German strongholds during World War II (German: Festung “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 Front, Warsaw, Budapest, Kolberg, Königsberg, Küstrin, Danzig 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
|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 Navy, Hellenic 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 Reinefarth, Adolf 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|
Posen Town Hall damaged in the fighting (now Poznań, Poland)
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