On 2 May 1945, Soviet troops occupied the Berlin Reichstag and planted the Soviet flag on its roof. It was the culmination of a two-week battle for the German capital.
The military operation started on 16 April with a major attack on the Seelow Heights, the German defence line near the river Oder. During this attack, the Soviet army fired one million grenades. All night, the horizon was lit by explosions and the searchlights that dazzled the German army. After two days of heavy fighting, the Red Army broke through the German defence, and on 25 April, the Soviet army had surrounded Berlin.
Hitler had ordered his troops to defend the city ‘to the last man’. The streets were barricaded, to stop the tanks and soldiers from coming through.
Due to a shortage of soldiers, the boys of the Hitlerjugend and the old men of the Volkssturm were ordered to help defend the city. With their small arms and grenades, they did not stand a chance against the Red Army, and many of them died a pointless death.
On 2 May, Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin defence forces, surrendered. Germany was now almost completely defeated.