Russian troops have captured some outlying suburbs of Berlin at the beginning of what promises to be a bitter battle for control of the city.Germany then, Syria today?
The Red Army approached the German capital from three directions, north, east and south-east. The northeastern suburb of Weissensee is the closest to the centre being only three miles away.
The Nazi minister of propaganda, Josef Goebbels, has issued a statement saying Berlin will be defended to the last. He said anyone who showed cowardice, hoisted the white flag or attempted sabotage would be treated as outlaws.
Hitler ordered a counter attack. But the Wehrmacht's 9th Army was cut off by Marshall Konev's forces in the forest south of Berlin, near the small town of Halbe.
Over 50,000 soldiers and civilians died. Their bodies were left piled high beside the narrow paths in the forest.
The Red Army meanwhile pressed on into the heart of Berlin. Zhukov's and Konev's troops were still racing to be first to capture the city and in their haste many lives appear to have been needlessly lost.
Figures vary but one source says the battle for Berlin cost the Red Army some 70,000 troops.
They used tanks to force their way into the city but these were very vulnerable to Germans firing bazookas from destroyed buildings. Ultimately, however, the German forces, mostly made up of old people and members of Hitler Youth were no match for the Soviet forces.
As the Red Army took control it also wreaked revenge on the people of Berlin. Hospital records suggest some 100,000 women were raped in Berlin in the last six months of the war.
Monday, 20 April 2015
70 years ago today
From the BBC: