The Battle of the Seelow Heights, 1945
The Battle of the Seelow Heights was fought over four days from April 16 to April 19, 1945 east of Berlin along the current border with Poland. It was one of the last pitched battles of World War II. Almost one million Red Army soldiers, with more than 20,000 tanks and artillery pieces were deployed to break through the “Gates to Berlin.” Defending the terrain were 100,000 German soldiers and 1,200 tanks and guns. The Soviet forces, led by Marshal Georgi Zhukov broke through the defensive positions on April 19, having suffered about 30,000 casualties, while the Germans lost 12,000 personnel. It was the last hurrah for the Tiger tanks. After the 1st Belorussian Front broke through the final line at the Seelow Heights, nothing but shattered German formations lay between it and Berlin.
Read everything you can by Tony Le Tissier, a British Army officer. The best is Zhukov at the Oder. Make sure you take your copy to the battlefield, which is about one hour east of Berlin by car; you can use the maps in it to navigate the battlefield. Start by visiting the museum on the battlefield at Seelow. Don’t forget to drive over to Küstrin on the Oder River and visit the old fortress there.
This is a class-1 type of battle; you go there to visit the history. You can have your family do things in Berlin (a first class zoo and many museums) on their own for the day, while you head out that morning, visit the battlefield and are back at the hotel by 4:00 p.m. Visiting the battlefield in the spring gives you the best feel for the weather then. Finding the exact positions of King Tiger tanks, along with expended 20mm shell casings from 20mm flak guns protecting them, was a highlight of one of my visits there. It is hard to find, but I can get you there.