Free Walking Tour Berlin

When: Every day 10am & 12pm every day
Where: The meeting point is in front of the ehemaliges Kaiserliches Postfuhramt Berlin, Oranienburger Straße, 10117 Berlin, Germany, next to the entrance.
Price: Free

The Race to Berlin: Determining the First Arrival in World War II

by | Oct 17, 2023 | Original Berlin

Introduction

In the final stages of World War II, the race to capture Berlin was a crucial moment in the conflict. Multiple Allied and Axis powers were vying for control of the German capital, and the question of who reached Berlin first is a topic of historical interest. In this article, we will explore the events leading up to the allies’ entry into Berlin and shed light on who claimed victory in the race.

The Allied Forces: Approaching Berlin

The Soviet Union’s Advance

As the war in Europe neared its end, the Soviet Union’s Red Army launched a major offensive against German forces. The Soviet advance progressed steadily, and by April 1945, they had encircled Berlin. Their strategic position and overwhelming strength allowed the Soviets to mount a determined assault on the city.

The Allied Western Front

Simultaneously, the Western Allies, comprising primarily the United States, Britain, and France, were making significant progress in their push towards Berlin. However, due to strategic considerations and logistical challenges, the Western forces had a more arduous task reaching Berlin.

The Battle of Berlin

The Battle of Berlin commenced on April 16, 1945, and marked the final major offensive of the European theater. The Soviet forces, commanded by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, launched a relentless attack on the heavily fortified German capital. Fierce street-to-street fighting ensued as the Red Army sought to penetrate German defenses.

The Soviet Triumph

The Fall of Berlin

After days of intense combat, on May 2, 1945, the Red Army broke through the German defenses and effectively captured Berlin. The Soviet troops raised the Soviet flag over the Reichstag building, symbolizing their victory. This iconic image of the Soviet flag fluttering over Berlin serves as visual evidence of the Red Army’s arrival in the city.

Key Soviet Figures

Several important Soviet figures played instrumental roles in the Battle of Berlin. General Vasily Chuikov, in particular, commanded the assault on Berlin and played a significant role in the Soviet victory. His leadership and tactical skills were crucial in overcoming the German defenses and ultimately capturing the city.

The Western Allies and Berlin

Delayed Entry

While the Soviets emerged as victors in the race to Berlin, it is important to acknowledge the Western Allies’ contributions to the war effort. Due to logistical challenges, strategic decision-making, and the need to consolidate captured territory, the Western forces reached Berlin later than the Soviet Union.

Allied Zones of Occupation

Following Germany’s surrender, Berlin was divided into four zones of occupation: Soviet, American, British, and French. The city became a microcosm of the broader post-war division of Germany. Each occupying power had different objectives and policies, leading to the eventual division of Berlin into East and West sectors.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Soviet Union, specifically the Red Army, reached Berlin first in World War II, officially capturing the city on May 2, 1945. Their victory marked a turning point in the war and the end of the Third Reich. While the Western Allies played a vital role in the overall outcome of the war, their arrival in Berlin was delayed due to various factors. Understanding the sequence of events and the respective contributions of the Soviet Union and the Western Allies allows us to gain a comprehensive view of this significant moment in history.

Thank you for reading. If you're inspired by the stories of Berlin and want to delve deeper, why not join us on our Free Berlin Walking Tour? It's a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the city's rich history and vibrant culture. We look forward to welcoming you soon.

WHAT TO EXPECT

  • 3.5 hours walking tour
  • Berlin’s major highlights
  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Reichstag and Berlin Wall
  • Historical sites

Free Walking Tour Berlin

When: Every day 10am & 12pm every day
Where: The meeting point is in front of the ehemaliges Kaiserliches Postfuhramt Berlin, Oranienburger Straße, 10117 Berlin, Germany, next to the entrance.
Price: Free