The last days of the Great Patriotic War the Hitler’s troops often fought in despair realizing that the regime they defended was doomed. What could have saved Breslau (Wroclaw, Poland) encircled by the 1st Ukrainian Front on February 14? …Germany was losing one line of defense after another; the government led by Karl Dönitz replaced the government of Hitler who committed suicide. Berlin fell. But the forces concentrated in Breslau continued to resist. There were different reasons. The Goebbels propaganda promised a “miracle weapon” to change the tide of war. There were hopes the anti-Germany alliance would split apart leading to the start of separate talks between Germany and Anglo-Americans.
Hitlerites were dead scared trying to delay the time they will be held responsible for what they have done. The 1st Ukrainian Front refused to storm Breslau immediately. The 6th Army led byLt. GeneralVladimirGluzdovsky had limited strength but it was strong enough to maintain the encirclement. Other forces went to the west crossing the NeisseRiver to approach Berlin. Two and a half months have passed till the 1st Ukrainian Front cracked down on the 40-thousand strong concentration of forces. The Prague Offensive Operation was conducted in a short period of time (5-12 May, 1945). The Front commander Marshall of the Soviet Union Ivan Konev issued an order to launch offensive on May 4. It said the right flank was to rapidly attack along the both shores of the Elbe River in the direction of Prague to strike the enemy’s forces concentrated in the Dresden-Görlitz area.The forces rapidly advanced. The 4th Tank Guards Army of General D. Lelushenko and the 13th Army led by General N. Pukhov led the way. The sudden strike by the Soviet forces allowed to encircle the group deployed in the area of Breslau.
There were strong lines of defense along the Oder River. Everything was turned into fortifications. Trenches allowed the enemy to freely move forces and defend the suburbs, airports and railway stations. Hitlerites organized an air bridge which happened to be ineffective and did not last long.
Artillery and aviation delivered constant strikes. Storm groups fought incessantly. There were tactical units formed especially for urban warfare. Each consisted of an infantry battalion reinforced by two tanks or self-propelled artillery pieces, a battery of 76mm guns, a group of 14-16 sappers with 800-900 kg of explosives and groups armed with flame throwers. Soviet soldiers used captured panzerfausts to strike the enemy’s fortifications.
Trying to evade bloodshed, the Soviet command issued an ultimatum to guarantee life to those who would surrender. German Field MarshalFerdinandSchoerner, who headed the Army Centre Group, issued the orderto General Hermann forbidding to meet the ultimatum. In early May air strikes precisely delivered by Soviet aviation made Niehoff ask the Soviet command to stop fire and send representatives for talks. An ultimatum was issued to demand immediate surrender. There was no timely reply. Soviet soldiers started an offensive. On May 6, white flags were hoisted over Breslau to be replaced by red banners afterwards. The 1st Ukrainian Front started an offensive as part of Prague Operation. The 5th Guards Army of GeneralAleksei Semenovich Zhadov was ordered to take Dresden. The city was in ruins because on February 13-15 the allied aviation delivered a strike that produced the damage comparable with the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. At least 25 thousand lost lives as a result of this barbarous action. There was no reason for this operation from military point of view – there were no elements of defense industry infrastructure in the city overcrowded with refugees. The allied command did not conceal its plans to show Russians when they get to the city (according to the Yalta Conference decisions, the city was to be taken by Red Army) what the Anglo-American air forces could do.
Encircling Dresden from north-west and north-east, the Red Army captured over a hundred of populated areas. On May 7, it appeared at the outskirts of the city. On May 8, the fighting continued all day and night. By 1400 hours, May 8, the garrison was defeated and capitulated.
Right after the Soviet forces entered the city of Dresden devastated by Anglo-America aviation the suffering population received aid. Foodstuffs were distributed among city dwellers. Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan, First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union and People's Commissarfor Externaland Internal Trade, was sent to the city in the capacity of Special Representative of the State Defense Committee. The 1st Ukrainian Front filled the storages at the disposal of the city’s Oberburgermaster (mayor)with food. Member of the of the military council of 1st Ukrainian Front Lieutenant-General Krainyukov remembers that around 10 thousand tons of grain, over 1, 1 thousand tons of meat, 512 tons of fat and 30 thousand tons of potatoes were allocated as food aid to city dwellers. The Front’s engineers contributed into the restoration of the communal services.
The Soviet soldiers saved the Dresden Picture Gallery famous throughout the whole world. Many important masterpieces were found in a mine in Gross Cotta.The pictures of Rubens, Rembrandt and Titian were in a narrow gauge railway. They were covered by mould. Water was running from the walls. There was a box with the famous “The Sistine Madonna” by Raphael inside. More masterpieces were found in the town of Pockau -Lengefeld. N. Sokolova, an acting corresponding member of the Academy of Arts, rushed to Dresden from Moscow. She remembers how she went to the mine accompanied by soldiers. “Self-Portrait with Saskia” by Rembrandt came into torchlight. The vets were captivated by the view watching the creation of the famous Dutch. The was a long pause. An old sapper asked “Who does the painter offers to raise glasses to? She said, “Rembrandt raises his glass for you, brave soldiers. He is happy that you saved his picture and returned it to people.” Perhaps that was the moment the soldiers felt they did something important for the whole humanity.
The pictures were taken to the USSR for restoration to be returned to Germany in 1955.
…In 2009 Ted R.Bromund, Senior Research Fellow, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, the Heritage Foundation, and Adjunct Faculty, Strategic Studies, published a paper with recommendations for Barack Obama before visiting Dresden. The fighter for freedom wrote the following, “On June 5, President Obama will visit the German city of Dresden. This visit will be intensely controversial. Dresden is most famous for the Anglo-American bombing raid against it on February 13, 1945. The Dresden raid did cause serious loss of life, but in the Second World War it was not unprecedented or unusual. The myths that have grown up about the raid were fostered by the Nazis and spread by post-war Soviet propaganda. Because of this spurious symbolism, President Obama's decision to visit Dresden is ill-advised. During his visit, the President must absolutely reject any equation of the Western Allies and the Nazis. He must avoid accepting as true the claims of the Nazi and Soviet propagandists about the Dresden raid. Finally, he must stoutly defend the Anglo-American air campaign, which served vital military purposes (! –the exclamation mark by author) and which led to the liberation of Western Europe from the Nazis in 1945.”
These are the examples for comparison: the barbarous bombing of Dresden by Anglo-American aviation and saving Dresden Picture Gallery masterpieces by Red Army. Perhaps, TedBromund and the like would perceive it as Russian propaganda. Let them say so! The Bromunds do not represent the whole world…