I've begun a more detailed look at the Battle of Berlin. I've long been familiar with the more basic English-language sources about the battle and/or the bunker gang: Ryan, Trevor-Roper, O'Donnell, Irving (yikes!), etc. But I'm now reading lesser-known memoirs (some of which are translations) and collections of first-person accounts.
One of the most interesting is the story of SS Sturmscharfuhrer (master sergeant) Willi Rogmann, who was assigned to the Reichs Chancellery guard. He claims to have been a part of SS Brigadefuhrer Mohnke's breakout attempt across the Weidendammer Bridge over the Spree River at Frederichstrasse on the night of May1/2. This route was due east of the Diplomatic Quarter (in the "loop" of the Spree at the government center), and northeast of the Reichschancellery approximately 1 km. After crossing the bridge the plan was to gradually work northwest and west until through Russin lines. (Not a very good escape route...most successful escapes began west of the government center and went across the bridges over the Havel River and inot the lakes and marshes due west of Berlin. At least Havel bridge was kept open by a tenacious HJ mg crew up until sometime that night. ) What was amazing to me about Rogmann's account was that he said thousands of soldiers and civilians made up the mob which attempted this breakout. Rogmann, wh still commanded a small platoon of SS, said at least one hundred soldiers carrying mgs on slings spearheaded the group, with the small armor contingent of a few tanks and APCs just behind them, and then a crush of soldiers and civilians. There were at least three large-scale attempts to cross the bridge. The tanks were stopped pretty quickly. Martin Bormann died a few blocks after crossing the bridge.
Rogmann says the groups came under devastating fire from artillery, tanks, mortars, mgs, grenades and smgs. He says that, again, literally thousands of dead were in the street leading to and just beyond the bridge, and were piled up several "layers" deep.
My question is about these massive amounts of casualties. I've never read about, much less seen photos of, such a debacle (for that matter I've never seen that many phtots of Berlin during and immediately after the battle). Can this be true? Are there any other sources you are aware of about this breakout which might support Rogmann's astonishing story? Also, any photo sites of the battle you're familiar with? What about photo sources fpor thr Halbe Pocket just south and east of Berlin?
Actually, I ran into Martin the other day, he's up in the hills SE of Santiago breeding llamas at his Fourth Reich Ranch, he said to say "hallo".
I had never heard of Willi Rogmann or the attempt to break out in an eastward direction, before your post. Seems strange to attempt a break out almost directly into the teeth of Zhukov's advancing troops.
There seem to be a number of books that appear to go into some detail about the German experience of the battle of Berlin, but I have not read any of them (at least not yet). Sorry I can't do better than a list of unread books:
- With Our Backs to Berlin by Tony Le Tissier
- Berlin Dance of Death by Helmut Altner and Tony Le Tissier
- Slaughter at Halbeby Tony Le Tissier
- To the Bitter End: The Final Battles of Army Groups A, North Ukraine, Centre, Eastern Front, 1944-45 by Rolfe Hinze
- The Last Thirty Days: War Diary of the Wehrmacht by Joachim Schultz-Nauman
- The Fall of Berlin: The Last Battle by Karl Bahn
Tony Le Tissier seems to have written a passel of books about Berlin. He is a retired British lieutenant colonel who spent much of his career in Berlin, including a term as the British governor of Spandau prison. he has written a bunch of other books dealing with the Berlin campaign, the ones I listed were just the ones that seemed most directly relevant.
FuzzyBunnyActually, I ran into Martin the other day, he's up in the hills SE of Santiago breeding llamas at his Fourth Reich Ranch, he said to say "hallo".
Send him some greetings from me. If you come again close to please report him that I will send his V3-"Vergeltungsllama"`s breed next week I had some small problems with arming those 500kg bombs on the belly of that beasts, they tilted every 2 miles.
I've read that book, not sure if that part was true or not. Try google searching it? Going by the actions by the soviets in Germany against civilians, I can see this as having truth to it.
i don't think it's true. Of course raping was more or less common (like in all the army, but more in some "dead meat" soviet unit) and also some murdering but not at this scale. From what i remember civilian suicide have been wide spread at the entry of the soviet because of the heavy nazy propaganda about soviet army (or it was ss who executed people who refused to fight).
Moreover i wouldn't trust the statement of an ss ...
An attempt to break out of the capital (directly toward Zhukov's advancing 1st Belorussian front!) led by heavily armed SS guys would almost certainly have attracted massive firepower, whether or not they had a lot of civilians among them. This is not all the same thing as Von Mudra is inferring--one is the predictable response of an advancing army to movement by hostile forces, and the other was a massive breakdown in military discipline in the Red Army leading to severe abuse of civilians. So if it occurred as described in JumJum's post (as reported by Rogmann) it is not part of the pattern of abuses committed by parts of the Red Army in Germany.
Ad Hominem arguments are useless in determining the truth of the matter. Both the assertions "Going by the actions by the soviets n Germany against civilians, I can see this as having truth to it" and "Moreover i wouldn't trust the statement of an ss" (so it's probably not true) are fallacious arguments. Neither statement says anything about the truth of the matter (but both suggest much about the attitudes of the posters ;)).
/me watches JumJum's nice thread to get totally derailed by off topic bs in dismay:uhoh:
Well, I was inferring to the fact that many German towns in Prussia were burnt, with, quote quote MANY german soldier "the women being raped and the men and children being killed." HOWEVER, yes, this is a military breakout, and I can see it happening on accident as well. THe idea ofnot trusting as SS man to tell the truth is fallacious. Just because he was SS doesn't make him evil. Remember, only the 1st, 3rd, and 12th SS have a war crimes record for the German SS. (the forign ones, like Handschar, are another story.)
StrangerThanFictionI had never heard of Willi Rogmann or the attempt to break out in an eastward direction, before your post. Seems strange to attempt a break out almost directly into the teeth of Zhukov's advancing troops..... ...Tony Le Tissier seems to have written a passel of books about Berlin. He is a retired British lieutenant colonel who spent much of his career in Berlin, including a term as the British governor of Spandau prison. he has written a bunch of other books dealing with the Berlin campaign, the ones I listed were just the ones that seemed most directly relevant.
As to the breakouts over Weidendammer Bridge, there's no doubt they occurred, and with heavy weapons. Most of the armored vehciles, including the last two Kint Tigers in combat, were all destroyed or redndered immobile within blocks of crossing the Spree, if they made it that far. And, yes, they were magnets for an unbeievable hail of fire. Some indiviuals were successful in the northern brealkout: Arthur Axmann of HJ fame was in Bormann's group and actually made it out, only to be captured some time later, IIRC, near his home. Besides, since Berlin was surrounded to a depth of several miles, everywhere was in the teeth of Zhukov's forces! Those that got out at the very end usually had the right combination of combat experience, tenacity and extraordinary luck. *
Heh. Great minds. Tony Le Tissier is one of my new sources (and Rogmann's account is contained in With Our Backs To Berlin)! But I will pursue the others. You are one smart guy.
* In high school I took German from a lady who had escaped Berlin as a teenager. He description of Nazi Germany was that Hitler was bad, and bad for Germany, but that Soviet Russia was a hundred times worse. She had a palpable hatred of the Russians whom she described as barbarians, little above brute animals. I do not know the full extent of what she experienced at their hands, but if she came into face-to-face contact with them, I have a pretty good idea of what must have happened. She must have gotten out of the city itself just before the end. She described how she and her family, traveling only by night, had to crawl on their bellies across every fields to stay under the fire of many mgs which the Russian fired all night long, clealry intending to kill anyone trying to escape the city. She said Americans had no concept of the brutality of the Russians, or what their victims suffered. She mentioned surviving on roots and nuts for several days as they traveled west to find the Americans. And she absolutley loved Americans and worshipped the freedoms in America, marrying a GI and becoming a citizen.
*edit* Seth_Soldier, there is absolutley no question the Soviets, as a matter of state policy, unleashed a hell-on-earth of savage vengeance against the inhabitants of Berlin, particularly the women. It was literally intended that by impregnating tens of thousands of German rape vicitms by Rus soldiers that the teutonic aggressivness would be bred out of Germany ( I kid you not: read Anthony Beevor). It was viewed by the Soviets as righteous retribution for what the Germans did in many, many Russian cities. And also as a "reward" for the frontoviks.