Russian troops take Berlin during the Seven Years’ War

9 October 1760

September 28 (October 9), 1760 during the Seven Years’ War of 1756-1763 Russian Corps under General Zakhar Chernyshev captured Berlin.

The Seven Years' War, which broke out in Europe in 1756, was caused by the aggravation of the Anglo-French struggle for colonies and the clash between Prussian policy and the interests of Austria, France and Russia. The war began in 1756, with an attack of Prussia against Saxony and the defeat of the Austrian army. In the summer of 1757 Russia entered the war. In August 1757 the Russian army defeated the Prussians at Grosse Egersdorf. A year later, near Zorndorf, the Prussian army was again defeated, and in early August 1759 the Russian army reached the Oder and defeated the Prussian King Frederick II near Kunersdorf.

September 22 (October 3), 1760 General G. G. Totleben with the vanguard of Russian corps of 3, 000 men came to the walls of Berlin. At the time there were three infantry battalions and several squadrons of cavalry in the city. On the night of September 23 (October 4), after artillery preparation, Russian troops stormed the capital of Prussia, but were repulsed. Totleben was forced to withdraw to Köpenick and wait for reinforcements. Soon the Corps of Chernyshev reinforced by Panin’ Corps of 8, 000 men and the Austrian Corps of General Lassie of 13, 000 men reached Berlin. At the same time the Prussian Corps, led by Prince Eugene of Württemberg numbering 14, 000 men also came up to the city.

In the evening of September 27 (October 8), due to the overwhelming numerical superiority of the enemy, the war council in Berlin decided to retreat; without entering the battle, Prussian troops left the city. The retreating enemy was pursued by the Corps of Panin and the Cossacks led by Krasnoshchekov, who managed to beat the Prussian rearguard and capture more than a thousand prisoners.

Early in the morning October 28 (October 9), Prussian truce envoys came to the Russian lines with the message of consent for the surrender. Guns and rifles had been captured in the city, gunpowder and weapons depots had been exploded. Chernyshev seized the royal treasury, and impose on the city government the indemnity of 1.5 million thalers. At the news of the approach of Frederick with the main forces, the allies, on the orders of command, left the capital of Prussia. Russian troops withdrew behind the Oder, the Austrians retreated to Torgau, where on October 23 (November 3) were defeated by Frederick II.

5 (16) December 1761, after a long siege by the Russian troops under the command of Count Pyotr Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky, the fortress Kohlberg was taken and Russia strengthened its position in Pomerania. By the end of 1761 the situation of Prussia deteriorated: having lost half of Silesia, it was cut off from Poland, where it bought food.

December 25, 1761 (January 5, 1762) after the death of Elizabeth of Russia, the throne ascended Peter III, an ardent admirer of Frederick II, who ended the war and returned all the Prussian territories occupied by Russian troops, and on April 24 (May 5) 1762 concluded the Treaty of Petersburg with Frederick, saving Prussia from destruction.

Lit.: Шефов Н. Битвы России. Военно-историческая библиотека. М., 2002; Слизков И. М. Взятие Берлина русскими войсками в 1760 году. М.; Л., 1941.

Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Архенгольц И. В. История Семилетней войны в Германии, с 1756 по 1763 год / Соч. И. В. Архенгольца, служившего капитаном в армии Фридриха Великого. М., 1841;

Бильбасов В. А. Новые русские материалы по истории Семилетней войны: Русская армия в Семилетнюю войну. Соч. Д. Масловского Вып. 1. СПб., 1886: [Рец.] / [В. Бильбасов]. СПб., 1887;

Дубровин Н. Ф. Русская армия в Семилетнюю войну: (Сочинение Генерального штаба генерал-майора Масловского, ординарного профессора Николаевской академии Генерального штаба. Три тома. Москва, изд. 1886-1890 гг.): (Рецензия акад. Н. Ф. Дубровина). СПб., 1891;

Масловский Д. Ф. Русская армия в Семилетнюю войну. Вып. 3: Походы в Пруссию графа П. С. Салтыкова 1-го и А. Б. Бутурлина. Берлинская операция графа Захара Чернышева. Осада Кольберга графом Румянцевым (1759-1762 гг.). М., 1891.