Battle of Berlin (1945)

Portugal mourns death of Hitler

LISBON, Portugal (UP) – An official two-day period of mourning for Adolf Hitler began in Portugal today.

The government decreed the mourning period yesterday and ordered all flags on official buildings to be lowered to half-mast.

Flags also flew at half-mast from the Spanish Embassy and Jap Legation buildings.

Why though? What does portugal have do Failed Austrain Painter?

Why though? Britain is a stone throw away. Why take a piss right at their doorstep?

Soviet Information Bureau (May 4, 1945)

Оперативная сводка за 4 мая

Войска 2-го БЕЛОРУССНОГО фронта, форсировав пролив ДИВЕНОВ севернее ШТЕТТИНА, овладели городом ВОЛЛИН и заняли населённые пункты ЛЮСКОВ, КЕРТЕНТИН, ЯРМБОВ, КОДРАМ, РЕБЕРГ, ГРОСС и КЛАЙН МОКРАТЦ, ЗОЛЬДЕМИН. Севернее города ВИТТЕНБЕРГЕ войска фронта, продолжая наступление, заняли города ШТЕРНБЕРГ, ЛЮБЦ, ПАРХИМ, ГРАБОВ и крупные населённые пункты ДАБЕЛЬ, ДЕМЕН, ГОЛЬДЕНБОВ, РАДУН, ШПОРНИТЦ, БЛИВЕНСТОРФ, ЦИРЦОВ, ЛЕНЦЕН.

За 3 мая войска фронта взяли в плен более 22.000 немецких солдат и офицеров и захватили на аэродромах 240 самолётов противника.

Войска 1-го БЕЛОРУССКОГО фронта, наступая южнее города БРАНДЕНБУРГ, с боями заняли города БЕЛЬЦИГ, ВИЗЕНБУРГ, НИМЕГК, КОСВИГ и крупные населённые пункты ГЕТТИН, КРАНЕ, ГОЛЬЦОВ, ГРЕБЕН, ГЕРЦКЕ, РЕЕТЦ. В боях за 3 мая войска фронта взяли в плен 23.700 немецких солдат и офицеров и захватили на аэродромах 57 самолётов противника. По дополнительным данным, в БЕРЛИНЕ взяты в плен полицей-президент города Берлина генерал-лейтенант полиции ГЕРУМ, начальник берлинской полиции генерал-майор полиции ХАЙНБУРГ, начальник охраны имперской канцелярии бригаде фюрер СС МОНКЕ, начальник сан службы берлинского гарнизона генерал-майор медицинской службы ШРЕЙБЕР, руководитель Красного Креста города БЕРЛИН и провинции Бранденбург генерал-лейтенант медицинской службы БРЕНЕНФЕЛЬД, командир 18 мотодивизии генерал-майор РАУХ.

Войска 4-го УКРАИНСКОГО фронта, продолжая наступление в полосе Западных Карпат, с боями заняли город ВИГШТАДТЛЬ (ВИТКОВ) и крупные населённые пункты ПУСТЕЙОВ, МОШНОВ, БРУШПЕРК, ДОМАСЛАВИЦЕ, ОСТРАВИЦЕ, ГОРНАЯ БЕЧВА, ВЕЛИКИЕ КАРЛОВИЦЕ, ГОВЕЗИ. В боях за 3 мая войска фронта взяли в плен более 1.000 немецких солдат и офицеров.

Войсками 2-го УКРАИНСКОГО фронта восточнее города БРНО с боями заняты крупные населённые пункты ЛУЖНА, ПОЗДЕХОВ, ЯСЕННА, ВИЗОВИЦЕ, СЛУШОВИЦЕ, ЛУЖКОВИЦЕ, КВАСИЦЕ, ТЕШНОВИЦЕ, ВАЖАНЫ, ЗЛОБИЦЕ, КРЖЕНОВИЦЕ.

На других участках фронта существенных изменений не произошло.

За 3 мая на всех фронтах подбито и уничтожено 50 немецких танков и самоходных орудий.

Reading Eagle (May 4, 1945)

Dorothy Thompson1

The death of Hitler

By Dorothy Thompson

JERUSALEM – Perhaps we will never know how Hitler died or when he really died, but it is clear just what a myth this is intended to create around his name.

With the Red flag flying over the Reichstag and American and British troops unfortunately not in Berlin, with the Soviets taking unilateral action in Poland and Austria, with France registering an unprecedented Communist vote in municipal elections, it is the intention of German leaders to dramatize in Hitler’s death the role of Germany as a last bulwark against radical Bolshevism sweeping over all Europe.

This undoubtedly is also the reason for launching the story that Himmler was willing to surrender to the British and Americans. While not confirmed, it bolsters the myth that Germany fought for Western civilization against military Bolshevism. This, therefore, will recall clearly how Hitler set about saving Europe from Bolshevism.

He, first, in his own country, destroyed all historic and traditional institutions of Western civilization, representative government, impartial courts, orderly processes and based regime on a naked force. He then made a pact with the Soviet Union, encouraged the Soviet entrance into Finland and partitioned Poland with the Soviets along the Molotov-Ribbentrop line. He then attacked the west, destroyed entire defense systems and broke down again Western civilization’s most cherished institutions, creating everywhere moral and political chaos.

Then, because he feared the Soviet Union on the rear and thought he could play on British conservatism, he attacked the Soviet Union.

Finally, by insisting that Germany fight on for months after the war was definitely lost, he brought about the utter ruin of Germany herself, leaving the country a wilderness of rubble without government, communications or food.

He who in death is proclaimed the protector of Europe is the destroyer of Europe. He and his spokesman, Goebbels, repeatedly said that either Nazism would conquer or would pull civilization down with it into chaos. That promise and that promise alone Hitler kept, but the evil that he did lives after him. That is why, here in their national home, among his worst victims, the Jews, there is no wild rejoicing.

Jewry’s worst enemy has been defeated and his country literally brought to dust, but the seeds of hatred he sowed throughout the world flourish still. Reports received here from all parts of Europe, including France and Yugoslavia, reveal great hostility over returning to European Jews property expropriated from them and resold to non-Jews under the Nazi regime.

The feeling of democracy and Sovietism based on freedom proved weak, inefficient and widespread. Though the root of Nazism is unabridged in nationalism which elevates a nation into a god, there is no sign that such nationalism is not extirpated with Hitler’s fall. Our civilization therefore confronts in victory an undiminished crisis.

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The Pittsburgh Press (May 4, 1945)

Hitler mystery grows as Reds hunt for body

Berliners believe he shot himself

LONDON, England (UP) – Radio Moscow said today that inhabitants of Berlin believe Adolf Hitler shot himself and Propaganda Minister Paul Joseph Goebbels swallowed poison.

The report came as Red Army troops searched the ruins of Central Berlin for the third straight day for the bodies of Hitler, Goebbels and others of the Nazi hierarchy.

Some Nazi bigwigs may also be found among German prisoners taken in Berlin, at last count more than 134,000. One neutral report last week said Hitler and other Nazis were fighting as army privates in an attempt to escape detection when surrender came.

Tokyo pipes up

Not until Hitler’s body has been found can the Allies be certain that he is dead. The suicide version was first advanced for both Hitler and Goebbels by Hans Fritzsche, Goebbels’ deputy propaganda chief, who was captured by the Russians.

Tokyo Radio sought to bolster the illusion that Hitler died a hero by quoting a Domei dispatch which it said had been sent from Hamburg just before that city fell to the British.

The broadcast said Hitler was descending a flight of stairs in his official residence when a Soviet shell exploded “right in front of him and took his life.” Domei attributed the report to a “trusted bodyguard” of Hitler.

Capture 134,000

A Soviet announcement that the number of prisoners captured in Berlin had risen to 134,000 boosted total German casualties in the 12-day battle for and in the city to roughly 450,000.

Radio Moscow said some buildings were still standing in the outskirts of Berlin, but the center of the city, including Hitler’s Reich Chancellery, had been flattened by aerial bombs and Soviet shells.

Reich Marshal Hermann Goering’s air ministry was levelled by bombs, the broadcast said. Gestapo headquarters burned down.

The broadcast said German civilians had begun to emerge from cellars and were lining up at food depots for bread.

Radio Berlin was heard yesterday broadcasting in Russian for the first time.

Chancellery fire routs Russians

MOSCOW, USSR (UP) – A Russian war correspondent reported today that after the capture of Berlin, he found the Chancellery – where the Nazis said Adolf Hitler died – engulfed in flames which drove him from Hitler’s office after a quick survey.

If the correspondent’s reported visit to the chancellery shed any light on Hitler’s fate, the Soviet censorship was apparently not ready to pass it. Moscow has issued no official report of what was found at the Chancellery – if anything – that would bear on the German version of Hitler’s death.

The History Channel: A night without Hitler is like a night without sunshine.

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UP writer Beattie freed from Germans

WITH THE U.S. NINTH ARMY, Germany (UP) – Edward W. Beattie Jr., United Press writer who was captured by the Germans last September, arrived here today from the Luckenwalde concentration camp south of Berlin.

Komsomolskaya Pravda (May 5, 1945)

Покорение Берлина

От военного корреспондента «Комсомольской правды»

И вот над Берлином тишина. Внезапная, резкая тишина после бурных осадных дней я неумолчной артиллерийской пальбы. Только изредка грохнет залп – это приходится добивать немногочисленные эсэсовские группы, не желающие сдаваться в плен.

Люди испытывают такое ощущение, словно прекратилось землетрясение. Город перестал качаться и гудеть. Теперь можно проехать по Берлину из конца в конец совершенно беспрепятственно и неспеша разглядеть город. Многих улиц не стало, и машины прокладывают дороги вновь, взбираясь за кирпичные бугры и спускаясь с них.

Сотни лет Берлин стоял, крепкой и мрачной твердыней в центре Европы, нагоняя на некоторых своих соседей страх и смятение. Сотни лет в Берлине были господами военный мундир и стальная каска; Сотни лет нависала над миром зловещие крылья немецкого орла, символизирующего алчность. Сотни лет в-берлинском главном штабе сидели ревнители военной касты с надменным лапами, перекраивавшие на свой лад карты Европы. Здесь никогда не переставал стучать. воинственный барабан, и люди с оловянными глазами из года в год бряцали оружием на площадях города и горланив разбойничьи песни. Здесь зародилась и окрепла лжетеория человеконенавистничества. Здесь был центр злоумышлений, отсюда потекли мутные потоки варварства и мракобесия, затопившие пол-Европы. Здесь источник всех бед и горестей, которые: немцы обрушили на головы человечества в 1939-1945 годах.

Да, долго стоял этот город в своей вековой закостенелости, громадный, тяжёлый, мрачный, с дьявольской злобой и ненавистью глядевший на другие города и столицы. И вот теперь этот город-зверь лежит у ног русского солдата, покорный, жалкий, общипанный, поверженный в прах.

Центральные кварталы Берлина выглядят сейчас, как домики, слепленные из песка и потом растоптанные – здания развалились, рассыпались, расползлись до основания. Похоже, будто здесь разразилась какая-то космическая. катастрофа. Глянешь вверх – зубчатые гребни стен, глянешь вниз – глубокие ямы, мешанина кирпича, горелого железа, машин, убитых лошадей и немцев. Здесь расплата за все – за руины Сталинграда, за пепел Смоленска, за развалины Севастополя, Ковентри, Варшавы, Белграда…

К рейхстагу ведёт Вильгельм штрассе. По улице трудно не только ехать – итти, так она разрушена. Стены рейхстага покрыты копотью. Внутри все выгорело, но что-то ещё чалят, а дымится. И теперь на крыше рейхстага – яркое праздничное пятно. То полощется пятиметровое красное полотнище, водружённое победителями.

Вот пресловутая Аллея побед, широкая асфальтированная лента перед рейхстагом в парке Тиргартен. Здесь фашисты разыгрывали свои фарсы, свои маскарадные парады под бой барабанов и вой труб. Толпы исступлённых немцев и немок с дикими глазами вытягивали вперёд руки, приветствуя маленького человечка с усиками кретина, с косицей, опускающейся на лоб, когда он шёл по Аллее побед, копируя походку Наполеона. Здесь тысячи немцев орали «Хейль Гитлер», когда по Аллее с рёвом проходили танки и маршировали гусиным шагом солдаты, которых Гитлер потом отправлял в Египет, во Францию, в Россию.

Теперь по Аллее побед важно ходят. наши красноармейцы. Среди статуй стоят наши пушки. Вокруг позолоченной статуи Победы, вознёсшейся ввысь на высокой колонне, стоят наши танки. По воле судьбы лавровый венок, который держит в руке статуя Победы, осеняет башни грозных советских машин.

Сейчас, в эти первые часы после боя, хочется рассказывать прежде всего о людях, которые завоевали победу. Кто они? Вот двое из тысяч: артиллеристы гвардии старший сержант Пётр Басаргин и гвардии старший сержант Алексей Калганов, командиры орудий. Штурм Берлина: они по сути дела качали далеко отсюда, за тысячи километров. Один освобождал Орёл, принимая участие в знаменитом сражении на Курской дуге, второй стоял насмерть на рубеже Воронежа. Оба прошли нелёгкий путь, испытав все – холод, осатанелые вражеские контратаки. Им знакомы и запах собственной крови, и горечь слез – они потеряли близких сердцу людей. И вот они достигли предместий Берлина, ворвались в кварталы города, и чих пушки были одними из первых, обрушивших снаряды на германскую столицу.

Противник, желая восстановить положение, бросил против них восемь самоходных орудий типа «Фердинанд», несколько танков и много пехоты. Немцы контратаковали с трех улиц. Танки гремели по мостовым, палили из пушек, приближаясь вплотную к огневым позициям Петра Басаргина и Алексея Калганова, Пехотного прикрытия не было. Что ж, орудийные расчёты приняли бой и начали отбивать контратаки. Все это – сухие слова, лишь фиксирующие внешние поступки людей – читатели привыкли к нам за четыре года. Но если бы вот в эту минуту, когда на одну пушку с малым количеством обслуживающих ее людей прет огромная стальная махина, заглянуть в глаза ее защитникам, да ещё глубже – в их душа – то вы встали бы перед ними на колени с потрясённым сердцем.

В самом деле, вот так, попросту, представьте себе: перекрёсток, никуда не скроешься, а танки неумолимо движутся на тебя с резом и огнём. И кажется, что весь этот вражеский город расколется сейчас, обрушится на тебя и раздавит своими обломками. Но надо стоять. И люди стояли. Они отбили одну контратаку, потом вторую. Выбыли из строя двое артиллеристов. Потом последовала третья контратака. После неё у орудия остался один гвардии старший сержант Басаргин, трижды раненный. Собрав последние капли сил и воли, он сам заряжает пушку, окропляя снаряды своей кровью, стреляет ин отбивает четвертую контратаку. Горят на улице танки, валяются убитые немцы, уползают раненые. А люди, подоспевшие на огневую позицию и сменившие погибших артиллеристов, продвигают пушки ближе к центру-города, и Басаргин и Калганов, раненные, идут вместе с ними, зная, что итти необходимо – Берлин!

Полки пробивалась к рейхстагу и к имперской канцелярии Гитлера. Этот центр фашистской Германии, где разрабатывались планы человекоубийства, где составлялись приказы о разбое и грабеже, был об’ектом самых жарких атак. Путь К рейхстагу лежал через нагромождения баррикад, через пробоины в стенах, сквозь бетонные ползалы и тёмные тоннели метро. И везде были немцы с фаустпатронами, с пулемётами и с дьявольским упорством эсэсовцев.

Батальоны капитанов Давыдова, Неустроева, Логвиненко, Самсонова два раза ходули в атаку и два раза откатывались назад. Наши бойцы в третий раз пошли в атаку н, наконец, ворвались в рейхстаг н вышвырнули оттуда немцев.

Тогда маленький, курносый, молоденький солдат, пришедший в Берлин из Кировской области, как кошка, вскарабкался на крышу рейхстага и сделал то, к чему стремились тысячи его товарищей. Он укрепил красный флажок на карнизе и, лёжа на животе под пулями, крикнул вниз солдатам своей роты:

– Ну, как, всем видно?

И он засмеялся радостно и весело, курносый, обветренный, белобрысый. И хотя немцы опять бросились в отчаянную контратаку и паже заняли первый этаж, наши бойцы, успевшие закрепиться в верхних этажах рейхстага, чувствовали себя хозяевами этого большого н мрачного обгорелого здания. Теперь никакая сила не заставила бы их уйти отсюда.

И вот все кончено. Сам начальник берлинского гарнизона явился к нашему командованию и согласился на безоговорочную капитуляцию. В своём приказе по войскам Берлина он заявил, что положение безвыходно, что Гитлер покончил жизнь самоубийством, что положение с каждым часом становится все более невыносимым, что силы гарнизона тают и что дальнейшее сопротивление совершенно бессмысленно.

Запомним же этот день лень 2 мая, качавшийся тусклым, угрюмым утром, когда над городом висели тучи, перемешанные с дымом, и шёл мелкий унылый дождь. Прекратилась стрельба, и мы увидели первую партию капитулировавших немцев, вылезших на свет из подвалов. Первый раз за всю войну со старшим сержантом Басаргиным случилось так, что он видел идущих на него с оружием немецких солдат и не стрелял в них. Он стоял возле своей пушки, широко расставив ноги, и с нескрываемым презрением пропускал их мимо себя, глядя на них прищуренным глазом. А немцы все выползали и выползали из нор, как крысы, и шли в своих зелёных шинелях длинными вереницами, колоннами и небольшими группами-офицеры впереди, рядовые сзади. Они складывали своё оружие в штабеля и уходили дальше на сборные пункты.

Немцы шли на сборные пункты, угрюмые и злые. А наши бойцы обнимались на улицах и поздравляли друг друга: победа! Они играли на гармошках и пели: победа! Они брились прямо на улицах, среди обожжённых камней, смеялись, приглашали друг друга в гости после войны: победа! Нет большего счастья, чем ощущение справедливой, добытой в труднейших сражениях победы.

Капитан А. АНДРЕЕВ

The Pittsburgh Press (May 5, 1945)

Direct report from inside Germany –
Most Germans believe Hitler died July 20 in army bomb plot

People, troops wanted only to escape Reds and give up to Americans and British
By Edward W. Beattie Jr.

Since last September, United Press war reporter Edward W. Beattie Jr. has been inside Germany – a prisoner of war. He was captured while going up to an advanced Allied combat position to cover a story. Yesterday he came out of Luckenwalde Prison Camp, which had been overrun by the Russians, and was flown back to Paris. The following dispatch is the most recent and most reliable report on the dying days of the Reich.

PARIS, France – I do not know the answer to the mystery of Adolf Hitler. But I can tell you what a good proportion of the German people – front frontline troops to village housewives – think about it.

They think he has been dead since July 20, 1944.

They think the bomb plot against Hitler, hatched by German Army officers, succeeded. They think Heinrich Himmler and a small group of his henchmen seized control of Germany after July 20 and kept it in the war.

Few Germans believe the story their own propagandists put out – that Hitler died in battle as the Russians closed in against the heart of Berlin. The ones who do believe that are Nazi fanatics who also believe they can go underground and continue the fight against the Allies for years.

Don’t care about Hitler

For the last few weeks, no Germans with whom I talked cared where Hitler was. They didn’t care whether he was dead or alive.

The only thing they cared about was getting themselves into position to surrender to the Americans or the British.

At the Luckenwalde Camp, the German guards talked frankly about what they intended to do when the Russians came.

They said they would fire one token volley and then run. Actually, they didn’t wait to do that. They fled before the Russians ever got there and turned the camp over to those of us who were prisoners.

The average German soldier seems to have realized as early as last fall that he was fighting in a lost cause.

I say that because there were two weeks after I was captured that I was forced to live in the battlefield with a unit of the German Army.

Surrounded by Allies

We were surrounded by Allied troops southwest of Epinal on the western approaches to the Vosges. For transportation we had a strange convoy of French autos and most of the daylight hours we were strafed by Allied planes.

One day I tried to buy a bottle of schnapps from a French distiller and offered him Allied occupation money in payment. He finally took it when some of my German captors told him:

“The Americans will be here in two days or so.”

I knew then that the Germans knew they were licked.

My captors finally broke out of the Allied trap and then I was shuttled from place to place. In these travels I came into contact with all types of Germans from Foreign Office officials to victims of Gestapo torture. Almost all of them were blaming Hitler and the Nazi regime for their troubles and the remark that was made most often to me was: “We are victims of our leadership.”

One day last November I was taken into the office of Dr. Paul Schmidt, head of the Press Section of the German Foreign Office.

Learned Nazi plans

Obviously, he was trying to get information out of me, but in the course of our conversation he let out some interesting information himself. What he outlined to me was Germany’s grand strategy for the remainder of the war.

He said quite frankly that Germany had no chance to drive the Americans and British back out of France into the sea. But he insisted that the German Army could keep the Western Allies out of Germany through the winter and, in the spring, start a tremendous offensive against the Russians.

German hopes fade

“This offensive," he said, “will shatter the Russians’ propaganda front line and roll up their last-ditch army. Then we will force England and the United States into a compromise peace.”

They clung to that hope until January. Then the Russians made their great breakthrough and threw all of Eastern Germany into chaos.

Then the German propagandists made one last attempt. They circulated a story that Marshal Semyon Timoshenko had led a revolt against Marshal Joseph Stalin and had seized the great military base of Smolensk. This coup, the German propagandists told their people, had split the Russians’ Eastern Front and deprived the northern end of it of supplies.

Beginning of end

The onrushing Red Army cave the lie to such propaganda. Then the tide really began running heavily against the Germans.

The Allies crossed the Rhine. The Russians rolled up to the Oder. Secret weapons promised to the German soldier never appeared. But as late as three weeks ago, an SS agent, who claimed to be a Swiss doctor, was circulating through our prison camp at Luckenwalde, trying to persuade American and British prisoners to sign a round-robin letter denouncing the “Red Evil.” Shortly before the Russians arrived, he disappeared.

Now the German panic is on. The fear of the Russians has caused groups of armed Germans, numbering as many as 100, to try to surrender to American prisoners of war who were still deep inside Russian-occupied Germany.

Civilians crawling from cellars of Berlin

Reds disband Nazi Party and subsidiaries – population warned on hostile activity
By Roman Karmen

The following dispatch from Berlin was written exclusively for the United Press by Roman Karmen, noted Russian war reporter.

BERLIN, Germany (UP) – The barricades of Berlin are being torn down today.

Quiet reigns in the city. The people themselves are demolishing the barricades which are present literally at every step. At many intersections they are dug-in tanks and guns that are silent forever.

Berliners, reassured that the war is over, are crawling from cellars and moving their belongings back from the basements to upper floors.

Streets obliterated

Law and order prevail. Only now that the whole city is occupied have I been able to traverse it from one end to another to see the terrific scale of the devastation caused by bombings. Entire streets are obliterated.

Berliners told me that the civilians suffered enormous casualties. In many cases hundreds of inhabitants were killed by the bomb.

Col. Gen. Berzarin, military commandant and chief of the Soviet garrison, has ordered the population to stay pout to preserve order. The Nazi Party and all subsidiary organizations have been disbanded and their activity outlawed.

Ordered to register

Within 72 hours of the publication of the order, all members of the German Army, the SS and the Storm Troops remaining in Berlin must register. Executives of all enterprises of the party, the Gestapo, the police, security battalions, prisons, and all other state organizations must personally appear at regional commandants’ offices.

All public utilities, electricity, waterworks, sewage, municipal transport, hospital good stores and bakeries have been ordered to resume service. The personnel of those organizations are required to remain at their jobs.

Until further notice, the previous rationing system remains in force. Owners and managers of banks are forbidden temporarily to engage in any operations. Their strongboxes and sales are to be sealed and immediate reports submitted to commandants. All employees of banks are forbidden to remove any valuables.

Told to yield arms

The population has been ordered to surrender to the commandant all arms, ammunition, explosives, motorcars, motorcycles and radio equipment. All printing shops are sealed.

The population has been warned it is fully responsible for any hostile activity against the Red Army or Allied troops, and culprits will be court-martialed.

Soviet troops can billet only in places selected by the commandant. Red Army personnel are forbidden to remove civilian property or search private citizens without orders of the commandant.

The Pittsburgh Press (May 6, 1945)

Grand-scale retribution –
Berlin almost a total wreck even before Reds got there

Writer who lived in capital four years returned as prisoner, saw bomb destruction
By Edward W. Beattie, United Press staff writer

Edward W. Beattie, United Press correspondent released yesterday from a German prison camp, has written the following description of Allied air raid damage to Berlin based on personal inspections of the German capital while he was in captivity. His dispatch is the first eyewitness account by a Western Allied correspondent of Berlin’s damage.

PARIS, France (UP) – Three months ago, before the last climactic air raids and before the Red Army’s tanks and self-propelled guns had battered their way into its heart, Berlin was the world’s number one example of retaliation.

It was grand-scale retribution, by Allied airpower, for what the Germans had loosed on the world.

I last walked the streets of Berlin January 25. At that time, it was at least 60 percent destroyed. I know it, because, over a space of three months I bribed my Nazi guards with cigarettes – two marks apiece on the black market – or with soap, and they allowed me to revisit every section of the town I had known well during four years’ pre-war residence.

Any damage that Red Army guns did during the final assault on the German capital was incidental. It was a question of finishing off the work by British and American bombers, which had paralyzed, to all effects, every vital function of the German capital.

Strike night and day

The bombing had reduced occupants to communal feeding, communal herding against danger, communal dread of every nightfall and every dawn. The night was sure to bring RAF Mosquito bombers; it might bring swarms of heavy Lancaster bombers.

Daybreak brought the threat of deadly Flying Fortresses and Liberators whose bombs struck like surgeons’ knives at the city’s vital organs. Even the Germans admitted the sight of the great silvery bombers in the skies was a beautiful one, although they spelled doom.

Prisoners cheer bombers

To Allied prisoners, the spectacle was one of sheer joy. I cheered the Mosquitos from the tip of a slit trench night after night for three months while I was kept at Camp Zehlendorf, west of the southwestern outskirts of Berlin.

I watched the “Forts” wipe out targets north and south of us in broad daylight while American Mustang, Lightning and Thunderbolt fighters traced a lazy challenge through the skies over the city. The German sentries had a grim joke; they would remark that Reich Marshal Hermann Goering’s Luftwaffe must be taking its 500th successive day off.

Heart of Reich laid open

The Berlin which I saw was the real heart of Germany, laid open. Both the Anhalter and Potsdamer stations, which I inspected, and the zoo and Friedrichstrasse stations which I saw from a few hundred yards away had been burned out, blasted, twisted by bombs. They operated only as whistlestops on the railroad, places where people could get off the trains and go their ways.

The Berlin cathedral, opposite the former Kaiser’s palace, was a gaunt skeleton.

Embassies destroyed

Unter den Linden was at least half gone, including the Bristol Hotel, the Soviet Embassy and the entire southern side, including the United Press offices at No. 43. On the other side of the street, the French Embassy was gutted and building after building had been scraped to the bone by Allied phosphorous bombs.

The Friedrichstrasse was practically dead. Great piles of rubbish, most of them months old, blocked the sidewalks. It was almost impossible to walk a block anywhere in the city without taking to the middle of the street, which were kept open for the few motorcars and streetcars still operating.

***Center of city a desert

The Potsdamerplatz, generally accepted as the center of Berlin, was a semi-desert. Everything around the intersection of the Friedrichstrasse and the Leipzigerstrasse was torn apart during the raid of last June 23 in which 800 Fortresses made central Berlin their target. The raid was an answer to the V-1 flying bomb then operating against London. In fashionable residential sections, two out of three buildings were scorched shells. Occasionally there would be a great gap of oblivion where one of the great blockbusters had landed.

In fashionable suburbs like Zehlendorf, one house in 10 was burned out and every sidewalk was piled with rooftiles, charred timbers and miscellaneous wreckage.

People ‘Queue happy’

Some houses had been repaired in a sort of jerry-built way by such humans as were forced to remain in Berlin.

These humans looked reasonably well-dressed. But their shoes had soles of wood. Their clothes scratched because they were made of wood fiber. They were tired and “Queue happy” from months of waiting in line for bread, meat, fish, coal, wood, or the soup which Nazis doled out as a sort of consolation after each new raid.

The only disappointment – then – was the government quarter around the Wilhelmstrasse. At that time, the Chancellery had only one small corner knocked off. At last reports, the Chancellery, which Hitler drafted to his plans, had been burned from end to end.

A facade still remained of the Foreign Office. It no longer is there, because American prisoners on a march through Germany saw it burning on February 3.

The Propaganda Ministry, also in the Wilhelmstrasse, was intact, and my first questioning by Nazi officials was there. It has now been knocked flat.