“The Hour is Here!” (January 24, 1945) 11/20
by Milton Rawson Halladay (1874-1961)
14.5 x 16 in., ink on board
Halladay was a native of Vermont and a noted political cartoonist for the Providence Journal (Rhode Island) for nearly fifty years (1900-1947). His cartoons were published in countless other newspapers and magazines. He has been called “one of the deans of American political cartooning.” His cartoon commemorating the death of Thomas A. Edison was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize.
By early 1945, the Red Army advances on the Eastern Front had driven the Germans out of eastern Poland as far as the Vistula River. The Red Army launched the Vistula-Oder Offensive on January 12, 1945, inflicted a huge defeat on the defending German forces, and advanced rapidly into western Poland and eastern Germany.
Certain cities sitting on the path of the Soviet advance were declared by Hitler to be Festungen (strongholds), where the garrisons were ordered to mount last-ditch stands. Posen, which had been taken right at the start of the war, was declared a Festung. The city was defended by 40,000 German troops.
The Battle of Posen was a massive assault by the Soviet Union’s Red Army that had as its objective the elimination of the Nazi German garrison in the stronghold city of Posen, in occupied Poland.
On January 21, 1945 the Soviets forced a crossing of the Warta River north of the city, and by January 24, these positions had been abandoned in favor of better bridgeheads south of the city. Meanwhile, Red Army tank units had swept north and south of the city, capturing hundreds of German aircraft in the process.
The defeat of the German garrison required almost an entire month of painstaking reduction of fortified positions, intense urban combat, and a final assault on the city’s citadel by the Red Army, complete with medieval touches.