The Eastern Front in 1945
Russian Red Army invades Germany
12 January - 11 May 1945
author Paul Boșcu, February 2017
In the begging of 1945 the Russians staged a major offensive, known as the Vistula-Oder offensive. During this operation the Red Army manged to, once again, break the German lines and enter Germany. Afterwards the Russians would continue sweeping across Germany, with the ultimate goal in sight: Berlin.
The Vistula-Oder offensive was a Red Army offensive on the Eastern Front of World War 2. During this offensive the Soviets captured the Polish capital, Warsaw from German hands. The Red Army advanced 480 km from the river Vistula to the river Oder, deep into German territory. The Russians stopped the offensive after two weeks, in order to regroup, only 70 km from Berlin.

The Soviet Union had been building up its forces on the central portion of the Eastern Front during the time when the Germans were using up their reserves of manpower and equipment elsewhere, first in the offensives in the West and thereafter in futile efforts to relieve the siege of Budapest.

For all the advances made against the Germans in the west between D-Day and the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945 it was on the Eastern Front that the war against Germany was won.

The major emphasis of Soviet military planning for their offensive was on the Central front. They were looking toward a crushing of the German armies from East Prussia to the Carpathians with a rapid follow-up drive to Berlin which was inside the occupation zone allocated to the Soviet Union. The Soviet plan contemplated accomplishing this victory drive to the Elbe river in a first phase of fifteen days. The major thrust would be out of the bridgeheads over the Vistula south of Warsaw. There was a secondary push out of the bridgeheads over the Narev river north of Warsaw.

The southern offensive by First Belorussian and First Ukrainian Fronts would drive through southern Poland into the key German industrial area of Silesia. In the north the Second and Third Belorussian Fronts would isolate the German troops in the area around East Prussia by driving to the Baltic Sea behind them and subsequently crushing the cut-off remnants.

Soviet forces numbered just under 4 million men, 9,800 tanks, and over 40,000 artillery tubes and heavy mortars. The weight of the offensive would lie in the south and center in Konev’s and Zhukov’s forces. There, Soviet superiority was five-to-one in troops, five to- one in armor, and seven-to-one in artillery. Moreover, the Soviets possessed vast fleets of Lend-Lease trucks which ensured logistical support for deep operations.

The major thrust of the offensive came from Warsaw to the Carpathians. It aimed to capture Silesia, with its considerable industrial strength. The two fronts in the north were to take out German forces defending East Prussia and cover the advance to the Oder.

It was assumed that Soviet superiority in manpower, artillery, tanks and mobility would break open the relatively thin crust of German defenders quickly. Mobile Red Army spearheads could then strike deep into the rear of an enemy without substantial reserves. In a second phase of thirty days, which was to follow the first without a pause, the Red Army command would send the southern forces, that is the First Belorussian and First Ukrainian Fronts, straight forward through Berlin and to the Elbe river. The assumption was that a drive of about six weeks would end the war in Europe in February or March and release forces for a campaign into Manchuria against Japan.

The offensive was moved up a week, in part in response to requests from the Western Allies to relieve pressure. Months of quiet on the main sector of the front in the East had enabled the Germans to concentrate elsewhere. The early attack had the advantage of surprising many of the German headquarters, which had expected the Red Army to await better weather.

A few days into the great Soviet offensive in the east, Guderian challenged Hitler aggressively over his refusal to evacuate the German army in Courland, which had been completely cut off in the Baltic. This decision, as well as previous disastrous ones made by Hitler, caused Guderian to lose his temper. This breach of discipline at the highest level of the Wehrmacht was a clear sign of the deteriorating situation on the German side.

Albert Speer vividly recalled walking across the heavy, handwoven rug in Hitler’s massive office in the Reich Chancellery to the table top of blood-red Austria marble, ‘striated with the beige and white cross sections of an ancient coral reef’. When Hitler refused Guderian’s request to evacuate the trapped army across the Baltic, as ‘he always did when asked to authorize a retreat’, the OKH Chief of Staff lost his temper and addressed his Führer with what Speer described as ‘an openness unprecedented in this circle’.

Speer thought that Guderian might have been drinking with the Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Oshima beforehand. But whatever the reason he stood facing Hitler across the table, ‘with flashing eyes and the hairs of his moustache literally standing on end’, saying, in ‘a challenging voice’: ‘It’s simply our duty to save these people, and we still have time to remove them!’ Hitler stood up to answer back: ‘You are going to fight on there. We cannot give up these areas!’ ‘But it’s useless to sacrifice men in this senseless way,’ continued Guderian. ‘It’s high time! We must evacuate those soldiers at once!’ According to Speer, ‘Hitler appeared visibly intimidated by this assault,’ more by its tone than by the arguments themselves. Although the Führer of course got his way, ‘The novelty was almost palpable. New worlds had opened out.’

As the Red Army’s Vistula–Oder operation rolled forward and Warsaw was about to fall, three senior members of Guderian’s OKH planning Staff – a colonel and two lieutenant-colonels – were arrested by the Gestapo and interrogated about their seeming questioning of orders from OKW. Only after Guderian spent much time and energy intervening were the lieutenant-colonels freed, although the colonel was sent to a concentration camp.

The German reserves had largely been sent to Hungary. On the main front practically everything the Germans had was within Red Army artillery range. The great assaults, launched out of the Vistula and Narew bridgeheads, quite literally crushed the German forces before them. Portions of the German front were surrounded as Red Army armored formations cut in behind them. Elsewhere the disorganized remnants of German divisions—preceded by rear area services and administrations — flooded back toward the Reich. As the weather cleared, the Red Air Force held effective control of the skies.

The Russians unleashed a massive offensive along the entire front from the Baltic Sea in the north down to the Carpathian mountains in the south, against what was left of the new German Central Front. The German Central Front was made up of the seventy divisions of Army Group Centre and Army Group A.

Konev’s First Ukrainian Front opened the offensive. A massive artillery barrage blew XLVIII Panzer Corps’ three divisions out of their positions. Within nine hours, the Soviets had unleashed their armored forces to exploit the holes opened up by the initial attacks. So fast was the Soviet advance that their spearheads overran the 16th and 17th Panzer Divisions in their assembly areas. By evening Konev’s divisions had moved forward 32 km from their starting point. By the end of the next day, the base of the salient Konev was driving into German lines was 65 km across.

Zhukov’s First Belorussian Front began its attack. A devastating artillery bombardment fell on the defenders. Hitler once again refused to countenance any withdrawals to better defensive positions. The German Ninth Army collapsed so rapidly in face of the initial bombardment and reconnaissance in force that the Soviets canceled follow- up artillery preparations. Some of Zhukov’s advancing divisions pushed forward 20 km on the first day. The 26th Guards Rifle Corps seized a bridge over the Pilitsa River that could support tanks. Thus, the Second Tank Army’s advance was well ahead of schedule.

In most places German defenses entirely collapsed. Soviet air attacks broke a counterattack by the XL Panzer Corps almost before it began. From Warsaw to the Carpathians, the situation unraveled hour by hour.

The First Belorussian and First Ukrainian Fronts were heading toward the Oder. Konev’s advance swept up the XLII Corps and, after destroying the corps headquarters, wrecked the isolated and panic-stricken units. Hitler finally responded to the worsening situation in southern Poland, already threatening to engulf Silesia, by ordering the Großdeutschland Panzer Corps transferred from East Prussia. But that move was made too late.

The Third Belorussian Front began its attack against German forces defending East Prussia. Here, the Germans utilized the defenses prepared in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as additional work carried out in fall 1944. There was no rapid advance, just a terrible slogging match in which casualties were heavy on both sides. The removal of the Großdeutschland and other reserves to the south lightened the task of Soviet troops advancing on Königsberg. The Soviets captured the area where the great Tannenberg memorial, commemorating Marshal Paul von Hindenburg’s victory in August 1914, had stood. But the Germans had already dynamited the memorial.

Rokossovsky began his offensive with the aim of driving to the Oder on Zhukov’s right flank. But the STAVKA ordered the Front to shift to a northern drive in order to cut East Prussia off from the rest of Germany and drive in behind East Prussia’s defenders. Soviet spearheads, driving straight through Elbing with their headlights on, reached the Baltic. They had cut off East Prussia from the rest of the Reich. Under pressure from the Third Belorussian Front, the troops defending East Prussia pulled back into Königsberg’s outer defenses.

The Germans moved some reinforcements from the Western Front eastwards. They scraped together others, but the main effort to shore up the collapsing front was of a different sort. Hitler sent two of his experts at holding fast by having lots of Germans shot, Ferdinand Schörner and Lothar Rendulic, to take over critical sectors. Himmler was to head up a new, largely fictional, Army Group named "Vistula." None of this substantially slowed down the Red Army. Practically all of pre-war Poland had been taken from Germany and was now under Soviet control. A large portion of the Silesian industrial and mining area had fallen to Ivan Konev's First Ukrainian Front.

Soviet forces had drawn to the Baltic just east of Danzig (Gdansk) and cut off the remnants of the German 3rd Panzer and 4th Armies, were on and across the Oder river in the center of the front, and had captured almost all of Silesia east of that stream.

Lodz and Krakow had all fallen in short order. The Eighth Guards Army, led by Colonel General V. I. Chuikov, the Soviet hero of Stalingrad, surrounded Poznan and 60,000 Wehrmacht troops. Spearhead units from Bogdanov’s Second Guards Tank Army had reached the Oder River by the fortress of Kustrin, over 400 km from their starting point.

In Silesia, the Germans had a significant number of tanks but virtually no fuel to conduct a mobile defense. A desperate Guderian requested that all reinforcements go to the raging battle. Hitler informed him that while two panzer corps from Sixth SS Panzer Army would leave the Ardennes, they would go to Hungary to continue the attacks the Germans had mounted north of Budapest.

Konev’s forces were moving northwest along the Oder and driving through German Silesia. The Fourth Tank and Thirteenth Army even managed to seize a bridgehead across the Oder just north of Breslau. Meanwhile, the Third Guards Tank Army turned south at Oppeln and then swung south along the Oder to take much of Silesia’s industrial region.

Wildly outnumbered and outgunned, the Germans conducted a fighting retreat, losing Warsaw and leaving isolated garrisons at Thorn, Poznań and Breslau that had no real hope of relief. The area through which the Red Army had moved included Auschwitz with its branch camps, its vast factories and its murder centers.

By now the Soviet armies were fighting on German territory. Three and a half years of German occupation, of deprivation and destruction, of aggression and annihilation, had provoked murderous rage among Soviet troops. Egged on by Stalin’s propagandist Ilya Ehrenburg, Soviet troops unleashed a reign of terror over German territory, marked by mass rapes, the brutal murders of tens of thousands of civilians, looting, and wanton destruction.

In but one example of Red Army atrocities, Soviet tanks consistently drove straight down columns of refugees at full speed. Gunners shot any Germans who escaped being crushed under the tracks.

In the long run, these crimes against German civilians would undermine Soviet efforts to establish a Communist regime in East Germany.

Here and there surrounded islands of resistance held out—the city of Breslau until May—but it was obvious that these were all certain to fall. While Soviet troops encircled Breslau, the defenders were positioned and equipped for a prolonged siege.

Almost one million German citizens were sheltering in or around the pleasant city of Breslau in Lower Silesia, which was not a fortress in the conventional sense despite attempts to build a defensive ring. ‘Women and children must leave the city on foot and proceed in the direction of Opperau and Kanth!’ blared loudspeakers, effectively expelling the civilian population into snowdrifts and temperatures of –20 Celsius.

For all the horrors of the siege – 26 per cent of Breslau’s fire brigade perished, for example – the Aviatik cigarette factory somehow continued to make 600,000 cigarettes a day, which was good for morale. Ammunition and supplies were parachuted in by the Luftwaffe, but these often fell into the Oder or behind the Russian lines.

Breslau surrendered only in May 1945, with troops throwing their weapons into the Oder and changing into civilian clothes. The siege had cost the city the lives of 28,600 of its 130,000 soldiers and civilians.

Zhukov's bulge to the Oder river east of Berlin was not wide enough to provide a basis for the second phase of the planned Soviet offensive. Most of February, as the winter weather allowed, was a time when the Red Army pushed forward in East Prussia, Pomerania, and northern Silesia on the flanks of the line reached at the end of January. A small German counter-offensive at Stargard appears to have shaken the self-confidence of the Soviet high command. As a result, the decision was made that the second phase of the great offensive into central Germany would require a full preparation.

It can be argued that the determination—or desperation— with which the German garrisons fought at the northern and southern flanks of the front, combined with last minute reinforcements on the Oder, contributed to the halting of the Soviet offensive.

Zhukov reached the Oder and Konev the Oder–Neisse Line, before finally halting due to their long lines of supply and communications. ‘Logistics is the ball and chain of armoured warfare,’ Guderian used to say. Having long worked to their advantage, these long lines would now occasionally work in the Soviets’ disfavour.

The STAVKA believed that only a short halt to refit Zhukov’s and Konev’s fronts would be necessary before Soviet forces resumed their advance on Berlin. But a number of factors intervened to delay the attack across the Oder. Zhukov’s flank remained exposed to the north. Significant German reinforcements were finally beginning to arrive along the Oder and especially in Pomerania, where the Eleventh SS Panzer Army was assembling—seemingly a threat to Zhukov’s flank. The second factor was that Konev’s strength lay on his southern flank. Consequently, he would have to make substantial redeployments to support Zhukov.

Since Zhukov’s forces were now well positioned on the Oder, the STAVKA determined to clear out the flanks first, before resuming the advance on Berlin. Konev began his assault out of his bridgeheads on the western bank of the Oder. It quickly became apparent that German defenses were stronger than anticipated.

Occupying Berlin and the assigned zone in Germany would not be easy or quick for the Russians. This also meant that it would be even more bloody and devastating for the Germans. In between the two now separated phases of the Soviet offensive there occurred the previously planned Allied conference at Yalta in the Crimea.

The Red Army’s offensive finally came to an end on the lower reaches of the River Oder, a mere 70 km from the suburbs of Berlin. It had been an epic advance, but had temporarily exhausted the USSR. Yet his troops’ proximity to the German capital gave Stalin a greatly increased voice at the Yalta Conference, called to discuss the endgame in Europe, and to try to persuade the Soviets to undertake a major involvement in the war against Japan.

Hitler’s dispositions continued to make Germany’s strategic situation worse. Guderian recalled after the war that the Führer had refused his advice to bring the bulk of the Wehrmacht stationed in Poland back from the front line to more defensible positions further back at the defensive line, out of range of Russian artillery. Disastrously, Hitler’s orders meant that the new defensive lines were badly hit by the Soviet guns, wrecking hopes for a classic German counter-attack to develop. In Pomerania, German forces were defeated in March.

Hitler’s insistence on personally approving everything done by the Staff was explained to Guderian with words so hubristic as to invite retribution: ‘There’s no need for you to try and teach me. I’ve been commanding the Wehrmacht in the field for five years and during that time I’ve had more practical experience than any gentlemen of the General Staff could ever hope to have. I’ve studied Clausewitz and Moltke and read all the Schlieffen papers. I’m more in the picture than you are!’

With so much of its force drawn off to the fighting in East Prussia, the Second Belorussian Front made little headway in Pomerania. Moreover, the Eleventh SS Panzer Army attacked Zhukov’s flank. A swift redeployment of Zhukov’s and Rokossovsky’s forces then allowed the Soviets to begin their offensive against West Prussia and Pomerania. The Soviet strike again caught the Germans flat-footed. By the end of the first week in March, the Soviets had taken all of Pomerania and driven the Germans—those who survived—across the Oder.

The Soviet victory was of immense proportions. It caused all the more confusion because the Russians gained in confidence and morale as the Germans fled before what looked increasingly like an unstoppable onrush.

The situation in Hungary was altering slowly but steadily in favor of the Russians. Budapest had been cut off after Hitler refused permission for the German Army to withdraw in time. The huge city was now besieged, but the Red Army halted in the face of German and Hungarian resistance and the exhaustion of its own offensive power. A series of German attacks drove toward the Hungarian capital, but failed to break through and reach the isolated garrison. In the end the defenders of Budapest were crushed by the Red Army.

The Germans planned a major relief offensive, partly for the political reason of breaking the siege of Budapest and partly as a means of protecting the Hungarian oil fields. These were especially important for the Germans after the loss of the Romanian oil fields and the success of the Allied air attacks on the synthetic oil industry. Here the German army launched its last great offensive of the war.

Ironically it was into this battle that Hitler directed the 6th SS Panzer Army as it was pulled out of the Battle of the Bulge. Instead of sending it or other reinforcements to the central portion of the Eastern Front, where the Red Army was poised to plunge into Germany, Hitler insisted on still another offensive in Hungary. It would in any case come too late to save the crumbling garrison of Budapest, where the remaining German and Hungarian units were crushed. Only a few hundred men out of over thirty thousand managed to escape to the German lines.

Astonishingly, given the extent of the Soviet successes from the Baltic to the Carpathians and the fact that Zhukov was already within striking range of Berlin, Hitler persisted in his efforts to drive Soviet forces back on Budapest. The Sixth SS Panzer Army made the difficult move across the wreckage of the German transportation system to redeploy on the Hungarian plain while catastrophe was occurring in the north.

In the spring the Germans launched another offensive aimed at lake Balaton. The goal of the offensive was to secure the Hungarian oil fields, vital to the German war effort. When this offensive failed the Russians were in a position to drive the Germans out of Hungary and strike at Vienna, the Austrian capital.

At a two-and-a-half-hour Führer-conference Hitler explained his thinking with regard to the Balkans, and in particular the oil fields of the Lake Balaton region in Hungary. Attended by Göring, Keitel, Jodl, Guderian, five other generals and fourteen other officials, he ranged over every front of the war, with the major parts of the agenda covering weather conditions, Army Group South in Hungary, Army Group Centre in Silesia, Army Group Vistula in Pomerania, Army Group Kurland, the Eastern Front in general, the west, ammunition allotments, Allied advances in Italy, the north, the situation at sea, and political and personnel questions.

‘Our main problem is the fuel issue at the moment,’ Guderian told Hitler, who replied: ‘That’s why I’m concerned, Guderian.’ Pointing at the Balaton region, he added, ‘If something happens down there, it’s over. That’s the most dangerous point. We can improvise everywhere else, but not there. I can’t improvise with the fuel.’

The Sixth Panzer Army, reconstituted after its exertions in the Ardennes offensive, was ordered to Hungary, from where it could not be extracted. Defending Hungary accounted for seven of the eighteen Panzer divisions still available to Hitler on the Eastern Front, a massive but necessary commitment.

The Sixth SS Panzer Army launched its offensive, at best a spoiling attack with no prospect of a major operational success. The Soviets were ready. As during the Kursk offensive, they refused to commit their reserves. After the Germans had expended their strength in a 30 km advance, the Soviet counteroffensive simply swamped the German defenders across the front. As the German defenses dissolved, the road to Vienna lay open.

The main German attack, launched primarily to protect the oil fields and the approaches of Vienna—the next obvious Soviet target—proved an enormous and costly fiasco. Although the Second and Third Ukrainian Fronts had to give some ground, they soon crushed the attacking German forces. By the end March they had pushed the Germans out of most of the rest of Hungary, though not yet the oil fields, and were poised to strike for Vienna.

There were signs of demoralization appearing in the German units, signs which may well have reflected the fact that, even as the German soldiers were supposed to push the Red Army out of Hungary, the fronts had moved ever deeper into Germany both from the East and from the West.

Hitler had found a new scapegoat to blame for the coming victory of the Russians: it was all the fault of the German Volk itself. By that stage he positively invited the retribution that the Aryan race was about to undergo at the hands of the Russians, believing that it had been the people’s weakness as human beings that had led to the disaster, rather than his own strategic errors. Mere survival by then was, for Hitler, Darwinian a priori proof of Untermensch status. The utter destruction of Germany was preferable to her domination by Stalin. Fortunately this order was not carried out by Albert Speer at all, and by Nazi officials only sparingly.

According to Albert Speer’s later testimony Hitler said: ‘If the war should be lost, then the Volk will also be lost. This fate is unavoidable. It is not necessary to take into consideration the bases the Volk needs for the continuation of its most primitive existence. On the contrary, it is better to destroy these things yourself. After all, the Volk would then have proved the weaker nation, and the future would exclusively belong to the stronger nation of the east. What would remain after this fight would in any event be inferior subjects, since all the good ones would have fallen.’

The Führer gave an order to his senior commanders entitled ‘Demolitions on Reich Territory’, in which he commanded that ‘All military transport, communication facilities, industrial establishments, and supply depots, as well as anything else of value within Reich territory that could in any way be used by the enemy immediately or within the foreseeable future for the continuation of the war, be destroyed.’

If Hitler’s order had been carried out to the letter, the German people could hardly have survived the winter of 1945/6, which was harsh enough for them as it was. ‘I think the Wagner ideology of Götterdämmerung [Twilight of the Gods] had an influence on Hitler during the last few months,’ Walther Funk told his Nuremberg psychiatrist in May 1946, ‘and everything had to go down in ruins with Hitler himself, as a sort of false Götterdämmerung.’

Speer should not be commended too highly on the back of this one action, or rather inaction. It had been he who commanded the vast army of slave labourers that produced German armaments in barbarous conditions. Although Speer’s deputy, Fritz Sauckel, was hanged at Nuremberg, the life of the seemingly apologetic Speer was spared.

The Sixth Panzer Army halted the Russian advance down the Hungarian valleys into Austria for as long as its fuel could last out. Finally Vienna fell to Malinovsky’s 2nd Ukrainian Front. Hitler’s headquarters had by then adopted a policy of lying to army group commanders, as General Dr Lothar Rendulic, the last commander of Army Group South, discovered when he received orders to hold Vienna at all costs.

Rendulic was given to telling his troops: ‘When things look blackest and you don’t know what to do, beat your chest and say: “I’m a National Socialist; that moves mountains!” ’ Since that wasn’t working on this occasion, he asked OKW ‘how the continuation or termination of the war was envisaged’, only to ‘receive the answer that the war was to be ended by political measures’. This was clearly untrue. Rendulic surrendered near Vienna in May.

Hitler’s Austrian ancestry and a desire to protect Vienna and the Habsburg lands from Soviet ravages distracted his attention from East Prussia, Pomerania, and Silesia.

In the north on the Baltic coast, the Germans were in a dire situation because of Hitler’s refusal to countenance Guderian’s pleas to rescue Army Group Centre in East Prussia and Army Group Courland in Latvia. Yet with both Zhukov and Rokossovsky bearing down on more than 500,000 trapped Germans the German Navy – at tremendous cost – pulled off an evacuation that was far larger even than that of Dunkirk in 1940. No fewer than four army divisions and 1.5 million civilian refugees were taken from the Baltic ports of Danzig, Gotenhafen, Königsberg, Pillau and Kolberg by the Kriegsmarine, and brought back to Germany.

Under constant air attack, which claimed every major ship except the cruisers Prinz Eugen and Nürnberg, the German Navy had pulled off a tremendous coup. The Soviet Navy was surprisingly enough a grave disappointment throughout the Second World War. But one of its submarines, the S-13, sank the German liner MV Wilhelm Gustloff in the Baltic Sea. Around 9,000 people – almost half of them children – perished, representing the greatest loss of life on one ship in maritime history.

It was extraordinary, considering that the war’s outcome had not been in doubt since the destruction of Army Group Centre in the summer of 1944, that the Wehrmacht continued to operate as an efficient, disciplined fighting force well into the spring of 1945. For example General Schörner’s forces were still fighting on the Oder in April. Up north, in the Baltic area, the Germans fought in Courland until May.

As many as 400,000 Germans were killed in the first five months of 1945 – entirely unnecessarily, as the chances of Germany winning the war were negligible for the whole of that time.

General Schörner’s newly re-created Army Group Centre was still fighting around the town of Küstrin on the Oder in April 1945. Similarly the 203,000 men representing the remnants of Army Group North, renamed Army Group Courland, kept fighting into May. The Germans showed astonishing resilience in the face of utter hopelessness. They retained military cohesion until the moment that they were marched off into a ten-year captivity spent rebuilding the infrastructure of the Soviet Union that they had destroyed.

During May three Soviet fronts (which included Polish, Romanian, and Czechoslovakian units), 2,000,000 men in strength, reached the outskirts of Prague in the puppet state of Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Inside the city, 900,000 German troops under Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner defended against not only the oncoming Soviet attack from the outside but also a general uprising that had already begun. After Germany surrendered a colonel attached to the High Command was escorted by American troops to deliver word of the surrender to Schörner at Prague.

The fighting inside the city began when a group of Czech resistance fighters overwhelmed SS troops at the radio station on Vinohradská Street; at 0600 hours, as a broadcast was made urging the people to rise up, Czech fighters (now joined by Czechoslovakian police) and SS troops continued the bitter fighting for the building. In the afternoon, as the uprising spread, the mayor of Prague announced his loyalty to the anti-German National Committee

Schörner advised his surviving troops to hold against the Soviet attacks and then seek opportunities to fall back to the west to surrender to the Americans. Schörner fled Prague for Austria, where he would be caught by the Americans.

The Germans began organizing military attacks from the outside, setting roads, railroads, and communications stations as their primary objectives. Whatever could not be easily taken back by the Germans, including the Vinohradská Street radio station, became targets of aerial bombings. The offensive began on the following day, overwhelming the resistance fighters with superior firepower and destroying some sections of the city.

Soviet troops entered Prague. A group of about 6,000 German troops were already fleeing westward as Schörner advised. They were hampered by attacks by resistance groups which was largely ineffective. Frustrated by the delays as Soviet troops pursued them, German troops killed many civilians en route.

Most of the fleeing Germans reached the area between villages Milín, Slivice, and Cimelice near the US-USSR demarcation line. Confused fighting between the Americans, the Germans, Czechoslovakian resistance fighters, and troops of the Russian Liberation Army (traitors to USSR at one time) trying to flee the oncoming Soviets would continue in this area for a few days after Germany surrendered. The Germans who made their way to the demarcation line and survived the fighting would ultimately be turned over to USSR. The Americans refused to risk any incidents with the Soviets.

The only gain for the resistance fighters came in the form of the German 600th Infantry Division, consisted of Russian nationals, burning its German flag and switching side to support the uprising, which gave the resistance some heavy weapons.

The conquest of Prague cost the Soviets over 11,000 killed and over 40,000 wounded. Almost the entire German garrison in and near Prague, numbering 850,000, were killed or captured. 1,694 Czechoslovakian resistance fighters were killed and about the same number were wounded during the uprising. It was unknown how many civilians died during the uprising and the Soviet invasion. The Prague Strategic Offensive was noteworthy in that it was the final Soviet offensive in the European War and fighting lasted for several days after Germany's surrender.