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The Siege of Küstrin, February 1945

Western Front

The siege of the fortress at Küstrin (Kostrzyn) between 31 January and 30 March 1945 opened the way for the Red Army's assault on Berlin. By 20 February, when the town was imaged by a Luftwaffe reconnaissance sortie, the fortress had already been isolated by enemy bridgeheads to the north and south. The fortress, dating from 1535, lay at the junction of the Oder and Warthe rivers. In 1832, the citadel was separated from the older part of Küstrin (Altstadt) by the Vorflut canal and a new section of town --the Neustadt-- grew up east of the rivers. The Neustadt, with rail facilities, a cellulose plant, hospital and the Stülpnagel (infantry) bararcks, became a key defensive area.

On 20 February, trenching and foxholes defined the defensive perimeter around Küstrin, which extended from the town of Blyen on the Oder's left bank, around a cellulose plant, hospital and barracks/training area in the Neustadt, and west around the Altstadt to the town of Kietz (Area A, Graphics 1 - 3). The Neustadt had already been penetrated by the Red Army on 31 January, when an armor company drove unopposed down the Plantagenstrasse. The tanks were stopped at an intersection known as the Stern and four were destroyed after turning around and heading back down the street (Graphic 4). The image shows several objects in the street, some of which could be the tanks.

The German defenses included heavy weapons positions, which could be identified at several locations around the town. The positions were sited to cover roads entering the town (Graphics 5 - 8). A number of vehicles near the artillery barracks may have been marshalled for the town evacuation, which began on 19 February. A tank ditch had been excavated at the intersection of two roads south of the citadel at the Kietz gate.

The front line was most evident outside the town of Alt Drewitz where a tank ditch had been excavated across the road, Drewitzer Strasse (Graphics 9 & 10). Trenches and foxholes were on either side of the road. A building was burning 500m to the northwest along the road.

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