German World War II strongholds


KolbergPomerania, Germany
(now Kołobrzeg, Poland)

German strongholds during World War II (GermanFestung “fortresses“) were the selected towns and cities so designated by Adolf Hitler to resist the Allied offensives where the defenders were ordered to defend them at all costs. The doctrine of these strongholds evolved towards the end of World War II, when the German leadership had not yet accepted defeat, but had begun to realize that drastic measures were required to forestall inevitable offensives on the Reich. The first such stronghold became Stalingrad (Battle of Stalingrad). 

Subsequently, on the Eastern FrontWarsawBudapestKolbergKönigsbergKüstrinDanzig and Breslau were some of the large cities selected as strongholds whilst on the Western Front locations included the British island of Alderney.

The fate of the strongholds varied. Stalingrad, the first of the “fortresses” to fall, is seen as a crucial turning point in the war, and one of the key battles which led to German defeat. In several cases (Breslau and Alderney, for example) the fortresses were bypassed by the attackers and did not actually fall until long after they had been neutralised (although the fighting in Breslau was sustained).

Location Country Commandant Besiegers Date declared Date surrendered Notes
Alderney British Crown dependencies Lieutenant ColonelSchwalm Royal Navy 16 May 1945 Contained until after general German surrender
See German occupation of the Channel Islands
Berlin Germany Hellmuth Reymann,
Helmuth Weidling
Soviet Red Army 8 May 1945 See Battle in Berlin
Boulogne France Ferdinand Heim reinforced Canadian 3rd Division 22 September 1944 Captured after a five-day operation. See Operation Wellhit
Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland) Germany Karl Hanke Soviet 6th Army 25 July 1944 6 May 1945 See Siege of Breslau
Brest France Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke US Third Army 19 September 1944 Captured after six-week assault. See Battle for Brest
Budapest Hungary Karl Pfeffer-Wildenbruch Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front 1 December 1944 13 February 1945 Captured after 102 day long assault. See Siege of Budapest
Calais France Ludwig Schroeder Canadian 3rd Division 1 October 1944 See Operation Undergo
Crete Greece Hans-Georg Benthack Royal NavyHellenic Army 8 May 1945 See Fortress Crete
Dieppe France Canadian 2nd Division 1 September 1944 Evacuated before receipt of the relevant Führer Order; liberated without opposition. See Operation Fusilade
Dunkirk France Friedrich Frisius 1st Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade 8 May 1945 Contained until general German surrender. See Siege of Dunkirk (1944)
Kolberg Germany Fritz Fullriede Soviet 1st Belorussian Front November 1944 14 March 1945 See Battle of Kolberg (1945)
Königsberg East Prussia, Germany Otto Lasch Soviet 3rd Belorussian Front 9 April 1945 See Battle of Königsberg
Küstrin Germany Heinrich-Friedrich ReinefarthAdolf Raegener Soviet 82nd Guards Rifle Division A small number (<1,000) of the German garrison reached German lines after a breakout during the night of March 29/30 1945
Le Havre France Eberhard Wildermuth First Canadian Army 12 September 1944 Captured after 48-hour assault. See Operation Astonia
Posen (now Poznań) Poland Ernst Mattern until 28 January 1945, then Ernst Gonell Soviet 1st Belorussian Front 23 February 1945 See Battle of Poznań (1945)
Saint-Malo France Andreas von Aulock US Third Army 19 January 1944 17 August 1944 Captured after two weeks
Warsaw Poland Soviet Red Army 27 July 1944 17 January 1945 Captured hours after the withdrawal of German troops, in violation of Hitler’s order to hold the “Fortress”. See Festung Warschau

Source: Wikipedia

Posen Town Hall damaged in the fighting (now Poznań, Poland)

Atlantic pockets

D-Day – The Last German Holdouts

Operation Blücher: The Last German Attack in France, April 1945 – The Heroes of Dunkirk.

Daring German Naval Raid Normandy 1945

German Paratrooper Prison Break 1944


Read about WWII here

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