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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

The Fall of the Reichstag: An eyewitness Red Army account

Written 20 years after the end of the war, this is a thrilling eyewitness account of the battle for the Reichstag in the final days of the Red Army's victory in Berlin. Its author was Vassily Subbotin who was a 24 year old lieutenant. Subbotin's father was killed in action earlier in the war in fighting in Ukraine. The account opens with a prose poem, The Road, and then tells of the confused fighting, the terrible deaths with the war just days from ending, negotiations for the surrender of the German troops in the Reichstag, and the story of the raising of the Soviet flag over the building in victory that was preserved in one of the most famous photographs of the war. We have included some other photos from the account as well. Today is the 75th anniversary of Victory Day in the USSR. Republished in 1985 this was an excerpt from a larger book, How Wars End. Biographical details: A poet, prose writer and translator, Vassily Subbotin was born in Siberia. His father came from a family of farmers. Both the father and the son went to the front in 1941. Subbotin's father was killed in action on the 1st Ukrainian Front, while Vassily, then a twenty-four-year-old lieutenant, fought his way with the army into Berlin and took part in the assault of the Reichstag. It was there, during respites in the fighting, that he wrote the first sketches of his future book, How Wars End. It took him, in fact, twenty years to complete the work.

Soviet dive-bombers over Berlin

At the height of the battle

Mikhail Kantaria and Mikhail Yegorov, the men who raised the Banner of Victory

After the storming of the Reichstag

The Nazi emblem thrown down from the Reich Chancellery

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