Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A 70-Year Memory: The Last Days

April 20: Adolf Hitler's 56th and last birthday is a subdued celebration in his underground headquarters: The celebration in his underground headquarters, the F├╝hrerbunker, in the Reich Chancellery Park was very subdued. The Soviet Union Army was advancing toward Berlin, and Adolf Hitler knew that the end of his Third Reich was near. Later that day, Adolf Hitler left the bunker to decorate 20 Hitler Youth, most 12 to 15 years old, for bravery in combat. He then returned to the bunker in which he had lived since January 16, 1945. Protected by 16 feet of concrete and six feet of earth, Adolf Hitler's sanctuary protected him but did not mask the sounds of Soviet shells falling closer each day.

April 21: The Soviets reach Berlin with overwhelming military power and encircled the city: With 2.5 million men, the Soviets faced one million German troops, including about 45,000 male youth and elderly. The Germans were also greatly outnumbered in artillery, tanks, and planes. "The amount of equipment deployed for the Berlin operation," a Soviet Union soldier remarked, "was so huge I simply cannot describe it and I was there." Enormous firepower was brought to bear, but the Soviets discovered that many forward German positions had been abandoned before the bombardment. The German command pulled troops tightly around Berlin for a final, doomed defense of the city.

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