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Victory in Europe: End of WWII - BERLIN FALLS

BERLIN FALLS (Illustration) Russian Studies Awesome Radio - Narrated Stories Famous Historical Events Famous People Geography Social Studies Tragedies and Triumphs World History World War II

This image, from a Russian-language website entitled “Russia at War, 1941-1945 Victory,” depicts the scene at Berlin’s Reichstag when it fell to the Soviet Army. The translation, from the Russian, describes the picture in greater detail: “Victory! God is with us! Berlin in May 1945: The Reichstag captured. Nazi Germany is prostrated. Holy Russia has proved invincible!”

 

Berlin had long been on the minds of Americans who worked in factories, producing war materiel. Berlin was also on the minds of U.S. government officials who directed artists to create propaganda posters. Let’s look at a few of the most interesting:

  • It's only 1000 minutes from Cheyenne [United Airlines modification center] to Berlin!

  • The Fighting Plane You’re Working on TODAY ... May Be Over Berlin or Tokio NEXT WEEK!

  • Bundles [bombs] for Berlin!

Although British and American men, and products, had previously bombed Berlin, it would take troops on the ground to capture the center of Hitler’s government. And it was the Soviet army, without American or British assistance, which undertook the city’s final assault on the 16th of April, 1945. It is estimated that more than a million Soviet soldiers were involved. (Don't miss the videos in this paragraph.)

During the fight for Berlin, Hitler Youth formed lines of defense in the city. Boys in that organization were as young as ten, as this 1940 poster reveals:

... All 10-year-olds into the Hitler Youth.

On April 20 - as Soviet forces encircled the capital on Hitler’s 56th birthday - the nearly defeated leader left his bunker to award Iron Crosses to some of the child defenders. It was his last-known public appearance.

Five days later, the U.S. Army blew-up a swastika at the top of a Nuremberg building and, on the 30th of April, Hitler (and his new wife, Eva Braun) committed suicide. (His nurse finally broke her silence about the last days in the bunker sixty years later).

Hitler’s Last Will and Political Testament, which he dictated the day before he shot himself, tells us that he was:

. . . resolved to remain in Berlin and there to choose death of my own will at the very moment when, as I believe the seat of the Fuehrer and Chancellor can no longer be defended.

The world learned that Hitler was dead on the 2nd of May, 1945.  (Fifty years later, the BBC rebroadcast the news exactly as the British people had originally heard the message - this time, adding historic footage from the last days of the war.)  

On the day of that most-welcome announcement, Soviet soldiers captured the Reichstag, in Berlin, raising a Soviet flag they had made. The fight for the German capital was over.  After the incredible noise of battle, the city's silence was “literally deafening.”

Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, accompanied by members of the German command, signed surrender documents at a villa in Karlshorst - an eastern suburb of Berlin - on May 7.  People in London, Moscow, Paris and elsewhere - including smaller towns like the Cossack village of New Aleksandrovsk - celebrated the war's end.

Churchill announced that May 8th would be VE (Victory in Europe) Day, causing more than a million people to jam the streets of London.  The Prime Minister joined King George VI, and his family, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to greet the celebrating throngs.

The end of the war, however, was not the end of troubles for Germany’s capital city. And it was just the beginning of a bad year for Field Marshall Keitel who was convicted of war crimes and hanged, in Nuremberg, on the 16th of October, 1946.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Nov 01, 2007

Updated Last Revision: Mar 06, 2017


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