East Prussian Offensive - The East Prussian Offensive - The Siege of Königsberg and The Heiligenbeil Pocket

The Siege of Königsberg and The Heiligenbeil Pocket

With the remnants of Army Group Centre effectively contained, Soviet forces could concentrate on reducing the German forces in Pomerania and eliminating any possible threat to the northern flank of their eventual advance on Berlin. Reinhardt and Hossbach—who had attempted to break out of East Prussia and save their troops—were relieved of command, and the Army Group (redesignated Army Group North) was placed under the command of General Lothar Rendulic. Reinhardt gave up his command with the words "There is nothing more to say". Raus and the staff of the destroyed 3rd Panzer Army were assigned to a new formation. The defending forces, in the meantime, were besieged in three pockets by Chernyakhovsky's armies:

  • Some 15 divisions of the 4th Army had become encircled on the shore of the Vistula Lagoon in what became known as the Heiligenbeil Pocket. After bitter fighting, these units were finally overcome on 29 March.
  • The remnants of 3rd Panzer Army—placed under 4th Army's command—became isolated in the Siege of Königsberg. The city was finally taken by the Soviets—after massive casualties on both sides—on 9 April. After this point the remaining German forces around the Bight of Danzig were reorganised into Armee Ostpreußen under the overall command of Dietrich von Saucken.
  • The third group of German forces—the XXVIII Army Corps or Armeeabteilung Samland under General Hans Gollnick—occupied the Samland peninsula, where the port of Pillau was retained as the last effective evacuation point for the area. The last elements were cleared from Pillau on 25 April in the Zemland offensive operation.

Even after this time, German forces continued to resist on the Frische Nehrung, the long sandbar enclosing the Vistula Lagoon, until the end of the war.

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