Pen & Sword Books

Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Battle of Halbe 1945

The Battle of Halbe 1945 written by Eberhard Baumgart and published by

Greenhill Books - £20.00 - Hardback - Pages 208

In April 1945, German troops withdrawing from the Seelow Heights were encircled by the Soviet Army near the small town of Halbe, south-east of Berlin. Rather than surrender, their orders were to attempt to break out, westward, and join up with the German 12th Army. A brutal battle ensued, with an estimated 30,000 German and 20,000 Russian soldiers killed, along with thousands of civilians.

This collection of first-hand accounts tells the story of the battle and its aftermath from the German perspective. It is an eclectic mix, containing the recollections of ordinary soldiers, SS-men and men of the Panzer Divisions, as well as civilians caught up in the battle as they attempted to flee ahead of the advancing armies. It brings to life the grim realities of this one-sided engagement, revealing the brutal vengeance of the Soviets and the desperation to escape the slaughter.

This book reveals the story of German troops being forced to withdraw from advancing Russian troops who had almost encircled them at the small town of Halbe in 1945. The battle was colossal and the number of soldiers who died was around 30,000 Germans & 20,000 Russians, and on top of that were thousands of German civilian casualties. This book which has been translated into English for the first time gives an excellent if harrowing retelling of events that occurred. With the writer relying on a number of accounts from men who were there. This was a fascinating read, of a story I had never really heard about before. The fighting and stories were staggering and I found it astonishing that I had not heard of this before. The story was a well written but easy to read the story, and there is a good number of photographs dotted throughout the book. I would highly recommend this book in which the Germans suffer an enormous onslaught from a Russian army.

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