Battle of Halbe

The Battle of Halbe (German: Kessel von Halbe, Russian: Хальбский "котел", Halbe cauldron) lasted from April 24 - May 1, 1945 was a battle in which the German Ninth Army, under the command of Colonel General Theodor Busse was destroyed as a fighting force by the Red Army during the Battle for Berlin.

The Ninth Army, trapped in a large pocket in the Spree Forest region south-east of Berlin, attempted to breakout of the pocket westwards through the village of Halbe and the pine forests south of Berlin to link up with the German Twelfth Army commanded by General Walther Wenck with the intention of heading west and surrendering to the Western Allies. To do this the Ninth Army had to fight their way through three lines of Soviet troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front under the command of Marshal Ivan Konev, while at the same time units of the 1st Belorussian Front, under the command of Marshal Zhukov, attacked the German rearguard from the north east.

After very heavy fighting about 25,000 German soldiers—one third of those trapped in the pocket—managed to reach the comparative safety of the Twelfth Army's front lines. The rest were either killed or captured by the Soviets.

In a last desperate stand before the fall of Berlin, General Busse's 9th Army, retreating from the Oder, fought a ferocious battle in the forests around the small town of Halbe 40 kms south-east of Berlin. Surrounded by the army of the Soviet Marshall Georgi Konev, all avenues of escape were closed and in the following slaughter the 9th Army suffered catastrophic losses compatible with any suffered in the Soviet Union. As one witness remarked 'The massacre in that forest was appalling, wounded were left untreated and screaming by the roadside'.