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Encyclopedia > Battle of Halbe
Battle of Halbe
Part of World War II

Final Soviet offensives around Berlin.
Date April 24 to May 1, 1945
Location Halbe, Germany
Result Soviet victory
Combatants
Third Reich Soviet Union
Commanders
Theodor Busse Ivan Konev
Strength
80,000 280,000
Casualties
30,000 killed
25,000 Captured
up to 10,000 civilian dead
20,000 killed
Axis-Soviet War
BarbarossaFinlandLeningrad and BalticsCrimea and CaucasusMoscow1st Rzhev-Vyazma2nd KharkovStalingradVelikiye Luki – 2nd Rzhev-Sychevka – Kursk2nd SmolenskDnieper – 2nd Kiev – Korsun – Hube's Pocket – Belorussia – Lvov-Sandomierz – BalkansHungary – Vistula-Oder – Königsberg – BerlinPragueManchuria
Battle of Berlin
Seelow HeightsBerlinHalbe

The Battle of Halbe lasted from April 24 to May 1, 1945[1]. It was fought in the Spree Forest near the village of Halbe, south-east of Berlin, and was a part of the Battle for Berlin, known as the 'Berlin Offensive Operation' by the Soviet Army. This article is becoming very long. ... Image File history File links MappaBattagliaBerlino. ... April 24 is the 114th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (115th in leap years). ... May 1 is the 121st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (122nd in leap years). ... 1945 (MCMVL) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1945 calendar). ... Halbe is a small town in Brandenburg, Germany - eine Kreisstadt. ... Nazi Germany, or the Third Reich, commonly refers to Germany in the years 1933–1945, when it was under the firm control of the totalitarian and fascist ideology of the Nazi Party, with the Führer Adolf Hitler as dictator. ... General der Infanterie Theodor Busse (15 December 1897 in Frankfurt † 21 October 1986 in Wallerstein). ... Marshal Ivan Konev Ivan Stepanovich Koniev (Russian Иван Степанович Конев) (December 28, 1897 – May 21, 1973), Soviet military commander, was born into a peasant family near Podosinovsky in central Russia (now in Kirov Oblast). ... The Eastern Front of World War II was the theatre of war covering the conflict in central and eastern Europe from June 22, 1941 to May 9, 1945. ... Combatants Axis Powers Soviet Union Commanders Supreme commander: Adolf Hitler Supreme commander: Josef Stalin Strength ~ 3. ... Combatants Axis Powers, Spanish Blue Division Soviet Union Commanders Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb Georg von Kuechler Kliment Voroshilov Georgy Zhukov Strength 725,000 930,000 Casualties Unknown 300,000 military, 16,470 civilians from bombings and estimated 1 million civilians from starvation The Siege of Leningrad (Russian: блокада Ленинграда) was the German... Combatants Germany, Romania Soviet Union Commanders Erich von Manstein Filipp Oktyabrskiy, Ivan Petrov Strength 350,000+ 106,000 Casualties at least 100,000 killed, wounded or captured. ... Combatants Germany Soviet Union Commanders Fedor von Bock Georgi Zhukov Strength ~ 1,500,000 ~ 1,500,000 Casualties 250,000 700,000 The Battle of Moscow refers to the defense of the Soviet capital of Moscow and the subsequent counter-offensive against the German army, between October 1941 and January... The formation of the Rzhev salient during the winter of 1941-1942. ... Combatants Germany Soviet Union Commanders Fedor von Bock, Friedrich Paulus Semyon Timoshenko Strength 300,000 men, 1000 tanks, 1500 aircraft 640,000 men, 1200 tanks, 1000 aircraft Casualties 20,000 killed, wounded or captured 207,057 killed, wounded or captured, 652 tanks, 1,646 guns, 3,278 mortars, 57,626... Combatants Axis Powers Soviet Union Commanders Friedrich Paulus Erich von Manstein Hermann Hoth Georgy Zhukov Vasily Chuikov Aleksandr Vasilevsky Strength German Sixth Army German Fourth Panzer Army Romanian Third Army Romanian Fourth Army Hungarian Second Army Italian Eighth Army 500,000 Germans Unknown number Reinforcements Unknown number Axis-allies Stalingrad... Combatants Germany Soviet Union Commanders Kurt von der Chevallerie M. A. Purkayev Strength ~20,000 (on 19 Nov) 100,000 (on 19 Nov) Casualties 17,000 killed or wounded, 3,000 captured 30,000 killed or wounded Situation after the initial Soviet advance. ... The eastern front at the time of the Second Rzhev-Sychevka Offensive. ... Combatants Germany Soviet Union Commanders Erich von Manstein, Günther von Kluge, Walther Model Georgy Zhukov, Konstantin Rokossovsky, Nikolai Vatutin Strength 800,000 infantry, 2,700 tanks, 2,000 aircraft 1,300,000 infantry, 3,600 tanks, 2,400 aircraft Casualties 500,000 dead, wounded, or captured 500 tanks 200... Combatants Axis Soviet Union Commanders Günther von Kluge Andrei Yeremenko Vasily Sokolovsky Strength 850,000 men 8,800 guns 500 tanks 700 planes[1] 1,253,000 men 20,640 guns 1,430 tanks 1,100 planes[2] Casualties (Soviet est. ... Combatants Axis Soviet Union Commanders Erich von Manstein Rokossovsky, Konev Strength 1,250,000 men 12,600 guns 2,100 tanks 2,000 planes 2,650,000 men 51,000 guns 2,400 tanks 2,850 planes Casualties Low est. ... The 1943 Battle of Kiev resulted in a Soviet victory, forcing the German invaders of the Soviet Union to retreat further. ... Combatants Germany Soviet Union Commanders Erich von Manstein, Wilhelm Stemmerman (Gruppe Stemmerman), Hermann Breith, III Panzerkorps Georgi Zhukov, Nikolai Vatutin (1st Ukrainian Front), Ivan Konev (2nd Ukrainian Front), Strength 56,000 70 tanks and assault guns In packet only but much large with relief troops 200,000 500 tanks Casualties... Combatants Germany Soviet Union Commanders Erich von Manstein (Army Group South) Hans-Valentin Hube (First Panzer Army) Georgi Zhukov Nikolai Vatutin (1st Ukrainian Front) Ivan Koniev (2nd Ukrainian Front) Strength 200,000 500,000 Casualties  ?  ? 357 tanks The Battle of the Kamenets-Podolsky Pocket, also known as Hubes Pocket... During World War II, Operation Bagration was the general attack by Soviet forces to clear the Nazis from Belarus which resulted in the destruction of the German Army Group Centre, possibly the greatest defeat for the Wehrmacht during the war. ... The Lvov-Sandomierz Operation was the general attack by Soviet forces to clear the Germans from Ukraine. ... Combatants Red Army Wehrmacht Heeresgruppe Südukraine, Romanian Army Commanders Marshal Semyon Timoshenko Generaloberst Friessner Strength 1,341,200, 1,874 tanks and assault guns ca. ... Combatants Wehrmacht i. ... Combatants Axis Soviet Union Commanders General Otto von Lasch Marshal Vasilevsky Marshal Rokossovsky Strength 130,000 250,000 Casualties 50,000 60,000 The Battle of Königsberg was the last battle of the East Prussian Operation. ... Combatants Nazi Germany Soviet Union Commanders Gotthard Heinrici Helmuth Weidling Helmuth Reymann Wilhelm Mohnke Georgiy Zhukov Ivan Koniev Konstantin Rokossovskiy Vasiliy Chuykov Strength 1 million men (including 250,000 soldiers, the rest were Volkssturm and Hitler Youth units), 700 AFVs 500 aircraft 2. ... The Eastern Front at the time of the Prague Offensive. ... Combatants Soviet Union Japan Commanders Alexandr Vasilevskij Otsuzo Yamada Strength Soviet Union 1,577,225 men, 26,137 artillery, 1,852 sup. ... Combatants Nazi Germany Soviet Union Commanders Gotthard Heinrici Helmuth Weidling Helmuth Reymann Wilhelm Mohnke Georgiy Zhukov Ivan Koniev Konstantin Rokossovskiy Vasiliy Chuykov Strength 1 million men (including 250,000 soldiers, the rest were Volkssturm and Hitler Youth units), 700 AFVs 500 aircraft 2. ... Combatants Germany Soviet Union Commanders Gotthard Heinrici Georgy Zhukov Strength 100,000 men 512 Tanks 344 artillery pieces 400 Anti-aircraft guns 1,000,000 men 3,155 Tanks 16,934 artillery pieces Casualties 12,000 Killed 33,000 Killed The Battle of the Seelow Heights was one of the... Combatants Nazi Germany Soviet Union Commanders Gotthard Heinrici Helmuth Weidling Helmuth Reymann Wilhelm Mohnke Georgiy Zhukov Ivan Koniev Konstantin Rokossovskiy Vasiliy Chuykov Strength 1 million men (including 250,000 soldiers, the rest were Volkssturm and Hitler Youth units), 700 AFVs 500 aircraft 2. ... April 24 is the 114th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (115th in leap years). ... May 1 is the 121st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (122nd in leap years). ... 1945 (MCMVL) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1945 calendar). ... The Spree (Slavic Å preva or Å preja, older form Sprevja, Sorbish Sprowja) is a river in Saxony, Brandenburg and Berlin, Germany. ... The Spreewald Biosphere Reserve is situated 100 km south-east of Berlin and designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1991. ... Halbe is a small town in Brandenburg, Germany - eine Kreisstadt. ... Berlin is the capital city and a state of Germany. ... This article is about the capture of Berlin in 1945. ... This article is about the armed forces of the Soviet Union. ...


Leading the surrounded German 9th Army, Colonel General Theodor Busse tried to link up with the German 12th Army commanded by General Walther Wenck with the intention of heading west and surrendering to the Western Allies. The German Ninth Army (German: ) was a World War II field army. ... Colonel General is a senior military rank which is used in some of the world’s militaries. ... General der Infanterie Theodor Busse (15 December 1897 in Frankfurt † 21 October 1986 in Wallerstein). ... This article or section contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ... Walther Wenck (September 18, 1900 - May 1, 1982) was a General in the German Army during the World War II. He commanded the 12th Army which he ordered to surrender to the United States in order to avoid capture by the Soviets. ...

Contents

[edit]

Prelude

On April 16 the Soviets started the Battle of Berlin with a three Soviet Front attack across the Oder-Neisse line. By April 21 they had broken through the German front line in two places and had started to surround Berlin. The German 9th Army covered the defenses of the Seelow Heights against Marshal Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front (1BF) but its position was unhinged by the successful attack of Marshal Ivan Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front (1UF) against Army Group Centre on the Neisse. By April 20 it had to withdraw south-east of Berlin, opening the way for 1st BF. [2] April 16 is the 106th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (107th in leap years). ... Combatants Nazi Germany Soviet Union Commanders Gotthard Heinrici Helmuth Weidling Helmuth Reymann Wilhelm Mohnke Georgiy Zhukov Ivan Koniev Konstantin Rokossovskiy Vasiliy Chuykov Strength 1 million men (including 250,000 soldiers, the rest were Volkssturm and Hitler Youth units), 700 AFVs 500 aircraft 2. ... Front was a major military subdivision of the Soviet Army. ... The Oder-Neisse line (German: , Polish: ) is the border between Germany and Poland. ... April 21 is the 111th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (112th in leap years). ... Combatants Germany Soviet Union Commanders Gotthard Heinrici Georgy Zhukov Strength 100,000 men 512 Tanks 344 artillery pieces 400 Anti-aircraft guns 1,000,000 men 3,155 Tanks 16,934 artillery pieces Casualties 12,000 Killed 33,000 Killed The Battle of the Seelow Heights was one of the... Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgi Zhukov Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov (Russian: Гео́ргий Константи́нович Жу́ков) (December 1, 1896 - June 18, 1974), Soviet military commander and... The 1st Belorussian Front (alternative spellings are 1st Byelorussian Front and 1st Belarusian Front) was a Soviet Army Front during the Great Patriotic War. ... Marshal Ivan Konev Ivan Stepanovich Koniev (Russian Иван Степанович Конев) (December 28, 1897 – May 21, 1973), Soviet military commander, was born into a peasant family near Podosinovsky in central Russia (now in Kirov Oblast). ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Army Group Centre (Heeresgruppe Mitte in German) was created on 22 June 1941 when Army Group B was renamed Army Group Centre. ...


Because of the high speed of the advance of Konev's forces this meant 9th Army was now threatened with envelopment by the two massive Soviet pincers that were heading for Berlin from the south and east. The southern pincer consisted of the 3rd and 4th Guards Tank Armies which had penetrated the furthest and had already cut through the area behind the German 9th Army's front lines.[2]

[edit]

Encirclement

[edit]

German Dispositions

The command of the V Corps trapped with the 9th Army north of Forst, passed from 4th Panzer Army (part of Army Group Centre) to the 9th Army (part of Army Group Vistula under the command of General Gotthard Heinrici). The corps was still holding on to Cottbus. While the bulk of Army Group Centre was being forced, by the advance of the 1st UF, to withdraw along its lines of communication to the south-west towards Czechoslovakia, the southern flank of 4th Panzer Army had some local successes counter attacking north against the 1st UF, Hitler gave some orders which showed that his grasp of military reality had gone. He ordered 9th Army to hold Cottbus and set up a front facing west then they were to attack into the Soviet columns advancing North. This would allow them to form the northern pincer which would meet with the 4th Panzer Army coming from the south and envelop the 1UF before destroying it. They were to anticipate an attack south by the 3rd Panzer Army and to be ready to be the southern arm of a pincer attack which would envelop the 1BF, which would then be destroyed by SS Lieutenant-General Felix Steiner's III SS Corps advancing from the north of Berlin. Later in the day, Steiner made it plain that he did not have the divisions to make this effort. Heinrici then explained to Hitler's staff that unless the 9th Army retreated immediately it was about to be enveloped by the Soviets. He stressed it was already too late for the unit to move north-west to Berlin and would have to retreat west. Heinrici went on to say that if Hitler did not allow it to move west he would ask to be relieved of his command. There are communes that have the name Forst in Germany Forst (Unterfranken) Forst, Baden Forst, Mittelfranken Forst, Eifel Forst, Hunsrück Forst, Lausitz Forst, Bavaria Forst an der Weinstraße Forst, Odenwald in Switzerland Forst, Switzerland, in the Canton of Bern Other Forst, Algund, a commune in South Tyrol This... Panzergruppe 4 4. ... Army Group Centre (Heeresgruppe Mitte in German) was created on 22 June 1941 when Army Group B was renamed Army Group Centre. ... The Army Group Vistula (also known as Army Group Weischel) was formed in 1945 to protect Berlin from the advancing Soviet armies marching from the Vistula river. ... Gotthard Heinrici. ... Cottbus (Sorbian: Chośebuz, archaic German: Kottbus) is a city in Brandenburg, Germany, situated around 125 km southeast of Berlin on the Spree river. ... The German Third Panzer Army (German: ) was a German panzer army that saw action during World War II. The Third Panzer Army was a constituent of Army Group Centre and fought in the Battle of Moscow in late 1941 and early 1942. ... This article or section is missing needed references or citation of sources. ... The III (Germanisches) SS Panzerkorps was formed in April, 1943 as a headquarters for the 5. ...


At his afternoon situation conference on April 22, Hitler fell into a tearful rage when he realised that his plans of the day before were not going to be realised. He declared that the war was lost, he blamed the generals and announced that he would stay in Berlin until the end and then kill himself. In an attempt to coax Hitler out of his rage, the Chief of Staff of the OKW, General Alfred Jodl, speculated that the 12th Army which was facing the Americans could move to Berlin because the Americans already on the Elbe river were unlikely to move further east. Hitler immediately grasped the idea and within hours the army's commander, General Walther Wenck, was ordered to disengage from the Americans and move 12th Army north-east to support Berlin. It was then realised that if the 9th Army moved west it could link up with the 12th Army. In the evening Heinrici was given permission to make the link up. Away from the map room in the Berlin Führerbunker with its fantasy attacks of phantom divisions, the Soviets were getting on with winning the war. April 22 is the 112th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (113th in leap years). ... Oberkommando der Wehrmacht OKW most notably stands for Oberkommando der Wehrmacht - the high Command of the Third Reich armed forces. ... Generaloberst Alfred Jodl Alfred Jodl (May 10, 1890 - October 16, 1946) was a Wehrmacht leader. ... The River Elbe (Czech Labe , Sorbian/Lusatian Łobjo, German Elbe) is one of the major waterways of Central Europe. ... Walther Wenck (September 18, 1900 - May 1, 1982) was a General in the German Army during the World War II. He commanded the 12th Army which he ordered to surrender to the United States in order to avoid capture by the Soviets. ... This is a reconstruction of the layout of the Führerbunker. ...


Although in Hitler's mind the 12th Army was going to break through to Berlin and the 9th Army once it had broken through to the 12th Army was going to help them, there is no evidence that Generals Heinrici, Busse or Wenck thought that this was at all possible. However, Hitler's agreement to allow the 9th Army to break through to the 12th Army would allow a window through which sizable numbers of German troops could escape to the west and surrender to the Americans, which is exactly what Wenck and Busse agreed to do. This was made easier when shortly after midnight on April 25 Busse was given authority "to decide for himself the best direction of attack".[3] April 25 is the 115th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (116th in leap years). ...

[edit]

The Situation of 9th Army

Before being encircled, the 9th Army had already suffered heavy losses in the Battle of the Seelow Heights. It is estimated that at the start of the encirclement it had fewer than 1,000 guns and mortars, 79 tanks and probably a total of 150-200 combat-ready armoured fighting vehicles left. In all there were about 80,000 men in the pocket, the majority of whom were members of the 9th Army consisting of the XI SS Panzer Corps, V SS Mountain Corps and the newly acquired V Corps, but there were also the Frankfurt Garrison.[4] The number of tanks reported included 36 tanks in XI SS Corps, including up to 14 King Tigers of the 502nd SS Heavy Panzer Battalion[5]. Air supply was attempted on April 25 and 26, but could not be carried out because the planes that had taken off could not find the drop point for supply, and no contact to the encircled army could be established. Frankfurt (Oder) ( Sorbian/Lusatian: Frankobord ) is a city in Brandenburg, Germany located on the Oder River, on the German-Polish border directly opposite the city of SÅ‚ubice. ... General characteristics Length: (hull) 7. ...


The pocket into which the 9th Army had been pushed by troops of the 1st BF and 1st UF was a region of lakes and forest in the Spree Forest south-east of Fürstenwalde. The Soviets, having broken through and surrounded their primary objective of Berlin then turned to mopping up those forces pushed into the pocket. On the afternoon of April 25 the Soviet 3rd, 33rd, and 69th Armies as well as the Guards Cavalry Corps (which was a formation capable of infiltration through difficult terrain such as forests), following orders issued by Marshal Georgy Zhukov the commander of the 1st BF, attacked the pocket from the north east. Konev knew that to break out to the west the 9th Army would have to cross the Berlin–Dresden autobahn south of a chain of lakes starting at Teupitz and running north-east. On the same day as Zhukov's attack in the north-east, he sent the 3rd Guards Army to support the 28th Army which was ready to close the likely breakout route over the Berlin–Dresden autobahn. ... April 25 is the 115th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (116th in leap years). ... The Soviet Third Army was an important Soviet Red Army field division during World War II. The Third Army was created in 1939 in the Special Belorussian Military District as part of Army Group Vitebsk. ... Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov, GCB (Russian: ) (December 1 [O.S. November 19] 1896–June 18, 1974), was a Soviet military commander and politician who, in the course of World War II, led the Red Army to liberate the Soviet Union from the Nazi occupation... Teupitz is a town in the Dahme-Spreewald district, in Brandenburg, Germany. ...

[edit]

Soviet Dispositions

Soviet forces ordered to attack 9th Army numbered around 280,000 men, 7,400 guns and mortars, 280 tanks and self-propelled guns, and 1,500 aircraft. The force included six Air Corps, and the 1st Guards Breakthrough Artillery Division, which was committed on April 25. [6] April 25 is the 115th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (116th in leap years). ...


In the area to the west of the encirclement, Soviet forces were already positioned in depth, with (from the north)

  • Soviet 28th Army's 128th Rifle Corps in the area Mittenwalde and Matzen;
  • 3rd Guards Rifle Corps in the area Tornow, Radeland, Baruth, Golssen;
  • 3rd Guards Army's 120th Rifle Corps south of Halbe;
  • 21st Rifle Corps along the Berlin to Dresden autobahn to the west of Lübben;
  • 13th Army's 102nd Rifle Corps with 117th Guards Rifle Division stood near Luckenwalde,
  • while 27th Rifle Corps's 280th Rifle Division stood at Jüterbog, where the Wehrmacht's main artillery school was located.

In terms of mechanized formations, 3rd Guards Tank Army's 9th Mechanised Corps had its 71st Mechanized Brigade between Teupitz and Neuhof; 4th Guards Tank Army's 68th Guards Tank Brigade stood near Kummersdorf Gut; and 3rd Guards Army's 25th Tank Corps near Duben. Both 3rd Guards Army and 13th Army were to be heavily reinforced throughout the battle, as they were to be in the line of the German break-out. A reinforcement of particular note was the deployment of 1st Guards Breakthrough Artillery Division[7] under command of 3rd Guards Army in the sector Teurow to Briesen. [8][9] Mittenwalde is a town in the Dahme-Spreewald district, in Brandenburg, Germany. ... Baruth is a town in the Teltow-Fläming district of Brandenburg, Germany. ... Golßen is a town in the Dahme-Spreewald district, in Brandenburg, Germany. ... The Soviet Third Guards Army was a field army of the Red Army that fought on the Eastern Front in World War II, notably in 1945. ... Halbe is a small town in Brandenburg, Germany - eine Kreisstadt. ... Luckenwalde: a town in the district of Teltow-Fläming in the state of Brandenburg, Germany. ... Jüterbog (2002 pop. ... German cavalry and motorized units entering Poland from East Prussia during the Polish Campaign of 1939 Wehrmacht (Defence force) was the name of the armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945. ... Kummersdorf is the name of an estate near Luckenwalde at 52°05 N and 13°20 E, around 25km south of Berlin, in the Brandenburg region of Germany. ... There are communes and places that have the name Briesen: in Brandenburg, Germany Briesen (Spreewald), in the Spree-Neiße district (Sorbian: Brjazyna) Briesen (Mark) , in the Oder_Spree district, A part of Friesack, in the Havelland district, A part of Halbe, in the Dahme-Spreewald district, Older Name An older...

[edit]

Breakout

[edit]

12th Army's Attack and 9th Army's Plan

The relief attempt by 12th Army started on April 24 with General Wenck's XX Corps attacking east and northwards. During the night the Theodor Körner RAD Division attacked the Soviet 5th Guards Mechanised Corps, under the command of General I. P. Yermakov, near Treuenbrietzen. The next day the Scharnhorst Division started to engage the Soviets in and around Beelitz and caught 4th Guards Tank Army's 6th Guards Mechanized Corps in an open flank, overrunning rear area units. While the Ulrich von Hutten Division tried to reach Potsdam with Scharnhorst Division on its eastern flank, to open a corridor into Berlin, other elements of the 12th Army, as Wenck had agreed with Busse, pushed east to meet the 9th Army. April 24 is the 114th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (115th in leap years). ... Treuenbrietzen is a town in the Bundesland of Brandenburg, Germany. ... Beelitz is a town in the Potsdam-Mittelmark district, in Brandenburg, Germany. ... Potsdam is the capital city of the state of Brandenburg in Germany. ...


In the words of Busse to Wenck, 9th Army was planning to push west "like a caterpillar". According to General Busse's plan the heavy King Tiger tanks of 502nd SS heavy Panzer battalion should lead this caterpillar. The metaphor is quite apt because as the head lead the way the rear-guard in the tail was going to be engaged in just as heavy fighting trying to disengage from following Soviet forces. [10]


In the night of April 25/26 a new order was issued to 9th and 12th Armies from Hitler. It stipulated that:

  • 12th Army was to cut off 4th Guards Tank Army by reaching the line Beelitz to Ferch, and to attack eastwards to unite with 9th Army.
  • 9th Army was to hold on to its eastern front between Spreewald and Fürstenwalde, and to attack westward to link up with 12th Army.
  • Once both armies were combined, they were to attack northwards and open a corridor through the Red Army's encirclement ring around Berlin.[11]

The final army conference of 9th Army took place at 1500 hours on April 28. At this point contact had been lost with V Corps, and V SS Mountain Corps. The conference found that the only possible break-out route had to lead through Halbe. This was not difficult to deduce for the Soviet command as well, while on the other hand 9th Army had virtually no information about the Soviet disposition of forces between it and 12th Army. From the conference onward, command and control in 9th Army collapsed. There was almost no contact from 9th Army HQ to Army Group Vistula, and little contact with formations under 9th Army command. There were few or no maps to guide planning and combat operations.


In his book Slaughter at Halbe Tony le Tissier, accused General Busse of failing to exercise effective command and control of the encircled army, thereby contributing to the failure of successive break-out attempts[12]. Le Tissier writes that Busse initial move of his head-quarters (HQ) put him into a situation where he lost the ability to control all formations in the pocket, and in his break-out plan 9th Army HQ was to be placed immediately behind the spearhead of the breakout, the 502nd SS Heavy Tank Battalion, this effectively reduced his ability to exercise command to the local level. He also accuses Busse of failing to adequately support the first breakout attempt (see below). The spearhead for the 9th Army breakout plan on April 28 was to be 502nd SS heavy Panzer battalion with remaining elements of Kurmark division, split into two wedges, the northern one with 502nd SS heavy Panzer battalion, 9th Army head-quarters (HQ), XI SS Panzer Corps HQ, Panzer Grenadier Division Kurmark HQ. Remnants of 21st Panzer Division were to cover in a north-westerly direction, while remnants of 32nd SS Division 30. Januar were to cover the east and provide the rear-guard.[13] April 28 is the 118th day of the year (119th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 247 days remaining. ...

[edit]

The First Breakout Attempt

On the evening of April 25, Busse ordered the two battlegroups: Kampfgruppe von Luck, consisting of 21st Panzer Division. and Kampfgruppe Pipkorn, containing 35th SS and Police Grenadier Division, both named after their commanders, to attempt a break-out in the direction of the road centre of Baruth to obtain the use of roads to Luckenwalde and Jüterbog. von Luck consisted mainly of 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment and tanks from 22nd Panzer Regiment and started from Halbe, while Pipkorn consisted of the remains of the 35th SS Division with tanks from 10th SS Panzer Division, and started from Schleepitz. The orders to Colonel von Luck were to open a corridor and keep it open for the sole use of military units of 9th Army. No civilians were to be allowed to use it. von Luck made good progress across the Berlin–Dresden autobahn until it hit the Soviet defenses of 50th Guards Rifle Division at Baruth, which had been reinforced by dug-in Stalin tanks. Pipkorn hit defenses of 329th Rifle Division early on and the battle group was scattered, with some armoured elements including Panther tanks reaching Baruth. A pitched battle developed at Baruth, which was impossible for the German battlegroups to win. Busse ordered von Luck to stay near Baruth but discontinue the attack when informed of this, however von Luck disobeyed the order and disbanded his battle group, allowing soldiers to try and attempt a breakout individually. April 25 is the 115th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (116th in leap years). ... The Kampfgruppe was a common combat formation used by the German Wehrmacht during the Second World War. ... Hans von Luck (July 15, 1911 - 15 January 1997) was a Colonel in the German Army during the World War II. He was a close associate of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. ... 5th Light Division 21st Panzer Division Created as 5th Light Division or 5th Light Afrika Division in Africa in early 1941, from an ad hoc collection of smaller units rushed to support the collapsing Italian army. ... The 35th SS and Police Grenadier Division was one of the thirty-eight divisions fielded by the Waffen-SS during World War II. It owes its unusual name to the fact that it was created from SS-Police units transferred to the Waffen-SS. It was not formed until the... Baruth is a town in the Teltow-Fläming district of Brandenburg, Germany. ... The 35th SS and Police Grenadier Division was one of the thirty-eight divisions fielded by the Waffen-SS during World War II. It owes its unusual name to the fact that it was created from SS-Police units transferred to the Waffen-SS. It was not formed until the... The Iosif Stalin tank (or IS tank, named after the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin), was a heavy tank developed by the Soviet Union during World War II. The tanks in the series are also sometimes called JS or ИС tanks. ... A pitched battle is a battle were both sides choose to fight at a chosen location and time and where either side has the option to disengage either before the battle starts, or shortly after the first armed exchanges. ...


On the following day battle continued around Baruth, and tank-hunting teams blew up some of the dug-in Soviet tanks. Some supply canisters were delivered by air, but the strength of the battle group was insufficient to hold off a Soviet counter-attack. Heavy air attacks, a strike by 4th Bomber Air Corps around noon with 55 aircraft, and repeated strikes by 1st and 2nd Air Assault Corps with 8-10 aircraft each, a total of ca. 500 missions, caused heavy casualties and chaos. The forces of the two battle groups were destroyed, with Soviet reports claiming 5,000 prisoners (POW) taken, 40 tanks and self-propelled guns destroyed, and almost 200 guns and mortars captured. [14] These forces and weapons would be severely missed during later break-out attempts. Pipkorn, the commander of the other battle group, was killed during the battle, and von Luck taken prisoner by the Soviets on April 27. Few of the survivors of the battle reached the Elbe.[15] April 27 is the 117th day of the year (118th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 248 days remaining. ...

[edit]

The Second Attempt

The next morning, the German vanguard found a weak point between the two armies and many Germans were able to cross the autobahn before the Soviets managed to plug the gap. The fighting was very heavy and included incessant air attacks by the 2nd Air Army as well as tree-bursting shells which rained wood splinters through the area. During the whole battle the Soviet air force flew 2,459 attack missions and 1,683 bombing sorties[16]. The Germans found that they could not use their armour as well as they had hoped, because it was vulnerable to destruction on the roads and could not get a good grip on the sandy soil of the pine forests in the region. The German vanguard managed to reach and cross the MarkZossen road (Reichstrasse 96) where it was spotted by a Luftwaffe plane. Hitler was furious when he realised that Busse was attempting to break out west and not aid him in Berlin. His command sent several messages demanding that the army turn towards Berlin, but received no answer. // Mark can refer to the following: A mark is a point typically used within the context of a measurement. ... This article needs copyediting (checking for proper English spelling, grammar, usage, etc. ...


During the night and the next day (April 27), the Germans renewed their attack along two axes south from the village of Halbe towards Baruth, and in the north from Teupitz. This attack failed to produce a mass breakout although, like the day before, some groups did manage to slip through Soviet lines. April 27 is the 117th day of the year (118th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 248 days remaining. ... Teupitz is a town in the Dahme-Spreewald district, in Brandenburg, Germany. ...


The front lines were not continuous because the dense forest terrain meant that visibility was down to metres, so the danger of ambush and sudden assault was a problem for both sides. Smoke from burning sections of the forest, set alight by shell fire, helped the German and hindered the Soviets because it shielded the Germans from aerial reconnaissance and attack. This was cold comfort for any wounded German soldier who could not move fast enough to avoid the flames. It also hindered many German groups because without a compass and no sun, it was very difficult to judge which direction to move. The sandy soil precluded the digging of foxholes and there was no time to construct anything more elaborate, so there was little to no protection from wooden splinters created by artillery and tank HE shells which the Soviet forces deliberately aimed to explode at tree top height.[17] metre or meter, see meter (disambiguation) The metre is the basic unit of length in the International System of Units. ... A shell is a projectile, which, as opposed to a bullet, is not solid but contains an explosive or other filling, though modern usage includes large projectiles without a filling which are properly termed shot. ...

[edit]

The Third Attempt

On the night of April 28 the Germans tried another mass breakout from around Halbe. They managed to break through the 50th Guards Rifle Division and created a corridor from Halbe to the west but they paid a very high price. During the 28th and 29th the Soviets reinforced the flanks and attacked from the south, pouring in Katyusha rockets and shells concentrating on the area around the Halbe. April 28 is the 118th day of the year (119th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 247 days remaining. ... Katyusha multiple rocket launchers are a type of rocket artillery built and fielded by the Soviet Union beginning in the Second World War. ...


By this time the Germans were spread over a wide area. The rearguard was at Storkow and the vanguard had linked up with the 12th Army at Beelitz. There were large groups around Halbe. The Soviet battle plan was to split the caterpillar into segments and then destroy each segment individually. The German battle plan was to continue moving west as fast as possible keeping the corridor open. Storkow (Mark) is a town in the Oder-Spree district, in Brandenburg, Germany. ...


The situation in Halbe was desperate for the Germans, orders were still being issued to recognisable formations, but these were by now all mixed up. There was considerable tension between Waffen-SS and Wehrmacht soldiers with both accusing the other of helping their own comrades while ignoring the plight of the other. In Halbe itself some of the civilians took pity on very young solders ("kindersoldaten") and allowed them to change out of their uniforms into civilian clothes. In one documented case an SS man appeared at the door of a cellar intending to shoot a Panzerfaust into a cellar with about 40 civilians and young Wehrmacht soldiers in it, only to be shot dead by one of the soldiers [18]. Waffen-SS recruitment poster; Volunteer to the Waffen-SS The Waffen-SS was the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel. ... German cavalry and motorized units entering Poland from East Prussia during the Polish Campaign of 1939 Wehrmacht (Defence force) was the name of the armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945. ... 4 Panzerfausts in the original casing, displayed in Helsinki Military Museum Panzerfaust. ...


During the following days, the fighting became more and more confused. If the Germans came into contact with Soviet forces and overran a Soviet position, the Soviets counter-attacked not only with ground forces but with artillery and aircraft. Losses on both sides were very high. By the time the fighting was over, (around the end of April, beginning of May), about 25,000 German soldiers had managed to escape to join up with the 12th Army on the eastern side of Reichstrasse 2 the road running north south through Beelitz. Although this was the end of the battle it was not the end of the breakout. The 12th and 9th Armies' remnants then fought a fighting retreat westwards towards the Elbe so that they could surrender to the Americans.

[edit]

Aftermath

The casualties on both sides were very high. There are about 30,000 Germans buried in the cemetery at Halbe. About 20,000 soldiers of the Red Army died trying to stop the breakout; most are buried at a cemetery next to the Mark-Zossen road. These are the known dead, but the remains of more who died in the battle are found every year so the total of those who died will never be known. Nobody knows how many civilians died but it could have been as high as 10,000.[19] The short forms Red Army and RKKA refer to the Workers and Peasants Red Army, (in Russian: Рабоче-Крестьянская Красная Армия - Raboche-Krestyanskaya Krasnaya Armiya), the armed forces first organized by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War in 1918. ...

"The most astonishing part of the story is not the numbers who died or were forced to surrender but the 25,000 soldiers and several thousand civilians who succeeded in getting through three lines of Soviet troops."[20]
[edit]

Formations Involved in the Battle

[edit]

Soviet

Ground Forces[21]

  • 1st Belorussian Front - Marshal G.K. Zhukov
    • 3rd Army – Colonel General A.V. Gorbatov
    • 69th Army – Colonel General V.Y. Kolpakchi
    • 33rd Army – Colonel General V.D. Svotaev
    • 2nd Guards Cavalry Corps – Lieutenant General V.V.Kruhkov
  • 1st Ukrainian Front - Marshal I.S. Konev
    • 3rd Guards Army – Colonel General V.N.Gordov
    • 13th Army - Colonel General N.P.Phukhov
    • 28th Army – Lieutenant General A.A.Luchinsky
    • 3rd Guards Tank Army – Colonel General P.S. Rybalko
    • 4th Guards Tank Army - Colonel General D.D. Lelyushenko

Air Forces - Air Chief Marshal A.A. Novikov The 1st Belorussian Front (alternative spellings are 1st Byelorussian Front and 1st Belarusian Front) was a Soviet Army Front during the Great Patriotic War. ... Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgi Zhukov Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov (Russian: Гео́ргий Константи́нович Жу́ков) (December 1, 1896 - June 18, 1974), Soviet military commander and... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Marshal Ivan Konev Ivan Stepanovich Konev (Russian Иван Степанович Конев) (December 28, 1897 – May 21, 1973), Soviet military commander, was born into a peasant family near Podosinovsky in central Russia (now in Kirov Oblast). ...

  • 2nd Air Army - Colonel General S.A.Krasovsky
  • 16th Air Army - Colonel General S.I. Rudenko
  • 18th Air Army – Air Vice Marshall A.Y. Golovanov
[edit]

The 16th Red Banner Air Army (16 воздушная Краснознаменная армия) is a formation of the Russian Air Force. ...

German

  • 9th ArmyColonel General Theodor Busse
    • XI SS Panzer Corps – SS-General Mathias Kleinheisterkamp
    • V SS Mountain Corps – SS-General Friedrich Jackeln
    • V Army Corps – Lieutenant General Eduard Wagner
  • 12th Army – General Walther Wenck
    • XX Corps – General Karl-Erik Köhler
    • XXXIX Panzer Corps – Lieutenant General Karl Arndt
    • XXXXI Panzer Corps – Lieutenant General Holste
    • XXXXVIII Panzer Corps – General Maximilian von Edelsheim
[edit]

The German Ninth Army (German: ) was a World War II field army. ... Colonel General is a senior military rank which is used in some of the world’s militaries. ... General der Infanterie Theodor Busse (15 December 1897 in Frankfurt † 21 October 1986 in Wallerstein). ... Created as 5th Light Division or 5th Light Afrika Division in Africa in early 1941, from an ad hoc collection of smaller units rushed to support the collapsing Italian army. ... Walther Wenck (September 18, 1900 - May 1, 1982) was a General in the German Army during the World War II. He commanded the 12th Army which he ordered to surrender to the United States in order to avoid capture by the Soviets. ...

Bibliography

  • Beevor, Antony; Berlin: the Downfall, 1945; Penguin Books, 2002, ISBN 0-670-88695-5
  • Konev, I.S.; Year of Victory; ISBN 1-4102-1999-2
  • Le Tissier, Tony; Slaughter at Halbe; ISBN 0-7509-3689-4
  • Luck, Hans von; Panzer Commander - The Memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck; ISBN 0-304-36401-0
  • Ryan, Cornelis; The Last Battle; ISBN 0-684-80329-1
  • Ziemke E.F.; Stalingrad to Berlin; ISBN 1-4102-0414-6
  • Ziemke E.F.; The Battle for Berlin:End Of The Third Reich; NY:Ballantine Books, London:Macdomald & Co, 1969.
[edit]

Antony Beevor (born on December 14, 1946) is a British historian, educated at Winchester College and Sandhurst. ... Hans von Luck (July 15, 1911 - 15 January 1997) was a Colonel in the German Army during the World War II. He was a close associate of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. ... Cornelius Ryan (5 June 1920 – 23 November 1974) was an Irish-American journalist and author mainly known for his writings on popular military history, especially World War II. His two best-known books are The Longest Day (1959), which tells the story of the D-Day (day one of the...

Notes

  1.   Tissier, Tony le, p. 206
  2.  a  Ziemke, E.F. p. 476-7
  3.   Beevor, A. Page 330
  4.   Beevor, A. Page 329
  5.   according to Tissier, Tony le, p.145-146 the number of King Tigers in the pocket can not be established with certainty. A strength report from Klein Hammer reports two companies with seven each, but other reports from eyewitnesses indicate a lower number of ten or twelve. What is certain is that 11 King Tigers can be accounted for as lost based on German eyewitness accounts.
  6.   Tissier, Tony le, p.81
  7.   Tissier, Tony le, p.81 and map p.80; Artillery Breakthrough Divisions were specialised formations created to support the breakthrough battle of Soviet fronts. They belonged to the STAVKA Reserve and were not normally allocated for any other purpose. Such a division would not only add significantly to the number of guns, but would also bring with it sophisticated fire control and observation units that would enable a more rapid concentration of artillery fire in a sector. In the case of the battle of Halbe, the 1st GBAD contributed to the ability of 3rd Guards Army to continuously harass the encircled German forces with artillery fire, causing significant casualties to them.
  8.   Tissier, Tony le, Appendices
  9.   Tissier, Tony le, Disposition Map of 25 April, p.83
  10.   Beevor, A. Page 330
  11.   Tissier, Tony le. p.89-90
  12.   Tissier, Tony le, p.117; The particular failings outlined by le Tissier (who is a retired British Military Police officer) are of a "tardy" transfer of his HQ into Spreewald indicating "indecisiveness and reluctance to assume responsibility for the breakout". This delay led to an inability to exercise control from the new location due to congestion in the area. Furthermore, a failure to support the first breakout attempt by battle groups 'von Luck' and 'Pipkorn'. Finally, le Tissier criticises him for placing his HQ into the most secure position of the break-out, and for "abandoning" the rearguard to its fate.
  13.   Tissier, Tony le. p. 117-9
  14.   Tissier, Tony le, p.91-2
  15.   Tissier, Tony le, p.84-8
  16.   Beevor, A. Page 334
  17.   This increased the amount of splinters caused by the explosions by adding wood splinters from the trees to the metal splinters from the projectiles. Because of the explosions location above the target it was very difficult, if not impossible to find cover protecting from these splinters. Similar casualties had been suffered by the American Army when it was attacked by Germans using artillery in a similar way during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest on the Western Front six months earlier.
  18.   Beevor, A. Page 334
  19.   Beevor, A. Page 337
  20.   Beevor, A. Page 337
  21.   Tissier, Tony le, Appendices
[edit]

Stavka is an abbreviation for Shtab vierhovnogo komandovania, or General Headquarters of armed forces in late Imperial Russia and in the Soviet Union. ... Battle of Hurtgen Forest (German: Schlacht im Hürtgenwald) is the name given to the series of fierce battles fought between the Americans and the Germans during World War II in the Hürtgen forest (or Huertgen forest). ... During World War II, the Western Front was the theater of fighting west of Germany, encompassing France, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Denmark. ...

External links

  • BBC History - Battle of Halbe
  • German defense minister honors Soviet dead in World War II
  • Denkwerkstatt Halbe

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