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News > World

Soviet Troops Defeat Nazi Germany, End World War II

  • Soviet soldiers raise the flag on the roof of the Reichstag building in Berlin in this archive photo, May, 1945.

    Soviet soldiers raise the flag on the roof of the Reichstag building in Berlin in this archive photo, May, 1945.

Published 9 May 2016

May 9 marks the 71st anniversary of the Red Army's victory over fascist Germany.

The Soviet Red Army defeated the forces of Nazi Germany on the streets of Berlin on May 9, 1945. Known as Victory Day in Russia, it marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

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After a string of victories by the Red Army against the Germans on the eastern front in late 1944 and early 1945, German troops were forced to retreat west.

By early April 1945, the Red Army arrived about 37 miles east of Berlin along the Oder River.

Despite the resistance of German troops on the eastern front, in early April Soviet troops launched the strategic operation in Berlin and on April 25 the city was completely surrounded by Soviet forces and the Polish Army.

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The offensive against the capital of Nazi Germany started from all sides by the armies of two Soviet fronts: Belarus, commanded by Marshal Zhukov, and Ukraine, led by Marshal Konev.

On April 28, only the center of the city remained under Nazi control. The Red Army fired heavy artillery and on April 30, Soviet forces launched the attack on the German Reichstag, which lasted until May 2. Russian artillery destroyed much of the German capital in the capture of Berlin.

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More than 45,000 German soldiers, along with SS divisions, the police, the Hitler Youth and 40,000 from the Volkssturm reserves fought the Soviet troops.

The Red Army had 464,000 soldiers; more than 12,000 artillery pieces and mortars; 2,000 multiple rocket launchers; and 1,500 tanks and self-propelled cannons.

After the attack on the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, the commanders in charge of the defense of Berlin made it known that they would surrender the city. The Soviet command in Berlin led by Marshal Zhukov, demanded unconditional surrender.

On May 2, General Weidling reported the garrison city was ready to lay down its arms. Accompanied by three other German generals, he crossed the frontline and surrendered.

Despite the death of Hitler and the Russian victory, the German army as a whole had not surrendered. On May 8 Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel presented the capitulation of German forces to Marshal Zhukov at the headquarters of the Soviet army in Berlin–Karlshorst ending World War II in Europe.

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