Bloody Streets, The Soviet Assault on Berlin returns to print!

Bloody Streets, The Soviet Assault on Berlin is back in print after more than a decade. This second edition offers a highly illustrated, thoroughly rewritten, redesigned, and expanded text. Bloody Streets presents the fighting in Berlin in unprecedented detail, weaving every known possible military unit’s movement and combat action into a tactical narrative that does not fail to provide the wider strategic context of why the Red Army conducted the assault into the city and not the Western Allies.

The new content added increased the size of the main text to over 500 pages, with 24 tables and nearly 300 black and white images. A separate map book was produced with over 60 pages that contains nearly 50 color and black/white maps (to include period aerial imagery), as well as a dozen color images of Berlin’s ruins and military vehicles taken shortly after the battle. Given Berlin’s extensive destruction during World War II, many key battle locations no longer resemble what they looked like in the 1930s and 40s. Care was taken to source period imagery of those locations so that readers had a sense of what the urban terrain looked like to the combatants at the time of the battle.

The Zoo G-Tower’s 12.8cm dual flak guns on the south-west corner of the upper platform. The three Flak Towers played a critical role in the ground fighting as gun platforms that engaged Red Army units with direct fire, command and communication centers, as well as hospitals. Together they prolonged the Battle of Berlin perhaps by as many as 3-4 days. (Cecil F.S. Newman collection, courtesy of Stadtmuseum Berlin)

I began research into the Battle of Berlin after visiting what was “East Berlin” in 1992 as a young U.S. Army Officer Cadet. When I walked through the city’s eastern districts back then, I was surprised to see the scars of battle still present on the facades of many buildings, nearly 50 years after the end of World War II. I wanted to learn more about the battle for the city, but I soon realized that the few books published about the Battle of Berlin at that time did not offer the operational or tactical detail I sought. Given the size, scope and significance of the Red Army’s assault into the largest urban complex on mainland Europe, I was perplexed that it remained one of the least studied and understood military operations of the war when compared to the unending works of history produced on battles like Normandy, the Ardennes, Operation Barbarossa, Stalingrad, or Kursk.

Battle for the Spittelmarkt, Berlin, 26–27 April depicted on period aerial imagery.  The fighting in this area of Berlin raged until the end of the battle. (1) Reichsbank. (2) Hausvogteiplatz. (3) Dönhoffplatz. (4) St Joseph II Hospital. (5) Spittelmarkt. (6) Foreign Exchange. (7) Reich Stationery Office. (8) Movie Theatre. (9) Jerusalemer Church.

I viewed my book as “technical-military history” with a main goal to pull back the curtain of the “fog of war” to the greatest extent I could, and detail the fighting street-by-street using all available sources available at that time. It soon became apparent after publication of the first edition that I was not the only one interested in this level of detail. The first edition sold out within nine months of release, even as the Great Recession took its toll on the world’s economy. While I was pleased with the treatment of the German side of the battle, I believed that more work needed to be done to expand upon the Red Army’s conduct of fighting. I was determined not to reprint the first edition until I conducted further research, despite the many calls to the publisher for its re-printing.

The second edition benefits from a decade of research that resulted in nearly 200 pages of new material being added from extensive German and Soviet era primary documents. Among the additional source material acquired were documents that detailed the role of the three massive German Flak Towers in the ground fighting. Their role in the battle has remained largely undocumented until now. New German accounts of the street fighting and various breakouts are published in the revised edition for the first time. Arguably, the most significant new material acquired were the War Diaries for the 1st Belorussian, and 1st Ukrainian Fronts. These documents offered an unparalleled view into the operational decisions and tactical problems faced by the Red Army during their final battles in April-May 1945. Their material has never been utilized in previously published works about the battle. The “Lessons Learned” at the Red Army’s battalion and regimental level contained in these war diaries, cover all topics related to urban combat operations in Berlin. They reveal what worked and did not work tactically during the Red Army’s assault into the city. Also included are scores of new Red Army front-line soldier accounts that were translated and incorporated for the first time in English. These accounts offer new detail of the fighting along the Seelow Heights, Polizeipräsidium, Treptower Park, Berlin Zoo and other locations by the men who fought there.

A knocked-out T-34/85 (No. 605) from the 11th Tank Corps on Kurstraβe, just north of the Spittelmarkt. Debris from a falling wall came down onto the tank. Scorch marks can be seen along the front of the turret. (Cecil F. S. Newman collection, courtesy of Stadtmuseum Berlin)

Bloody Streets, The Soviet Assault on Berlin remains the benchmark military study of the battle for decades to come. I am also pleased to announce that the second edition of Bloody Streets was used extensively as background research for the most comprehensive documentary produced about the battle, 16 Days in Berlin: The Final Battle of WW2 Day by Day, produced by RTH – Real Time History GmbH. This documentary will be released in April 2020. (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/documentary-16-days-in-berlin#/)

About the Author

Aaron Stephan Hamilton is an academically trained historian who holds both a Bachelors and Masters’ degrees in History, as well as the Filed Historian Designator awarded by the U.S. Army’s Combat Studies Institute. He continues to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel. He has spent more than 25 years researching and writing about the final year of World War II in Europe.

The author’s The Oder Front 1945 Vol. I and Vol. II, served as the basis of U.S. Army Europe’s (USAREUR) first Battle Book and Staff Ride of the Seelow Heights that was enthusiastically endorsed by USAREUR’s former commander Ret. Lt. General Ben Hodges. His Panzergrenadiers to the Front! The Combat History of Panzergrenadier Division ‘Brandenburg’ on the Eastern Front 1944-45 is widely considered among the best late-war German divisional histories published in any language.

Over the last five years the author’s interests have shifted to Battle of the Atlantic and naval topics. He is an amateur maritime archeologist who spends much of his free time diving the wrecks of World War I and II across both sides of the “pond”, when not searching for new archival source material. His latest ground-breaking work Total Undersea War: The Evolutionary Role of the Snorkel in Dönitz’s U-Boat Fleet, 1944-1945 will be published in spring 2020 by Seaforth.

You can purchase the book here: https://www.helion.co.uk/military-history-books/bloody-streets-the-soviet-assault-on-berlin-revised-and-expanded-2nd-edition.php

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