02.04.

1945: Soviet Red Army Launches the Vienna Offensive

1945: Soviet Red Army Launches the Vienna Offensive
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 2 April 1945
  • German General Rudolf von Bünau was responsible for the defense of Vienna. The main German defensive force was the II SS Panzer Corps ("II. SS-Panzerkorps" in German), under the command of Wilhelm Bittrich, who had the rank of SS Senior Group Leader ("SS-Obergruppenführer" in German).

On this day in 1945, the Soviet Red Army launched an offensive with the aim of conquering Vienna. Soviet troops were approaching from the south after they had conquered Wiener Neustadt, Eisenstadt, Neunkirchen, and Gloggnitz.

Hitler did not want Vienna to be declared an open city, because that would prevent its destruction, but demanded that the Wehrmacht defend the city. The Austrians, in a bid to prevent its destruction, organized a resistance movement. They wanted to disable the German force and facilitate the peaceful surrender of the city.

German General Rudolf von Bünau was responsible for the defense of Vienna. The main German defensive force was the II SS Panzer Corps (II. SS-Panzerkorps), under the command of Wilhelm Bittrich, who held the rank of SS Senior Group Leader (SS-Obergruppenführer).

The main Soviet commander in the Vienna Offensive was Marshal Fyodor Tolbukhin (he had been a Marshal of the Soviet Union since 1944).

It is interesting that some Soviet troops bypassed Vienna and immediately continued to advance toward Linz and Graz. Of course, the situation was hopeless for Vienna. General von Bünau and Obergruppenführer Bittrich left the city, trying to avoid capture.

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