Wednesday 19 October 2016

Battle of Berlin! with Mike and Michael

Insider guides, Michael and Mike, meet to discuss the plan of attack for the Battle of Berlin, following the lines of the 8th Guards Army from Seelower Heights in to the "Zitadelle" the name given to the heavily fortified government quarter. The race is on. May 1st is the deadline, the Reichstag must be taken by then!  

Lines of German defence. The Teltower canal was a tough obstacle for the Soviets to get through. Michael in full flight here discussing the artillery attack on the 23rd of April, or was he explaining the origins of his original basque beret „it is a soft, round, flat-crowned version, usually of woven, hand-knitted wool or crocheted cotton“.
Get up to the top floor of the Ullsteinhaus for a better appreciation of the importance of the building for German defences, radio communications and 360 degree visuals for the defenders.  It was harder than we thought to get up there, after pushing a few door bells, a computer company on the top floor let us in......briefly.

After the soviets broke through the defensive position of Teltower canal it was off to the second co-centric line of German defences, the S-Bahn (city train/overhead rail) ring around Berlin. "The dogs head" had to be broken. First through the Tempelhof Airport, artillery on the roof, interlocking fields of machine gun fire, dug in tanks on the southern and eastern flanks, and approximately 2 kilometers of open terrain to navigate before the airport itself! 

Artillery started hitting the airport on April 22nd, but the battle proper for the airport started on the evening of the 25th, continuing on to about noon on the 26th. With the soviets taking the airport it was now on to the next obstacle, the landwehr canal. Mike and Michael head to the front of the Tempelhof airport, still a bombastic and imposing building today. Also, this airport was pivotal for the Berlin airlift in 1948/49.

A bit of fire damage from the war still can be seen on the facade of the airport.

This eagle's head was cut off its 4.5 meter high body, and given to the United States military academy at West Point NY, who then returned it to Berlin in 1985.

The surrender of the Berlin garrison took place on the 2nd of May 1945 in this house.  General Weidling signs the surrender, in the same apartment where the current Mayor of Berlin grew up, his dad still lives there today.

On to Anhalter train station to discussed the air raids, and the shelters in Berlin. Gotta love the art on the wall of the bunker - "those who build bunkers drop bombs"!

Then the Bendler Block, site of the OKH where Hitler informed the army on February 3rd 1933 the Nazi case for "lebensraum" and the Germanistaion of Eastern Europe. It was from this site that Weiding left to sign the surrender of Berlin forces in 1945. Here also many German army officers who plotted to assasinate Hitler in 1944 in Operation Walk├╝re were executed.

Then off to the Reichstag........

Next up, Seelower Heights.