Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Battle of Seelow Heights Air War

Battle of Seelow Heights
Part of the Eastern Front of World War II
Date16–19 April 1945
LocationSeelow HeightsGermany
52°32′5″N 14°23′45″ECoordinates52°32′5″N 14°23′45″E
ResultSoviet victory
 Soviet Union
Poland Poland
 Nazi Germany
Commanders and leaders
Soviet Union Georgy ZhukovNazi Germany Gotthard Heinrici
3,059 tanks
16,934 guns and mortars
587 tanks
2,625 guns
Casualties and losses
Estimate based on archival data (1st Belorussian Front):
5,000-6,000 killed out of about 20,000 total casualties[1]
Other estimates: 30,000 killed[2][3]
12,000 were killed[2]
The Battle of the Seelow Heights, 1945 The Battle of the Seelow Heights was fought over four days from April 16 to April 19, 1945 east of Berlin along the current border with Poland. It was one of the last pitched battles of World War II. Almost one million Red Army soldiers, with more than 20,000 tanks and artillery pieces were deployed to break through the “Gates to Berlin.” Defending the terrain were 100,000 German soldiers and 1,200 tanks and guns. The Soviet forces, led by Marshal Georgi Zhukov broke through the defensive positions on April 19, having suffered about 30,000 casualties, while the Germans lost 12,000 personnel. It was the last hurrah for the Tiger tanks. After the 1st Belorussian Front broke through the final line at the Seelow Heights, nothing but shattered German formations lay between it and Berlin. Battle of Seelow Heights Map of Seelow, Germany View to the east from Seelow Heights Read everything you can by Tony Le Tissier, a British Army officer. The best is Zhukov at the Oder. Make sure you take your copy to the battlefield, which is about one hour east of Berlin by car; you can use the maps in it to navigate the battlefield. Start by visiting the museum on the battlefield at Seelow. Don’t forget to drive over to Küstrin on the Oder River and visit the old fortress there.
On 9 April 1945, Königsberg in East Prussia fell to the Soviet Army. This freed the 2nd Belorussian Front under Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky to move to the east bank of the Oder. During the first two weeks of April, the Soviets performed their fastest front redeployment of the war. The 2nd Belorussian Front relieved the 1st Belorussian Front along the lower Oder between Schwedt and the Baltic Sea. This allowed the 1st Belorussian Front to concentrate in the southern half of its former front, opposite the Seelow Heights. To the south, the 1st Ukrainian Front under Marshal Ivan Konev shifted its main force from Upper Silesia north-west to the Neisse river. The three Soviet fronts together had 2.5 million men, 6,250 tanks, 7,500 aircraft, 41,600 artillery pieces and mortars, 3,255 truck-mounted Katyusha rocket launchers, and 95,383 motor vehicles.[5] The 1st Belorussian Front had nine regular and two tank armies consisting of 77 rifle divisions, two cavalry, five tank and two mechanized corps, eight artillery and one guards mortars divisions, and a mixture of other artillery and rocket launcher brigades. The front had 3,059 tanks and self-propelled guns and 18,934 artillery pieces and mortars.[6] Eight of the 11 armies were posted along the Oder. In the north, the 61st Army and the 1st Polish Army held the river line from Schwedt to its meeting with the Finow Canal. On the Soviet bridgehead at Küstrin, the 47th Army, 3rd and 5th Shock Armies, and 8th Guards Army were concentrated for the attack. The 69th Army and 33rd Army covered the river line south to Guben. The 1st Guards and 2nd Guards Tank Armies and the 3rd Army were in reserve. The 5th Shock and 8th Guards were posted directly opposite the strongest part of the defences, where the Berlin Autobahn passed through the Heights.[7]

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