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).
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
|Royal Navy||16 May 1945||Contained until after general German surrender
See German occupation of the Channel Islands
|Berlin||Germany||...||...||...||8 May 1945||see Battle in Berlin|
|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|