The Race to Berlin was a competition between two Soviet marshals, Georgy Zhukov and Ivan Konev, to be the first to enter Berlin during the final months of World War II.
In early 1945, with Germany's defeat inevitable, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin set his two marshals in a race to capture Berlin. Although it was mostly their race, each marshal was supported by another front. Marshal Zhukov was protected by Rokossovsky's Second Belorussian Front, while Marshal Konev was supported by Yeremenko's Fourth Ukrainian Front. The two men and their separately commanded armies were pitted against one another, ensuring that they would drive their men as fast and as far as possible to a quick victory. This led to a climax in the bloody Battle of Berlin.
The Soviet advance and ultimate capture of the German capital was virtually unopposed by their allies. In an effort to avoid a diplomatic issue, United States Army General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower had ordered his forces into the south of Germany to cut off and wipe out other pieces of the Wehrmacht and to avoid the possibility that the Nazi government would attempt to hold out in a National Redoubt in the Alps. However, the failure of Operation Market Garden in late 1944 may have played a key role in this decision.
The western Allies' decision to leave eastern Germany and the city of Berlin to the Red Army – honoring the agreement they made with the Soviet Union at Yalta– eventually had serious repercussions as the Cold War emerged and expanded in the post-war era.