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 tonight. 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 occupation. 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. 55082 Have a safe summer and we look forward to seeing you next fall.