German World War II strongholds

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German strongholds during World War II (German: Festung "fortresses") were the selected towns and cities so designated by Adolf Hitler to resist the Allied offensives where the defenders were ordered to defend them at all costs. The doctrine of these strongholds evolved towards the end of World War II, when the German leadership had not yet accepted defeat, but had begun to realize that drastic measures were required to forestall inevitable offensives on the Reich. The first such stronghold became Stalingrad (Battle of Stalingrad)[citation needed].

Subsequently, on the Eastern Front, Warsaw, Budapest, Kolberg, Königsberg, Küstrin, Danzig and Breslau were some of the large cities selected as strongholds whilst on the Western Front locations included the British island of Alderney.

The fate of the strongholds varied. Stalingrad, the first of the "fortresses" to fall is seen as a crucial turning point in the war, and one of the key battles which led to German defeat. In several cases (Breslau and Alderney, for example) the fortresses were bypassed by the attackers and did not actually fall until long after they had been neutralised (although the fighting in Breslau was sustained).

Location Country Commandant Besiegers Date declared Date surrendered Information
Alderney British Crown dependencies Lieutenant Colonel

Schwalm

Royal Navy 16 May 1945 Contained until after general German surrender
See Occupation of the Channel Islands
Boulogne France Ferdinand Heim reinforced Canadian 3rd Division 22 September 1944 Captured after a five day operation. See Operation Wellhit
Breslau Germany Karl Hanke 6th Army 25 July 1944 6 May 1945 See Siege of Breslau
Brest France Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke US Third Army 19 September 1944 Captured after six week assault. See Battle for Brest
Calais France Ludwig Schroeder Canadian 3rd Division 1 October 1944 See Operation Undergo
Dieppe France Canadian 2nd Division 1 September 1944 Evacuated before receipt of the relevant Fuehrer Order; liberated without opposition. See Operation Fusilade
Dunkirk France Friedrich Frisius 1st Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade 8 May 1945 Contained until general German surrender. See Siege of Dunkirk (1944)
Kolberg Germany Fritz Fullriede 1st Belorussian Front November, 1944 14 March 1945 See Battle of Kolberg (1945)
Königsberg East Prussia, Germany Otto Lasch 3rd Belorussian Front 9 April 1945 See Battle of Königsberg
Küstrin Germany Heinrich-Friedrich Reinefarth, Adolf Raegener 82nd Guards Rifle Division A small number (<1,000) of the German garrison reached German lines after a breakout during the night of March 29/30 1945.
Le Havre France Eberhard Wildermuth 1st Canadian Army 12 September 1944 Captured after 48 hour assault. See Operation Astonia.
Posen (now Poznań) Poland Ernst Mattern until 28 January 1945, then Ernst Gonell 1st Belorussian Front See Battle of Poznań (1945).
St Malo France Andreas von Aulock US Third Army 19 January 1944 17 August 1944 Captured after two weeks
Warsaw Poland 27 July 1944 17 January 1945 Captured hours after the withdrawal of German troops, in violation of Hitler's order to hold the "Fortress". See Festung Warschau

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