The Battle of Brno (sometimes called the Siege of Brno) was a World War II battle for the control over the Czech city of Brno between the Czechoslovak Army and the invading German Army. The city was seen as the key to the corridor to Slovakia through which the Czechoslovak Army was to withdraw, and was defended at all cost.
Prelude to the Battle
The Germans could now take advantage of their armed forces' motorisation and mobility. By October 18, the Fourteenth Army had advanced at some places 40 km inland, and the forward elements of the had reached the town of Pohořelice, 25 km southwest of Brno. On October 19, the 2. Panzer-Division and elements of the 29. Infanterie-Division (mot.) had captured the villages along the line Dukovany-Jamolice-Polánka-Rokytná-Budkovice, while also reaching the village of Ořechov, around 11 km from Brno, while elements of the 29. Infanterie-Division (mot.) had captured the villages of Sokolnice, Šaratice and Otnice.
The 2. Panzer-Division and elements of the 29. Infanterie-Division (mot.) had captured the villages along the line Dukovany-Jamolice-Polánka-Rokytná-Budkovice, while also reaching the town of Ořechov, around 11 km from Brno on October 19 and began shelling the town the following day.
At 10.00 German motorised units of the 29. Infanterie-Division (mot.) under Gen.Maj. Joachim Lemelsen arrived to the area. After the had captured Střelice, Troubsko and Zelesice (some eight km from Brno), the commander of the XVIII. Armeekorps, Gen.d.Inf. Eugen Beyer, ordered his units to break through the Czech defences and capture the city of Brno as soon as possible. The German assault group was composed of and a battery of 150 mm guns. The group outflanked the Czechs and reached the suburbs of the city, but was bloodily repelled by the - numerically inferior - Czech defenders. The Czech commander of the sector, Brig. Gen. Miloš Kudrna, had only the Hraniční pásmo XIV “Svatopluk” to defend the city, which consisted only of the Hraniční oblast 38 “Cyril”, an understrength border defence unit of the army. However, his forces were soon reinforced by elements of the 2. rychlá divize “Ondřej” and a battalion of the 20. divize “Bernolák” and held their positions until dawn.
The Germans halted the offensive for two days, and the front was relatively quiet except for the artillery duels and air battles above the city. At 10.00 on October 22, the main forces of 2. Panzer-Division was prepared for an assault on the city. After a heavy hour-long artillery barrage, the Germans began their assault, and broke through the lines at Nový Lískovec, Bohunice and Horní Heršpice at noon. At 14.00 the Germans broke through to the city centre, but were driven back after heavy city fighting with the small infantry units formed of local volunteers and Soviet re-inforcements.
Gen.d.Inf. Beyer decided to fall back and encircle the city waiting for more reinforcements to arrive. His forces achieved a limited success and captured the important suburb of Žabovřesky together with surrounding hills. However, the Czech forces were also reinforced with reserves and new Soviet reinforcements. The hills gave a good overview of the city centre and the German commander placed his artillery there to shell the city. In addition, the city was almost constantly bombed by the Luftwaffe.
On October 26, the Germans began a major assault on the town, and by the end of the day they had made several headways into the town, encircling the Czech and Soviet defenders in the process. They had also secured the airfield and taken the Špilberk Castle and the St Peter and Paul Cathedral.
By the morning of 28 October the advanced German armoured and infantry units have halted in order for the German commander to send his envoy to the Czech commander, Brig. Gen. Miloš Kudrna. He demanded that the city should surrender to Germany. When the Czech envoy replied that he had no intention of signing such a document, he was informed that the general assault was ordered on September 29 and that the city would most surely be taken. After ten hours of heavy fighting, the Czechs had lost lot of ground, now controlling only the city centre and other smaller pockets. The following day Brig. Gen. Kudrna decided that the situation of his forces was hopeless. The reserves, human resources and war materiel were plentiful, but further defence of the city would be fruitless and would only result in more civilian casualties. It was decided to start the surrender talks with the German Army.
On October 31, 1938, the act of surrender was signed in the suburb of Štýřice. Brig. Gen. Kudrna accepted all conditions proposed by the Germans, as he was eager to avoid further civilian casualties.
The fighting in the city resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. The Germans suffered 2060 casualties: 877 were killed and 1183 were injured. Czechoslovakia suffered 1120 killed and 1600 injured. 1380 Czech soldiers were taken prisoner as well.
As a result of the fighting, around 500 civilians were killed and 650 injured as a result of the German aerial bombardment and by crossfire during the fighting in the city.