History is never quite as real as when it is told by those who lived it. Ruby Thompson, living during the World War ll London Blitz bombing blasts history out of the realm of dry, dusty names and dates and places the reader in the midst of the terrifying events as they unfold. This is very important documentation and will have tremendous appeal to those who have an avid interest in the effect of the war on ordinary citizens.
This evening the B.B.C. read an announcement, just given out from 10 Downing Street, to this effect:
General Eisenhower reports that firm contact has been established between his ground forces and those of our Soviet Allies. The commanders of a United States division and of a Russian Guards division met at Torgan on April 26, at four p.m.
So the Russians and the Americans have linked at last, on the Elbe, and Germany has been cut in two. Torgan, unheard of until tonight, is, we are told, northeast of Leipzig.
Moscow announces that Russian forces fighting for the conquest of Berlin have captured Potsdam, Spandau, and Rathenow. Farther west, Regensburg (old time Ratisbon) has fallen to the Americans, the Third Army, today, the Twenty-Seventh of April. Bremen is now virtually in British possession. General Dittmar, radio commentator of the German High Command, has given himself up to us in Magdeburg. He has declared that it is true Hitler is in Berlin, and his own opinion that Hitler would die there. Also he expressed his own belief that the war would be over in a few days. Goring has asked Hitler to allow him to resign from the Command of the Luftwaffe, for reasons of health! He is supposed to be suffering from a bad heart. Maybe is his, but more likely Himmler chose to demote him.
Monday April 30, 1945
Mussolini is dead. The story is he was caught in Como yesterday whilst trying to escape, and was hanged there, with his mistress also, and that today the dead bodies were brought to Milan and exposed there. Hitler is reported dying. He has suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in Berlin. I suppose, in one of his rages, he has literally burst a blood vessel. Himmler, through Count Bernadette, has offered unconditional surrender, but to the British and Americans only. This news comes via San Francisco. Our governments decline to accept such an offer; they maintain that unconditional surrender must be made to all the allies, particularly inclusive of Russia. Of course.
It is now eleven p.m. and the German radio, at ten-twenty p.m., announced the death of Hitler, “fallen at the head of his army, in the depths of his Capitol.” Admiral Donitz made the announcement, and added that he was now the Fuehrer, by designation of Hitler. Who knows? Why didn’t Goebbels do the announcing?
Tuesday May 2, 1945
Another of Joan’s surprise visits. She arrived about seven-fifty a.m. and had only heard of Hitler’s death on her way here. As she listened to the eight a.m. news she began to cry. I was at the gas stove, making the breakfast toast; poor Joan came and threw herself into my arms, and had a weeping fit. She was thinking of George, of course.
Tonight’s news: Ten forty-five p.m. is of the unconditional surrender of all the German Armies in North Italy, about a million men.
Berlin has fallen. The Russians
are in complete possession of the city. Many high officers and Party men have
been taken prisoners. One of them, a propagandist minister, second to Goebbels,
says that Hitler committed suicide, and Goebbels also. This may or may not be
true, but it would account for why Goebbels did not announce the death of
Hitler. These Germans say Hitler has been dead for some days, but that the
Nazi’s had been trying to build up a legend of him as the hero; now, as the
beloved leader, fighting to the death against Bolshevism. Admiral Domitz says,
“The fight will go on”, but does not say exactly how! Today he has declared
Prague a “hospital city”, so that will not be assaulted, this also looks as
though he will not continue the fight long, no matter what he says. Amongst
others, Rundstedt has been taken prisoner. Ribbentrop has been deposed as
Foreign Minister, but is unheard from. Laval and Deat have landed from a plane
in Barcelona. France ordered them to depart again, but they refused to go, so
they have been interned; at least, that’s the story.
It is now three-thirty p.m. and a
nasty day, cold and dreary. This is our fortieth wedding anniversary. No
celebrations, Ted asked me if I would like to go to the movies, but I said no
thank-you. It is three years since I have been to the movies, and I have lost
all inclination to go. Then, besides, all cinemas this week are showing
pictures of the German concentration camps, and I certainly don’t want to look
at these. Joan had seen them, and she says they are awful, absolutely
horrifying. Yet she thinks people should see them. Perhaps; but not me, I cant
do anything about the horrors, now or ever, so I cant see any use in making
myself sick looking at them.
Sunday May 6, 1945
I wrote to Charlie and Marjorie.
As usual, this has made me very homesick for New Jersey. The end of the war is
in sight. The Germans are surrendering wholesale, Northern Italy, North West
Germany, and Holland, Denmark.
Eire! DeValera, accompanied by
J.P. Walshe, Secretary to the Department of External affairs, called on the
German Minister in Dublin last evening to express condolence on Hitler’s death.
Beautiful darling Irish again! Blast them!
Monday May 7, 1945
We received a letter from Cuthie,
written on May 3, 1945 “Somewhere in Germany.” I cannot transcribe it because
Ted has taken possession of it, but it was to tell us that he and a few hundred
others had been relieved by the British Army on the previous day; that they
were still “quite dazed”, but they hoped to get to Lunaberg the following day
for a bath, and to be home soon. He signed it with all his official numbers,
etc, and ex-P.O.W. I noticed the “ex” Ted noticed htat he still signed as
Sergeant, so could not have had mail for a long time past as evidently he was
unaware of his promotion.
Today came the news of the final
capitulation of all Germany. The “new “ Foreign Minister, Count Schwem von
Krogik, has broadcast to his German people announcing the unconditional
surrender of all fighting German troops. Grand Admiral Donitz, the new Fuehrer,
has ordered the unconditional surrender of all German fighting forces including
his own navy of course.
So the war in Europe is over.
This news was given us on the
B.B.C. just before eight tonight. Tomorrow is to be observed as official VE
Day. Churchill will broadcast the official proclamation at three p.m., and the
King is to broadcast at nine o’clock in the evening both tomorrow and Wednesday
are to be holidays in the United Kingdom.
There is a feeling of anti-climax.
I feel too sad for words.
Tuesday May 8, 1945 Wednesday May
9, 1945 VE Days. Holiday.