Polish Army in Berlin

Polish soldiers build border signs on Oder rivier bank, April 1945. Photo ADM via Foreign Ministry license

The units of Polish soldiers supported the Red Army assault on Berlin

1st Warsaw infantry division of the 1st Polish army

2nd Pomeranian howitzer brigade

6 th Warsaw independent engineers battalion

1st independent mortar brigade of HighCommand reserve of the Polish Army which was part of the 47th soviet army of the 1st Bielorussian front

The total 12 000 soldiers fought in Berlin

Campaign

During the battle the Polish units as parts of 1st Bielorussian  front were 60km north of Berlin. Gen. M. Rola-Żymierski the supreme commander of the Polish Army and the Polish government asked Soviets to grant permission to the unit of the Polish Army for attacking Berlin. M. Zukov answered he would ask the supreme commander. Receiving the permission of J. Stalin he gave orders to transport the T. Kościuszko infantry division  to the battle field and assigning the troop to the soviet armoured units. The Polish soldiers reported their coming on 30 April at 7.000 AM and since then took part in the fight in the last strongest fortified sector  the western part of Tiergarten breaking through to the Reichstag  around the premises of the Technical University  the Branderburg  Gate. They took 56 quarters of the town, 7 factories 4 underground stations and the larger part of the polytechnic taking 2550 prisoners of war.

Polish Flags over Berlin

On the 2nd May 1945 at 6AM the soldiers of the 7th battery of the 3 division of the 1st Regiment of the Kosciuszko Light Artillery hoisted the Polish flag on the Prussian victory column Siegessaule in the Tiergarten  park. The second flag was fixed below on the railing by the soldiers of the 3rd division of the 8th battery at the order of 1st lieutenant P. Potapski. The third flag was fastened by five Polish soldiers of the 1st infantry division  2ndLtn. M. Trocki, lance corporal K. Otap, corporal A. Dabłoński and Gunners A. Karpowicz and E. Mierzejewski. After the capitulation more red and white banners were hoisted on the Brandenburg gate and siegesaule. The soviet soldiers hoisted their red standards next to the Polish ones. Hitler’s  Germany was overcome.

photo ADM

After the battle Berlin became a victim of Red Army. See more information about Red Army atrocities and different  Polish Army policy about civilians and prisoners soon.

According to lance corporal Kazimierz Otap just after fixing flags they were arrested by Soviets and almost shot at spot. Luckily capitulation of Berlin was announced within minutes and happy Red Army soldiers left them free.

In Soviet propaganda capture of Berlin was very important topic. Stalin let Poles to participate in siege because of heavy losses of Koniev’s and Zukov’s fronts in race to be first in the city. It was decided to use Polish participation in propaganda of “Soviet-Polish” brotherhood in arms in Poland only. In Poland it would help to strenghten communist regime. It was not to be mentioned abroad Poland.

Siegessaule was a victory column built after 1870 French-Prussian War. When occcupation of Berlin started the French tricolor was raised over column.

Photo Bundesarchiv

The 1st Warsaw Infantry Division

Division started fight in nort-west part of Charlottenburg . Regiments operation is described below.

The 3rd Infantry Regiment (3pp)

Regiment took action along Franklinstrasse and after the day fight reached Englischestrasse  and the being involved in heavy street fighting took 450 prisoners of war and Tiergarten rail-way station. Next it spearheaded across the Tiergarten park and on the 2nd of May at 6.55 A.M. reached the vicinity of Brandenburg gate where made contact with the soviet units of the 8th army.

The 2nd Infantry Regiment (2 pp)

Regiment started the attack on 30 of April from Sopgienstrasse. It crossed Franklinstrasse and came to the northern building of Berlinerstrasse. The regiment took well manned and defended the polytechnic at night, then it attacked to the south-northern premises of the stadium and close to Fiasanenstrasse, the Zoologishe garten  and Hardenberstrasse  met the 1st armourer army of the guard. The contact was made with the other Soviet units on the left wing in the sector of the railway bridge crossing the Landwehr Canal close to Ufergartenstrasse.

The 1st Infantry Regiment (1 pp)

Regiment was attacking along Bismarckstrasse, Schillerstrasse, Goethestrasse toward the stadium and the zoo and taking barricades on the western side of Kaiser – Friedrichstrasse. It crossed Wilhelmsdorestrasse and reached Karl August  Platz and got in touch with the soviets. Next it fought in the nearby Krummestrasse, Karl August-Platz and crossed Leibnizstrasse and took Bismarcstrasse railway station. On the 2nd of May at dawn the regiment crossed Grolmanstrasse and reached Hardenbergstrasse.

Artillery units

The 2nd Howitzer Artillery Brigade

Unit fired its 122mm guns from Siemensstadt on 27th of April. The brigades position was located in Volksgarden and at the crossing of Guerigestrasse and Cauerstrasse on the 1st of May it tied the line of the 1st Kosciuszko Infantry Brigade round Tiergarten, south of the Sprewa river

The 1st Independent Mortar Bridge

Brigade supported the units with its fire at Spandau, Pichelsdorf  and Postdam from 24th of May to the 3rd of May. The 5th and 8th Regiments destroyed some pill-boxes between Sackowet and Lekwitz lakes and round Potsdam castle. The regiments seized Berlin suburbs Glinnicke and Bernau. The 11th Regiment was active at Seeburg-Staaken and Klosterfelde suburbs.

photo ADM

Polish Soldier Cemetery

The Polish soldiers military cemetery fallen at Berlin battlefield is located in Volkspark Friedrichshain in the vicinity of virchowstrase and Werneuchener strase. The monument of Polish and German  antifascist soldiers was erected in the northern part of the park in 1972. The project was designed by the collective team of Zofia Wolska, Tadeusz Lodziana, Arnd Witting and Guther Merke with clear  motto “For our freedom and yours” – “Fur uere und unsere freiheit”

The calendar

The 16th of April  The beginning of Berlin

The 18th of April the red army and the offensive

Polish “Peoples” Army overcome the Oder line

24th Polish of April the first soviet units reach the outskirts of the capital.

25th of April the encirclement of the town is completed

26th of April the beginning of the assault

30th of April battle of Reichstag ? fighting in the center

2nd of May  the last skirmish and the capitulation.

Text: Polish Wikipedia and Wojciech Bulhak

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>