The establishment and distribution of the divisions of the Wehrmacht and subordinate units of allies on 30 April 1945.
VG Division, the Volks-Grenadier (peoples grenadiers) Divisions.
FJ-Divisions, abbreviation for Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers) divisions.
Panzer Div. (or Pz.Div.) is the armored (tank) division.
Panzergrenadier (or Pz.Gren.) Div is the motorized infantry division with tank elements.
Jager are light infantry units, mainly for anti-partisan warfare.
Battle Groups are the still available, operational troop units of wiped out divisions.
zbV, German short term for ‘at special disposal’.
Schematic layout of the German Wehrmacht from April 30, 1945:
Army Group E
|all corps directly subordinate to the Army Gr.||Reserves: Staff XXXIV (arriving)|
|LXIX zbV||Assault Brigade Southeast|
|XV Cossacks||1, 2 Cossacks Div., 11 Luftwaffen Field Div.|
|XXI Mountain||22 VG, 369 Croat Inf.Div., 7 SS Mountain Div. Prinz Eugen, 41, 181 Inf.Div.|
|XV Mountain||373 Croat Inf.Div., Security Regiment 639|
|LXXXXI zbV||104 Jäger Div., Jäger Regiment 20|
|LXXXXVII zbV||237 Inf.Div., 188 Mountain Div., remnants 392 Croat Inf.Div.|
Army Group South
|Reserves||9 SS-Panzer-Div. Hohenstaufen, 9 Mountain Div. (under formation)|
|2 Panzer Army||LXVIII||71 Inf.Div., 13 SS Mountain Div. 'Handschar', 118 Jager-Div.|
|XXII Gebirgs||297 Inf.Div., Div. Szentlaszlo (Hungarian)|
|I Cavalry||23 Panzer-Div., 3, 4 Cavalry Div., 16 SS-Pz.Gren.Div. RF-SS|
|6 Army||IV SS-Panzer||battle group 3 Panzer-Div. and 5 SS-Panzer-Div. Wiking, 14 SS-Gren.Div. (Ukrainian no.1)|
|III Panzer||1 Volks-Gebirgs (peoples mountains) Div., 1 Panzer-Div.|
|6 Panzer Army (reserves: 11 Jager-Div. arriving)||I SS-Panzer||1 SS-Panzer-Div. LSAAH, 12 SS-Panzer-Div. HJ, battle group 356 Inf.Div., General-Command v.Bünau (710 Inf.Div.)|
|II SS-Panzer||3 SS-Panzer-Div. Totenkopf, SS-Feldherrnhalle-Grenadiers-Div.|
|8 Army||XXXXIII||96 Inf.Div., 48 VG, battle group 101 Jager-Div.|
|Panzer Corps Feldherrnhalle||357 Inf.Div., 25 Panzer-Div., battle group Panzer-Div. FH2, 44 Hoch-und Deutschmeister-Div. and 211 VG.|
Army Group Center
|Reserves||600 (Russian) Inf.Div., 2 SS-Panzer-Div. Reich|
|1 Panzer Army (Reserves: 304 Inf.Div.)||XXIV Panzer (Reserves: 10. FJ-Div. arriving)||6, 8 Panzer-Div., Pz.Div. FH1, battle groups 182, 711 Inf.Div. and 46 VG-Div.|
|XXIX||8 Jager, 19 Panzer-Div. with 'special unit Olmütz', 271 Inf.Div.|
|LXXII||special unit 601, battle groups of 15, 76 and 153 Inf.Div.|
|XXXXIX Mountain||320 VG, 253 Inf.Div., 16 Hungarian Inf.Div., group General Klatt (3 Mountain and 97 Jager Div.)|
|LIX||75, 154, 371 and 715 Inf.Div., 544 VG, 78 V.St.|
|XI||4 Mountain Div., 10, 16, 17 Panzer Div., 254 Inf.Div.|
|17 Army (Reserves: 18 SS-Pz.Gren.Div. HW)||XXXX Panzer||68 Inf.Div., battle groups 45 and 168. Inf.Div., 1 Ski Jager-Div.|
|XVII Panzer||208, 359 Inf.Div., battle group 31 SS-Frw.Div.|
|VIII||100 Jager-Div., battle group 20 Waffen-SS (Estonian No.1)|
|4. Panzer Army (Reserves: battle group 269 Inf.Div.)||LVII Panzer||6 VG, 17, 72 Inf.Div.|
|Group Kohlsdorfen||Division Staff zbV 615, 464 Inf.Div., battle group 545 Inf.Div.|
|Panzer Corps GD||1 FJ-Pz.Div. HG, 20 Panzer-Div., Pz.Gren.Div. Brandenburg|
|Corps group General Moser||193, 404 Inf.Div.|
|FJ-Pz.Korps HG||2 FJ-Pz.Gren.Div. HG, battle group Frundsberg (remnants 10 SS-Pz.Div. Frundsberg and Führer-Begleit. 344)|
|LXXXX||404, 464, 469 Inf.Div., Combat Commander Chemnitz|
|st. IV.||Combat Commander Dresden|
|7 Army (2 Panzer-Div. arriving)||XII||347 VG, 413 Inf.Div., Div.Gr. Bennicke|
|st. XIII||11 Panzer-Div., Replacement and alarm units, Engineers brigade 655|
|Battle group Bork||Combat Commander Passau, Replacement and alarm units|
|IV Flak (AA) Corps||Flak (anti-aircraft) battery 508|
|Army Group G||19 Army (whereabouts unknown)||XVIII SS||352 VG, 89, 106, 719 Inf.Div.|
|LXXX||47, 246, 559 VG, 716 Inf.Div.|
|LXIV||16 VG, 189 Inf.Div.|
|24 Army (subordinated to 19 Army)||405 Inf.Div.|
|1. Armee (whereabouts unknown)||XIII||198 Inf.Div., 19, 553 VG-Div.|
|XIII SS||38 SS-Grenadier-Div. Nibelungen, 212 VG., 2 Mountain Div., 17 SS-Pz.Gren.Div. Götz von Berlichingen, Divisions group Hobe, Div. zbV 350|
|LXXXII||36, 416 Inf.Div.|
|Commander Northwest||Battle group MOK-West, RAD Commander Formation IV, Higher Engineer Commander XV|
|Commander Northeast||Defense area Berchtesgarden-Salzburg|
Army Group C (Commander Southwest)
Status as of April 12, 1945, since current status unknown (* actually the army group had initiated the surrender in the meantime)
|Army Liguria (Staff LXXXXVII Corps; Reserves: 4 Italian Mountain Div. Monte Rosa - 1 Reg)||LXXV||5 Mountain Div., 2 Italian Div. Littorio, 34 Inf.Div.|
|Corps Lombardia||3 Italian Marines Div. San Marco, Fortress Brigade 134, one Regiment of 4 Italian Mountain Div. Monte Rosa|
|14 Army||LI Mountain Corps||148 Inf.Div., 1 Italian Inf.Div. Italia, 232 Inf.Div., 114 Jager-Div., 334 VG|
|XIV Panzer||65, 94 Inf.Div., 8 Mountain Div.|
|10 Army||I Paratroopers Corps||305 Inf.Div., 1, 4 FJ-Div., 278 VG, 26 Panzer-Div.|
|LXXVI Panzer||98 VG, 362 Inf.Div., 42 Jager-Div., 162 (Turkmen) Inf.Div.|
|LXXIII zbV||alarm units|
In total about 146 1/2 divisions (because of the different basic organizations of the divisions and changing combat strength the numbers are only an indication).
See also: Germany Army Unit Organisation 1942-45.
Final battles in the east
In the second half of February and throughout March 1945, Soviet military action was concentrated on clearing the flanks of the imminent attack on Berlin and at the same time building up forces and supplies for this offensive.
The Red Army was initially defeated in battles of immense hardship, but then managed to destroy most of the German troops in Pomerania or drive them back across the Oder.
The two German armies that were cut off in East Prussia were broken up into several parts. Those German units which could not be evacuated by sea were destroyed or pushed back in a tiny enclave which was still held until May 1945.
Using their artillery, the Red Army troops of the Third Belorussian Front advanced as far as Königsberg (today Kaliningrad) and literally smashed most of the remains of the old north wing of the German Eastern Front to pieces. The German general who eventually surrendered the remains of Königsberg was sentenced to death in absentia and his family was arrested. Such actions did not stop the Red Army, nor did the ever-increasing German practice of hanging soldiers in public with signs explaining the fate of traitors to the Third Reich.
On the Eastern Front, however, German soldiers generally fought with a bravery born of desperation to save their own lives and what they thought was the future of their families and their homeland. There the ‘flying execution squads’ were completely unnecessary. And when the Eastern Front finally disintegrated for good, they too could no longer stop the soldiers’ desperate attempts to escape westwards into captivity of Western Allies instead of the Russians.
One after the other, the isolated German positions in the east gave up, with a small number escaping or breaking through. Only the German units in Kurland and in two places in East Prussia were able to hold out until the total surrender in May 1945.
The German soldiers trapped in these positions had at least a greater chance of surviving the war than if they had been evacuated early to the Oder Front.
But neither Hitler, who wanted them to stay in place, nor Chief of General Staff Guderian, who wanted them to be evacuated to the new Eastern Front, was concerned about their survival. They merely had different views on how best to prolong the war. Hitler hoped to be able to turn the tide, or that the Allied alliance of convenience would still be dissolved, while Guderian hoped to hold a new front in the East until the Americans and British arrived. Both ideas were, however, hopelessly unrealistic.
Further south, the Red Army conquered more of Silesia and surrounded Breslau (today Wroclaw), which held out until the end of the war in May. In Bohemia, the Fourth Ukrainian Front had enormous difficulties in pushing back the German Army Group Center. The German troops there had been considerably reinforced, partly because of the assumption that the Red Army’s major spring offensive would be launched on this important industrial area and because its commander, the hard-hitting staying power General Schörner, was one of Hitler’s great favorites.
In Hungary, the last major German offensive of the war against the resistance and the subsequent counteroffensive of the Second and Third Ukrainian Front, which drove the Germans out of Hungary and southern Slovakia, collapsed.
While the Red Army continued to advance towards Vienna via Pressburg, on 2 April they conquered the Hungarian oil fields on Lake Balaton at the southern end of the front. At the same time, Tito’s Partisans army pushed the Germans back into Yugoslavia, where they were in danger of being attacked from behind by the British advancing from Italy.
One day before the capture of the Hungarian oil fields, on April 1, Stalin had set the date for the major offensive on Berlin at the latest to April 16. At the same time, Stalin informed his Western allies that the Red Army would not attack Berlin until the end of May.
For the large-scale attack on Berlin, Stalin had previously declared that he preferred Zhukov to take this city. Now he gave the final orders for the offensive, which was to be carried out from three fronts: the Second Belorussian (Rokossovsky), the First Belorussian (Zhukov) and the First Ukrainian Front (Konev).
Before that, however, the Fourth Ukrainian Front was to attack further south, in order to cover the left flank of the First Ukrainian Front advancing towards Berlin and to attract German reserves there. Both were remarkably successful and there were practically no German reserves behind the German lines in front of Berlin.
In the north, Rokossovsky’s Second Belorussian Front had to carry out the most difficult preparations and troop deployments and was faced with the most difficult terrain. An attack was necessary across a river which branched into different arms and was located in an area crossed and flooded by dikes, which could easily be fired at by the defenders.
His armies were therefore to attack a few days after the other two fronts, and therefore did not start the offensive until 20 April, with only the northernmost of the three attempted assaults across the river area being successful.
Rokossovsky then quickly shifted his focus to this section and penetrated into Mecklenburg.
Immediately east of Berlin was Zhukov’s First Belorussian Front, which already had bridgeheads over the Oder and was to attack from them in three waves. A spearhead was to advance north of the German capital and eventually surround it, one aimed directly at Berlin and one to the southwest, in order to cut off the German 9th Army standing on the Oder from the north.
Konev’s First Ukrainian Front, which was supposed to make the German defenders believe that they were attacking their left flank, was in fact supposed to cross the Neisse River against the German 4th Panzer Army, then advance northwest to cut off the 9th Army from the south and then advance further west to meet the Americans and enclose Berlin from the south.
In the first two weeks of April, when the Third Ukrainian Front was advancing deeply into Austria and was occupying Vienna by April 3, the extensive preparations for the main offensive on Berlin continued. As in previous offensives, these preparations were greatly aided by thousands of trucks supplied by the United States under the Lend-Lease program.
With about two and a half million soldiers, the offensive was opened on 16 April. Stalin had told his commanders that he wanted the operation to be completed in twelve to fifteen days. With enormous effort and losses, they delivered to him essentially what he had demanded.
Although Zhukov’s Belorussian Front began its offensive with bridgeheads across the Oder, the first frontal attacks, which began at night in the spotlight and were intended to blind the German soldiers, hardly pushed back the defenders.
At Stalin’s insistence Zhukov let his soldiers continue to run into the fire, and when the Soviet artillery had worn down the defenders, Red Army units broke through the front line of the Vistula Army Group and pushed forward towards Berlin and north of it.
There were very heavy losses on both sides and numerous Soviet tanks were destroyed, many of them by the Panzerfaust of members of the Hitler Youth. According to Soviet information, during the subsequent fighting in Berlin alone, some 700 Red Army tanks were destroyed by the Panzerfaust alone.
But the enormous numerical superiority of the Red Army slowly but surely drove all defenders before them.
Further south, Konev’s forces crossed the Neisse River with great success after a huge artillery barrage. Within a short time several divisions of the 4th Panzer Army simply disintegrated and before the Germans realized what was going on, Konev’s spearheads were behind the German 9th Army.
Within five days it was clear that the Eastern Front had been torn apart. The only open question now was whether the Germans would try to keep fighting or give up.
The advancing Russians invaded Berlin from the north, east and south when the spearheads of the Zhukov and Konev armies met west of the city on April 25. On the same day Konev’s troops also made contact with the Americans near Torgau on the Elbe.
The German capital was completely surrounded, and at the same time its most important large formation for its planned defense, the 9th Army, had been trapped in its own pocket southeast of Berlin.
Hitler’s desperate efforts to relieve the capital did not have a significant impact on the operations. Under heavy artillery support, Red Army troops invaded the city from all sides. Although they suffered considerable losses, they continued to advance.
Hitler had decided to stay in the capital and commit suicide there if the relief operations failed.
However, an increasing number of German military leaders saw a completely different perspective at that time. They recognized that the war was lost and that there was no prospect of a renewed stabilization of the front. As Russian shells fell on the capital, the Red Army and American troops would meet in central Germany, while other American armies from the north and south could be expected at the Brenner Pass, they had only one reason to continue the fighting. They wanted to gain time for the civilian population who had to flee from the eastern areas to the west and to avoid as much of their soldiers as possible from being captured by Soviet troops.
Therefore, those parts of the German armies that were standing near Berlin tried – not entirely unreasonably – to escape the place of doom and not to reach it. Meanwhile, Hitler and his entourage in the Führer’s bunker vacillated between feverish dreams of last-minute salvation and sheer desperation.
The last garrison commander of Berlin, General Helmuth Weidling, had been appointed to this post by Hitler when he was supposed to be executed, since he had not handled his previous corps command as Hitler had ordered. Now he informed Hitler that the last ammunition would be used up on April 30.
Since Hitler had by then implemented his earlier plan to let Dönitz and Kesselring continue the war in the northern and southern parts of the remaining German sphere of power, he now only had to settle his personal affairs. All that was not absolutely necessary at headquarters he had already sent away at the last moment.
The encirclement and the struggle through the big city had lasted only a few days longer for the Red Army soldiers than Stalin had originally demanded.
The still allied Americans summed it up as follows: ‘The fighting in Berlin lasted so long because it was a large metropolis, which had been bombed out of a field of rubble and, on top of that, had been amateurishly fortified, which meant that it could not be quickly captured even against the weak German defense forces. This especially when the attacking troops already knew that the war was now practically over, and they did not belong to the last victims and wanted to see their home again’.
As the fighting approached the immediate vicinity of the bunker that served as Hitler’s headquarters, the Führer married his lover Eva Braun on April 29 and dictated his political and private will.
In the former, he defended his policy, made wicked remarks about his generals whom he blamed for the defeat and called on all surviving Germans to continue his racist policy of exterminating the Jews. He appointed Dönitz as his successor.
The following day he and his new wife committed suicide. The bodies were soon found by the Russians, as there was not enough gasoline for their complete incineration, which Hitler had ordered in his private will. Nevertheless, for years the Soviet government continued to spread the rumor that Hitler might still be alive somewhere.
The Berlin garrison – or rather what was left of it – surrendered to the Red Army after the failure of attempts by the last acting Chief of General Staff of the German Army, General Hans Krebs, to work out a more comprehensive surrender.
The battle for Berlin was over. After a careful study, it had cost the lives or health of half a million people, according to the most conservative estimates. Even as the last defenders had marched off into captivity, Soviet patrols were already searching for fugitive Nazi leaders, while a group of German Communists led by Walter Ulbricht was flown in from Soviet exile to form a new government in occupied Germany.
North and south of Berlin the fighting continued in the following days. The announcement that Hitler was dead finally convinced the commanders in Italy to hand over their units.
In Bohemia, a final Soviet offensive was launched against the remaining German Army Group Center, which finally had to lay down its arms as part of the overall surrender.
There, the ROA units organized by former Red Army general Vlasov, recruited from Soviet prisoners of war to fight alongside the Germans against the Soviet regime, became involved in the final battles around Prague and fell into the hands of the Russians or were handed over to them by the Americans. Those who did not kill themselves were shot or sent to labor camps.
The Czechoslovakian exile government of Benes returned to Prague, but under circumstances that gave little hope for a good future.