April 21

This Day in History

World War II

Apr 21, 1945:

Red Army overruns German High Command as it approaches the capital

On this day in 1945, Soviet forces fighting south of Berlin, at Zossen, assault the headquarters of the German High Command. The only remaining opposing "force" to the Russian invasion of Berlin are the "battle groups" of Hitler Youth, teenagers with anti-tank guns, strategically placed in parks and suburban streets. In a battle at Eggersdorf, 70 of these Hitler teens strove to fight off a Russian assault with a mere three anti-tank guns. They were bulldozed by Russian tanks and infantry.

Also on this day in 1945, British Guardsman Edward Charlton wins the last Victoria Cross of the war for saving the lives of several men trapped in their tank during a battle in the German village of Wistedt. He is so badly wounded during his act of heroism that he dies shortly after being taken prisoner. A total of 182 Victoria Crosses—Britain's highest honor for valor—were finally awarded for World War II.

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