Recommended as private guide in
Rick Steves' 'snapshot Berlin':
" enthusiastic historian who grew up behind the Wall..."

before and after


Battlefield Halbe & outskirts Berlin




After the Soviets had taken Seelow Heights, soldiers of many different German units moved south. The units were a mix of Volkssturm and regular army troops and quite a few soldiers of the SS. Because Marshall Konjew’s troops attacked north toward Berlin, and Chuikov’s guard army attacked southwest, the remaining German troops were bottled up in what later became known as the “cauldron of Halbe.”
Halbe is just a small little village, but in April 1945, tens of thousands of civilians were gathered here. They were hoping to be with the German troops when they broke through the Soviet lines. Better to be in the US sphere of influence than with the Soviets, the people thought. What followed was a nightmare. The tour is designed to give detailed information about the cauldron as well as the German defense in the outskirts of Berlin. The combination of the original place and the story about the very same place in 1945 will catch your attention!


Kleiner Friedrich1  outskirts Berlin - Rahnsdorf

Defense did not seem to make much sense in April 1945—yet Berlin was still prepared to fight the approaching...
Red Army. It was a whole system of trenches, defense zones, firing positions, tank barriers. As a matter of fact, this effort had no effect at all on the Soviets, especially the outer defense zones. Why not? I know where each obstacle was, and will be able to explain how the defense line was organized. Also I have some quite insightful stories to help you understand what took place here.


Kleiner Friedrich1 Halbe - town

It makes little sense to undertake an outbreak attempt—in fact three of them—when it ends in 40,000 dead...
and 30,000 who made their way out. When, in April 1945, soldiers gathered in the town of Halbe, which was already under Soviet fire, they had three routes of escape. They stayed in the same place, and with maps we can locate today exactly where the units moved and how they fought.


Kleiner Friedrich1 Zossen

Starting in 1939, the German High Command had its main seat here. From the outside it looked like ordinary...
office buildings. But in fact, thick concrete walls shielded the generals and their aides-de-camp from possible air raids. This place can only be seen during a public tour. If you want to see the place, let me arrange this, and if, as often happens, there is no tour in English available, I will assist you in understanding the place.


Kleiner Friedrich1 Halbe - cemetary

This is the biggest German war cemetery. More than 28,000 soldiers and civilians were buried here. Originally, the ...
corpses were buried in 1945 right next to the place they were found, to prevent diseases from spreading. In the ’50s, though, this cemetery was built to re-bury the remains and to gather them all in one location. This is a sad place. And I have found a few personal stories of people who are buried in the ground here—people just like you and me.


Kleiner Friedrich1 Soviet Cemetary Baruth

Freshly renovated, the cemetery is a typical example of Soviet postwar remembrance. Soviets as well...
as Germans buried their dead soldiers in military cemeteries. Each side designed their hallowed grounds according to the way they interpreted the war after it had ended. Baruth is a powerful example of the Soviet style. This is also the area where Colonel von Luck was finally stopped while trying to break out, or more correctly, to go back to the cauldron after he had received the order to do so. In doing this, he was captured. I am still looking for the little lake where—as he pointed out in his memoir—he was taken by the Soviets.

  Friedrichgold4 © Bernhard