May

6

1945

Eisenhower refuses to allow any more German delays

Low-level view of the centre of Magdeburg from over the River Elbe, showing the severe bomb damage to buildings and warehouses in the vicinity of the wharves.

‘You have played for very high stakes,’ Smith said when Jodl had finished. ‘When we crossed the Rhine you had lost the war. Yet you continued to hope for discord among the Allies. That discord has not come. I am in no position to help you out of the difficulties that have grown of this policy of yours. I have to maintain the existing agreements among the Allies. As a soldier I am bound by orders.’ He looked at Jodl and concluded, ‘I do not understand why you do not want to surrender to our Russian allies. It would be the best thing to do for all concerned.’

May

5

1945

US 71st Division still in combat as it pushes east

These men are scouting out the enemy for the 13th Armored Division, Third U.S. Army. 2 May 1945

Under Captain Neal’s direction, our entire company piled off of our eight or nine trucks as fast as we could and took cover in the culvert on the left side of the road. Bailey’s squad and my squad were told to leave our mortars on the truck, and were sent up the ditch to the front of the stalled convoy. We were accompanied by one of the company’s machine-gun squads. A gruesome, never-to-be-forgotten sight sickened me as we ran past the jeep that had been in the lead. It had received a direct hit from an 88, and slumped behind its steering wheel was what was left of the driver — just his bloody, headless torso.

May

4

1945

Churchill fears a communist dominated eastern Europe

Men of 6th Airborne Division greet the crew of a Russian T-34/85 tank during the link-up of British and Soviet forces near Wismar on the Baltic coast, 3 May 1945.

I fear terrible things have happened during the Russian advance through Germany to the Elbe. The proposed withdrawal of the United States Army to the occupational lines which were arranged … would mean a tide of Russian domination sweeping forward 120 miles on a front of 200 or 400 miles.

This would be an event which, if it occurred, would be one of the most melancholy in history. After it was over and the territory occupied by the Russians, Poland would be completely engulfed and buried deep in Russian-occupied lands…

May

3

1945

RAF outnumbered in last dogfight over Germany

Tempest Mark V, EJ743, on a test flight following completion at Langley, Buckinghamshire. This aircraft served with No. 3 Squadron RAF.

My speed had swept me far on — straight on to the torpedo boat which was spitting away with all her guns. I passed within ten yards of her narrow bows, just above the water and the thousand spouts raised by the flak. I caught a glimpse of white shapes rushing about on deck and of tongues of fire from her guns. The entire camouflaged superstructure seemed to be alive with them. Tracer shells ricocheted on the water and exploded all round over a radius of 500 yards. Some shrapnel mowed down a flock of seagulls which fell in the sea on all sides, panic-stricken and bleeding. Phew! Out of range at last!

May

2

1945

German forces begin to surrender in the west

The famous picture of Red Army soldier Mikhail Alekseevich Yegorov of Soviet 756 Rifle Regiment flying the Soviet flag over the Reichstag, Berlin, Germany, 2 May 1945. For the Soviet authorities this was the best of several images taken at the time - a problem emerged only after it had been first published.

On the fourth and fifth days, their fighting men appeared, not riding but on foot. Varying in age from sixteen to sixty, they were a scraggly looking lot, dirty, unkempt, with shoes held together by rags. They were a far cry from the commanders and staff who had passed through first. There seemed no question that they were a soundly beaten force, with no fight left in them. Although the generals and their staffs were still capable of continuing the war, they no longer had quality frontline troops to command.

May

1

1945

More suicides as the Berlin battle continues

With a torn picture of his Führer beside his clenched fist, a dead major of the Volkssturm,Walter Doenicke lies on the floor of city hall, Leipzig, Germany. He committed suicide rather than face U.S. Army troops who captured the city.

The scourge of our district was a small one-legged Hauptscharfuhrer of the SS, who stumped through the street on crutches, a machine pistol at the ready, followed by his men. Anyone he didn’t like the look of he instantly shot. The gang went down cellars at random and dragged all the men outside, giving them rifles and ordering them straight to the front. Anyone who hesitated was shot.

Apr

30

1945

Adolf Hitler commits suicide as Reichstag burns

The last known picture of Hitler surveying the runs outside his bunker in Berlin, some days before his suicide.

Hitler wore his grey tunic emblazoned with the Gold Party Badge, the Iron Cross First Class and the Wounded Badge of the First World War — as he had done constantly in recent days. He was wearing a white shirt with a black tie, black trousers, black socks and black leather slippers. Eva Braun’s legs were drawn up under her on the sofa. Her brightly coloured high-heeled shoes lay on the floor. Her lips were firmly pressed together. She had poisoned herself with cyanide.

Apr

30

1940

British troops evacuated from Namsos and Andalsnes

HMS Bittern ablaze in Namsos Fjord after having suffered a direct hit in the stern by a bomb.

578 troops were pushed into us. They were in a completely demoralised state and had been machine gunned and bombed the whole day by 3 Heinkels who had come all the way from Hamburg! They hadn’t seen many German troops, but lots of parachutists, with light tanks, bicycles and field artillery in pieces!

Apr

29

1945

US troops liberate Dachau concentration camp

Photograph allegedly showing an unauthorized execution of SS troops in a coal yard in the area of the Dachau concentration camp during its liberation—part of the Dachau liberation reprisals. 29 April 1945 (U.S Army photograph)

The caption for the photograph in the U.S. National Archives reads, "SC208765, Soldiers of the 42nd Infantry Division, U.S. Seventh Army, order SS men to come forward when one of their number tried to escape from the Dachau, Germany, concentration camp after it was captured by U.S. forces. Men on the ground in background feign death by falling as the guards fired a volley at the fleeing SS men. (157th Regt. 4/29/45)."

… this first image of the liberation was truly out of an American western … this soldier of the 3rd Battalion, 45th Combat Division was the very incarnation of the American hero … we will never forget those first few seconds … the memory of the unique, magnificent moment of your arrival … you had come at the risk of your life, into an unknown country, for the sake of an unknown people, bringing us the most precious thing in the world, the gift of freedom …

Apr

29

1940

German troops advance towards Trondheim

German troops with a 'grenade launcher' on the front line near Trondheim 29th April 1940

The British had now decided to evacuate central Norway. A narrow single track road and single line railway ran from their front line near Dombaas to the the port at Aandalsnes and there was only limited transport available for the exhausted troops.