Berlin: The Downfall 1945

Beevor Antony

Glossary

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All dates given in the book refer to 1945 unless otherwise stated.

BdM Bund deutscher Mädel, League of German Girls, female equivalent of Hitler Youth.

Fritz Russian name for a German soldier. The plural was used for Germans in general.

frontovik Red Army soldier with frontline experience.

Ivan (or Iwan in German), an ordinary Soviet soldier. Term used by Red Army as well as Germans.

Kessel (German for ‘a cauldron’) a group of forces encircled by the enemy.

Landser an ordinary German soldier with frontline experience. The equivalent of the Red Army frontovik.

NKVD Soviet secret police under control of Lavrenty Beria. Military NKVD units — NKVD rifle divisions made up mostly of NKVD frontier guards regiments — were attached to each Soviet Front command. The NKVD chief with each Front was answerable only to Beria and Stalin, not to the military chain of command in the Red Army.

OKH Oberkommando des Heeres, in theory the supreme headquarters of the German Army, but in the later stages of the war its most important role was operational command of the Eastern Front.

OKW Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, the supreme headquarters of all the armed forces, Army, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine, controlled by Hitler through Field Marshal Keitel and General Jodl. It directed operations on all fronts except for the Eastern Front.

political department a political officer (politruk) was responsible for the political education of all soldiers. The political department of each Soviet army and Front came under the Main Political Administration of the Red Army (GlavPURRKA).

S-Bahn city and suburban railway, mostly on the surface, but some of it underground.

7th Department an organization at each Soviet army headquarters whose main task was to demoralize the enemy. German Communists worked under Soviet officers, and also many German prisoners of war who had undergone ‘anti-fascist’ training in Soviet camps. They were known by the Germans as ‘Seydlitz troops’ after General von Seydlitz Kurzbach, who had surrendered at Stalingrad and helped form the so-called National Committee for a Free Germany, which was completely under NKVD control.

SHAEF Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force Europe.

shtraf company or battalion, the Soviet copy of German Straf (penal) units. Disgraced officers, deserters and defaulters were condemned to these penal units, where they were in theory offered the chance to redeem ‘their guilt with their blood’. This meant that they were used for the almost suicidal tasks, such as advancing first through a minefield. Straf units always had an escort ready to shoot any members who disobeyed orders.

SMERSH the acronym for smert shpionam (death to spies), a name allegedly chosen by Stalin himself for the counter-intelligence organization attached to Red Army units and formations. Until April 1943, when Viktor Abakumov became its chief, it had been known as the ‘special department’ of the NKVD.

Stavka the Soviet supreme headquarters of the armed forces, directly under Stalin’s control. The chief of staff in 1945 was General Antonov.

U-Bahn underground railway.

Verkhovny commander-in-chief, the term which Zhukov and other senior commanders used to refer to Stalin.

MILITARY ORGANIZATION

Army Group and Front A German ‘Army Group’ or a Red Army ‘Front’ represented a collection of armies under a single commander-in-chief. Depending on circumstances, strengths could vary enormously — anything from 250,000 to over a million men.

Army Each German army, usually varying in strength between 40,000 and over 100,000 men, has its name written in full in the text: e.g. Ninth Army or Third Panzer Army. Soviet armies, generally smaller, are written thus: 47th Army or 2nd Guards Tank Army. Most armies usually consisted of two or three corps. A Soviet tank army had in theory 620 tanks and 188 self-propelled assault guns.

Corps A corps consisted of several divisions, usually between two and four. A Soviet tank corps, however, consisted of three tank brigades of sixty-five tanks each and was closer in size to a full-strength German panzer division.

Division Divisions varied greatly in size. A Soviet Rifle Division in theory should have mustered 11,780 men, but most had between 3,000 and 7,000 men. German Infantry Divisions were often even more understrength by 1945.

Brigade This formation, between a regiment and a division, was used more by the US Army and the British than by the Germans and Red Army, both of which had at least two or three regiments to a division. The Red Army, however, had three tank brigades to each tank



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