What A Week!”

“What A Week!” was the headline of the Kentish Gazette leader in the May 5th 1945 edition. The article read:-

Benito Mussolini was: Duce of Fascism from March 23rd 1919 until executed on April 28th 1945; Prime Minister of Italy from October 31st 1922 and also Minister of Foreign Affairs from February 5th 1943, to July 25th 1943; and Duce of the Italian Social Republic from September 23rd 1943 to April 25th 1945.
Photo credit: public domain.

“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.”

Adolf Hitler was concurrently: Fuehrer of the Nazi Party from July 29th 1921; Chancellor of Germany from January 30th 1933; and Fuehrer of Germany from August 2nd 1934 until committing suicide on April 30th 1945.
Photo credit: Commons Creative Licence.
Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz, wearing Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with oak leaves awarded on April 6th 1943, was Supreme Commander of the German Navy from January 30th 1943 to May 1st 1945; and President of the German Reich and also Minister of War from April 30th to May 23rd 1945. Photo credit: German Federal Archives. Commons Creative Licence.

“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.”

Heinrich Himmler was :Reichsführer-Schutzstaffel from January 6th 1929 until April 29th 1945; Chief of German Police from June 17th 1936 until April 29th 1945; Acting Director of the Reich Main Security Office from June 4th 1942 until January 30th 1943; and Reichsminister of the Interior from August 24th 1943 until April 29th 1945.
Photo credit: German Federal Archives Collection. Portrait by Friedrich Franz Bauer. Commons Creative Licence.
Joseph Goebbels was: Reichsminister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda from March 14th 1933 and also “Reich Plenipotentiary for total war effort” from July 23rd 1944, to April 30th 1945; and Chancellor of Germany from April 30th to May 1st 1945 when he committed suicide.
Photo credit: German Federal Archives Collection. Portrait by Sandau.
Commons Creative Licence.
Joachim von Ribbentrop was German Ambassador to the United Kingdom from August 11th 1936 to February 4th 1938, when he became Reichsminister of Foreign Affairs until April 30th 1945.
Photo credit: German Federal Archives. Commons Creative Licence.

“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!”

Supreme Allied Commander Mediterranean Field Marshall Sir Harold Alexander.
Photo credit: public domain.

“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.”

Winston Churchill was British Prime Minister from May 10th 1940 to July 26th 1945 and from October 26th 1951 to April 5th 1955. The iconic Roaring Lion portrait by Yousuf Karsh was taken at the Canadian Parliament on December 30th 1941.
Photo credit: public domain.

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