The Red Army crossed Germany's border on the 12th January 1945 and forced the 9th Army to retreat all along the front until it was deployed westward to the river Oder. Three of the 9th Army's formations were tasked with defending the Seelow Heights, which was the last defensible region before Berlin. In total the 9th Army was reduced to 100,000 men and 800 tanks and assault guns against which the Soviets had over 1,000,000 men and 10,000 tanks and assault guns.
The Battle of the Seelow Heights started on 16 April 1945 when Marshal Georgy Zhukov’s 1st Belorussian Front attacked across the Oder. The 9th Army held the line for about 3 days. After heavy fighting the 9th Army were driven back towards Berlin split in two with bulk of the forces under the command of Theodor Busse. This large part of the 9th Army were driven into a pocket in the Spree Forest south of the Seelow Heights and west of Frankfurt.
From inside the pocket east of Frankfurt Busse attempted a breakout to the west to join up with the 12th Army. The breakout, known as the Battle of Halbe, resulted in the destruction of the Ninth Army as a coherent force. Troops that were not captured by the Soviets crossed the Elbe at Tangermunde and surrendered to the US Army.
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