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Defending Berlin fine print

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Starting on 12 January 1945, the Red Army breached the German front as a result of the Vistula–Oder Offensive and advanced westward as much as 40 kilometres (25 miles) a day through East Prussia, Lower Silesia, East Pomerania, and Upper Silesia, temporarily halting on a line 60 km (37 mi) east of Berlin along the Oder River. When the offensive resumed, two Soviet fronts (army groups) attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third overran German forces positioned north of Berlin. The Battle in Berlin lasted from 20 April until the morning of 2 May.

The first defensive preparations at the outskirts of Berlin were made on 20 March, when the newly appointed commander of Army Group Vistula, General Gotthard Heinrici, correctly anticipated that the main Soviet thrust would be made over the Oder River. Before the main battle in Berlin commenced, the Soviets managed to encircle the city as a result of their success in the battles of the Seelow Heights and Halbe. During 20 April 1945, the 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov started shelling Berlin's city centre, while Marshal Ivan Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front had pushed from the south through the last formations of Army Group Centre. The German defences were mainly led by Helmuth Weidling and consisted of several depleted, badly equipped, and disorganised Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions, the latter which ironically included many SS foreign volunteers, as well as many Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members. Within the next few days, the Soviets rapidly advanced through the city and reached the city centre where close-quarters combat raged.

Before the battle was over, German Führer Adolf Hitler and a number of his followers committed suicide. The city's defenders finally surrendered on 2 May; however, fighting continued to the north-west, west and south-west of the city until the end of the war in Europe on 8 May (9 May in the Soviet Union) as German units fought westward so that they could surrender to the Western Allies rather than to the Soviets.

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