From Our Staff Correspondent and A.A.P.
LONDON, Jan. 31.-With the Germans reeling back from their smashed frontier defence line, Marshal Zhukov's army is racing towards the River Oder, last main barrier before Berlin, along a 50
Berlin Radio to-day reported fierce fighting at Zielenzig, 20 miles short of the Oder and 25 miles from Frankfurt and Kustrin, the two ports where the Russians apparently hope to turn the Oder line.
Zhukov's right wing, wheeling towards Stettin at the mouth of the Oder, is also making spectacular progress. Berlin reports that the spear- head of this thrust had reached Soldin, 35 miles south-east of Stettin.
His left wing is consolidating its hold along the Oder north of Breslau. This clearing of the flanks of the central drive suggests that Zhukov is aiming to reach Berlin as fast as possible.
All radio stations in eastern Germany appealed to women and children to clear the roads of snow and strew ashes to facilitate the passage of reinforcements to the front. "We appeal for this service in defence of your homeland' said one
KONIEV ASSAULTING UPPER ODER
The frontier defences smashed by Zhukov's army run along the Obra River and then through the towns of Meseritz, Schwie- bus, and Zullichau, some l8 miles inside the border.
Berlin claims that the Meser- itz garrison is still resisting, but It admits that the main battle is now miles farther west.
Soviet guns cleared the way, and infantry and tanks then swept through the concrete de- fences. Fighting was savage, and some 4,000 Germans were killed on one sector. The German
flight was so confused that the Russians captured 93 guns, 31 trains, and hundreds of motor
Moscow correspondents report that Marshal Koniev to-day
launched a second assault against the Oder line after clearing the entire southern patt of Upper Silesia.
Other bitter battles are being fought near Landsberg, 30 miles north-east of Kustrin, and around Deutsch-Krone, SO miles east of Stettin, as the Russians deepen and broaden their front inside Germany.
Berlin claims that counter at- tacks are under way against Zhukov's advancing army, with big tank battles raging half-way between Frankfurt and the Ger- man-Polish frontier.
Hitler, broadcasting last night, appealed for "extreme efforts to avert the gruesome fate overtak- ing our nation." (See page 3.)
Meanwhile, the exodus of
Government departments from Berlin has been expedited.
Berlin itself has been declared "a fortress city which will be de- fended to the last."
The capital is in chaos. Necessities outside the small official ration are almost unob- tainable.
Family life for millions of Germans has practically ceased, and families are eating in com- munal kitchens and sleeping in communal shelters as they trek westwards from the advancing
All industrial districts along
the west bank of the Oder have been declared evacuation zones, adding to the confusion. The first towns to be cleared will be Stettin, Glogau, Grunberg, and Frankfurt.
BERLIN'S "STAND OR DIE" ORDER
The Germans are trying fran- tically to plug gaps in their defence lines before Frankfurt and east and south-east of Stettin, says Reuter's Moscow correspondent.
German reserves, collected from a wide area, are going into action with orders to stand or die for the Father- land.
Marshal Zhukov, swinging his heavy break-through tanks from his left
flank to his right, is splitting wider holes in the network of fortifications baring his path, while his armoured spearheads drive on beyond to seize
vital road knots before the Germans
are able to regroup their shattered
units or deploy their reserves.
Zhukov's left flank is firmly estab-
lished along the east bank of the Oder north of Breslau, and his heavy guns are pounding the enemy's forti- fications on the other side of the river, creating a new threat to this all important water line.
INFANTRY MiD TANKS
With the main Berlin-Danzig line cut at several points, Zhukov's right wing is striking for the railway linking Danzig and Stettin.
Russian infantry are pressing every vehicle into service for their top-speed advance on Berlin. They are even racmg ahead of their own tanks in captured German lorries to seize key
The Germons are trying to evacuate by air key personnel from what re-
mains of isolated East Prussia. Rus-
sian pilots wrecked a big fleet of Ger- man transport planes, and on another airfield destroyed a giant Focke-Wulf as it was about to take off.
Zhukov's thrust began at the border between Driesen and Bentschen. but this 40-mile front was expanded to 50 miles after his tanks had swept through the elaborate frontier de- fences based on the three towns
Meseritz, Schwiebus, and ZulHchau,
some l8 miles inside Germany.
228 PLANES SEIZED
Last night's Moscow communique records the capture of 200 towns and villages in this advance, including Betsche (55 miles north-east of Frankfurt), Bomst (62 miles south east of Frankfurt), and Stolzenberg six miles north of Landsberg).
So swift was the advance that the
Russians captured an aerodrome with 228 intact planes.
Two Panzer and four infantry divis- ions waiting along the Obra RWer to bar Zhukov's entry, were caught and smashed by the Russian tanks.
The German High Command, play- ing its last card. is rushing its strate- gic reserves to the front, and a great clash is imminent on the plains be-
tween the Oder and Berlin.
Major von Hammer (German News Agency) said: "Berlin continues to watch the battle of millions, seriously and with realism. The struggle for Posen (isolated miles behind the front) has reached a critical stage. The Russians have brought up re- serves, and their fighter-bombers are hitting the heart of the city, where great fires are burning. Every single house is being contested."
Moscow reported these gains on other sectors:-
EAST PRUSSIA.-Marienwerdei (on the Vistula, 37 miles south-west
of Elbing). and Bischofstein (40 miles south of Königsberg) among 150 towns and villages captured.
Pressure on isolated and burning Konigsberg intensified.
Counter-attacKs by trapped German forces north-east of Allenstein were repulsed. Wartenburg (10 miles north-east of Allenstein) captured. Enemy attacks from the west trying
to break through to Elbing repelled.
NORTH-EAST GERMANY.-Linde and Krojank stations on the Schnei- dermuhl-Danzig railway, captured
SILESIA.-Sixty places captured south-west and west of Katowice.
SOUTHERN POLAND.-Eight townships occupied, including Zako- pane, in the Tatra Mountains, close
to the Czecho-Slovak border.