East Prussian Offensive file photo [14212]

East Prussian Offensive

13 Jan 1945 - 26 Apr 1945


ww2dbaseAdolf Hitler, who installed himself at the top of the German military hierarchy, was warned repeatedly by his commanders that a Soviet offensive in the east was coming, but he chose to ignore the advice. Even the Allies gave him signs beginning in late Aug 1944 when British Lancaster bombers dropped over 1,000 tons of bombs on Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany over two nights, immersing the city in a firestorm. Werner Terpitz remembered the flames. "Everything was on fire, our things, our church, our school, and the house of my violin teacher, my violin, even the sack of blackberries, which we had just gathered. Everything I had ever owned was now ashes." In Jan 1945, Heinz Guderian approached Hitler with another warning, explaining that the Soviet forces outnumbered Germans 11 to 1 in manpower. Hitler chose to focus on his Ardennes Offensive in the west instead, calling the Red Army "the greatest bluff since Genghis Khan". Guderian shook his head, knowing that the German defenses in the east was "like a house of cards; if the front is broken through at one point all the rest will collapse".

ww2dbaseIn Jan 1945, General I. D. Chernyakhovsky's 3rd Byelorussian Front and Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky's 2nd Byelorussian Front marched into East Prussia, overwhelming the German defenders with 1.5 million men. This was the great offensive that Guderian feared. Initially, the Soviets made very slow progress due to the extensive minefields and a web of fortifications. Extremely heavy losses characterized the first 20 days of combat, but by end of Jan 1945, the Soviet troops reached the shores of the Vistula Lagoon, cutting off the city of Königsberg.

ww2dbaseThe people of East Prussia received no warning, and was caught by surprise when the Soviet troops neared. Even though local German military commanders had, weeks in advance, asked to evacuate the civilian population, Hitler rejected their requests, citing the need for every German to stand ground to defend the fatherland. Gauleiter of Königsberg Erich Koch, even when the Soviets were already in East Prussia, decreed that only people who lived in the east of the province could evacuate, while promising to the others that there was no danger and they should stay put. of course, Koch worked frantically to secure his own of evacuation by ship. When he left the city, he ordered the crew to bar the ship to any other refugee even though the ship had plenty of space to take on many others.

ww2dbase"[T]he Russian advance was characterized by arson, plunder and rape", wrote Isabel Denny. Nazi officials of every town and every village were dragged out to the street and shot, while Soviet aircraft strafed the columns of refugees fleeing west at the last moment. A survivor of one of the eastern town taken by the Soviets early on in the East Prussian Offensive recalled the horror as Soviets came through.

The vehicles had rolled over people, flattening them in the ice and snow. The houses had broken windows and doors and in the streets were broken china and household goods. The buildings had been completely smashed, houses and barns were half burnt out and some were only a heap of rubble and ash.... Women had their clothes slit open. Some were naked. They had been raped and lay on bare floors, or in the street, frozen stiff or dead. There were young girls no more than fifteen or sixteen years old. There were old women; age didn't seem to matter. An old man was nailed upside down on the door of the shed. Along the wall of a house was a row of bodies, all old men and young boys, shot in the back.

ww2dbaseThe atrocities committed by the Soviets were not justified, but they were almost expected. First and foremost, Nazi atrocities committed in their homelands were fresh in their minds. Men of the SS slaughtered entire villages without mercy, and some of the Soviet troops sought retribution. On top of that was the effective Soviet propaganda machine, brainwashing the troops that it was in their right to pillage and destroy. Russian writer Ilya Ehrenburg stirred the troops by writings such as "crush forever the fascist beast in its den. Break the racial pride of the German woman. Take her as your legitimate booty."

ww2dbaseFor the residents of Königsberg, there were only two ways to escape. One was from the Baltic port of Pillau just a few kilometers, where the German Navy valiantly ran an entire fleet dedicated to the evacuation of Germans, largely against Hitler's orders. Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz gathered over a thousand ships, 672 civilian and 409 naval, in an effort comparable to the great evacuation at Dunkirk early in the European War. It was estimated that this fleet saved around 2.5 million civilians. The other route of escape was the narrow sandy spit called the Frisches Nehrung that led toward Gotenhafen or Danzig. Long columns of Germans, with as much possessions as they could pile on wagons and sleds, slowly made their escape.

ww2dbaseAs the Soviet 2nd and 3rd Byelorussian Fronts approached the eastern territories of Germany, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz ordered General Admiral Oskar Kummetz (Naval High Commander of Baltic Sea) and Rear Admiral Konrad Engelhardt (head of naval shipping department) to prepare to evacuate German civilians and military servicemen from Courland, East Prussia, and the Polish Corridor. The Operation Hannibal evacuations began on 23 Jan 1945 at the start of the East Prussian Offensive, and would continue through the end of the war. On 26 Jan, thousands of refugees were killed while waiting for ships to evacuate them as an ammunition depot exploded after Soviet aerial attack. On 30 Jan, passenger liner Wilhelm Gustloff was attacked and sunk by a Soviet submarine off Gotenhafen, killing 8,000 of the 9,000 passengers onboard; it was a maritime disaster far worse than the Titanic. On 9 Feb, Soviet submarine S-13 claimed another ship, Steuben, killing 3,000 to 4,000, most of which were military.

ww2dbaseOn 10 Feb, Soviet command decided that even though the offensive was costly in terms of casualties, the German defenses were not going to put up a strong defense, and Rokossovsky's troops were diverted to the fighting in the Pomerania region instead. The German defenses, however weak compared to their Soviet foes, took the opportunity and organized a counterattack. On 19 Feb, led by a captured Soviet T-34 tank, the German 1st Infantry Division spearheaded the 3rd Panzer Army and the Fourth Army in breaking the Soviet lines and opened a corridor between Königsberg and Pillau. They would hold this corridor until beginning of Apr, when the Battle of Königsberg would began.

ww2dbaseAs the German troops held the corridor they had just opened, they witnessed further atrocities committed by the Soviet troops. At the suburb town of Metgehen, a witness saw

women who were still wearing a noose around their necks that had been used to drag them to death. Often there were several tied together. I saw women whose heads were buried in the mire of a grave or in manure pits whose genitals bore the obvious marks of bestial cruelty.

ww2dbaseGeneral Otto Lasch led the German Königsberg garrison which had entrenched its 5 divisions of about 130,000 men in the city's fortifications. Although inexperienced young boys and fragile old men made up a bulk of the defensive force (only about 35,000 men were regulars in Königsberg), 15 forts in outermost of three concentric rings supported by pillboxes and foxholes in the inner rings presented a difficult challenge for the Soviet troops.

ww2dbaseIn early Mar, pocket battleship Admiral Scheer, three destroyers, and torpedo boat T-36 held a position near the town of Wollin at the mouth of the Dziwna River, near the pre-war border of Germany and Poland. While the warships guarded the region, 75,000 troops and civilians were successfully evacuated.

ww2dbaseBetween 1 Apr and 6 Apr 1945, Königsberg was subjected to heavy artillery bombardment. It was to soften the defenses for a Soviet attack. On 4 Apr, Königsberg lost electric power. During the night of 4 and 5 Apr, 30,000 were evacuated from the Oksywie Heights near Gotenhafen, Germany (now Gdynia, Poland). On 5 Apr, the fog that troubled Soviet pilots in the previous few days were lifted, and the aircraft joined in on the bombardment. Hans von Lehndorff noticed that there were little or no anti-aircraft action from the city; "[w]e felt as if we were sailing on an ocean in an sinking ship". It was estimated that more than 100 Soviet aircraft were dropping bombs and strafing the city at any given time during that day.

ww2dbaseOn 6 Apr, the Soviet assault began. The 137,000 troops who had been drilled in urban warfare in the previous few weeks rushed into the city, supported by 530 tanks and 2,400 aircraft, which represented a third of the entire Red Air Force. On the southern front, initial German resistance was fierce, but the lines quickly fell as Soviet commanders called in the reserves. In the north, the first defensive line fell by noon, and fort number 5 was surrounded. On 7 Apr, German forces regrouped and attempted to counterattack, which inflicted heavy casualties on the Soviets, but they ultimately failed. Forts number 5 and number 8 surrendered after two days of bitter fighting, sometimes in close quarters, while German positions at the rail station in city center were lost. Lasch radioed Hitler for permission to surrender, but it was denied as expected.

ww2dbaseOn 8 Apr, German troops attempted to break out of the encirclement, but Soviet aircraft were decisive in foiling German plans. As the Soviets cleared out one section of the city at a time, entire German companies were buried as Soviet artillery took down one key building after another. The young boys and old men of the Volkssturm fought frantically to save their home city, but with vintage WW1 rifles in hand, they knew defeat was inevitable. At 0200 in the early hours of 9 Apr, Nazi Party authorities announced that the city was about to fall, and swarms of civilians rushed onto all the major roads. The Soviets noticed and fired upon the crowds mercilessly. During the day on 9 Apr, the Soviets knew the battle was nearly over, and the first line of troops devoted as much time ransacking the city as they did fighting. It was unofficially agreed upon that the first Soviet troops into Königsberg got the watches, the second line got the women, and troops entering afterwards were only entitled to the leftovers. Writer Arno Surminski who lived in East Prussia at the time recalled young Asiatic Soviet soldiers with rows of watches up their arms. Many of them had never seen the wealth of a major city, and they pillaged in a wild frenzy.

ww2dbaseAt 0930 on 9 Apr, after communications completely cut off therefore the defenses were becoming uncoordinated and overwhelmed, Lasch surrendered; the fighting ceased by midnight. Hitler was furious, denouncing Lasch a traitor of Germany and sentenced him to death, but there were no one to enforce his order as the 150,000 Germans in Königsberg, civilian and military, were now under Soviet control.

ww2dbaseAt the end of the battle for Königsberg, eighty to ninety percent of the city was destroyed. The Soviet occupation troops conducted a terror campaign aimed at completely breaking the spirits of the residents. As Denny described, Soviet soldiers "plundered the city, burned, robbed, drank and raped". Significant number of Germans chose to commit suicide rather than facing Soviet cruelty.

ww2dbaseOn 15 Apr, four German liners and other smaller ships evacuated 20,000 servicemen and civilians. On 16 Apr, the liner Goya was torpedoed by Russian submarine L-3, killing 6,000.

ww2dbaseThe German garrison at Pillau was assaulted immediately after the fall of Königsberg. The 20,000 German troops there fought fiercely until 26 Apr 1945, inflicting enormous damage to the Soviets but in the end had no choice but to surrender. The Operation Hannibal evacuation effort by the German Navy in the Königsberg region waned after the city's capture, but elsewhere in East Prussia it continued on with full steam. During the month of Apr 1945, ships participating in Operation Hannibal evacuated 265,000 from Danzig and the surrounding region. Between 1 and 8 May, over 150,000 civilians and servicemen were evacuated from the beaches of Hela. On the last day of the European War, 8 May, 92 ships of various sizes departed from Libau, Latvia with 18,000 on board. Although Operation Hannibal was officially ended on 8 May, evacuations continued for about another week until the terms of the German surrender prohibited such movements. During the operation, the 494 to 1,080 civilian and military vessels of all sizes rescued somewhere between 800,000 to 900,000 civilians and 350,000 military personnel from this region to Germany and Denmark.

ww2dbaseAs East Prussia was secured by Soviet forces, over 28,000 Germans were sent to labor camps in the Soviet Union, the little machinery left were broken apart and sent to Russian factories, and even herds of cattle were driven back east. In Jul 1946, Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad, and Russification of the region began. Names of German towns and villages were changed, German landmarks were destroyed, and Russian settlers were brought in to settle the land.

Isabel Denny, The Fall of Hitler's Fortress City

Last Major Update: May 2007

East Prussian Offensive Interactive Map


German Volkssturm troops with Panzerfäuste at Königsberg, Germany, Jan 1945Soviet troops fighting in Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany, Apr 1945German prisoners of war marched across a bridge, Königsberg, Apr 1945One of Königsberg

East Prussian Offensive Timeline

13 Jan 1945 1st Byelorussian Front advanced toward Pillkallen, Germany (now Dobrovolsk, Russia), meeting heavy resistance from the German 3rd Panzer Army.
14 Jan 1945 Soviet 2nd Byelorussian Front launched its winter offensive from the Narev bridgehead toward Elbing, Germany (now Elblag, Poland).
21 Jan 1945 Red Army units captured Tannenburg, East Prussia, Germany (now Stebark, Poland), but only after the Germans destroyed the monument memorializing the 1914 German victory over the Soviets.
22 Jan 1945 Soviet forces captured Allenstein and Insterburg in Ostpreu√üen (East Prussia), Germany.
23 Jan 1945 Kriegsmarine units began the evacuation of German civilians from Ostpreu√üen (East Prussia) and Danzig (Operation Hannibal). Meanwhile, Soviet troops reached Elbing, Danzig-Westpreu√üen, Germany (now Elblag) on the Baltic coast.
25 Jan 1945 Germany announced the biggest evacuation in military history when the first of what would grow to be up to two million troops were withdrawn by ship through the Baltic from Preu√üen (Prussia) and Pommern (Pomerania). The evacuation continued until the end of the European War.
26 Jan 1945 Reichsf√ľhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler was put in command of Armeegruppe Weichsel, or Army Group Vistula, as Soviet troops broke through the Gulf of Danzig and isolated three German armies in East Prussia, Germany. Soviet forces were now within 95 miles of Berlin, Germany. Meanwhile, thousands of German refugees were killed while waiting for ships to evacuate them from East Prussia when a nearby ammunition depot was detonated by a Soviet aerial attack.
30 Jan 1945 German passenger liner Wilhelm Gustloff was attacked and sunk by a Soviet submarine off Gotenhafen (Gdynia), occupied Poland, killing 8,000 of the 9,000 passengers onboard.
2 Feb 1945 With the Russian arrival at the outskirts of Stargard in Pommern, Germany (now in Poland), the Germans gave orders to evacuate the Stalag IID prisoners of war camp. The Allied prisoners, which include a large contingent of Canadians captured following the disastrous Dieppe Raid in August 1942, would march westward for 44 days along snow covered roads until eventually, at the end of April, their guards fled and the column having been strafed on the road by RAF fighters were finally liberated by an advance reconnaissance unit from the Royal Staffordshire Regiment.
7 Feb 1945 Kriegsmarine cruisers assisted with naval gunfire to halt Soviet attacks near K√∂nigsberg, Germany.
9 Feb 1945 Soviet submarine S-13 attacked German passenger ship Steuben just off the coast near Stolp, Germany (now Slupsk, Poland) just before the end of the day, fatally hitting her with two torpedoes on the starboard side.
10 Feb 1945 Fierce German counter attacks near Neustettin, Germany (now Szczecinek, Poland) halted the advance of the Soviet 2nd Byelorussian Front. Nevertheless, some of the troops of the Soviet 2nd Byelorussian Front were withdrawn from the East Prussian Offensive and diverted to the fighting in Pomerania, Germany.
10 Feb 1945 German passenger ship Steuben, previously fatally hit by two torpedoes from S-13, sank just off the coast near Stolp, Germany (now Slupsk, Poland). She listed rapidly and sank by the bow just past the start of the day, about 20 minutes from the time of the torpedo hits. About 4,250 military and civilian passengers were killed.
18 Feb 1945 Soviet troops encircled Graudenz, East Prussia, Germany (now Grudziadz, Poland).
19 Feb 1945 German 1st Infantry Division, 3rd Panzer Army, and 4th Army launched a counter attack in East Prussia, Germany, which was spearheaded by a captured Soviet T-34 tank. It opened a corridor between K√∂nigsberg and Pillau. The troops would hold this corridor open until early Apr, allowing thousands of civilians to be evacuated by German Navy ships.
28 Feb 1945 Soviet 2nd Byelorussian Front captured Neustettin, Germany (now Szczecinek, Poland).
5 Mar 1945 Fortress Graudenz in occupied Poland was captrued by Soviet 2nd Byelorussian Front. At the Oksywie Heights near Gotenhafen, Ostpreu√üen (East Prussia), Germany (Gdynia, occupied Poland), 30,000 people were evacuated by ships on the previous day and this date.
11 Mar 1945 Lavrentiy Beria reported to Joseph Stalin that suicides, especially among women, were becoming common in Soviet-occupied East Prussia, Germany.
14 Mar 1945 A new pocket of German troops was formed near Braunsberg, East Prussia, Germany (now Braniewo, Poland).
21 Mar 1945 Soviet forces captured Braunsberg near K√∂nigsberg in East Prussia, Germany.
1 Apr 1945 Soviet artillery began a 6-day artillery bombardment against K√∂nigsberg, East Prussia, Germany.
4 Apr 1945 On the fourth day of the Soviet artillery bombardment, K√∂nigsberg, East Prussia, Germany lost electric power.
5 Apr 1945 On the fifth day of the Soviet artillery bombardmen on K√∂nigsberg, East Prussia, Germany, a break in the weather allowed Soviet aircraft to join in on the attack. By this point, German defenses could offer little opposition to enemy aircraft.
6 Apr 1945 After six days of artillery and aerial bombardment on K√∂nigsberg, East Prussia, Germany, the ground offensive began. 137,000 Soviet troops of the 3rd Byelorussian Front rushed into the city, supported by 530 tanks and 2,400 aircraft.
7 Apr 1945 German forces at K√∂nigsberg, East Prussia, Germany attempted a counterattack. Although it inflicted heavy casualties on the Soviets, it ultimately failed.
8 Apr 1945 Defensive forts number 5 and 8 at K√∂nigsberg, East Prussia, Germany surrendered to Soviet forces. German forces attempted another counterattack, but it failed at the face of Soviet air superiority. On this date, Soviet aircraft dropped 1,500 tons of bombs on K√∂nigsberg.
9 Apr 1945 General Otto Lasch surrendered the city of K√∂nigsberg, East Prussia, Germany to the Soviet forces. The surrender caused a massive panic among the civilians of the city. As the roads were crowded with refugees, Soviet forces attacked, killing many civilians. Fighting ceased by midnight as Soviet forces eliminated all remaining German resistance. 80% to 90% of the city lay in ruin by this time.
15 Apr 1945 German ships evacuated 20,000 people from East Prussia, Germany.
16 Apr 1945 Soviet submarine L-3 sank German passenger liner Goya with a torpedo, killing 6,220 people being evacuated from East Prussia, Germany, most of whom were civilian refugees.
26 Apr 1945 20,000 German troops at Pillau, East Prussia, Germany (now Baltiysk, Russia) surrendered after two weeks of heavy fighting.
8 May 1945 92 German ships of various sizes departed Libau, Latvia with 18,000 German refugees onboard, sailing for Denmark and Germany. It would be the final convoy out of Latvia.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
11 Apr 2009 03:08:24 AM

To all the brave men who choose to fight and die like hero
2. Adela Filep says:
28 Oct 2009 06:02:58 AM

My father was conscripted from Fericanci Croatia into the German army at the age of 17, and was captured in Konigsberg. I would be very interested to know which German army units were involved in the East Prussian offensive. Can anyone tell me please?
3. r.b.jones says:
27 Nov 2009 11:48:18 PM

My wife sailed from Pillau on the 31st January 1945 on the ship SS Esbjerg as part of the East Prussian evacuation to the West.
I cannot find any reference to this sailing?
Please could you assist
Part of Operation Hannibal
4. Anonymous says:
11 Feb 2010 02:31:19 AM

what a disaster!!!
may we don't find it anymore!
5. East Prussian says:
24 May 2010 12:25:26 PM

I came to this page innocently seeking historical information about Prussian relatives who came to America from the noble city of (then) Danzig, c. 1900, leaving others behind.
I didn't know them well, but remarks like "It's a shame those boys have to die in a rich man's war" re: Vietnam, have come down in family lore.
I would differ from occasional but widespread suggestions that ambition for world dominance is a heritable characteristic.
From what I know these relatives were notorious, pacifists. Wonder why.
6. Anonymous says:
31 Jan 2011 10:37:53 AM

A dear friend just passed away at 92. She said she came from Allenstein, E Prussia. Her father was shot when he was72. Perhaps it happened during this invasion. It's inconcievable to read about such horrors committed by other human beings. No wonder she never shared any of her experiences. RIP Elizabeth......
7. Anonymous says:
14 Aug 2011 04:14:38 AM

It's astonishing that the so called "West Powers" (USA England) had ignored or -worse -approved the crimes against people his only guilty was to be germans.
8. Anonymous says:
1 Nov 2011 02:41:12 PM

My mother-in-law escaped the Russians from Koenigsberg. She never told us of the atrocities she must have witness and possibly suffered. She took all that to her grave. She was, however, to the end a proud Prussian.
9. Timssinned says:
10 Nov 2011 05:53:26 PM

we now know that the russian when becoming the sovjet union allready invaded many countries unsuccesfully and commited many cruelties after seizing these countries during the molotov pact.
cruelties put into german shoes by mister stalin, just like the many cruelties commited by the sovjets themself to their own people.
the germans never fullscaled rapes and murders in the east as it would have undone their purity.
the same *** you find from whorehouses used by the ss in concentration camps, just imagine.
maybe all these cruelties are just made up to justify the unhuman cruelties done not to the german military but to the german people.
NO, i am not german neither a neo-nazi or an anti seminite.
i am a dutch freethinker and thanks to the internet you can discover more of the truth then ever before.
i learned the prussian horro which is still happening every day in the baltic and in present poland by people of german origin as i worked with one and heard how he whas living.
shocked and asshamed i listened to his stories.
as proven from these facts the german people lead by herr hitler allready suffered these atrocities after wwI and where one of the reasons for the general support to try to fight to restore honour and selfesteem to the german people.
knowing they would fight an war they could not win but remember that they allmost did and only lost due to the fact of many warcrimes done to the german people.
as young man i whas really proud to be have born in one of the allies countries, but now i only feel sadness and shame to belong to a country that supported the liberal market political system that created the national socialist state in the first place.
history is repeating itself and i feel fear for the future if the truth is not been told and we keep bad talking those who lost the war instead of facing the facts that we as the so called free west and socialist east did not leave the german people any choise in that time of history after the first world war.
me the big anti fasist in my youths even pay tribute to some sites in germany nowadays knowing the facts of wwII.
proudly i disguise my opinion as if i would do this openly it still could cost me my life even now in 2011.
i fear we will never will know the truth of the second world war as today that all seems just to have been to destroy the jews.
the fact that the war whas declared on germany by them is never present in any history book also not the fact of the agreement between the allies and the sovjets to cover up their war crimes to justify the creating of a jewisch state.
my mind is with those who died during this war and lost not only their lives and loved ones but also everyting they where fighting for german or not.
i still dream of world peace but it will not be there with a history full with lies that make oure childeren hate instead of to understand.
may peace be with the souls who died and suffered on any side.
dignity lost of barbarism but we could have known that if you read the book you are not alloud to read, hail number 18 and may all germans once again relive their lives under one german state on all traditional german lands in a world where all people can do the same on theirs.

my mind is with those who suffered under the consequence of the will of a people to live freely under their own rule and way of life on their own lands, timssinned.
10. allan says:
4 Dec 2011 04:46:34 PM

Terrible to read of the attrocities committed by all the nations which took part in this war, they were all "tarred with the same brush" when it came to killing and raping innocent people. All I can say, is thank christ I was living in a country on the other side of the world, when those crazy world wars took place, and so I knew nothing about war, and still enjoy living in that country, whose shores have never been invaded by any wars, and probaby never will be either. War is futile, there must always be solutions to conflicts, instead of wars.
11. Ultradog says:
17 Apr 2012 03:30:56 AM

Congrats to Mr Chen.
I came here following a link on realclearhistory.com and was surprised to see it was one of my favorite websites (wwIIdb)
Your work is increasingly being recognized around the web as excellent - as it should be.
12. Maria Beilschmidt says:
24 Jan 2013 08:47:38 PM

I will say I cried at the horrors my grandmother told me what happened seeing as she was a little girl at the time und my family has lived in Kalingrad the renamed Capitol I have strong Prussian bloodlines und hearing how this happened even when Hitler had denied them escape I vas told that he used Prussia just as a distraction just to keep the Russians busy und later I found out that Prussia vas sold to Russia during the Berlin Vall.....sorry for random note
13. Ralph D. Lynch says:
16 Apr 2013 07:03:46 PM

"The atrocities committed by the Soviets were not justified." Hmm, show me a fascist that doesn't deserve being hung upside down. Grease 'em all.
14. Barry Hile says:
8 Aug 2013 07:47:08 PM

How can a soviet sub sink the Goya on 16/4/45 and then a soviet war ship sink it again on 17/4/45?
15. Mark K says:
27 Jan 2014 11:26:46 PM

@Ralph D. Lynch
Soviet brutalities on the civilian population were definitely not justified. I am appalled by your comment. I hope the Russians who murdered, pillaged, and raped pay for it in the afterlife seven-fold. War doesn't make it okay to brutalize civilians. These events should never have been swept under the rug. It's Nanking/Nanjing all over again.
16. G du Toit says:
10 Feb 2014 10:19:24 AM

Not to condone German atrocities , but what happened there and alsewhere in East Prussia was terrible beyond comprehension .An entire way of life , incredibly rich in culture and achievement was swept away overnight by a raging sea of barbarity and cruelty.It should never be forgotten !
17. Ziayre Michaelis says:
4 Apr 2014 10:06:56 AM

Oh my god.... Words can't describe the horror, anger, and shame I'm feeling right now. I was searching for East Prussia's involvment in World War Two for a school project and stumbled upon this Atrocity.
I never knew about this.
How is it that something as horrifying, serious, and just.... downright MONSTEROUS as East Prussia's invasion overlooked in school?? This is a major tragedy! The fact that school such as my own high school simply overlook and refuse to talk about Prussia in general is irritating at best, (Speaking as one with Prussian blood) but to simply dismiss this (And other!) tragedies is horrible. It's sickening. Why aren't we taught about this in school? Why do they hide from us the Truth?
18. Anonymous says:
16 Apr 2014 02:41:55 PM

"It's astonishing that the so called "West Powers" (USA England) had ignored or -worse -approved the crimes against people his only guilty was to be germans."

why are you blaming the brits and the americans for russian sadism? why do you say that they "approved" the russians' behavior? what do you think that they could have done to make the invading russians behave better?

the russians were despicable. then again, the germans sent 6 million jews to gas chambers and millions more russians, poles, gypsies and *** s.
that doesn't excuse what the russians did, but it does provide a bit of context.
19. Erich says:
16 Apr 2014 03:08:53 PM

My father was conscripted into the Waffen SS as he was a member of the Latvian Legion, i.e., the Latvian defence force. He fought on the Eastern front from Riga to Smolensk and back. in 1944, he was posted to Riga because of war wounds and was lucky enough to be evacuated. The unit in which he served was made up of Latvians. He told me that when they occupied a Russian village, the order was that the population would be treated with civility. In contrast, some German units on the frontline would engage in atrocities. It's a shame, because his unit was treated as liberators.
20. Kim says:
30 Apr 2014 06:55:04 PM

I just encountered this site as I have been researching my family, and found my great uncle listed in the database of war graves. He was a senior physician for the refugees on April 21, 1945- just days before it all ended. Why did we not learn about this in school- just an atrocity in so many ways.
21. Anonymous says:
15 Aug 2014 03:45:28 AM

I'm afraid I have to call into question the validity of this article, which cites only Isabel Denny and Wikipedia as its sources. I beseech readers to read reviews of Isabel's frankly terrible book online, if not the book itself.
22. Mikael says:
27 Aug 2014 05:27:04 AM

I visited in Kalinigrad Oblast a couple of year ago. It seemed in many places that the last shot is fired only short time ago. In some small towns by Samland see side you still can see what kind of paradise it was before the war. The same sad impression you can get in Karelian Isthmus which we(Finland) lost for Russia.

We were able to evacuated the whole population (0,5 million) from Karelia with the minor casualties but the population in East Prussia was not so lucky. What a terrible and almost untold story.

I am not any neo-nazi or I do not want back the lost territories but I have to admit that mr. Goebbles was right when he warned what will happen if Red Army comes.....

23. No more fascists says:
11 Mar 2015 08:27:27 AM

Tens of millions killed, raped, tortured, and worse by the Germans in the East. Entire cities and countries razed to the ground. Complete ethnic cleansing to make way for good Germans. Theft of entire nations and races to feed the Monster German war machine. Remember that first before you pity those that supported and cheered on these German monsters. War is always a disaster and the Germans brought this on themselves.
24. Anonymous says:
7 Apr 2015 02:03:10 PM

the russian front colapsed in 1944.....how did hitler warn his generals?
25. Anonymous says:
10 Apr 2015 06:40:49 AM

"The 20,000 German troops there fought fiercely until 26 Apr 1945, inflicting enormous damage to the Soviets but in the end had no choice but to surrender."

Why didn't you add "Seig Hail!" at the end of article?
26. Anonymous says:
16 Apr 2015 02:06:11 PM

the German people willingly and gleefully participated in the war against the 'eastern subhumans'. They deserved what the USSR met out. Oh, by the way, remember the British and American fire bombings of German cities.
Don't forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
27. Anonymous says:
16 Aug 2015 09:27:41 AM

It's really a shame and tragic that Hitler decided to provoke a war in the East. The high culture of Koenigsberg, the birthplace of Immanuel Kant, the "Pearl of the East", was destroyed, and was replaced by the drab, cold, gray, Stalinist, architecture. Nazism was replaced with Communism. Not really an improvement, just trading one form of cancer for another. Really tragic for the average folk. Lesson: Always pay attention to what is going on around you and actively question things. Don't blindly accept what so called "leaders" tell you.This is what happens when you get too wrapped up in your own little world's and don't pay attention, and actually believe the propaganda that ALL governments spew out.
28. G. Stern says:
25 Nov 2015 08:26:50 PM

We learn something about the Germans and the Russians, and there are conflicting views on whether the Germans deserved their fate. Nothing justifies atrocities, but they happened.

There is no mention of labor camps, concentration camps, and ghettos that existed in East Prussia throughout the period of the war. Those horrible places were liberated by the Russians, who for a short time restrained the freed Jewish Germans and marched them further east. Those Germans were released by the Russians and finally made their way to Berlin. Some eventually settled in Palestine (now Israel) and others in the United States.

I know one such survivor who was ten years of age when the war ended, has clear memories of certain terrible experiences, including her familiy's ejection from their home in a small East Prussian town and her captivity from 1939 to 1945 in East Prussia. Fortunately, for my children and I, in 1951, she came to the U.S., where, nine years later, I married her.

Are there reliable, published sources that report on the lives of Jewish Germans in East Prussia and what happened to those who survived?
29. Pastor Steve says:
15 Apr 2016 11:49:40 AM

Disregard for human life is never justifiable. The Nazis and the Soviets were equally culpable in the bloodbath that was the eastern front. The Nazis bear the brunt for initiating the conflict, but the Soviets should not have been given a pass, especially when the Nuremberg Trials protocol was being established. Given their penchant for raping civilian populations, the allies should have never allowed them to sit a judge on the panel at Nuremberg. Hopefully, we have made progress since then. But then again, when I look at the nations that have seats on the human rights committee of the UN, its almost comical. So, maybe we haven't learned a thing after all. Heres to the men, the unnamed in the unmarked graves, who were good fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers, who died fighting for political reasons beyond their control. May heaven grace their memory.
30. Hermann Dutsch says:
25 Jul 2016 08:23:03 PM

Very well said Pastor Steve, I lost my grandfather in the Russian front in Feb 1954. I will never condone happened during such an evil time. Not only did Hitler have millions of Jews murdered but he also send millions of Germans to their graves knowing the war was lost. And yes the Russians shouldn't have been able to sit at the Nurnberg trials with all the murdering and raping they have done. Remember even prior to the War the Russians have murdered millions of their own. I never got to meet my Grandpa Georg Dutsch.
31. Bob Orr says:
14 Apr 2017 06:16:03 PM

The Germans killed 25 million Russians. Exactly what did they expect if they lost the war? Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to attack Russia?
32. Arjay says:
13 Apr 2018 11:43:53 AM

Eighty years earlier, U.S. general William Tecumsah Sherman opined that war is hell. That truth was amply proven by the Soviet advance. But let us waste no tears on the Germans, for at least four reasons: they began the war in the first place; they did as bad or worse to the Russians all throughout Operation Barbarossa; they perpetrated the Holocaust with the full support of the German people; and since the end of the war they have demonstrated time and again that Nazism is the national heritage of the German people. The world needs neither Germans nor Germany.
33. Rocket Ron says:
17 May 2018 11:37:34 AM

I prefer the facts:
Nazism is just as alive in the U.S. as anywhere else.
Stalin killed Russians by the millions long before the war even started, more than Hitler. The Russians were ordered to Rape. Germans, not so much.
The Holocaust was not supported by ALL Germans. Other countries volunteered their Jews to the Holocaust.
I shed my tears for all of them.
34. Anonymous says:
12 Apr 2022 09:49:14 PM

Soviet atrocities?

They shot Nazis?

What about the gas chambers? The slave labor camps? The burned villages?

Some racist German woman got raped and we are supposed to blame the Soviets?

Grow up
35. MisterRogers says:
13 Apr 2022 09:36:05 AM

of course, Koch worked frantically to secure his own of evacuation by ship. When he left the city, he ordered the crew to bar the ship to any other refugee even though the ship had plenty of space to take on many others.

~ can you please cite your source?
36. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
13 Apr 2022 10:07:06 AM

To MisterRogers of 13 Apr 2022: Please refer to _Fall of Hitler's Fortress City: The Battle for Königsberg 1945_ by Isabel Denny, in which the author noted "The icebreaker Ostpreussen, the largest in the Königsberger fleet, had been waiting for weeks in Pillau harbour and the Gauleiter and his immediate entourage went aboard. The captain was ordered not to allow any civilians on board."
37. Anonymous says:
8 Aug 2022 02:21:20 PM

Russia, as a nation, has never had to account for such atrocities against both other nations and their own people. I wonder if it links to Russian belligerence we see today. Hitler was right about the bolsheviks, in spite of all the evil germany did. Soviet's did worse to their own people, well before Germany was even considered a threat to Russia. You can't justify such behaviour on account of Hitler.

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East Prussian Offensive Photo Gallery
German Volkssturm troops with Panzerfäuste at Königsberg, Germany, Jan 1945
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