“What A Week!”
“What A Week!” was the headline of the Kentish Gazette leader in the May 5th 1945 edition. The article read:-
“After dragging on for five years eight months, the war is reaching a dramatic climax. What a stirring and eventful week this has been! It started with the execution of the Duce by Italian partisans. The we had the news on Tuesday that Adolf Hitler, the German Fuehrer, had died while “fighting bravely” with his troops in an attempt to “save the peoples of Europe from Bolshevism.” That was the tale put over the wireless by Admiral Doenitz, in announcing his own appointment as the new Fuehrer. Himmler had told Count Bernadotte the previous Saturday that Hitler was dying – it was stated from a cerebral haemorrhage – and since then there have been a variety of dubious stories.”
“It was a thousand pities the Allies were not able to bring that “wicked man” to justice. Unfortunately, there seems little doubt that he and Goebbels took the “easy way out”; but there is at least reason for satisfaction that the manner of Hitler’s passing is not calculated to leave behind him an aura of legendary martyrdom for future generations of Germans. As to the other primary Nazi gangsters, Himmler, Goering and Ribbentrop, they have apparently been deposed – but the most probable explanation for their disappearance from the scene is that, realising the hopelessness of their nation’s plight, they have “passed the buck” to the hapless Doenitz.”
“On Wednesday two great pieces of news broke. The announcement that Berlin had fallen, and its garrison captured, put the crown on the magnificent achievements of our gallant Soviet Allies, since they turned to the offensive after their epic stand at Stalingrad. The other outstanding military event on this memorable May 2nd was the unconditional surrender of the German armies in Italy and Western Austria to Field Marshall Sir Harold Alexander. In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister, in paying tribute to the Field Marshall, to General Mark Clark and the forces under their command, spoke of the vast territory which had fallen into the hands of the Allies, and gave the figure of 1,000,000 as the number of enemy forces which had surrendered – a record for the war!”
“Particular satisfaction will be felt at this triumphant conclusion of a campaign which was beset with extraordinary difficulties. The Allies had to fight for much of the time in positively heart-breaking country, which gave the maximum advantage to the enemy defenders. Then, owing to the demands of the Western Front, large forces were withdrawn from the Italian theatre, and for the latter part of the campaign Field Marshall Alexander and General Mark Clark had to pursue the offensive with armies which comprised Poles, Brazilians, Indians and other races, besides the British and American forces. The perfect blending of these polyglot units, speaking different languages, represented and astonishing feat of organisation. It is eminently fitting that this superbly conducted Italian campaign, which has sometimes tended to be overshadowed by other happenings in this world-war, should have been brought into the spotlight before the curtain is rung down on the final scene of the Victory in Europe.”
“The capture of Hamburg by the 2nd Army and the joining of British and Russian troops in the region of the Baltic, reported yesterday, brings V.E. Day still nearer.”
To read more articles from The Chaucer Education Project, go online to chaucer.university and scroll down the right-hand column of Latest Articles.