The Terrible Story of The US Troops Enc0unters German Soldier H@nged by HIS Commrade

At 11am on April 24th 1945, General Helmuth Weidling was informed that following his successful meeting with Adolf Hitler the previous day he had been promoted to Commandant of the Berlin Defence Area – contrary to a previous order that he should be executed for desertion.

He thus became the fifth commander of the Defence Area in less than three months and the third within two days.

The forces available to Weidling to defend the city were far from capable of the task and included roughly 45,000 soldiers in several severely depleted divisions – some part of the German Army and others part of the SS.

Additionally, another 40,000 Volkssturm men – veterans of the First World War or simply men conscripted into the fight – joined police units and Hitler Youth to fill the ranks.

Weidling would command the forces in Berlin across eight sectors – designated ‘A’ through to ‘H’ – with battlefield commanders assigned to each area.

In the west of the city was the 20th Infantry Division

To the north was the 9th Parachute Division

To the north-east was the Müncheberg Panzer Division

To the south and south-east of the city was the 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division Nordland

In reserve, Weidling had the 18th Panzergrenadier Division in Berlin’s central Mitte district.

The three flak towers in the city – Zoo, Humboldthain, and Friedrichshain – would also aid in the defense of the city. With plenty of ammunition for their 128mm and 20mm g*ns. All three had coordinates of every major building throughout the city in their f*re control systems – with spotters posted on rooftops to observe enemy troops' movements and report back to the tower's gunners.

Hitler had personally appointed SS Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke the Battle Commander (Kommandant) for the central government district (District Z or Zitadelle) that included the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker. Mohnke had served as head of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and was wounded in battle twice by air att@cks – once suffering a severe leg wound in the Balkans that would lead doctors to advise that his leg should be amputated. A decision that Mohnke overrode.

Although considered battle-hardened by his service on both the eastern and western fronts, Mohnke would only have two weak regiments of around 2,000 men as part of his battle group – Kampfgruppe Mohnke (Battle Group Mohnke) – and due to their position in the centre of the city they would suffer heavily under the intense bombardment of Soviet artillery aimed at the government quarter.

Mixed in among the bands of defenders were the millions of inhabitants of Berlin – the vast majority being female – bracing for the avalanche of chaos and suffering that would follow over the next week. The final act in a tragedy that had seen the lives of millions more extinguished across the European continent.

SS execution squads roamed the city looking for deserters – or suspected ‘Seydlitz Troops’ who would be summarily ex*cuted or h@nged from lampposts.

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