The Siege of Kustrin 1945: Gateway to Berlin, Tony le Tissier

The Siege of Kustrin 1945: Gateway to Berlin, Tony le Tissier

Kustrin was a German garrison town on the Oder (now in modern Poland) that underwent a two-month long Soviet search early in 1945. This detailed account of the siege begins with a brief history of the town before moving on to the surprise arrival of the first Soviet troops in January 1945, when the local military commanders believed that the Russians were still some way to the east.  

The eyewitness accounts of the fighting all come from the German side, as are all of the detailed descriptions of the fighting. The Soviet point of view is only really represented by the actions of the high command, and by brief accounts of upcoming attacks. First hand accounts by Red Army soldiers are increasingly available (if not yet common), but were perhaps less so when le Tissier was doing his research. One also suspects that the siege of Kustrin would have been more memorable for the men inside the town than for the Soviet troops on the other side of the front line, for whom it was only part of a larger campaign, with Berlin as the main focus.

One result of this focus on German sources is that we get a clearer impression of what life was like within a besieged town than we might have done if the Soviet side was more visible. We only see events from the point of view of the side that had the least control over those events, and so Soviet attacks come out of the blue and Soviet intentions (in any detail) are largely hidden.

Two post-battle reports from German leaders are included, and reflect the rather deluded attitude of much of the German leadership at this late period of the war, talking about lessons for the future conduct of the war while the Allies were already advancing across Germany from east and west and Berlin was about to come under direct attack.

1 - The Development of a Fortress
2 - The Vistula-Oder Operation
3 - Defence Preparations
4 - The Russians Are Here!
5 - The Siege Begins
6 - The Russians Close In
7 - Evacuation
8 - Assault on the Neustadt
9 - Assault on the Altstadt
10 - Breakout
11 - Consequences
Annex A: Kustrin Garrison Units, as at 22 February 1945
Annex B: Reinefarth's Report on the Fall of Kustrin Fortress and the Breakout of the Surviving Garrison
Annex C: Kreisleiter Korner's Report

Author: Tony le Tissier
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 312
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2009 hardcover, 2011 paperback

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