The Battle of Castle Itter: The History of World War II’s Strangest Skirmish The Battle of Castle Itter: The History of World War II’s Strangest Skirmish

The Battle of Castle Itter: The History of World War II’s Strangest Skirmish

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Descripción editorial

The battle for Berlin would technically begin on April 16, 1945, and though it ended in a matter of weeks, it produced some of the war’s most climactic events and had profound implications on the immediate future. By the time the fighting mostly came to an end on May 2, Hitler had already committed suicide and the chain of German surrenders in the field outside of Berlin took off like dominoes. Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signed Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 7, and news of the final surrender of the Germans was celebrated as Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day) on May 8, 1945.

One of the most crucial aspects of the final fighting was that while some Germans gave up and others committed suicide, there were others holding out or trying to escape, and that produced one of the war’s most unusual scenes. World War II brought about the creation and breaking of a number of alliances, which meant German and Soviet soldiers coordinated together before bitterly fighting each other after Germany’s invasion of Russia in 1941. Similarly, Italian soldiers began the war fighting the Allies until, in July 1943, Mussolini was deposed and Italian soldiers found themselves fighting with the Allies against the Germans. But neither of those situations truly compares to a skirmish fought in early May 1945, which featured Americans and Germans fighting together for the first and only time. And as if that wasn’t unbelievable enough, they were fighting the Waffen-SS. 

At stake was an Austrian castle that had served as a prison for some of the most senior French prisoners of war, including two former Prime Ministers. The SS had been responsible for guarding the castle, but after the guards abandoned it with the war coming to an end, American and German soldiers who had already surrendered defended the prisoners at the site. Nonetheless, in early May, a Waffen-SS unit was detailed to retake the castle.

Jim Johnston
h min
27 de octubre
Charles River Editors

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