Last Battle: The Classic History of the Battle for Berlin
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The classic account of the final offensive against Hitler's Third Reich.
The Battle for Berlin was the culminating struggle of World War II in the European theater, the last offensive against Hitler's Third Reich, which devastated one of Europe's historic capitals and marked the final defeat of Nazi Germany. It was also one of the war's bloodiest and most pivotal battles, whose outcome would shape international politics for decades to come.
The Last Battle is Cornelius Ryan's compelling account of this final battle, a story of brutal extremes, of stunning military triumph alongside the stark conditions that the civilians of Berlin experienced in the face of the Allied assault. As always, Ryan delves beneath the military and political forces that were dictating events to explore the more immediate imperatives of survival, where, as the author describes it, “to eat had become more important than to love, to burrow more dignified than to fight, to exist more militarily correct than to win.”
The Last Battle is the story of ordinary people, both soldiers and civilians, caught up in the despair, frustration, and terror of defeat. It is history at its best, a masterful illumination of the effects of war on the lives of individuals, and one of the enduring works on World War II.
going.” Years afterward, Koniev remarked, “At that moment I knew what my tank commanders must be thinking: ‘Here you are throwing us into this manhole, forcing us to move without strength on our flanks—won’t the Germans cut our communications, hit us from the rear?’” The tall Koniev, clapping his Marshal’s epaulettes with his hands, told the tank commanders, “I will be present. You need not worry. My observation post will be traveling with you in the very middle of the drive.” Rybalko and General
suffering heavy losses, managed to disengage from the Russians in the south, then pivot and enter Berlin. Twenty-four hours later, to Weidling’s horror, he was named Commandant of the city. The order from Stalin was numbered 11074. It was addressed to both Zhukov and Koniev; and it divided up the city between them. As of this day, April 23, the order said, the boundary line between the First Belorussian Front and First Ukrainian Front would be “Lübben, thence to Teupitz, Mittenwalde,
years and he knew now that even if he was not shot his career was over. Then he called Colonel Eismann and his Chief of Staff. “Inform the OKW,” he said, “that I have ordered the Third Army to retreat.” He thought for a moment. Then he said, “By the time they get the message it will be too late for them to countermand it.” He looked at Von Trotha, the earnest Hitlerite, and at his old friend Eismann, and explained exactly what his policy was going to be from now on: never again would he leave
entourage—and once, the Führer himself. That occasion had been the highlight of her career. In November, 1944, she and Blaschke had been urgently summoned to the Führer’s headquarters in Rastenburg, East Prussia. There they had found Hitler in acute pain. “His face, particularly the right cheek was terribly swollen,” she later recalled. “His teeth were extremely bad. In all he had three bridges. He had only eight upper teeth of his own and even these were backed by gold fillings. A bridge
Krupp und Druckenmüller plant, French forced laborer Jacques Delaunay dropped the ghastly remnant of a human arm he had just recovered from the battle-scarred tank he was overhauling, and ran for shelter. In the Sieges Allee the marble statues of Brandenburg-Prussian rulers rocked and groaned on their pedestals; and the crucifix held aloft by the 12th-century leader, Margrave Albert the Bear, shattered against the bust of his eminent contemporary, Bishop Otho of Bamberg. Nearby in Skagerrak