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By the first weeks of 1945 the Eastern Front had been pushed back to the Carpathian mountain passes in the south and Warsaw on the Vistula River in the centre while in the north the German army was fighting in East Prussia. The Wehrmacht armoured and mobile formations were now employed exclusively as fire brigades, rushed from one crisis to the next as the Red Army pushed inexorably westward. Critical to the German defence were the armys heavy Panzer battalions whose Tiger tanks, with their 8.8cm guns, were almost invincible on the open plains of central Europe.