The Battle for Berlin

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  • Topic: World War II, Georgy Zhukov, Red Army
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The Battle For Berlin

Ethan Rowe Mr. Powell Period 8 In May of 1945 the concluding battle of World War II in Europe was taken place. From the Allies side of the battle there were many different generals working together to accomplish the goal of decisively defeating Germany.

For Soviet Premier Josef Stalin, Berlin was the major prize and he feared that the Red Army might be beaten to the city by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s 21st Army Group that was advancing rapidly from Holland into North Germany after German resistance in the west had more or less collapsed after the failure of the Ardennes offensive in December 1944 and the surrounding of Army Group B in the Ruhr Pocket in March 1945. This was averted however, by General Dwight D. Eisenhower's (Supreme Allied Commander) change of mind. In September 1944 he had outlined his belief in a letter to his two principle subordinate commanders, Montgomery and General Omar Bradley, that " . . . . Berlin is the main prize . . . . There is no doubt whatsoever, in my mind, that we should concentrate all our energies and resources on a rapid thrust to Berlin" and "it is my desire to move on Berlin by the most direct and expeditious route". (Strawson, pp. 103 – 4) Montgomery wrote back and urged the Supreme Commander to decide what was necessary to go for Berlin, plan and organise the operation and then undertake it to "finish the war". (Strawson, p. 104) While plans existed for crossing the Rhine and at the same time encircling the Ruhr, something that would be effected by the US 9th Army under Montgomery's 21st Army Group and the US 1st Army from Bradley's 12th Army Group, there were no real plan for what was to happen afterwards. Eisenhower's strategy had always favoured a broad front advance but there was a lack of decision on what would happen once the Allied forces had rejoined and created a unified front again, roughly in the area of Kassel, apart from a vague notion of making a "great thrust to the eastward". (Strawson, p. 104) The British had always viewed Berlin as the central objective and had envisaged that their forces, 21st Army Group, would be the ones to make the main thrust to the north and east. Indeed, Montgomery had already issued orders that after the encirclement of the Ruhr was complete, the British 2nd and US 9th Armies would advance with maximum speed to the River Elbe via Hamburg and Magdeburg while the Canadian 1st Army cleared Holland. Eisenhower effectively demolished this plan by continuing to plan for a broad front offensive with the US 9th Army reverting to Bradley's command in order to help conduct mopping up operations in the Ruhr and then advance eastwards to an Erfurt – Leipzig – Dresden line with Montgomery's 21st Army Group protecting the northern flank and General Jacob Devers' 6th Army Group protecting the southern flank. Eisenhower thus intended to concentrate the Western Allies' advance in the centre with Bradley in order to meet the Soviet advance around Dresden and cut Germany in two – as far as he was concerned, Berlin had become "nothing but a geographical location; I have never been interested in those. My purpose is to destroy the enemy forces and his power to resist." While it is easy to see Eisenhower's decision in light of the fact that at the time it was made, Montgomery's 21st Army Group was still 300 miles from Berlin and the Soviets, who had reached the River Oder, were less than 50 miles from the city; that Model's Army Group B in the Ruhr should be properly dealt with so that there was no chance of them breaking out and reforming a coherent defensive line in the centre; or that Hitler might retire to the 'National Redoubt' in the Bavarian and Austrian mountains that might require many months and the expenditure of large resources to reduce. What is not so easy to understand is that, given Eisenhower's insistence that military...
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