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.