75 years ago, from January to May 1945, the Allies began the final push for the heart of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich, knocking down one puppet regime after another and counting down the days to the Nazis’ surrender.
As the last and most loyal Nazi German ally and source of crucial industrial and energy reserves, Hungary was the one puppet nation which Hitler was prepared to sacrifice Berlin for to try to defend, journalist, historian and member of the Russian Military Historical Society Nikita Buranov says.
“Hungary was the last and most loyal ally of the Third Reich. In private conversations, the Fuhrer often said that it would be better to leave Berlin than to lose Hungary,” Buranov explained in an interview. “There was also a practical reason for this, as a large number of military factories were located here and there were two sources of oil, which the Wehrmacht was in great need of. Losing these industrial areas meant losing the war,” he said.
The Red Army completed the liberation of Hungary from the Wehrmacht and its fascist puppet allies on April 4, 1945. The campaign became one of the longest and bloodiest operations of the final year of World War II, and included Stalingrad-style street battles in Budapest, and vicious fighting between the Red Army and crack German troops and fanatical local fascists elsewhere in the country.
Soviet forces led by Second Ukrainian Front Commander Marshal Rodion Malinovsky crossed into Hungary in late September 1944,…