|1939-1945 -- No Going Back|
|The Battle of Seelowe Heights|
|by Paul Rohrbaugh|
Seelowe Heights, April 16-17, 1945
“We have to hold the front at any cost. You’re responsible. If a few soldiers start to run away, then you must shoot them. If you see many soldiers taking off, and you can’t stop them, and the situation is hopeless, then you’d better shoot yourself.”
--Regimental Commander of the 303rd Doberitz Infantry Division to his battalion commanders, April 15, 1945.
After nearly four years of fighting, the Soviet Army was only 50 miles from Berlin. The forces of General Zhukov had the shortest distance to go, but between them and the “lair of the fascist beast” were the Seelowe Heights. Here the best and strongest formations of the dying Third Reich were arrayed to stop, and as they hoped, turn back the Communist hordes.
The German defenders anticipated the Soviet opening barrage and had pulled back from their forward defense positions so the attacker’s artillery shells fell on empty positions. While this saved many of the defenders from the initial onslaught, there remained little room for maneuver and absolutely none for retreat. For the Soviets, the days of retribution and victory were at hand. For the Germans, victory or death were the only alternatives. One of the war’s last, epic battles was about to begin.
1939-1945 - No Going Back: The Battle of Seelow Heights:
Note: This scenario makes use of the Expanded Rules maps.
Scenario SO-1: No Going Back (7.2 MB zipped.pdf)
“We’re not cold. We’re afraid.”
--Anonymous German soldier to General Heinrici, commander of the forces holding the Seelowe Heights after being asked why he was shivering, April 15, 1944.
The Germans, realizing there was no place left to run and facing a determined foe bent on exacting revenge, put up a desperate defense. General Zhukov’s gambit of using searchlights to illuminate and dazzle the defenders was a flop, to put it mildly. Combined with the opening barrage hitting “an empty bag” the first waves of attackers incurred severe losses. Earlier in the war such a battle could’ve gone the German’s way, but those days were gone. Even the intervention of the Muncheberg’s Tigers and Panzergrenadiers, however, would not salvage the German defense, as the Soviets by this time had plenty of “cat killers”. Eventually the Soviet’s superior armament, experience, as well as numbers broke the German will and defense. There would still be fighting and dying on the now very short road to Berlin, but once the Seelowe Heights position fell the reign of the Third Reich would be measured in days and hours.