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.

Apr

28

1945

SS fanatics guard the bunker as Hitler marries

Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun at the Berghof in 1942.

Hitler and Eva Braun left their apartment hand in hand and went into the conference room. Hitler took each step with a great effort. His face was ashen, his gaze wandered restlessly. He was wearing the crumpled tunic in which nowadays he lay on his bed all day. He had pinned on to it the Gold Party Badge, the Iron Cross First Class and the Wounded Medal of the First World War.

Eva Braun, also pale from sleepless nights, wore a dark-blue silk dress under a fleecy grey fur cape. Goebbels and Bormann were waiting for them in the antechamber. The latter had put on the grey uniform of an SS-Obergruppenfuhrer. Goebbels wore the brown Party uniform.

Apr

28

1940

The war still seems far away

Berlin office workers enjoying the spring sunshine during their lunch break. Across Europe most people were relatively unaffected by the war. That was about to change.

The virtual disappearance of many indispensables since the start of the war has had a comical aftermath at my office: for some time now our bosses had been complaining about the inexplicable consumption of unaccountable quantities of w.c. paper. At first they concluded that the staff must be suffering from some new form of mass diarrhoea …

Apr

27

1945

Italian partisans triumph – and capture Mussolini

The body of Mussolini, his mistress Clara Petacchi and colleagues were driven to Milan where they were exhibited in a piazza on 29th April. An unruly mob stamped and spat on the bodies before they were hoisted up for all to see.

The medal of the Iron Cross, its ribbon stained crimson brown above its red, black and white, lay amongst the papers. The Hauptmann’s book was full of photographs of Storm Troops and of soldiers, of sisters in white blouses and dark skirts, of a heavy-built father with close-cropped hair, of other young officers with the same relentless faces.

This was the type Hitler had loosed on Europe, brave, desperate, efficient. And now he had come to his end in an Italian field, shot down by an Italian farmer’s boy with a Sten gun, shot in the back, I learned later, as he crouched in hiding.

Apr

27

1940

Captain R.T. Partridge encounters the enemy up close

The Blackburn Skua: the Fleet Air Arm fighter that operated from HMS Ark Royal

Whilst following the HEINKEL down after the attack. Captain Partridge realised that his engine was failing and that he would he forced to land immediately. Selecting a frozen lake which appeared to have a road running beside it, he landed his machine successfully with the undercarriage up. A bent airscrew was the only damage and the machine came to rest alongside the road in about four feet of snow.

Apr

26

1945

Nazis continue to believe in Hitler and victory

Old men of the Volkssturmm prepare to meet the Red Army.

Think of the millions of dead in far-flung theatres of war, who with glassy eyes and bloodless lips managed to stammer as their last word – full of inner peace and in deep idealism – the Fuhrer’s name or that of our everlasting fatherland; think of their dear ones, who made this incredible sacrifice for that man and this country. Think of our towns in ruins, of the many living war casualties, of the things we did without, the sorrows, the problems of nearly six years; think of these things and you cannot do otherwise but close your ears to the seductive words of our enemies.