In December 1944 the Germans still occupied western Poland, while the Soviets were advancing on Germany from the south. Increasingly better equipped and more mobile, they assembled a huge force along the front between the Baltic Sea and the Carpathian Mountains, but Hitler was sceptical of their capabilities and failed to reinforce Germany’s eastern defences. The Soviets under Marshall Zhukov launched their assault on 12 January 1945, with Marshall Konev’s forces attacking in the south from Sandomierz and Marshall Rokossovsky’s in the north, encircling Warsaw. By 19 January, Zhukov had taken Lódz and Konev had reached Silesia. By the end of the month, Konev had crossed the River Oder, Zhukov had reached Brandenburg and Pomerania, and Rokossovsky had taken Danzig, leaving 25 German divisions in the north isolated and trapped. By 13 February, the Soviet forces were halted at the Oder-Neisse line, less than 100 (160 km) miles from Berlin.
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