On Hitler’s birthday, 20 April, Marshal Zhukov’s 1st Belorussian Front began shelling Berlin’s city centre, while Marshal Ivan Konev’s 1st Ukrainian Front advanced through its southern suburbs. On 23 April General Helmuth Weidling assumed command of the city’s remaining garrison, consisting of disorganized Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions, and poorly trained Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members. Increasingly depleted and desperate, they defended house-by-house and street-by-street, but on 28 April the Soviets crossed the River Spree at Potsdamerstrasse and took the central Moltke Bridge, opening the way to the Tiergarten, Gestapo headquarters and the Reich Chancellery. On 30 April Hitler and others of the Nazi high command shot themselves or took poison in the Führerbunker. The city’s garrison surrendered two days later, although skirmishing continued until mid-May, as isolated German units tried to fight their way westwards into Allied-controlled territory.
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