The forces of the 1st Baltic Front and 3rd Belorussian Front initially surrounded the Prussian city of Königsberg in January 1945 as part of the East Prussian Offensive, which slowly choked off Germany’s overland supply routes, forcing them to depend on access to the Baltic Sea. The citizens of Königsberg faced a bleak choice; they could either evacuate overland and take their chances as they crossed the Russian front lines or traverse the ice to the Baltic port of Pillau. Alternatively they could stay behind and face starvation. Five full German divisions were garrisoned inside the city, which was defended by a network of forts and tunnels. The Soviets preceded their April assault with four days of artillery bombardment and then attacked from multiple points around the city on 5 April. The German defenders attempted multiple counterattacks and, instructed by Hitler to stand their ground, refused Russian invitations to surrender. But Soviet air attacks proved highly effective and by 9 April it was clear that all resistance had disintegrated, with the Germans surrendering at 18.00.
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