TV channelHistory"Launched the nationwide contest" I am proud. " Now everyone can talk about why he is proud of his great-grandfather, grandfather or someone close to them who participated in the Second World War. These are stories of heroic deeds and fearless deeds that should never be forgotten. And today we recall the assault on Koenigsberg, a city that, over eight centuries, was turned by the Germans into a powerful fortress, which the Nazis considered impregnable. Hitler ordered the defense of Koenigsberg to the last soldier and to the last cartridge. The assault of Koenigsberg by the Red Army lasted four days and became the most fleeting operation to capture a large city during the Second World War.
The Inaccessible Bastion
During the Second World War, the capital of East Prussia - the city of Koenigsberg - was the largest and most well-fortified fortress in Europe. The Germans surrounded the city with forts, powerful walls, pillboxes and other fortifications. Hitler called Koenigsberg "an impregnable bastion of the German spirit." The Nazi command gave defense to this stronghold an important meaning. It was here, in East Prussia, that a school of German officers emerged. From here, the unification of German lands once began. For many Germans, the loss of this region amounted to the loss of Germany itself.
The assault on Koenigsberg by Soviet troops lasted four days - from April 6 to 9, 1945. It was one of the most fleeting operations to capture a large and well-defended city during the Second World War. According to official figures, during the assault, the Red Army lost more than 3 soldiers and officers killed. The Germans - ten times more - over 000 people.
Such success was achieved thanks to the careful preparation of the operation. Every step, every action and maneuver of the Red Army was thought out down to the smallest detail. In March 1945, a special front-line model was created, over which a special group of one hundred people worked. At the head of the project was the Marshal of the Soviet Union - Alexander Mikhailovich Vasilevsky, as well as commanders of all military branches, tankmen, pilots, signalmen, infantrymen. Each group was formed separately and received a specific task, thanks to which people better understood where to go, what to do, who to interact with, and how to complete the task.
For centuries, East Prussia has been the scene of fierce and bloody battles. It was here that in the 18th century Russian troops inflicted a heavy defeat on the considered invincible army of the Prussian King Frederick the Great. In 1807, at the Battle of Preisis Eilau, the Russian army stopped Napoleon's victorious march to the East. The last major battle in East Prussia took place at the very beginning of the First World War. Then the Russian troops under the command of Generals Samsonov and Rennenkampf during the offensive on Koenigsberg at the cost of heavy losses actually thwarted the plan for a lightning war Kaiser Germany against Russia and France.
During the Second World War, Hitler set the task of turning East Prussia into an impregnable bastion of the Third Reich. On the outskirts of the city of Rastenburg, just a hundred kilometers from Koenigsberg, was Hitler’s main wolf’s headquarters, where the Führer spent a total of more than eight hundred days. East Prussia was turned into a huge fortress with a large number of bunkers and artillery positions, which were surrounded by natural barriers in the form of rivers, lakes and swamps. Of course, getting through such armor was not easy.
Rest only in our dreams
The first aerial bombardment of Koenigsberg and its environs was carried out by the Soviet aviation by order of Stalin in the fall of 1941. This was a response to the German bombing of Moscow. However, the raid of British aviation in 1944 became truly destructive for Koenigsberg. On August 30, 189 British Lancasters dropped 480 tons of incendiary bombs onto the city. It was a targeted bombardment of the city with high-explosive bombs that burned buildings from the ceiling to the basement.
In early 1945, under the pressure of the Red Army, the Wehrmacht retreated to the west. Soviet troops liberated most of Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltic states, Poland and went to the eastern borders of Germany. On January 12, Stalin gave the order to launch an offensive along the entire front from the shores of the Baltic to the Carpathian Mountains. In the north, the main blow was inflicted on the territory of Poland and East Prussia. German defense was broken through. Warsaw was liberated on January 17th. A few days later, the Red Army took the fortress of Poznan, crossed the Oder and reached the direct road to Berlin. In the north, Soviet troops pushed German divisions to the Baltic Sea and actually surrounded Koenigsberg. By the end of January, three large groups of German troops concentrated in the city and its suburbs, which continued to provide fierce resistance.
Hitler gave the order to defend East Prussia up to the last soldier and to the last patron, giving this a very great moral and ideological meaning. Therefore, when the offensive began on January 13, Red Army soldiers met with a serious retaliatory strike. Geographically, this is a very good area for defense: it is replete with swamps, rivers, lakes and hills, which are very easy to defend. In fact, to storm East Prussia did not mean to follow the route that is convenient for the advancing, but to move along the so-called beaten paths, being subjected to attacks by forces previously deployed here.
The Koenigsberg fortifications were three lines of all-round defense. The outer line ran approximately 10 kilometers from the city center and consisted of old forts built at the end of the 19th century. The brick walls of the fort were reinforced with a meter layer of concrete. On top of the fortifications were covered with a thick layer of earth, and outside surrounded by a moat. The garrison of such a fort could include up to three hundred people armed with machine guns, light guns and mortars. A second line of defense ran through the outskirts of the city, including capital stone buildings, barricades, and reinforced concrete firing points. The third line encircled the central part of Koenigsberg and consisted of old fortifications. Most of the buildings in the city center were connected by underground tunnels, had warehouses, arsenals and even underground factories that produced military products.
On January 28, 1945, by order of Hitler, General Otto Lyash was appointed commandant of Koenigsberg. The next day, Lyash arrived at the fortress and ordered that a new underground bunker be built immediately for his command post. A place for him was chosen in the very center of the city, two hundred meters from the Royal Castle. On March 7, the bunker was ready. Inside the underground shelter were equipped rooms for the commandant, staff officers, radio operator and various technical rooms. Lyash was sure that Koenigsberg was able to restrain the onslaught of the Soviet troops for months, believing that if the Russians had defended Sevastopol for 250 days, then Koenigsberg would last no less. Almost the entire male population was mobilized for the defense of the city, by order of the commandant, along with regular units of the Wehrmacht. According to Soviet intelligence, by the beginning of April, the Konigsberg garrison numbered about 60 thousand people. However, it quickly became clear that the German group was rather more numerous. In addition, in East Prussia there were many tanks, there were separate battalions of heavy tanks "Tiger", rearmament on the "Royal Tigers" - military vehicles, almost no penetration due to armor.
Go to battle
The task of capturing Koenigsberg was entrusted to the Third Belorussian Front, headed by Marshal Alexander Vasilevsky, who considered the main thing to prepare the troops, not only in the technical, but also in the tactical sense. The idea of Vasilevsky was to cut the forces of the garrison and take possession of Koenigsberg with two powerful blows from the north and south in convergent directions. For this task, four armies with a total number of about 130 thousand people were concentrated on the approaches to the city. But these troops were heavily bloodless by the war. The strongest replenishment went to Berlin, and those who were released from captivity and young soldiers came to Koenigsberg. It was to this disparate mass that it was necessary to give morale, rally and tune only to victory. Vasilevsky had only a month for this. March 22, 1945 the command of the Red Army abandoned 4 groups of saboteurs in Koenigsberg. Soviet intelligence captured more than 30 enemy soldiers and captured part of the combat documentation with the designations of German positions. All city fortifications were photographed from the air in order to understand how the defense system works.
In early April, Soviet artillery launched tons of shells at the Koenigsberg forts. The heaviest guns were delivered under the city walls. Shells broke through the ceiling, smashed armored observation caps. According to the recollections of German soldiers, this shelling undermined the morale of the garrison, which lost faith in the reliability of ancient casemates. On April 6, assault units of the Red Army launched an offensive on Koenigsberg. The Red Army blocked the forts partially destroyed by artillery shelling, suppressing enemy fire with self-propelled guns, flamethrowers and smoke bombs. Going around the forts, the assault groups moved towards the city blocks. But here the offensive stopped - without the support of the aircraft, which was inactive due to bad weather, it was almost impossible to take the German pillboxes on the move. Only in the evening on April 6, during heavy fighting, the Soviet units managed to move forward and cut the railway connecting Koenigsberg with the port of Pillau. To develop the offensive deep into the fortress of the Red Army, it was urgent to crush the Germans' resistance in the remaining forts on the outskirts of the city. Especially difficult was the assault on fort number five. Its walls were not pierced even by 246 kg shells.
On April 6, our assault groups tried to take control of the fort on the move, but ran into fierce resistance. The solution was found by the lieutenant of the 175th sapper battalion Ivan Sidorov. On the night of April 7, taking advantage of the fact that the German garrison took refuge on the lower floors, Sidorov made his way to the walls of the fort. Here he collected two charges from captured mines and blew up the wall. The explosion killed 76 German soldiers. The whole next night the battle was in the casemates of the fort, and only in the morning his garrison - only 143 people - capitulated. The Sidorov Method was also applied to other Koenigsberg forts, as a result of which they began to pass into the hands of the Soviet troops. The fall of the forts facilitated the assault, but did not lead to the surrender of the city, whose inhabitants continued to fight stubbornly.
On April 7, the weather in the Koenigsberg area improved significantly. Shortly after noon, 516 heavy Soviet long-range bombers appeared in the sky above the city. Within 45 minutes, they dropped 550 tons of bombs on different targets. The main attacks were carried out on German reserves and firing points of the second and third line of defense. After the bombing, chaos reigned in the city, the communication of the headquarters with the troops of the garrison was broken. Fire started everywhere, and many stores with ammunition and food were destroyed. Commandant Lyash subsequently recalled: "The destruction in the city was so great that it was impossible not only to move, but even to navigate." By the evening of the same day, units of the Red Army, with the support of heavy tanks, artillery and aircraft, advanced 3-4 kilometers forward, occupying the port, station and many city blocks in the north-west.
Heroes of the Soviet Union
On the night of April 8-9, the remnants of the German forces tried to break out of the center of Koenigsberg towards the Zemland group. However, their attack failed. On the morning of April 9, Soviet troops resumed the assault on the city. Scattered and battle-exhausted groups of German soldiers took refuge in the eastern part of Koenigsberg. On the evening of April 9, parliamentarians were sent to the Soviet command to negotiate surrender. At 22:45 Lyash ordered an immediate ceasefire. The resistance of individual German troops continued throughout the following night, and only in the morning of April 10 was it finally suppressed. On this day, a red flag was understood over the fort "Don" - the last center of resistance of the Nazi troops.
In honor of the grand victory in East Prussia, 760 thousand Red Army men were awarded the medal "For the capture of Koenigsberg." 216 soldiers and officers of the Red Army were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, and 98 military units were called "Königsberg".
After the end of World War II, by the decision of the Potsdam Conference, the northern part of East Prussia, together with Königsberg, was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Soviet Union. July 4, 1946 after the death of the All-Union Warden Mikhail Kalinin, the city received a new name. So ended the story of the Konigsberg fortress, on the site of which today is the westernmost city of Russia - Kaliningrad.