Site of Germany’s Biggest World War II Battle in the News

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tags: Germany, WWII, Battle of the Seelow Heights



Thumbnail Image -  By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-E0406-0022-012 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de

SEELOW, Germany — In the best mellow spirit of modern Germany, the local authorities in Seelow wanted to build a bike path so the increasing number of tourists could expand their rides across the tranquil flat plain of the Oder River and into neighboring Poland.

This being the site of the biggest World War II battle on German soil, a team was chosen to scour the proposed bike path route for abandoned ordnance. Soon they turned up not munitions, but a mass grave, with the remains of as many as 28 Soviet soldiers.

The finding, in May, confirmed once more the blood-soaked nature of the Oder plain, where tens of thousands of soldiers on the Soviet and Nazi sides perished in the April 1945 battle for the Seelow Heights. The rocky outcrop rises just 100 meters above the plain, about 325 feet, but it gave some 80,000 Germans sufficient cover to dig in and slaughter many of the up to one million Soviet troops sent in waves to overwhelm the enemy and clear the way to Berlin.

This history has never ceased to leave its mark, making Seelow a showcase for that unfailing truth of war: To the victors go the spoils, especially the chance to impose their version of events.





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