.... and the achievement by which the tables have been turned upon the complacent, feckless and purblind victors deserves to be reckoned a prodigy in the history of the world and a prodigy which is inseparable from the personal exertions of life thrust on a single man. ...

Those who have met Hitler face to face in public, business, or on social terms, have found a highly competent, cool, well-informed functionary with an agreeable manner, a discerning smile and few have been unaffected by a subtle personal magnetism.

Nor is this impression merely the dazzle of power. He exerted it on his companions at every stage in his struggle, even when his fortunes were in the lowest depths....

One may dislike Hitler's system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated I should hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations."

- Winston Churchill,
'Step by Step', p.143

 


Abbreviated Development Plan, (U)

AVRO Vertical Take-Off Aircraft, Weapon System 606A
USAF Contract # AF33 (600) - 39722
26 June 1959
AVRO Aircraft Ltd, Malton, Ontario, Canada

 

On 22 April 1945, Adolf Hitler, learning from one of his generals that no German defense was offered to the Russian assault at Eberswalde, admits to all in his underground Bunker that the war is lost and that suicide is his only recourse. Almost as confirmation of Hitler's assessment, a Soviet mechanized corps reaches Treuenbrietzen, 40 miles southwest of Berlin, liberates a POW camp and releases, among others, Norwegian Commander in Chief Otto Ruge.

On the second day of the Battle of Berlin, 17 April, 1945,  General Gotthard Heinrici, the Commander-in-Chief of Army Group Vistula, stripped SS Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner's III (Germanic) SS Panzer Corps, (the Army Group's reserve), of its two strongest divisions, the SS Nordland Division and the SS Nederland Division. He placed them under the command of General Theodor Busse, commander of the Ninth Army, as Busse had most of the other units in the III Corps. The Nordland was sent to join Helmuth Weidling's LVI Panzer Corps defending the Seelow Heights, to stiffen the sector held by the 9th Parachute Division. The Nederland Division was sent south-west of Frankfurt (Oder) and assigned to the V SS Mountain Corps, where it was destined to be destroyed in the Battle of Halbe.

By 21 April Adolf Hitler, ignoring the facts, started to call the ragtag units that came under Steiner's command "Army Detachment Steiner". He ordered Steiner to attack the northern flank of the huge salient created by the 1st Belorussian Front's breakout. Simultaneously the Ninth Army, which had been pushed south of the salient, was to attack north in a pincer attack. To facilitate this attack Steiner was assigned the three divisions of the Ninth Army's CI Army Corps, the 4th SS Polizei Division, the 5th Jäger Division, the 25th Panzergrenadier Division — all were north of the Finow Canal[4] — and Weidling's LVI Panzer Corps, which was still east of Berlin with its northern flank just below Werneuchen.

The three divisions to the north were to attack south from Eberswalde (on the Finow Canal and 24 km (15 miles) east of Berlin) towards the LVI Panzer Corps, so cutting the 1st Belorussian Front's salient in two. Steiner called Heinrici and informed him that the plan could not be implemented because the 5th Jäger Division and the 25th Panzergrenadier Division were deployed defensively and could not be redeployed until the 2nd Naval Division arrived from the coast to relieve them. This left only two battalions of the 4th SS Police Division available, and they had no combat weapons. Heinrici called Hans Krebs, Chief German General Staff of (OKH), told him that the plan could not be implemented and asked to speak to Hitler, but was told Hitler was too busy to take his call.

When, on 22 April, at his afternoon conference Hitler became convinced that Steiner was not going to attack he fell into a tearful rage against his generals. He declared that the war was lost, he blamed the generals and announced that he would stay on in Berlin until the end and then kill himself. After 22 April "Army Detachment Steiner" was little mentioned in the Führerbunker.