America at War: Victory in Europe

V-E Day Celebrations in London, 1945. Wikipedia Commons

Napoleon's remark that the "moral is to the physical as three to one" again received the affirmation of history in the spring of 1945 when German resistance collapsed suddenly and the war in Europe ended after five years and eight months of unprecedented struggle.

The exact date of the ending of the war against Germany may long be a matter of debate among historians. The first surrender agreement was signed at Reims, France, on May 7; this was "countersigned" in Berlin May 8-9, and all hostilities were scheduled to end 12:01 a.m. May 9. Actually some German troops were still fighting the Russians on May 13. But for all intents and purposes the war ended in April with the great American sweep to the Elbe and the Russian drive into Berlin. At that time, there seemed a real possibility that the German resistance in pockets throughout Europe from the Ægean Islands to Norway might be bitter and perhaps protracted; indeed, this was expected, for high SHAEF officials had told correspondents that the "campaign of the pockets" might continue throughout the summer. German fanaticism and will to fight had already extended the war -- despite the hopelessness of the German position and the tremendous superiority of the Allies -- long beyond the expected ending. In the spring of 1945, then, the Allies tended to be justifiably cautious in their predictions. But the sweep to the Elbe, the drive into Berlin, and, above all, the Nazi announcement of Adolf Hitler's death on May 1 snapped the thread of German morale. Wholesale surrenders were also touched off by the Nazi collapse in Italy. The "campaign of the pockets" was never fought.

The announcement of Hitler's death seems to have been coupled with the assumption of power by the German military. But that did not end the power of the Nazi Party. The Nazi announcement was that Hitler had died in the Berlin Chancellery, then under attack by the Russians. Hitler probably is dead, though no proof of this may ever

Loading, please wait...

This article is a part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, please subscribe.

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.