The Third Reich was collapsing and the Nazis scurried for cover in their home capital, where they planned to kill anyone who dared to approach. How much do you know about the Battle of Berlin?
In April 1945, America and its allies pushed the Nazis in the West. The Soviets were pressing the Nazis from the East and closing on Berlin, forcing the Germans to fight for their city.
The Battle of Berlin was the last true major offensive on the Eastern Front of World War II. The Soviets descended on the city determined to punish the Nazis for their aggression.
The Soviets first encircled the city to bring German forces to their knees. Then they moved deep into the city to crush the Nazis once and for all.
Hitler started World War II by invading Poland. So it was fitting that the Polish joined with Soviet forces in attacking Berlin.
By today's standards, the number of soldiers involved in World War II battles is hard to imagine. Around 2.5 million troops were on hand to take the fight to Hitler's final lair.
The Germans initiated Operation Clausewitz in defense of the Nazi capital. Hitler wanted soldiers and civilians alike to defend this stronghold to the death.
German officials divided the city into nine different defensive zones. Zone Z was the city center, to be defended at any cost.
The Germans resorted to rounding up children in defense of Berlin. Some received just a few hours of training before being shoved onto the front lines to face hardened Soviet soldiers.
Soviet service personnel made up the vast majority of the attacking armies. There were about 200,000 Polish troops on hand to take part in the assault.
The Soviets had witnessed years of despair and the deaths of millions of their own citizens. They had no mercy for the Nazi children. Thousands of them died by Soviet bullets and bombs.
The Soviets began an enormous artillery attack starting April 20. That date also happened to be Adolf Hitler's birthday. He turned 56 that year.
Soviet and Polish soldiers wasted no time in exploiting Nazi weaknesses. They pushed into Berlin and the battle was over in about two weeks.
The Führerbunker was an air raid bunker where Hitler hid during the battle's final hours. The bunker was nearly 30 feet deep and heavily fortified to protect its occupants.
The Volkssturm was a German militia that gathered together the country's few remaining men. These militias often supported regular army forces.
Top German officials did their best to convince Hitler to flee the city. Instead, Hitler opted to remain in place in the hopes that his forces could beat back the invaders.
The Nazis were far beyond desperate -- they knew the Soviets were coming for them. Still, when children ran from the front lines, German officers often simply shot them as an example to the others.
The Western Allies were still far from Berlin when the Soviets began their attack. They never planned to storm the city, in part because it would have been too difficult and in part because the Soviets were the ones in charge in that region.
Heinrici disobeyed his command to stand and fight no matter the situation. He ordered his beleaguered troops to withdraw at one point, causing Hitler to remove Heinrici from his command.
The Germans, driven by their fanatic beliefs (and fear of death), fought the Soviets for every house on every block. The Soviets still made progress, but at great cost to their forces.
Hitler decided to place the defense of Berlin in the hands of Helmuth Reymann, who had previously commanded Nazi troops that were driven out of Leningrad.
It was a battle of monumental proportions and the Germans refused to go quietly -- they managed to destroy about 2,000 tanks driven by the attackers.
The Western Allies weren't interested in sending ground troops to Berlin. They did, however, initiate a massive bombing campaign that blasted the city for more than month.
The Reichstag was a symbol of Germany but wasn't really used much for Nazi Party activities. But the Soviets figured it was of symbolic importance, so they launched an attack to capture it.
About 1,000 Nazis were inside, having hastily constructed a series of defensive measures to keep the Soviets at bay. Some of the defenders were young people from the Hitler Youth organization.
The building was still standing but the interior was a jumble of rubble, which the Nazis used as shelter from Soviet fire. Eventually, the Soviets took control of the building and then waved a flag from the top, an act made famous by a rooftop photograph.
No one knows the exact number, but Nazi losses were very high. As many as 100,000 troops were killed during their futile last stand.
Once the war was over, the city was divided into four sections. Eventually, those zones dwindled to two -- East and West Berlin, separated by the ominous Berlin Wall.
As the Third Reich literally crumbled all around him, Hitler and other Nazi Party leaders decided to take their own lives. It was a dark end to the Axis nightmare.
Hitler, the madman who caused more human suffering than anyone in history, decided to get married to Eva Braun. The two tied the knot and then a short while later they both committed suicide.
The Nazis didn't want their enemies to take possession of the bodies, which were cremated. Their ashes were symbolic of the fall of the Nazi empire.