Prague Strategic Offensive
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseOn 6 May 1945, 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 begun on 5 May. The fighting inside the city began at 0100 hours in early hours of 5 May 1945 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. In the morning of 6 May, 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; the only gain for the resistance fighters came in the form of German 600th Infantry Division, consisted of Russian nationals and otherwise known as the 1st Infantry Division of the Russian Liberation Army, burning its German flag and switching side to support the uprising, which gave the resistance some heavy weapons.
ww2dbaseOn 7 May, the German High Command surrendered. On the following day, a colonel attached to the High Command was escorted by American troops to deliver word of the surrender to Schörner at Prague. 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. Later on the same day, Schörner fled Prague for Austria, where he would be caught by the Americans on 18 May. Soviet troops entered Prague on 9 May. A group of about 6,000 German troops were already fleeing westward as Schörner advised, but 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 them reached the area between villages Milín, Slivice, and Cimelice near the US-USSR demarcation line on 9 May, but confused fighting between the Americans, the Germans, Czechoslovakian resistance fighters, and troops of the Russian Liberation Army (ie. traitors to USSR at one time) trying to flee the oncoming Soviets would continue in this area until 12 May. The Germans who made their way to the demarcation line and survived the fighting would ultimately be turned over to USSR, as the Americans refused to risk any incidents with the Soviets.
ww2dbaseThe 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.
Last Major Update: May 2013
Prague Strategic Offensive Interactive Map
Prague Strategic Offensive Timeline
|30 Apr 1945||German police chief Obergruppenführer Karl Hermann Frank announced over radio that any attempt to rise up by the citizens of Prague in the puppet state of Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia would be wiped out violently.|
|5 May 1945||Czech resistance leaders made a radio broadcast, asking all resistance groups in Czechoslovakia to rise up against the Germans.|
|6 May 1945||Czech resistance leaders made a radio broadcast, appealing to the Americans for military assistance in their war against the Germans, not knowing that the Western Allies had already made a deal with the Soviet Union in terms of operational boundaries in Central Europe.|
|7 May 1945||German SS troops attacked Czechoslovakian resistance fighters outside of Prague, Czechoslovakia; the resistance fighters were saved by the unexpected assistance from 1st Division of Russian Liberation Army, which has previously fought on the side of the Germans. Meanwhile, in the city, German Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner ordered his troops to begin evacuating the city, while he would soon depart by plane to southern Germany himself; the plane would crash en route, but he would survive the ordeal.|
|8 May 1945||German Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner escaped Prague, Czechoslovakia for Austria.|
|9 May 1945||Soviet troops entered Prague, Czechoslovakia. A large number of German troops, fleeing Prague, reached the area between villages Milín, Slivice, and Cimelice near the US-USSR demarcation line.|
|11 May 1945||The Soviet Prague Strategic Offensive in Czechoslovakia concluded. On the same day, SMERSH agents arrested many Russian émigrés in Prague; in 2003, the Czech government would name this day "the day of the destruction of Russian intellectuals".|
|18 May 1945||German Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner was captured by Americans in Austria.|
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