Tuesday 27 December 2016

Insider goes to Küstrin/Kostrzyn and the Seelower Heights

a postcard from Küstrin, prior to WWII

    T-34/85 Tank
    Insider guides are constantly doing research. The thrust of this day trip was to uncover more about the German army's defence, Henrici's three line strategy with the focus on the 9th Paratrooper division, and their strategy as they retreated towards the Gusow palace. Insider guides also studied the Soviet assault on Küstrin/Kostrzyn, the construction/defence of bridgeheads and the detail the Soviet attack from Zhukov command post.

    Discussing the difference between traction profiles on mass-produced T-34s compared to the Tiger or Panther

    Katyusha rockets, otherwise known as Stalin's organ
An array of military hardware
Unknown soldier

Seelower Heights Soviet memorial statue

Setting the scene...

The battle begins, Heinrici's defence plan

The encircling of Berlin, and the Western Allied forces position

On the Polish side of the Oder discussing the Soviet preparations for the assault on the Küstrin/Kostrzyn fortress

Entering what once was the bustling old town of Küstrin/Kostrzyn

Discussing the total destruction of the old city
Walking down the main street of the old city towards the site of the former city palace. Between the street signs are the ruins of schools, homes, churches, shops, the whole town...
Discussing the construction of bridgeheads

As the German forces abonded the Küstrin/Kostrzyn fortress the bridges were destroyed in their wake

The wall of the Küstrin/Kostrzyn fortress

War damage on the Rotwein church
The ruined Rotwein church

At Zhukov's and Chuikov's command post, overlooking the battlefield
Gusow palace, amazing untouched villa, used by both German and Soviet forces. Now includes a small restaurant serving great food including fine schnitzels

It also hosts a most eclectic museum of curiosities
Those BRIXMIS boys got around the DDR

SS uniform next to a pink cocktail dress
Werbig by fading light – a tactically important rail crossing, this was the site of some of the heaviest fighting for the Seelower Heights

The Battle for the Seelower Heights was the biggest military barrage in world history. Approx 1.2 million shells were dropped on the first day, April 16th 1945. The Soviets managed to get the 1st Belorussian Front, approx. 768.000 troops and 3.000 tanks across the Oder in 14 days. The Soviets suffered about 30.000 deaths in the 4 day battle. German casualties are estimated at 12.000. After this battle the road to Berlin was open.