Luftwaffe aircraft and 1,934 tanks and assault guns, the 1,370,287-man Army Group South attacked on 28 June, advancing 48 kilometers on the first day and brushing aside the 1,715,000 Red Army troops opposite, who falsely expected a German offensive on Moscow after Blau commenced.
The Soviet collapse in the south allowed the Germans to capture the western part of Voronezh on 6 July and reach and cross the Don river near Stalingrad on 26 July. Army Group B's approach toward Stalingrad slowed in late July and early August owing to constant counterattacks by newly deployed Red Army reserves and overstretched German supply lines; the Germans defeated the Soviets in the Battle of Kalach and the combat shifted to the city itself in late August. Nonstop Luftwaffe airstrikes, artillery fire and street-to-street combat destroyed the city and inflicted heavy casualties on the opposing forces. After three months of battle, the Germans controlled 90% of Stalingrad on 19 November. In the south, Army Group A captured Rostov on 23 July and swept south from the Don to the Caucasus, capturing the demolished oilfields at Maikop on 9 August and Elista on 13 August near the Caspian Sea coast. Heavy Soviet resistance and the long distances from Axis sources of supply reduced the Axis offensive to local advances only and prevented the Germans from completing their strategic objective of capturing the main Caucasus oilfield at Baku.
Luftwaffe bombers destroyed the oilfields at Grozny but attacks on Baku were prevented by the insufficient range of the German fighters. The possibility that the Germans would continue to the south and east, link up with Japanese forces in India, was of great concern to the Allies. However, the Red Army defeated the Germans at Stalingrad, following Operations Uranus and Little Saturn; this defeat forced the Axis to retreat from the Caucasus. Only the Kuban region remained tentatively occupied by Axis troops. On 22 June 1941 the Wehrmacht had launched Operation Barbarossa with the intention of defeating the Soviets in a Blitzkrieg lasting only months; the Axis offensive had met with initial success and the Red Army had suffered some major defeats before halting the Axis units just short of Moscow. Although the Germans had captured vast areas of land and important industrial centers, the Soviet Union remained in the war. In the winter of 1941–42 the Soviets struck back in a series of successful counteroffensives, pushing back the German threat to Moscow.
Despite these setbacks, Hitler wanted an offensive solution, for which he required the oil resources of the Caucasus. By February 1942 the German Army High Command had begun to develop plans for a follow-up campaign to the aborted Barbarossa offensive – with the Caucasus as its principal objective. On 5 April 1942, Hitler laid out the elements of the plan now known as "Case Blue" in Führer Directive No. 41. The directive stated the main goals of the 1942 summer campaign on Germany's Eastern Front: holding attacks for Army Group Centre, the capture of Leningrad and the link-up with Finland for AG North, the capture of the Caucasus region for Army Group South; the main focus was to be the capture of the Caucasus region. The Caucasus, a large, culturally diverse region traversed by its eponymous mountains, is bounded by the Black Sea to the west and the Caspian Sea to the east; the region north of the mountains was a production center for grain and heavy farm machinery, while its two main oilfields, at Maykop, near the Black Sea, Grozny, about halfway between the Black and the Caspian Seas, produced about 10 percent of all Soviet oil.
South of the mountains lay Transcaucasia, comprising Georgia and Armenia. This industrialized and densely populated area contained some of the largest oilfields in the world. Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, was one of the richest, producing 80 percent of the Soviet Union's oil—about 24 million tons in 1942 alone; the Caucasus possessed plentiful coal and peat, as well as nonferrous and rare metals. Manganese deposits at Chiaturi, in Transcaucasia, formed the richest single source in the world, yielding 1.5 million tons of manganese ore annually, half of the Soviet Union's total production. The Kuban region of the Caucasus produced large amounts of wheat, sunflower seeds, sugar beets, all essential in the production of food; these resources were of immense importance to the German war effort. Of the three million tons of oil Germany consumed per year, 85 percent was imported from the United States and Iran; when war broke out in September 1939, the British naval blockade cut Germany off from the Americas and the Middle East, leaving the country reliant on oil-rich European countries such as Romania to supply the resource.
An indication of German reliance on Romania is evident from its oil consumption.
150th Rifle Division
The 150th Idritsa-Berlin Order of Kutuzov 2nd Class Motor Rifle Division of the Russian Ground Forces was re-instituted in 2016. It is part of the 8th Guards Army, re-instituted in 2017, its Red Army′s predecessor fought on the Eastern Front of World War II from 1941 to 1945. It gained fame as a formation, whose soldiers raised the Soviet flag over the Reichstag shortly before the end of the war; the nickname ‘Idritskaya’ was given to the Soviet division on July 23, 1944, by the order № 207 for its heroic battle in the town of Idritsa. The Division fought at Berlin; the Division was formed three times, being established at Vyazma in September 1939. As part of the 3rd Army's 3rd Rifle Corps, the division took part in the Soviet Invasion of Poland. Force Composition 469th Rifle Regiment 674th Rifle Regiment 756th Rifle Regiment 328th Light Artillery Regiment 418th Howitzer RegimentOperating as part of the 9th Army on 22 June 1941 after the Second Battle of Kharkov, was wiped out at Izyum in May 1942.
The division was reformed at Turga in the Siberian Military District on July 23, 1942, based on the 1st Siberian Volunteer Division. The unit was made up of over 10,000 men from Siberian factories and the Kuzbass coal fields and had a cadre of 1,460 combat veterans. By September 1 it had enlisted 13,754 personnel, 43.8 percent of whom were Communist Party members or Komsomols. Within two weeks it was assigned to the 6th "Siberian Volunteer" Rifle Corps and began moving by rail to camps near Moscow where it received the last of its support troops and transport. On September 30, the 150th set out on a 170km road march to join the 22nd Army near Belyi in Kalinin Front. During the Second Rzhev-Sychevka Offensive the 150th Division and the 6th Rifle Corps were referred to as "Stalin" units and were regarded as an elite force. On January 6, 1943, the division was pulled from the line and moved by rail to the Velikiye Luki area, where it served in the 5th Guards Rifle Corps during the last few days of the battle for that city on the 25th staged an assault crossing of the Lovat and Loknya Rivers.
By the middle of February it was back in 6th Corps in 22nd Army. Over the next two months it fought in the Kholm area, pinning down the German forces evacuating from the Demyansk Pocket. On April 16 the Supreme High Command recognized the service of the 6th "Siberian Volunteer" Rifle Corps by re-designating it as the 19th Guards Rifle Corps, three days the 150th became the second formation of the 22nd Guards Rifle Division, it was re-created for the third time in September 1943. When formed for the third time, it was composed of the 127th, 144th, 151st brigades; this division fell under the command of the 34th Army. But during some time in early 1944, it was transferred to the 6th Guards Army, finally it was assigned to the 79th Rifle Corps of the 3rd Shock Army, of the 1st Belorussian Front, under which it would stay on the offensive all the way from Nevel, Pskov Oblast to Berlin. On April 22, 1945, when victory for the Soviet Army was near, an order from the Military Council of the 3rd Shock Army designated the 150th Division to be one of 9 divisions to receive a special banner for the purpose of raising it over the Reichstag as a sign of the Soviet victory.
Red Army photographer Yevgeny Khaldei took the picture of soldiers Kovaliev and another comrade of the Division's 756th Rifle Regiment hoisting the flag on April 30, 1945, on the roof of the Reichstag building. An earlier flag had been raised the day before while the building was being fought over with remaining German soldiers. However, as the flag was raised after dusk, there was no chance to take a picture. After taking the shot with the flag Khaldei rushed back to Moscow, it was decided that the true persons on the photo and his comrade, were not politically correct. So they became Mikhail Yegorov. On April 26, 1945, for its heroic overnight victory at lake Voshvanzee 150th Rifle Division was awarded the Order of Kutuzov, second degree. In December 1946 the division was disbanded in the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany.15 personnel were awarded the Gold Star Medal as Heroes of the Soviet Union, while a veteran of the unit was given the Gold Star Medal as a Hero of Ukraine in 2005. The unit was re-established in December 2016 in Rostov Oblast as a full motor rifle division with its division HQ scheduled to open in Novocherkassk and was meant to become part of the to-be-reactivated 8th Guards Army, as part of the broader structural reform of the Russian armed forces.
The division was equipped with T-90A MBTs, BMP-3 IFVs and BTR-80 APCs, contains as-yet undisclosed infantry, artillery and SAM regiments, as well as communications and intelligence units. The division's re-formation was completed by 2017. In 2018, Russian president Putin signed decrees naming some of the division's units after localities in Belarus and Ukraine. Organization as of 2017Division HQ 102nd Slonim-Pomeransk Motor Rifle Regiment 103rd Motor Rifle Regiment 68th Guards Zhytomyr-Berlin Tank Regiment 163rd Guards Nizhyn Tank Regiment 381st Guards Warsaw Artillery Regiment 993rd Upper Dnipro Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment 174th Separate Reconnaissance Battalion Separate Anti-Tank Artillery Battalion 539th Separate Engineers Battalion 258th Separate Signal Battalion 293rd Separate Materiel Battalion Separate Medical Battalion Separate Electronic Warfare Company Separate UAV Company Separate NBC protection company Major-general Sergei Alekseyevich Kniazkov Major-general Alexander Ivanovich Pastrevich Major-general Daniil G
Riga Offensive (1944)
The Riga Offensive (known in was part of the larger Baltic Offensive on the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place late in 1944, drove German forces from the city of Riga. Soviet forces had advanced towards the Baltic coast in the beginning of their Tartu Offensive and at the end of the successful Belorussian Offensive, during July and August 1944, at one point had broken through to the Gulf of Riga; the victories in July were unexpected, at one point on July 31, the commander of the 8th mechanized brigade communicated with corps headquarters to notify them that it's tanks had reached the beach. In an unusual act, they were ordered to fill several bottles of sea water, have them signed, flown to The Kremlin as proof that Army Group North had been cut off from the Reich. During August, the German 18th Army had mounted a Operation Doppelkopf; the German Valga–Võrtsjärv line, supported by the local Estonian Omakaitse militia battalions, repelled the heavy pressure of the Soviet 3rd Baltic Front's Tartu Offensive.
The German Army Group North's commander, Ferdinand Schörner designed Operation Aster to pull his troops out of mainland Estonia. The parallel Riga Offensive would see Soviet forces apply further pressure on Army Group North, which still held much of Latvia and Estonia. Elements of: 1st Baltic Front 2nd Baltic Front 22nd Army 3rd Baltic Front Army Group North Sixteenth Army Eighteenth Army Elements of Army Group Centre temporarily reassigned to Army Group North Third Panzer Army Omakaitse The Soviet forces launched a ferocious attack on the Riga axis on September 14, 1944. Within 4 days, the German 16th Army had suffered serious damage, while in the 18th Army's sector, ten of the eighteen German divisions had been reduced to the Kampfgruppe level. In the northern segment placed along Lake Võrtsjärv, the Väike Emajõgi and Gauja rivers, the Soviet 3rd Baltic Front attacked the German XXVIII Army Corps backed by Omakaitse battalions. In fierce battles, the German and Estonian units held their positions.
From the south, the 43rd Army was threatening the approaches to Riga itself, where the German X Corps had been shattered. Schoerner began to move his divisions into the Courland Peninsula, intending to shorten the front and pull back from Riga. A counter-attack was carried out by the XXXIX Panzer Corps of 3rd Panzer Army, temporarily placed under Schörner's overall command, but the Soviet opposition was too strong. In the meantime, Stavka had been preparing a new axis of attack under the cover of a further push towards Riga, the new plan being put forward in a directive of September 24. On September 27, the 16th Army began to report Soviet traffic away from its front, to the south-west. In fact, several major Soviet force concentrations were being shifted southwards in preparation for a major thrust westwards towards Memel by the 1st Baltic Front. German intelligence detected the movement of several of the armies involved, but were unable to detect their destination; the resulting offensive, the Battle of Memel, was launched on October 5.
Schoerner's forces around Riga and in Courland were now cut off. On October 9, Schoerner signalled that he would attack towards Memel and try and re-establish the land connection if Riga could be evacuated. Soviet forces were again moving forwards outside Riga, brought the city within the range of artillery fire on October 10. Leaving a screening force of the 227th Infantry Division and the guns of the 6th Motorized Anti-Aircraft Division, the 18th Army retreated through Riga into Courland, destroying bridges on its route. Riga was taken by forces of the 3rd Baltic Front on October 13. Over the next few days Soviet units were reported in action to the west of Riga, stating that German forces had been cleared from the eastern bank of the Lielupe River by October 17. Army Group North had been driven into the Courland Pocket, where it remained isolated until the end of the war in Europe
Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, known as the Fall of Berlin, was one of the last major offensives of the European theatre of World War II. Following 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 defence 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, two Soviet fronts 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, Hitler's birthday, the 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, advancing from the east and north, started shelling Berlin's city centre, while Marshal Ivan Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front broke through Army Group Centre and advanced towards the southern suburbs of Berlin.
On 23 April General Helmuth Weidling assumed command of the forces within Berlin. The garrison consisted of several depleted and disorganised Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions, along with poorly trained Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members. Over the course of the next week, the Red Army took the entire city. Before the battle was over and several of his followers killed themselves; the city's garrison surrendered on 2 May but fighting continued to the north-west and south-west of the city until the end of the war in Europe on 8 May as some German units fought westward so that they could surrender to the Western Allies rather than to the Soviets. Starting on 12 January 1945, the Red Army began the Vistula–Oder Offensive across the Narew River. On the fourth day, the Red Army broke out and started moving west, up to 30 to 40 km per day, taking East Prussia and Poznań, drawing up on a line 60 km east of Berlin along the Oder River; the newly created Army Group Vistula, under the command of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, attempted a counter-attack, but this had failed by 24 February.
The Red Army drove on to Pomerania, clearing the right bank of the Oder River, thereby reaching into Silesia. In the south the Siege of Budapest raged. Three German divisions' attempts to relieve the encircled Hungarian capital city failed, Budapest fell to the Soviets on 13 February. Adolf Hitler insisted on a counter-attack to recapture the Drau-Danube triangle; the goal was to secure the oil region of Nagykanizsa and regain the Danube River for future operations, but the depleted German forces had been given an impossible task. By 16 March, the German Lake Balaton Offensive had failed, a counter-attack by the Red Army took back in 24 hours everything the Germans had taken ten days to gain. On 30 March, the Soviets entered Austria. Between June and September 1944, the Wehrmacht had lost more than a million men, it lacked the fuel and armaments needed to operate effectively. On 12 April 1945, who had earlier decided to remain in the city against the wishes of his advisers, heard the news that the American President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died.
This raised false hopes in the Führerbunker that there might yet be a falling out among the Allies and that Berlin would be saved at the last moment, as had happened once before when Berlin was threatened. No plans were made by the Western Allies to seize the city by a ground operation; the Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force, General Eisenhower lost interest in the race to Berlin and saw no further need to suffer casualties by attacking a city that would be in the Soviet sphere of influence after the war, envisioning excessive friendly fire if both armies attempted to occupy the city at once. The major Western Allied contribution to the battle was the bombing of Berlin during 1945. During 1945 the United States Army Air Forces launched large daytime raids on Berlin and for 36 nights in succession, scores of RAF Mosquitos bombed the German capital, ending on the night of 20/21 April 1945 just before the Soviets entered the city; the Soviet offensive into central Germany, what became East Germany, had two objectives.
Stalin did not believe the Western Allies would hand over territory occupied by them in the post-war Soviet zone, so he began the offensive on a broad front and moved to meet the Western Allies as far west as possible. But the overriding objective was to capture Berlin; the two goals were complementary because possession of the zone could not be won unless Berlin were taken. Another consideration was that Berlin itself held useful post-war strategic assets, including Adolf Hitler and the German atomic bomb programme. On 6 March, Hitler appointed Lieutenant General Helmuth Reymann commander of the Berlin Defence Area, replacing Lieutenant General Bruno Ritter von Hauenschild. On 20 March, General Gotthard Heinrici was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Army Group Vistula replacing Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. Heinrici was one of the best defensive tacticians in the German army, he started to lay defensive plans. Heinrici assessed that the main Soviet thrust would be made over the Oder River and along the main east-west Autobahn.
He decided not to try to defend the banks of the Oder with anything more than a light skirmishing screen. Instead, Heinrici arranged for engineers
6th Guards Airborne Division
The 6th Guards Airborne Division was a Red Army airborne division that fought as infantry during World War II. Formed in December 1942 from an airborne corps, it first saw combat as an infantry unit in the Staraya Russa in March 1943 fought in the Battle of Kursk; the division advanced west in the Battle of the Dnieper. The division fought in the Kirovograd Offensive and the Korsun-Shevchenkovsky Offensive in late 1943 and early 1944; the 5th Guards received the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of Suvorov for actions during the Uman–Botoșani Offensive fought in the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive. The division advanced westward into Hungary, fighting in the Battle of Debrecen and the Budapest Offensive in late 1944. In the last months of the war it fought in the Bratislava–Brno Offensive and ended the war fighting in the Prague Offensive. Weeks after the end of the war, it was redesignated as the 113th Guards Rifle Division, it was downsized into a brigade between 1953, serving in the Taurida Military District.
The division became a motor rifle division in 1957 and disbanded in 1959. The 6th Guards Airborne Division was formed on 8 December 1942 from the 6th Airborne Corps in Noginsk, one of eight new airborne divisions formed due to a shortage of infantry; the former commander of the 6th Airborne Corps, Major General Alexander Kirzimov, continued in command of the new division. Although its personnel received airborne training, the division was organized as a guards rifle division and would fight as infantry for the rest of the war, it included the 14th, 17th, 20th Guards Airborne Regiments, the 8th Guards Airborne Artillery Regiment, smaller units. Before the division went into combat, Kirzimov was replaced by Colonel Mikhail Smirnov on 11 March 1943, promoted to major general on 16 October 1943; the division saw its first combat with the 1st Shock Army in the area of Koshelki south of Staraya Russa on 14 March during the Staraya Russa Offensive. After that, the division was placed in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command.
As part of the 5th Guards Army, the division fought in the Battle of Kursk and the Belgorod-Kharkov Offensive Operation. After the Battle of the Dnieper, the division captured Kremenchuk on 29 September and Znamianka on 9 December, for which it was awarded honorifics. On 8 January 1944, the division helped capture Kirovohrad during the Kirovograd Offensive. In the Korsun-Shevchenkovsky Offensive, the division stopped German attempts to relieve the Korsun Pocket. During the Uman–Botoșani Offensive, it operated with the 4th Guards Army. For its performance during the offensive, the division was awarded the Order of the Red Banner on 19 March. For crossing the Dniester, the 6th Guards Airborne was awarded the Order of Suvorov 2nd class on 8 April. 14th Guards Airborne Regiment platoon commander Starshina Sharifzyan Kazanbaev was posthumously made a Hero of the Soviet Union for saving the regimental flag during fighting in early April. In the second half of April, it entered Romanian territory; as part of the 7th Guards Army, it captured Târgu Frumos.
In October, it fought in the Battle of Debrecen. Advancing into Hungary, it fought in the Budapest Offensive. On 5 December, the division broke through the northeastern defensive lines of Budapest as part of the 7th Guards Army, with which it remained for the rest of the war. At the end of December it crossed the Hron, but was forced to retreat in the face of German resistance. On 25 March 1945, the division crossed the Hron in the area of Zhemlyari during the Bratislava–Brno Offensive. On that day, it had a strength of 5,001 officers and men, with more than 1,000 in each of its three rifle regiments; the division was equipped with 2,157 rifles, 851 submachine guns, 109 light machine guns, 49 heavy machine guns, twelve anti-aircraft machine guns, twelve 120 mm mortars divided between each rifle regiment, 51 82 mm mortars divided between the rifle regiments, five 122 mm howitzers, twenty 76 mm divisional guns, eight 76 mm regimental guns, eighteen 45 mm anti-tank guns, 36 anti-tank rifles, 131 vehicles.
After the breaking through the German lines, the division captured Šurany, advanced over the Western Carpathians, captured oilfields in Zistersdorf. The division captured Příbram on 11 May. On 13 June 1945, it was redesignated as the 113th Guards Rifle Division to reflect its infantry role as part of the 25th Guards Rifle Corps of the 7th Guards Army in the newly created Central Group of Forces, its airborne regiments became the 359th, 361st, 363rd Guards Rifle Regiments, the division included the 468th and 473rd Guards Artillery Regiments. The division was withdrawn to Zaporizhia in the Odessa Military District in late 1945 with the corps and downsized into the 43rd Separate Guards Rifle Brigade in April 1948 following the disbandment of the corps in May 1947; the brigade was subsequently moved to Yevpatoria in the Taurida Military District, where it became a division again in October 1953. By 1955, the 85th Guards Tank Regiment was added to the division. On 17 May 1957, the 113th Guards Rifle Division became a motor rifle division at Yevpatoria with the 45th Army Corps.
It included the 359th, 361st and 363rd Guards Motor Rifle Regiments formed from guards rifle regiments with the same numbers, the 85th Guards Tank Regiment and other smaller units. The division was disbanded on 1 March 1959; the following officers are known to have led the division: Major General Alexander Kirzimov Colonel Mikhail Smirnov (11 March 1943–December 1948.