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May 1995
Vol. 3 Number 8
Published by the WW II Roundtable
Edited by Jim and Jon Gerber
Welcome to spring and our last meeting of this season. Tonight’s program is about the USS
Indianapolis. This remarkable story will be told by some of the Minnesota survivors. Two of these
men were featured on a KSTP 5 Dimension Report and we will see video of that presentation
Don Patton is working on next season’s programs and they look to be great. I hope that you will
be able to attend beginning in October of 1995.
Second Surrender in Berlin
The Germans surrendered to the Allies at Reims, France, on May 7 at 2:41 a.m. Almost six hours
later, Moscow ordered its participating representative, General Susloparov, not to sign any
surrender documents. Since he had already done it, Susloparov was recalled home for “strict
punishment” which in Stalin’s Soviet Union meant execution. The Soviets made it very clear that
a Berlin signing, and only a Berlin signing, would be valid in their eyes.
The Soviets had many objections.They had discovered the Reims document was not one of the
official drafts hammered out by the European Advisory Commission(EAC). They were also aware
that even after the Reims surrender, more than 1 million Germans were either still fighting the
Soviets or trying escape west in technical violation of the pact.
But Soviet rancor went even deeper. No other Allied country had suffered as much as the Soviet
Union, with an estimated 7 million military deaths and 7 million or more civilian deaths. After so
much bloodshed the Soviets were not about to be cheated out of their hard-won triumph.
Although General Eisenhower had consulted the Soviets at every turn, clearly demonstrating
good faith as an ally, their paranoia ran deep. The Soviets always harbored a fear of collusion
between the Germans and the Western Allies.
The Berlin capitulation - whether mere ratification or the main event - was signed Tuesday, May
8, 1945 at 11:30 p.m. The German delegation was headed by Field Marshal Keitel. A walking
stereotype of Nazi arrogance, Keitel stiffly saluted with his silver-handled marshal’s baton.
Although American, British and Soviet flags loomed behind the signers, it was largely a Soviet
show. Scowling Marshal Georgi Zhukov presided. Keitel sat down and signed but complained that
he had not read the document. He insisted he be given an additional 24 hrs. to inform his troops
they would have to give up their weapons as well as surrender. Even after hearing Keitel’s
request, Zhukov stared straight ahead, maintaining a stony silence. Arrogant to the end, Keitel
angrily slammed his portfolio shut and left. World War II in Europe was over, though all battle
fronts were not quiet until May 11, 1945.
More Info on the Atomic Bomb
A soon to be published book called Marching Orders by Bruce Lee reveals that on July 3, 1945,
General George Marshall received Japanese documents indicating that Japan’s military leaders
were willing to strike a deal with Russia rather than accept unconditional surrender. These
documents essentially doomed Japan to a nuclear attack. With a possible Russia-Japan alliance
drastically altering the balance of power in the Far East, the US and Britain agreed to the use of
atomic weapons. This information came from 15,000 recently declassified pages of “Magic
summaries” of diplomatic messages that the Japanese falsely thought could not be decoded.
President Truman read them daily to help decide Allied Strategy.
Fifty Years Ago
May 1, 1945
World Affairs Hamburg radio announces that Hitler is dead and that Doenitz is the second
Fuhrer of the Reich. Doenitz himself broadcasts, announcing rather pathetically that “it is my duty
to save the German people from destruction by the Bolshevists”.
In Berlin, Goebbels and his wife commit suicide after poisoning their six children.
Western Front The US First and Ninth Armies are firmly established along the line of the Elbe
and the Mulde. They have been forbidden to advance further into the zone designated for Soviet
May 2, 1945
Eastern Front The Soviet forces complete the capture of Berlin with attacks from the north and
south linking up along the Charlottenburg Chausse.
May 3-4, 1945
Okinawa During the night the Japanese forces begin a large-scale counteroffensive form the
south, but although the attacks are very fierce they do not break the American front. Much of the
Japanese artillery, until now concealed from the overwhelming firepower of the American forces,
gives its positions away by operating in support of the attacks.
May 5, 1945
Home Front The War Department announces that about 400,000 men will remain in Germany
to form the US occupation force, that 2,000,000 men will be discharged from the armed forces
and that this will leave 6,000,000 serving in the war against Japan.
May 8, 1945
Europe The British and Americans celebrate VE Day. Truman, Churchill and King George VI all
make special broadcasts.
May 15, 1945
Okinawa The pattern of heavy fighting, slow US advances and costly and only partially
successful Japanese counterattacks is maintained. There are particularly fierce battles on Sugar
Loaf and Conical Hills.
May 23, 1945
Okinawa After advancing to take Naha very easily the 6th Marine Division tries to move on to
the south but again meets very heavy resistance.
Britain, Politics The Labour Party has decided not to maintain the coalition government until
after the end of the war and Churchill, therefore, resigns in order to prepare for the election. He
forms a new caretaker government to hold office until the election.
War Criminals Himmler has been captured by the British forces, but commits suicide before he
can be questioned or searched by the British authorities.
Further Reading
If you are interested in reading more about tonight’s topic, the following books are recommended:
Abandon Ship
by Richard Newcomb
All The Drowned Sailors
by Raymond Lech
Ordeal by Sea
by Holm
Fatal Voyage
by Kurtzman
Check your local library or call Kisselburg Military Books at 439-7013 and they might be able to
locate them for you. Kisselburg Military Books is located at: 105 Union Alley, Stillwater, Mn.
Have a safe summer and we look forward to seeing you next fall.