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Slaughter at Halbe - The Destruction of Hitler's 9th Army by Tony Le Tissier MBE

By Tony Le Tissier MBE

Operation "Berlin", the Soviet offensive introduced on April sixteen, 1945 via Marshals Zhukov and Koniev, remoted the German 9th military and tens of millions of refugees within the Spreewald "pocket", southeast of Berlin. Stalin ordered its encirclement and destruction and his subordinates, desirous to win the race to the Reichstag, driven common Busse’s ninth military right into a tiny zone east of the village of Halbe. to flee the Spreewald pocket the remnants of ninth military needed to go through Halbe, the place barricades built by way of either side shaped bold stumbling blocks and the converging Soviet forces subjected the world to heavy artillery hearth. by the point ninth military ultimately escaped the Soviet pincers, it had suffered 40,000 killed and 60,000 taken prisoner. Teenaged refugees recount their reports along Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS veterans trying to retain army self-discipline amid the chaos and carnage of headlong retreat. whereas military commanders try to extricate their decimated devices, demoralized infantrymen grow to be civilian garments and take to the woods. concerning the tale day-to-day, Tony Le Tissier exhibits the effect of overall struggle upon soldier and civilian alike, illuminating the unfolding of significant and bad occasions with the reminiscences of participants.

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REVIEW:

Slaughter at Halbe is one other one among Tony Le Tissier's a number of volumes at the climactic conflict of Berlin in April 1945, yet on no account the least. This quantity specializes in a nearly not noted episode within the ultimate moments of the conflict in Europe - the breakout try via the German nine. Armee (AOK nine) to dodge the Soviet pincers encircling their capital and succeed in protection (and captivity) with the yankee military at the Elbe River. For years, Western readers were conditioned via books and movies situated upon occasions in the tiny Fuhrerbunker, whereas almost ignoring the loss of life fight of the Wehrmacht outdoors the town. equally, the purple military is mostly portrayed as quick constructing a decent ring round Berlin, in order that just a handful of German infantrymen and civilians have been capable of break out to the West. actually, Slaughter at Halbe demonstrates that the encircled AOK nine made a daring attempt among 21 April and 1 may perhaps 1945 to bash its approach in the course of the German encirclement and achieve American strains. equivalent to Xenophon's Anabasis, 100,000 German troops attempted to struggle their means throughout 60 miles of Soviet-held terrain. Herein lies the 2 important revelations of this e-book: first, that the Soviet armies lower than Konev inflicted tremendous slaughter at the packed German AOK nine, killing at the very least 40,000 infantrymen and civilian refugees in a small forest round the city of Halbe and moment, that approximately 30,000 Germans succeeded in attaining American traces. total, this is often the most effective of Tony Le Tissier's books and intensely fascinating now and then, even supposing the poor-quality maps make it tough to stick with the path of AOK 9.

The publication is split into fifteen sequential chapters, such a lot of which hide a unmarried day, that is an exceptional structure for depicting the saga of a military in retreat. the writer does supply 20 maps, yet such a lot are very terrible caliber and that i had nice hassle opting for a number of the small villages pointed out within the textual content. the shortcoming of an total sector map is especially tense, in view that such a lot maps in basic terms conceal very small parts and it used to be tricky to stick to the total retreat of AOK nine. Tony Le Tissier builds his narrative totally on German first-hand bills, which supplies it a tactical taste, even though he presents the `big' photo on German and Soviet movements.

In their rush to get to Berlin, Konev and Zhukov bypassed lots of the 100,000-men within the AOK nine and figured that they'd easily hand over or stay in position. in its place, the AOK nine - which was once badly depleted and extremely low on gas and ammunition - boldly made up our minds to attempt and get away via Konev's strains to arrive the German 12. Armee (AOK 12) below basic Wenck at the Elbe and the american citizens. The Germans within the pocket massed their ultimate armor, together with 14 King Tigers, and began pushing west opposed to robust Soviet resistance. The dominant photographs herein are chaos, confusion and constant Soviet bombardment and air assaults at the packed refugee columns (too undesirable there has been no Western media there to cry, `Highway of Death'). particularly, the tiny city of Halbe turned a dense killing floor, with hundreds of thousands of German squaddies and civilians being killed because of hassle in getting round Soviet roadblocks. it's also obvious that German command and keep an eye on fast broke down and purely these devices which retained a few semblance of self-discipline had any likelihood of escaping. in any case, the final King Tiger is destroyed simply as Wenck's military is reached, clearing a direction for roughly 30,000 Germans to arrive the yankee strains. If this isn't a dramatic adequate topic for a characteristic movie sometime, i do not understand what is.

Overall, Slaughter at Halbe is a gripping and well-told wrestle narrative approximately one of many much less famous points of the second one international struggle. elements of the ebook will not be to boot written as others - the writer is an enough yet no longer wonderful author - yet his fabric frequently speaks for itself. it's also invaluable as a cautionary story approximately squaddies and management in extremis. regardless of the standard depiction of Hitler within the bunker ranting "Where is Wenck?" waiting for the AOK nine and AOK 12 to come back to his rescue, in fact that the leaders of those formations had began to imagine for themselves (for the 1st time in 12 years) and sought to avoid wasting their very own troops and as many civilians as attainable, rather than dashing to the Fuhrer's part. this is often a massive point of the second one global battle that should be extra well known.

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Extra info for Slaughter at Halbe - The Destruction of Hitler's 9th Army

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He did not completely abandon his own idea, nor did he entirely reject Marshal Koniev’s considerations, supported by the General Staff. On the map showing the plan of the operation he silently crossed out the section of the demarcation line that cut off the Ukrainian Front from Berlin, allowing it to go as far as Lübben (sixty kilometres to the south-east of the capital) and no further. 6 In his memoirs, Koniev wrote of this event: To me, in any case, the end of the boundary at Lübben meant that the rapidity of the penetration, as well as the speed and manoeuvrability of the operations on the right flank of our Front, might subsequently create a situation which would make our attack against Berlin from the south advantageous.

It would be strange to portray myself during the last months of the war as a person devoid of strong emotions. On the contrary, we were overflowing with them. As a matter of fact, the drawing of the line of demarcation brought the planning of the operation to a conclusion. 7 So this operation was to become not only a race against time to beat the Western Allies to Berlin, but also a race between the front commanders for the glory of taking the enemy capital, and within the capital what to them was the symbolic Reichstag building.

O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 40–3. 16. Tessin, Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS, with additional information on the Volksarmee from Tully. Note that the Germans used Roman numerals for their corps formation titles (including the unusual XXXX for 40) but not for their artillery corps. The Soviets did not use Roman numerals at all. Wilke, Am Rande der Strassen, states that on 15 March 1945 an instruction was issued dropping the word ‘Panzer’ from XI SS Panzer Corps’ title and the word ‘Mountain’ from V SS Mountain Corps’ title, but it appears that this was not implemented, as the formations concerned are referred to by their full titles in contemporary documents, as used in this text.

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