The forces available to General Helmuth Otto Ludwig Weidling for the city’s defence included roughly 45,000 soldiers in several severely depleted German Army, Wehrmacht Heer and Armed SS , Waffen SS divisions. Weidling died on 17 November 1955, age 64, in the custody of the KGB in Vladimir. KGB records listed the cause of death as “arterial and cardiac sclerosis along with circullatory collapse.” These divisions were supplemented by the police, boys in the compulsory Hitler Youth, and the Volkssturm Many of the 40,000 elderly men of the Volkssturm had been in the army as young men and some were veterans of World War I. Hitler appointed SS Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke the Battle Commander for the central government district that included the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker . He had over 2,000 men under his command. Weidling organised the defences into eight sectors designated ‘A’ through to ‘H’ each one commanded by a Colonel or a General, but most had no combat experience. To the west of the city was the 20th Infantry Division. under command of Generalmajor Georg Scholze Georg Scholze committed suicide on 23 April 1945, age 47, in Berlin. To the north of the city was the 9th Parachute Division under command of General der Fallschirmtruppe Bruno Braüer. To the north-east of the city was the Panzer Division Muncheberg under command of Generalmajor der Reserve Werner Mummert Mummert died in the Soviet POW Camp Shuya on 28 January 1950, age 52. To the south-east of the city and to the east of Tempelhof Airport was the 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division Nordland. The reserve, 18th Panzergrenadier Division, was in Berlin’s central district.
On 23 April, Nikolaj Berzarin’s 5th Shock Army On June 16, 1945, after only 55 days in office, Berzani was killed in a motorcycle accident when he collided with a truck convoy near his office in Berlin-Friedrichfelde, aged 41.and Generaloberst Mikhail Efimovic Katukov’s , 1st Guards Tank Army assaulted Berlin from the south-east and, after overcoming a counter-attack by the German LVI Panzer Corps, under Weidling reached the Berlin S-Bahn ring railway on the north side of the Teltov Canal by the evening of 24 April. Katukov died age 75, on June 8 1976 and was buried in Moscow at Novodevichy Cemetery. During the same period, of all the German forces ordered to reinforce the inner defences of the city by Hitler, only a small contingent of French SS volonteers under the command of SS Brigadeführer Gustav Krukenberg arrived in Berlin. During 25 April, Krukenberg was appointed as the commander of Defence Sector C, the sector under the most pressure from the Soviet assault on the city.
On 26 April, Vasillii Chuikov‘s 8th Guards Army and the 1st Guards Tank Army fought their way through the southern suburbs and attacked Tempelhof Airport , just inside the S-Bahn defensive ring, where they met stiff resistance from the Müncheberg Division. But by 27 April, the two under strength divisions (Müncheberg and Nordland) that were defending the south-east, now facing five Soviet armies—from east to west, the 5th Shock Army, the 8th Guards Army, the 1st Guards Tank Army and Pavel Rybalko‘s 3rd Guards Tank Army (part of the 1st Ukrainian Front) 1st Ukrainian Front —were forced back towards the centre, taking up new defensive positions around Hermannplatz. Krukenberg informed General Hans Krebs Chief of the General Staff of OKH that within 24 hours the Nordland would have to fall back to the centre sector Z (for Zentrum). The Soviet advance to the city centre was along these main axes: from the south-east, along the Frankfurter Allee (ending and stopped at the Alexanderplatz); from the south along Sonnenallee ending north of the Belle-Aliance-Platz, from the south ending near the Potsdamer Platz and from the north ending near the Reichstag.
The Reichstag, the Moltke bridge, Alexanderplatz, and the Havel bridges at Spandau saw the heaviest fighting, with house-to-house and hand to hand combat. The foreign contingents of the SS fought particularly hard, because they were ideologically motivated and they believed that they would not live if captured.