World War II: The Battle for Berlin--Gauleiter Joseph Goebbels

Battle for Berlin Joseph Goebbels
Figure 1.--Here Gauleiter Joseph Goebbels reviews a unit of Berlin's defenders. Note the older men. He is shaking hands with a Hitler Youth boy who was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery. We think the boy is Armin Lehmann, one of the boys assemld for Hitler's Birthday when he emerged from the Bunker for the last time. Goebbels was no fool. He knew the situation was hopeless, but had no quams anout throwing poorly rmed boys nd old men into a battle against the huge, well-armed Red Army. Of course at the end, he and his wife sacrified their children as well.

Joseph Goebbels is best known as Hitler's Propganda Minister. He had another important post, Hitler appointed him to the Berlin Gauliter (1926). He began by making Jewish police chief Bernhard Weiss a target. Essentially after the NAZI seizure of power, he becme the mayor of Berlin. Berlin with the outbreak of World War II became seen as the black heart of the NAZI beast. Actually Berlin was before the Hitler seized power, theleast NAZI ofall German cities. The large working-class populated supported the Socialists and Communist and were hostile to the NAZIs. It was Goebbel's assignment to Nazify Berlin. And he took to its with the same energy that he gave to the Propaganda Ministry. This led to what Goebbels called the Battle for Berlin, it would prove to be the first battle. Goebbels has left us a detailed account of that first battle, t least the beginning of it. He paints a sanitized acount of courageous young idealists fighting for a rightious cause--the future of Germany. And he describes how they took on the Communists, including violent clashes. [Goebbels] Among his many undertakings was to deport Berlin's substabtial Jewish population to the Ghettoes and death camps established in Poland. By an accident of history, Gobbels as Gauleiter would also play a role in the climatic second battle for Berlin. Goebbels in the final year of the War played an important part in the war effort beyond just propaganda. Hitler awarded Goebbels the title of Reich Plenipotentiary for Total War (July 1944). This was essentially the same time when the war reached the coundaries of the Reich. And inexorably the fighting moved on all sides towaed Berlin. One might have expected Goebbels to to use his position to build up Berlin's defenses. He did not. We are not entirely sure why, but probbly relates to Hitler's assessment that Berlin as not the major target. Dissmissing the advise of his generals, Hitler sent SS Panzer forces to defend Budapest rather than Berlin. Gobbels did not want to dispute Hitler's military assessment. As it became clear that Hitler as usual was dead wrong, Goebbels made no effort to save tne civilian population of Berlin. He did not want to give the impressiin of defeatism. Incredably, serious preparations for the defense of he city did not begin until the Soviets reached the Oder (March 1945). [Ryan, p. 380.] To the end, Goebbels primary goal was to maintain his reltionship with Hitler. And at the end, he was a rare voice among Hitler's adviers who opposed to the idea of abandoning Berlin to establish an Alpine redoubt. Goebells insisted that the final battle should be fought in Berlin. It is unclear how important this was on Hitler's decision to remain in Berlin. We suspect that at the end, Hitler's primary concern was that he not be captured alive.


Goebbels, Joseph. Kampf um Berlin (Munich: Verlag Franz Eher, 1934), be

Ryan, Cornelius. The Last Battle (Simon andSchuster: New York, 1966), 571p.


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Created: 1:48 AM 2/25/2016
Last updated: 1:48 AM 2/25/2016