"On the walls of the houses we saw Goebbels' appeals, hurriedly scrawled in white paint: 'Every German will defend his capital. We shall stop the Red hordes at the walls of our Berlin.' Just try and stop them! Steel pillboxes, barricades, mines, traps, suicide squads with grenades clutched in their hands - all are swept aside before the tidal wave.
"Drizzling rain began to fall. Near Bisdorf I saw batteries preparing to open fire. 'What are the targets?' I asked the battery commander. 'Centre of Berlin, Spree bridges, and the northern and Stettin railway stations,' he answered. Then came the tremendous words of command: 'Open fire on the capital of the Fascist Germany.'
"I noted the time. It was exactly 8:30 a.m. on 22 April. 96 shells fell in the centre of Berlin in the course of a few minutes." (A Soviet war correspondent)
While much has been written of the Battle of the Bulge, Okinawa, Midway, Stalingrad, and many other conflicts of the Second World War, the Battle for Berlin has remained in the shadows for many historians. Its importance in toppling Hitler cannot be denied, despite the fact that some thought its strategic value unnecessary to the war itself. The capture of the city and the red Soviet banner hanging victorious over the Reichstag is one of history's most famous (and ominous) images. In the weeks it took for the Battle of Berlin to be fought, an American president passed away, a British Prime Minister had to make concessions he did not desire, a Russian leader fought his way into Western Europe to stay, and a German one took his own life. The battle's implications would be felt for the next 50 years.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors