Battle for the Reichstag

The Battle for the Reichstag was the vicious and final phase of the Battle of Berlin in which the Soviet 150th Rifle Division fought against a 1,000-man German garrison composed of Waffen-SS units and sailors who had holed up inside the Reichstag. These men fought tenaciously, causing heavy losses to the Soviet forces. It took place between April 29 and May 2, 1945, during World War II.

The Battle of the Reichstag began at 02:30 hours, on April 29, 1945, after the Soviet 3rd Shock Army had crossed the Moltke bridge and started to fan out into the surrounding streets and buildings. The initial assaults on the buildings next to the Reichstag, including the Ministry of the Interior, were hindered by the lack of supporting artillery. It was not until the remainder damaged bridges were repaired that artillery could be moved up in support of the advancing infantry units. At 04:00 hours, in the Führerbunker, Hitler signed his last will and testament and, shortly afterwards, married Eva Braun. At dawn the Soviets pressed on with their assault in the southeast. After very heavy fighting, they managed to capture Gestapo headquarters on Prinz-Albrechtstrasse, but a Waffen SS unit counter-attacked, forcing the Soviets to withdraw from the building.

At 06:00 hours, on April 30, when the Russians had finally taken the bridges and were able to bring up artillery support, the 150th Rifle Division, 3rd Shock Army, launched an assault on the Reichstag. Nevertheless, this first attacking wave of red soldiers were thrown back by determined German troops entrenched in the building. The Waffen-SS troops inside had the support from 12.8 cm guns, emplaced two kilometers away on the Berlin Zoo flak tower. Several assaults had been repelled by the Germans, decimating entire companies, when the Soviets were finally able to enter the building. The Reichstag had not been in use since 1933, but now its interior was nothing but a maze of rubble and debris. The German troops inside made excellent use of this and lay heavily entrenched. Fierce room-to-room fighting broke out. At 01:30 hours on May 1, Soviet troops made their way to the roof to hoist up their communist flag.

The close quarter battle for the Reichstag raged on until very late in the evening when the surviving German troops pulled out of the building and headed north. During that same timeframe, about 100 of the last German combatants surrendered. A further 300 defenders were dead and another 350 were already lying wounded in the basement. Finally, on May 2, 1945, the Red Army was able to control the whole building.

Below: Battle for the Reichstag Map


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Thor is Carlos Benito Camacho, the manager and writer of this blog.