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Warnach last won the day on November 19

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    Battle for Berlin & Volkssturm Berlin

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  1. Hello Friends I made a mistake. The man who signed here was not a Wehrmacht reïnforcement, but a Volkssturmmann (most likely a Gruppenführer) who was assigned to the position of Hauptfeldwebel. (so this is not a rank !) Each Volkssturm Kompanie had its Hauptfeldwebel (AKA know as der Spiess) this man was responsable for assisting the Coy Commander with organisation, discipline and administration. You can see an "a" and a "B" put before his signature, meaning "auf Befehl ". When the commander wasn't available the Hauptfeldwebel could sign documents and with adding the "a. + B." it was clear for the reader that it wasn't the Kompanieführer who had signed ... the "D" after Hfw.- means Hauptfeldwebel-Diensttuer (meaning that the man who held the position had not the right rank or qualifications but nevertheless was assigned to "do the job" ) I found another example in the literature where the Hauptfeldwebel, without given orders, dismissed his Volkssturm-men ... Take care, Peter
  2. Hello friends, When collecting VS-Berlin paper, the red dismissal documents you'll see "on the market" are already presentend some posts ago. I also posted another document serving to prevent beïng drafted. Of course there do exist other examples; I just added this one (see below) to my collection. It is an improvised and fast written statement of dismissal for a Berlin Volkssturmmann. There is more about this very basic document than one would think at first sight … Translation Research 1. The date on the document is a very late one, the Russians crossed the Oder river on the 16th of April and reached some parts of the Berlin outskirts on April the 21st. Berlin VS-documents with this or a later date are not often found. 2. The stamp is from VS- battalion 3/19. This unit was drafted with its sister unit, VS-Bataillon 3/11 in Treptow. On the map below I highlighted this part of Berlin. 3. Volkssturmman Max HABERLACH a. He was born on the 2nd of June 1906 and worked as a milker. He lived in Berlin Altglienicke (the SE of Berlin), Bohnsdorfer Weg, in NSDAP-Kreis X Neuköln-Treptow. On the map below, the Bohnsdorfer Weg is marked with a yellow line. It was custom those days to give the houses under construction instead of a house number the name of the family. Max HABERLACH lived in the Haberlach’sches Haus. (his house was in 1943 listed as Baustelle “construction in progress”) Below a screenshot of the Berlin 1943 Adreß Buch where the Bohnsdorfer weg lists him and some neighbours ... all in the progress of building their homes. b. Max was almost 39 years old when he was called up for the volkssturm on February the 24th 1945. The reason for him not being in the Wehrmacht at that time could be his important job in the (food) industry or possibly even a bad health. Max HABERLACH died on August the 16th 1965, only 59 years old. Max lived most likely his whole life in the SE of Berlin and is buried at the Altglienicke Friedhof together with his wife Maria who died in 1989. 4. That a Hauptfeldwebel signed a VS-document is not exceptionnel. The Volkssturm had officially only 5 ranks (Bataillonsführer, Kompanieführer, Zugführer, Gruppenführer and Volkssturmmann). Many of the Wehrmacht personnel in Berlin were used to “upgrade” the many drafted VS-Bns. These men kept their Wehrmacht ranks. Unusual is the fact that a Hauptfeldwebel (a NCO) signed a document to dismiss a man from military service! Normally a dismissal from the Volkssturm was approved by the NSDAP- Kreis/Ortsgruppe, who would do so by handing out the already discussed red document as is shown below, in this case handed out by the same NSDAP-Kreis Neuköln-Treptow as the one where Max HABERLACH lived. The first wave of Volkssturm-men was called up in October 1944. The most dismissals (in German: Zurückstellung) were approved shortly after the drafting month This extremely late (April the 20th 1945), and not “by the book”, dismissal document is very unusual and against all regulations! (see below Berlin VS-document dated February the 17th ) Between the lines one can read that this (unauthorized dismissal from service) occurred more than once (... erneut hingewiesen …) and that (some) Company Commanders apparently decided on their own to dismiss their men (… wird der Einheitsführer zur Rechenschaft gezogen …) Knowing the risk of being accused for Wehrkraftzersetzung (any act that could harm the war effort and that was punishable by death) it wasn’t an easy decision in those days to sign such a document … Nevertheless, the Coy commander, or in this case a Hauptfeldwebel took the risk and did write and sign this dismissal paper. Was it perhaps because the Russians were almost knocking at the door and he did not want his men to risk their lives for a lost cause …? The meaning of the "Kartenstelle" mentioned in this document is unclear… 5. In any case, ex VS-man Max HABERLACH “escaped” just in time. 3 days later the eastern parts of Berlin were hit hard when the Russian attacked on April the 23rd. The OKW Lagekarte below shows the tactical situation on April the 25th 1945, the red arrow in the SE of Berlin is near Tempelhof Airfield, Alt Glienicke has obvious already been taken by the Red Army and was at that time under control of the Russian military authority … as was Max HABERLACH and his family. The VS-Bns 3/19 and 3/11, most likely engaged in Verteidigungsbereich Berlin – Abschnitt Kommandeur B counted after the battle for Berlin not less than 135 MIA. So this could very well have been a live saving piece of paper … Take care,
  3. Hello guys, Are there members out there interested in buying Berlin 1945 related paperwork ? I've some surplus - paper - material. Open for offers ... Thanks for looking Peter
  4. Hello Kevin, Nice piece with good provenance ! You can still find those by the dozens when browsing the web. The 1945 issues, like yours - and mine - are the more looked for. Prices for the set (document and the medal) go between 25 € and 60 €, so a nice collectable and relatively cheap item. Take care,
  5. Hello friends, A while back when I was surfing on the WWW, searching for my field of interest items, I found an auction site where they just sold a Russian postcard written in Berlin when the battle was still going on. This Postcard was nothing special, just stamped by the unit post-office on April the 30th 1945. Finding this very interesting, I decided to hunt for a similar piece of Russian fieldpost. It would fit nicely in my collection I found out very fast that that kind of postcards (written in Berlin and in the very narrow timeframe between April 21st and May 2nd) are not available in big numbers. To correct my self; not available at all ! That explained perhaps the 200,- (sic!) euro's the auction postcard was sold for! But I didn't give up! On a philatelic site, a philatelist from the Ukraine (!) sold 1 postcard that could be the one (for me). I bought it and would like you tell it's story, or the story of the man that wrote it ... I managed to get it translated: " ... Dear friend! I have received all your letters and am very glad and thank you many times, the only letters that I recieved, are yours. I congratulate you, and your relatives, with May 1st - day. I am writing this postcard sitting in a cellar in Berlin, so we have taken it, you may congratulate us. Besides, I was awarded the "Red Star Order”. Enough now, I'll write more later. I embrace everybody and shake hands and wish you all the best with your exams. - Nikolay. ..." (Sgt BESPALOV – 52330) The Postcard held useful information for further research. - Written by Sgt Nikolay BESPALOV - Fieldpost Nr 52330 (1042 Rifle Regiment/295 Rifle Division) - Destination address: ODESSA - He writes he received (recently) the Order of the Red Star - “in BERLIN” is written in the letter - Stamp date: 27.4.1945 Nikolay Petrovich BESPALOV (born 1911, living in ODESSA) was a sergeant and a rifle squad commander in the 1042 Rifle Regiment / 295 Rifle Division. With his unit he participated in the Jassy-Kishinev operation (awarded a medal “For courage” for his exploits in the battle on 25.8.44), the 1945 Vistula-Oder campaign (March 3rd 1945 he was awarded a medal “For battle merits” and finally in the battle for BERLIN. For his valor in the battle for KUSTRIN, he was awarded the “Order of the Red Star” on April 1st 1945 (only 4 weeks before the postcard was stamped). On May 26th 1945 he was awarded an “Order of the Patriotic War” 2nd class for what appears to be his last day of combat. On October 20th 1945 BESPALOV was awarded the medal "For taking BERLIN ". Using the daily tactical situation reports by the 295 Rifle Division (and more specific those of the RR 1042) , I was able to retrace the route taken by Sgt Nikolay P. BESPALOV in the battle for BERLIN. I compiled the map below ... A smal detail... Sgt BESPALOV used a "liberated" postcard he found somewhere ... Take care,
  6. Hello friends, Everything I posted here is a part of my collection. I know from research that many other propaganda leaflets do exist. Here you see a compilation of Russian Berlin-related paper I'm still looking for ... And of course, the other editions of the scarce Panzerbär ... In the mean time, until these looked for items pop up, there are other sweet things out there, like the ones below that found a place on my bookshelves ... Take care,
  7. On May 2nd and the days that followed, the Russians dispersed leaflets like tis one ... This one, dated May 3rd, holds the same message ... And of course, there were nice propaganda pictures taken ...
  8. Good morning, After the first combat days in Berlin, the defenders were slowly pushed back towards the city center. The German resistance grew as more and more troops were concentrated on a continuous shrinking area.The Russian losses were enormous ... The Red army intensified its propaganda efforts with dropping leaflets specially intended for the Berlin civilians and defenders. Below you see some examples ... 25 April 1945 27 April 1945 An other 27 April 1945 Russian leaflet As I told some posts ago that I would like to present the propaganda paperwork in a chronological sequence, here the April 27th edition of the Panzerbär. 28 April 1945, Russian leaflet The Armee Wenck was on April 28th still a factor in the last German propaganda. Here a stencilled German "news flash" produced by the Berlin Propaganda Kompanie Nachrichtenstelle dated April 28th 1945 ... Those were the last propaganda efforts of the Berlin high command to keep the combat spirit alive ... After April 28th 1945, when the Armee Wenck was starting its withdrawal, it became for all the defenders clear that the battle was lost ... Still, it went on until May 2nd 1945 ...
  9. While the battle in the city raged, the German army tried to lauch an attack with the new 12th army - die Armee WENCK - from the west to reach Berlin and help its defenders. For days this approaching Army Wenck was used to boost the moral and keep on fighting ... In Berlin, the propaganda leaflet, printed 22/23 April 1945, initially only intended for the soldiers of the 12th army, was handed out to the defenders of the city as well. The 12th army never reached Berlin and had finally to withdraw to the west to surrender to the US forces at the Elbe. But until April 28th, the 12th army remained a moral booster ... Here the scarce leaflet ... As the red army entered deeper and deeper into the city, whole parts of Berlin came under control of the soviet military authority; while at the same time, the bloody battle went on in the central parts of the capital. This leaflet was dispersed in those parts of the city, just taken over by the Russians ... That's all for now, tomorrow more ... Take care
  10. On April 16th, the red army launches its long prepared offensive at Berlin. Heeresgruppe Weichsel is able to block the Russian offensive for 1 day. Between April 18th and April 21st the red army pushes on to the outskirts of Berlin. In Berlin the last Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung appears on April the 21st with the headline " the Capital of the Reich is ready for the battle ..." I do hope it was, because on that date the Russian spearheads attacked the outer defense line of Berlin and the real battle for the city began ... The "Verteidigungsbereich Berlin" troops with its many Volkssturm units tried to block the entrances to the city, without overwhelming succes. In the next few days, pushed back elements of Gen WEIDLINGS LVI Panzerkorps, took up positions in Berlin. To keep up the moral and provide a mean of (propaganda) communication, the "Kampfblatt für die Verteidiger Groß-Berlins", AKA the Panzerbär, was printed and handed out in the city . This Panzerbär appeared between April 22nd and April 29th of April. Below the April 23rd edition,
  11. Thanks Richard. The soviet build-up of the forces on the Oder remained no secret for the Germans. They even guessed the date the offensive would take off : April 16th 1945. To encourage his troops on the "Ostfront", A.H. released a final message to be given to all units. Here below you can see an extreme rare leaflet, dated April 16th 1945 with this final propaganda message. On April 17th, this text was for printed in the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.
  12. Early in 1945 the allieds dropped leaflets like this on Berlin and the rest of Germany .... Even the Russians tried to motivate their soldiers by handing out propaganda postcards like this one with the message " ... towards Berlin ! ...", dated February 15th 1945. Once on the Oder River, the Russians dropped leaflets like the one below on the opposite dug in German troops. This leaflet is dated february 17th 1945 and mentionnes for the first time " ... Schlacht um Berlin ..."
  13. So while the Volkssturm was being drafted starting in October 1944, the propaganda war between the Germans and the Russians continued. End of 1944, the Germans dropped leaflets like this one; it holds the message for the Russians " ... the road to Berlin is the road towards death... "