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Liveblogging World War iI: May 12, 1945: Battle of Slivice

Wikipedia: Battle of Slivice:

The Battle of Slivice was the last large World War II battle in the area of the Czech lands. During 11–12 May 1945, German troops, trying to surrender to nearby American troops, defended themselves against local partisans and the Soviet Army. The Germans eventually capitulated during early hours of May 12. About 6,000 men were captured by the Soviet troops.

On 7 May 1945, all German forces were ordered to remain in their positions and surrender. Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner, however, the commander of the Army Group Centre deployed in Bohemia, ordered his units to force their way westwards in order to surrender to American forces. The units reached the agreed demarcation line in western Bohemia and stopped there. Since the Soviet Army was still days away from the demarcation line, the partisans tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to stop the Germans, who responded with reprisals against the local population. On several occasions, Russian Liberation Army units – also trying to reach the Americans – skirmished with the Germans.

On 9 May, a large formation of German troops reached the area between villages Milín, Slivice and Čimelice, near the demarcation line. Among them were parts of Kampfgruppe Wallenstein. The formation was commanded by SS-Gruppenführer and General-Leutnant of the Waffen-SS Karl Friedrich von Pückler-Burghauß. The soldiers were accompanied by fleeing German civilians. Because the road toward the Americans was blocked by local resistance units, von Pückler-Burghauß ordered the establishment of defensive lines. After May 8, the Americans returned any soldiers attempting to surrender to the Soviet side.

On 11 May, partisan groups led by Soviet officer Yevgeniy Antonovich Olesenski attempted to storm the Germans and were decimated. Soviet Army units arrived that afternoon and attacked the Germans.

The attack started with a heavy artillery and rocket bombardment. The Soviet bombardment was supported by 4th Armored Division of the U.S. Third Army's XII Corps. Later, troops from the 1st, 2nd and 4th Ukrainian Fronts attacked the German positions. During the night, the defense collapsed and, at around 03:00, General von Pückler-Burghauß signed the capitulation. The American negotiators refused to take the General, so, fearing revenge from the Russians, von Pückler-Burghauß shot himself. About 6,000 soldiers and a large number of vehicles were captured.

In 1970, a memorial to the battle, designed by Václav Hilský, was unveiled in Slivice. Czech military history clubs, the Museum in Příbram and the Army of the Czech Republic have organized reenactments of the battle since 2001.