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Thread: Berlin 1945 - The Scharnhorst Division

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    Berlin 1945 - The Scharnhorst Division

    I'm just reading Antony Beevor's book 'The fall Of Berlin, 1945' and there are some stirring accounts of the Wehrmacht's final resistance to the Red Army that was sweeping into the city. One such tale is that of the Scharnhorst Division of the 12th Army which fought heroically (despite being reduced to its last 50 men) under the command of Peter Rettich before being forced to retreat across the Elbe to surrender to the Americans.

    On the morning of 7 May, the perimeter started to collapse. The last few artillery pieces of the Twelfth Army fired off their remaining shells and then blew up their guns. 'By far the hardest moment for any artilleryman' wrote Rettich. He was shocked by the disinitegration of some units and took great pride in the soldierly bearing of his cadets in the Scharnhorst Division - probably the last formation of the Wehrmacht still in battle order in Northern Germany. Prior to pulling back across the river, they destroyed their last lorries and vehicles. He dealt with his faithful Tatra jeep by pouring a can of petrol over it and then lobbing in a hand grenade. Hundreds of abandoned horses ran around nervously. Men tried to chase them into the water in the vain hope of forcing them to swim the river. It was a pitiful sight. Rettich assembled his men near the Schönhausen Bridge for a farewell address about the hard road which they had travelled together. In bitter defiance of defeat, they voiced a thundering "SIEG HEIL" to Germany before they left, to be parted forever. As they crossed the twisted bridge they threw their weapons, binoculars and other remaining equipment into the dark waters of the Elbe.


    I'll stop there but you get an idea of the bravery of these soldiers against insurmountable odds which, at least for me, inspires the greatest respect. On a sadder note, the book relates how the Americans had an agreement to hand over many surrendering German troops to the Russians, which I think was pretty despicable!

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    I also have that book and yes, the US forces did indeed behave quite despicably. But then, US involvement in WW2 to further the cause of ZOG was despicable in itself.

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