9 April 1945 – the city of Königsberg surrenders to the Soviet forces
The Battle of Königsberg, was one of the last operations of the East Prussian Offensive during World War II. In four days of violent urban warfare, Soviet forces of the 1st Baltic Front and the 3rd Belorussian Front captured the city – now Kaliningrad, Russia. The siege started in late January 1945 when the Soviets initially surrounded the city. There was heavy fighting for the overland connection between Königsberg and the port of Pillau, but by March 1945 the city was hundreds of kilometers behind the main front line. The battle finished when the German garrison surrendered to the Soviets on 9 April after a three-day assault made their position untenable.
Almost 80% of the city was destroyed; first by the Royal Air Force in August 1944, and then by Soviet shelling in April 1945. Almost all German residents who remained at the end of the war, an estimated 200,000 out of the city’s prewar population of 316,000, were expelled from the city.
During the operation the main forces of German East Prussia group were destroyed. Only the Army Detachment Samland remained, but was annihilated by 25 April.
The operation itself was considered a major success for the Soviet Army due to the comparatively low casualties suffered during the capture of the heavily armored stronghold. The capture was celebrated in Moscow with an artillery salvo by 324 cannons firing 24 shells each. A Medal “For the Capture of Königsberg” was established and 98 military units were named after the Königsberg operation.
After the war, following the transfer of northern half of East Prussia to the Russian SFSR, Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad, and was installed with predominantly Russian (and, to a lesser extent, Belorussian and Ukrainian) settlers from other areas of the Soviet Union. This area is now known as the Kaliningrad Oblast.