The Drive to the Elbe (Continued)
As the Supreme Commander's armies drove to the Elbe, SHAEF was confronted with a variety of developments. These included such diverse items as Allied attempts to feed the people in occupied areas of the Netherlands, difficulties with the French over the occupation of Stuttgart, discussions with the Russians on liaison and a line of demarcation between Western and Russian forces, the death of Hitler, and Admiral Doenitz' assumption of power in Germany.
Aid for the Netherlands
In the closing week of April, the Allies suspended their operations in the western Netherlands to permit representatives of the Supreme Commander and of the Nazi high commissioner in the Netherlands, Seyss-Inquart, to discuss procedures for feeding the population in the occupied area of that country. This problem had concerned the Western powers since the Arnhem operation in the fall of 1944. Food shortages had resulted partly because of an embargo imposed by Seyss-Inquart in retaliation for a Dutch slow-down and stoppage of railway traffic in the occupied area. After considerable negotiations, some food had been brought in through the Swedish Red Cross and from Switzerland in January 1945. In the same month SHAEF sent representatives to Eindhoven to discuss the relief problem with Dutch medical experts. After other meetings at London and Brussels, doctors and trained personnel were selected to handle treatment of individuals in an advanced stage of starvation. In April, despite the aid of Red Cross agencies and severe rationing, the food situation threatened to become disastrous. As food stocks reached their lowest ebb, and as the Germans hinted they would flood the country in case of an attack, the Netherlands Government-in-exile appealed to the Allies for help. Meanwhile, Seyss-Inquart discussed with Doctor Hirschfield, Secretary-General of Economics, various means of avoiding catastrophe in the Netherlands. The Reichskommissar indicated that he might be willing to open negotiations on the subject with Allied authorities, and this word was passed on to London. On 19 April, Prime Minister Churchill asked the authorities in Washington for their opinions. The U.S. Chiefs of Staff, doubting that the Germans would carry out their threats against the Dutch, pointed to the dangers of tampering with the unconditional surrender formula and possible unfavorable Russian reactions. They asked that nothing be done without previous consultation
with the Russians and General Eisenhower. The Supreme Commander when asked for his views declared that something must be done to aid the Dutch even at the risk of interfering with military operations. He approved discussions with Seyss-Inquart, subject to Russian concurrence. If no agreement could be reached, he felt that the First Canadian Army would have to be used to aid the people of the occupied area.1
General Eisenhower, increasingly concerned over the Dutch situation, warned the German commander in the Netherlands that he would be punished if the Germans intensified Dutch suffering. Hostilities were suspended on the morning of 28 April, and General de Guingand and Brigadier E. T. Williams of the 21 Army Group staff proceeded to Achterveld to meet German representatives. The British officers presented Allied plans for aiding the population of the Netherlands, but the meeting foundered when the Germans indicated that they did not have authority to agree to anything. General de Guingand then insisted that they return in forty-eight hours with Seyss-Inquart or, at least, with his full authority to act.2
On 30 April, Seyss-Inquart and his staff met an Allied delegation which included Generals Smith and Strong of SHAEF; Maj. Gen. Ivan Susloparoff, who had been authorized by Moscow to represent the USSR in the talks; General de Guingand and Brigadier Williams of the 21 Army Group; Maj. Gen. A. Galloway, British commander of the Netherlands District; and Prince Bernhard, commander in chief of the Netherlands forces. Arrangements were worked out for dropping food from Allied planes at some ten points. In addition, one road was to be opened to trucks, and food ships were to be received at Rotterdam. On 1 May, in accordance with these agreements, Allied planes began relief operations. SHAEF broadcasts informed the inhabitants where to pick up supplies and warned the enemy not to interfere with the air drop. On the following day, trucks crossed from the liberated Netherlands into the occupied zone. Full-scale rescue efforts could not be undertaken, however, until after the armistice.3
While discussing the matter of aid to the Dutch, General Smith attempted to impress on Seyss-Inquart the hopelessness of the German situation in the Netherlands and suggested that the time was ripe for a truce or unconditional surrender. The reichskommissar agreed with the argument, but said that as long as German civil and military authorities in the Netherlands were in touch with Berlin they would have to leave matters of surrender to their superiors. He also argued that the Germans in the Netherlands should continue to fight as long as any government existed in Germany. General Smith, who had dealt politely with Seyss-Inquart during the earlier interview, now threatened him with punishment if his policies caused further loss of life in the Netherlands. The reichskommissar admitted his obligations to lighten the burden on the Dutch and promised to do what he could to help them. He also asked
for a safe-conduct to go to Germany to discuss the matter of a truce and possibly an over-all surrender in the Netherlands. On the grounds that he could surrender if he wished to do so, and further that he had radio contact with Berlin and could get necessary instructions by that means, his request was refused.4
The Stuttgart Incident
After Stuttgart was enveloped by forces of the Seventh Army, the First French Army took the city. On the day before it fell, General Devers had redrawn the boundary lines in his sector to give Stuttgart to General Patch's forces. His purpose was to prevent U.S. and French units from becoming entangled and to provide proper lines of communications for his armies. General de Gaulle, however, apparently thought that the U.S. commander was more interested in getting the French out of this important German city than in the effective working of Seventh Army's supply lines. He decided therefore that until France was definitely assigned a zone of occupation by the Allies he should hold on to what he had. He indicated to General de Lattre that a political and not a military matter was involved and that this was a case where French forces were not answerable to General Eisenhower or General Devers. Consequently, when U.S. forces moved into Stuttgart on 24 April to relieve French units in the city, they found the French polite but determined not to leave. When General Devers for a second time directed the First French Army to evacuate the city, General de Gaulle issued the following order to General de Lattre:
I require you to maintain a French garrison at Stuttgart and to institute immediately a military government. . . . To eventual observations [of the Americans] you will reply that the orders of your Government are to hold and administer the territory conquered by our troops until the French zone of occupation has en fixed between the interested Governments, which to your knowledge has not been done.
General de Lattre thereupon informed the 6th Army Group commander that he could not hand over the city but added that Stuttgart could be used by the 6th Army Group.5
On an appeal from the 6th Army Group that its authority was being flouted, General Eisenhower protested officially to General de Gaulle, saying that the city was urgently needed as a link in the Seventh Army's supply line. He expressed concern at the French use of the issue to force political concessions by the British and U.S. Governments and declared:
Under the circumstances, I must of course accept the situation, as I myself am unwilling to take any action which would reduce the effectiveness of the military effort against Germany, either by withholding supplies from the First French Army or by other measures which would affect their fighting strength. Moreover, I will never personally be a party to initiating any type of struggle or quarrel between your government and troops under my command which can result only in weakening bonds of national friendship as well as the exemplary spirit of cooperation that characterized the actions of French and American forces in the battle line. Accordingly I am seeking another solution for the maintenance of the Seventh Army.
Eisenhower put on record a firm statement of his belief that "the issuance direct
to the First French Army of orders based on political grounds which run counter to the operational orders given through the military chain of command, violates the understanding with the United States Government under which French divisions armed and equipped by the United States were to be placed under the Combined Chiefs of Staff whose orders I am carrying out in this theater of operations." It became his duty, he said, to refer the matter to the Combined Chiefs of Staff with a statement that he could "no longer count with certainty upon the operational use of any French forces they may contemplate equipping in the future." He regretted that he had no knowledge of the negotiations between the French and Allied governments concerning a French zone of occupation. "Consequently the embarrassment I am experiencing in supplying and administering the Seventh U.S. Army, and in coordinating military operations involving the First French Army seems to me the more regrettable."6
General de Gaulle disposed of the initial protest with a reminder that the presence of French headquarters in Nancy and Metz had not been an obstacle to "General Patton's magnificent successes." He admitted that the difficulty which had arisen had been none of the Supreme Commander's doing. It was due rather to the lack of agreement and liaison between France and the Allied governments "on that which relates to the war policy in general and in particular to the occupation of German territory." The French Government, not being able to integrate its views with those of the Allies, had to put them forward separately. Since the French had no part in the meetings of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, decisions taken by this group failed to take into account French national requirements. This situation had resulted, de Gaulle said,
in forcing me, personally--although to my great regret--to step in sometimes, either with respect to plans or their execution. You are certainly aware, that while agreeing to place French operational forces in the western theater under your Supreme Command, I have always reserved the right of the French Government eventually to take the necessary steps in order that French Forces should be employed in accordance with the national interest of France which is the only interest that they should serve.
He pointed out that arms for these forces had come in under lend-lease and that French services were given in return, and he recalled the sore point that no new French divisions had been completely equipped by the United States since the beginning of operations in the west "in spite of all that had appeared to have been understood a long time ago." He expressed his appreciation for the part General Eisenhower personally had played and said he hoped that a fine spirit would continue between French and U.S. forces in the field. General Eisenhower, in thanking de Gaulle for the courtesy of a very full explanation, declared that he understood the French chief's position. ". . . while I regret," the Supreme Commander went on, "that you find it necessary to inject political considerations into a campaign in which my functions are purely military, I am gratified to know that you understand my situation and attitude."7
In Washington, President Truman said he was shocked at the implications of General de Gaulle's action, and concerned
because reports of the incident that had reached the United States from French sources were likely to result in a storm of resentment. If the time had come when the French Army was to be considered as carrying out only the political wishes of the French Government, then the command structure would have to be rearranged. General de Gaulle expressed his wish that such situations would not arise, and indicated that they could be avoided easily if France's allies would only recognize "that questions so closely touching France as the occupation of German territory should be discussed and decided with her." This unfortunately had not been the case "in spite of my repeated request."8
So far as General Eisenhower was concerned, the incident had already been closed by the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Stuttgart. The war was so near its end that any inconvenience in keeping his supply lines open was annoying but not serious. Soon after the episode, the Allies agreed on a French zone of occupation and a part for France in the control machinery for Germany, thus meeting de Gaulle's main demands.
Avoiding Clashes With the Russians
In the war in northeast Europe, as in any coalition war where allied and associated powers are driving headlong toward each other through enemy territory, there existed by the end of March the danger that within a few weeks or even days clashes might arise between friendly ground forces. Such collisions could and did happen between units fighting side by side when proper co-ordination or liaison was missing. The danger was much greater in the case of the Russians and the Western powers because there was no direct wire communication and the battle had reached the point that even division commanders were not always sure within twenty to forty miles where their forward elements could be located at a given moment. This difficulty did not become acute among the ground forces until early April 1945, but it had been causing troubles between the Soviet and British and U.S. air forces since the previous summer and fall. Efforts made since the time of the June 1944 landings to work out solutions to these problems had been complicated by the lack of agreements on such matters as the drawing of bomb lines, the nature of lines of demarcation, the procedure to be followed when contact was imminent, withdrawal of various troops to their proper zones of occupation, and the question of advancing beyond an agreed line of demarcation when it seemed essential to save friendly occupied peoples from German fury.
The Soviet leaders could not rid themselves of their fears of the Western capitalist powers or, perhaps, of their recollections that allies could suddenly become enemies. Throughout the war, therefore, they were unwilling to trust the Western powers with much information concerning the Red Army's activities. This closed door resulted in an unwillingness on their part to permit the establishment of real liaison machinery between the East and West or, where they had consented to some such arrangement, a tendency to render it unworkable by repeated delays. Some political co-operation had been worked out between the British and the Russians after the German invasion of the USSR, and between the
Americans and the Russians after the negotiation of the lend-lease agreement in 1941, but systematic efforts to co-ordinate Russian plans and those being made for the invasion of Europe came only at the close of 1943. U.S. and British military missions in Moscow, headed respectively by General Deane and Lt. Gen. G. LeQ. Martel (replaced in March 1944 by Lt. Gen. M. B. Burrows, and in March 1945 by Admiral E. R. Archer), undertook to keep the Russians informed of the daily operations of the Western powers and to get some information in return on the actions of the Red forces. Shortly after the Normandy landings, an arrangement was made by which the Allies furnished the Soviet Government outlines of General Eisenhower's proposed operations and, when necessary, his plans for the future. The Russians, in return, gave the Allied military missions in Moscow advance copies of the Red Army communiqués a short time before their release to the press. For any serious attempt to co-ordinate military activities, the Supreme Commander had to indicate his wishes to the Combined Chiefs of Staff for transmittal to the military missions in Moscow and then to the Red Army Chief of Staff. On a matter of any importance, the communication was passed on to Marshal Stalin. If his answer was favorable, the whole process was repeated in reverse. In the early days of ground operations, this matter of holding partners at arm's length was merely exasperating. But as the war neared an end the problem became potentially dangerous.99
Attempts had been made to co-ordinate the boundaries of occupation zones for Germany by the creation of the European Advisory Commission late in 1943. This body had started on its task early in 1944. Meanwhile, the Allies had tried to work out other effective methods of operational liaison. Marshal Stalin mentioned in June 1944 the possibility of a combined military staff for this purpose, and the Combined Chiefs of Staff went so far as to talk of the possibility of establishing a tripartite committee in Moscow with consultative and advisory powers to aid in co-ordinating operational and strategical matters. For some reason, Marshal Stalin in September postponed discussion of the matter on the pretext that he did not wish to discuss it until General Burrows was replaced as head of the British Military Mission in Moscow. This officer was withdrawn in the following month, but no permanent replacement was named until March 1945. The consultative committee was never established.10
General Eaker, worried in June about the need of co-ordinating attacks by his Mediterranean air forces and the Russian air forces over targets in southeast Europe, had sent an air representative to Moscow to meet daily with a member of the Russian General Staff to adjust air operations. In November the question of co-ordinating air and ground force actions became serious when U.S. fighters, attacking what they considered to be a German column in Yugoslavia, were charged with killing a Russian lieutenant general and several soldiers. The U.S. Chiefs of Staff promptly apologized but urged that more effective liaison be established. The Russians not only reacted unfavorably to this
proposal but stopped efforts at informal liaison which one of their army commanders had worked out with the Mediterranean air forces. When the matter dragged on into December 1944, General Eaker adopted the procedure of informing the Russians of the bomb line he intended to observe and leaving up to them the responsibility for co-ordination. To his surprise, they made no protest.11
In northwest Europe, the matter of air liaison was somewhat more complicated. When Red Army advances into Poland threatened to bring Soviet columns into the area being attacked by air forces from the west, General Deane suggested a bomb line which would run some fifty to a hundred miles west of the Russian lines. The. Soviet representatives, apparently with the purpose of barring the British from dropping supplies to Poles loyal to the London Polish Government-in-exile, made a counterproposal of a line which would have prevented General Spaatz's forces from going east of Berlin. No agreement on this suggestion had been reached before the meeting at Yalta.12 At the conference in the Crimea, the Western powers again raised the question, but the Russian representatives showed little disposition to reach an agreement. When General Marshall warned of possible repetitions of the bombing in Yugoslavia, Gen. Alexei Antonov, the Red Army Chief of Staff, said that the difficulty there was due not to the lack of liaison but to mistakes in navigation. The Russians persisted in their demands for a rigid bomb line which could be changed only occasionally, and they asked that the Allied bombing forces submit for clearance twenty-four hours before the attack lists of targets on the Russian front. The Combined Chiefs of Staff thereupon decided to continue General Eaker's arrangement of giving the Russians advance notice of proposed operations and letting the Soviet forces do the co-ordinating. Finally, in March 1945, the Russians agreed to the initial Allied suggestion at Yalta whereby the bomb line moved daily in accordance with Red Army advances. The Western powers agreed not to attack a zone within 200 miles of the Russian positions without giving the Soviet commanders twenty-four hours' notice. The suggestion by the Russians that silence on their part would be regarded as disapproval was not accepted. They had the responsibility, therefore, of specifying which, if any, of the proposed targets were within the forbidden zone.13
As the Russians continued to drive toward the west, a formal agreement on lines of demarcation and zones of occupation became necessary. The European Advisory Commission had discussed these matters in London early in 1944. A British plan for dividing Germany into three zones, in virtually the same form that was ultimately accepted, was presented in January 1944. This proposal, which brought Russia well to the west of the Elbe, was accepted by the USSR
reprepresentative in February and apparently satisfied the Civil Affairs Division of the War Department. Toward the end of February, representatives of the Civil Affairs Division proposed a new plan by which the three occupation areas would meet at Berlin. The proposal was regarded as vague and unworkable, and work on the zones came to a stop until April 1944 when the President authorized his representative in London to approve the broad outlines of the initial British proposal for the zones of occupation. He objected only to the suggestion that the United States should occupy a zone in the south of Germany and asked instead for occupational duties in the north.14 His insistence on this point held up final agreement on the protocol dealing with zones of occupation until after the second Quebec conference, when he finally accepted a zone in the south of Germany. Not until September 1944 did the European Advisory Commission send its protocol on zones of occupation to the three governments chiefly concerned. Even then final approval was delayed because the British and U.S. representatives could not reach agreement on U.S. entry rights in the Bremerhaven area. This matter was settled in November, and the revised protocol was approved by the British government in December 1944.15
In January 1945, the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, John Winant, became disturbed over the fact that the United States and the Soviet Union had still not formally approved the zones of occupation. He expressed his concern to Mr. Hopkins when the latter was on his way to the Allied meetings at Malta and Yalta, and said he feared that, if no agreement was reached soon, the Russians might continue to advance westward after they had crossed the border of the zone outlined for them. Secretary of State Stettinius, and Foreign Secretary Eden discussed the question at Malta on 1 February and agreed to urge the Combined Chiefs of Staff to reach an immediate decision on the German occupation zones. Later that day, General Marshall and Field Marshal Brooke, after talking over the matter with Stettinius and Eden, authorized the dispatch of a cable informing the European Advisory Commission that the British and U.S. Governments had now approved the protocol of the zones of occupation. This action was taken apparently without reference to the President. Stettinius indicates that, when Roosevelt arrived at Malta on 2 February, he "seemed greatly relieved when I told him that General Marshall and Field Marshal Brooke had finally approved the plan for the German zones of occupation and that Eden and I had sent instructions to our representatives on the European Advisory Commission in London."16
The agenda of the Yalta Conference included for discussion the question of final agreement on the zones of occupation. Actually, of course, as far as the boundaries were concerned, the United States and Great Britain had made the decision before the conferees reached Yalta. The point which remained to be settled at the conference was whether or not France would be given a zone. In a meeting of the President and Marshal Stalin on 4 February, the Soviet leader seemed to concur with the tripartite zone arrangement outlined by the European Advisory Commission but was disinclined to admit
France. This matter was thoroughly explored on 5 February, and Marshal Stalin ultimately agreed with some reluctance to the British and U.S. plan to give France a zone in western Germany. Stalin made clear that it would not be at the expense of the Russian sphere. Soviet approval of the European Advisory Commission's protocol was given on 6 February. The fact that agreement had been reached was announced as part of the final report issued at the close of the Crimean conference.17 This fact gave rise to the belief that the zones of occupation were worked out at Yalta. Historically, it is of value to note that the zones as finally drawn were initially outlined months before Yalta by representatives of the political authority of the United States, Great Britain, and the USSR. Final approval of the zones involved both the political authorities and the Combined Chiefs of Staff.18
The zones, drawn on the basis of equalizing population and resources among the occupying powers, did not correspond with military requirements as far as a stopping place was concerned. Part of the Russian zone ran well to the west of the Elbe, and it was not logical for the troops of the Western powers to stop their advance at the edge of that area leaving the German forces unbeaten within the zone until the Red Army could close the gap. It became clear, therefore, that the various armies from the cast and west should continue to advance until they actually linked up or until they reached some clearly recognizable line of demarcation shortly before a junction was imminent. General Eisenhower indicated in early April that it was not practical to restrict operations on either side by a demarcation prepared in advance. Rather, both sides should be free to advance until contact was made. He suggested that thereafter, subject to operational needs, either the Red Army or SHAEF could request the other to withdraw behind the interzonal boundaries set up by the European Advisory Commission. The British Chiefs of Staff opposed on both political and military grounds any mention of the interzonal boundary for purposes of defining areas while hostilities were still in progress. They suggested instead that the armies should stand in place until they were ordered to withdraw by their governments.19
The British suggestion immediately evoked objections from the U.S. War and State Departments. Officials of the European and Russian Affairs Divisions of the Department of State were said to believe "that for governments to direct movement of troops definitely indicated political action and that such movements should remain a military consideration at least until SHAEF is dissolved and the ACC (Allied Control Commission) is set up [italics in original]." The British proposal, they feared, might inspire the Russians to race for remaining German areas in order to acquire as many square miles as possible before the war ended. This interpretation, members of the War Department believed, meant that the Department of State preferred "a straight military solution to the problem. That is, for General Eisenhower to plan to move American and British troops when the operations allowed to respective American and British zones, co-ordinating such movements with the local Russian
commanders or, if necessary with Marshal Stalin through General Deane and Admiral Archer."20
The Combined Chiefs of Staff had already directed General Eisenhower to restate his proposal to the effect that, since it did not seem practicable during hostilities to restrict operations or areas by a demarcation line prepared in advance, both fronts should be allowed to advance until contact was imminent. Thereafter, the division of responsibility would be agreed upon by army group commanders. General Eisenhower, who as late as 11 April had cited five new encounters between U.S. and Russian planes as evidence that some arrangement was needed to prevent serious incidents, hastened to send the revised message to Moscow.21 General Antonov questioned the proposal on the ground that it seemed to change the occupation zones already agreed upon by the governments. Although reassured by representatives of the military missions that it referred only to tactical areas, he insisted on confirmation from General Eisenhower. Antonov said it was his understanding that upon completion of tactical operations the Anglo-American forces would withdraw from the Soviet zone of occupation previously assigned. This assurance was given by the Supreme Commander on 15 April.222
The Combined Chiefs of Staff spelled out their policy more completely on 21 April when they suggested that both sides halt as and where they met, the line being subject to adjustments made by local commanders to deal with any remaining enemy opposition. After the cessation of hostilities, the Western forces were to be disposed in accordance with military requirements regardless of zonal boundaries. So far as permitted by the urgency of the situation, the Supreme Commander was to obtain approval of the Combined Chiefs of Staff before making major adjustments in boundaries. Within these limits he was free to negotiate directly with the Soviet General Staff through the Allied missions to Moscow. In case political and military problems of high importance to the British and U.S. Governments arose during the progress of the campaign, he was to consult the Combined Chiefs of Staff before reference to the Russians, unless he felt the delay was unacceptable "on vital military grounds." These instructions were repeated to the army group commanders by General Eisenhower on the day of their receipt.23
The decision to permit units to continue to advance until contact was imminent still left open the question of how they were to recognize each other. It was recalled in Washington that clashes had arisen in Poland in 1939 when the advance forces of the German and Soviet armies had met, and that the situation was ironed out only when the Germans withdrew.24 General Eisenhower, who had been aware since Normandy days of how difficult it was to keep in touch with flying
armored columns as they raced ahead of virtually all communications, attempted to work out in mid-April a system of signals and markings whereby the various forces could identify themselves and avoid firing on each other.25
On 21 and 22 April, General Eisenhower took more specific steps to avoid clashes with the Red Army. Besides outlining the procedure laid down by the Combined Chiefs of Staff for the Western forces to follow when they approached Soviet units, he also added details of his future plans and asked the Red commanders for theirs. He repeated previous statements about his intention to stop his central forces on the Elbe and to turn his armies to the north and south to clear out enemy pockets there. It was clear that the northern forces would cross the Elbe and hit at the enemy at the base of the Jutland peninsula, and that his forces in the south would drive through the Danube valley into Austria. Eisenhower did not explain, but it was apparent, that these would continue to advance until they met the Red forces. On the central front, where initial contact seemed most likely, he had chosen the Elbe-Mulde line as one easily identified and desirable between the two forces. This could be changed, he added, if the Russians wished him to push on to Dresden. He believed that after making the first contact the principal purpose should be to establish a firm link between the two armies, preferably along "a well-defined geographical feature," before a firm mutual adjustment on the basis of the local tactical situation. He proposed, therefore, that necessary adjustments and the definition of operational boundary lines be made between the Russian and Allied army group commanders most concerned.26
In an unusually prompt reply, the Soviet command indicated on 23 April that orders had already been issued in conformity with the procedure suggested by the Western powers for making contact. The Soviets also accepted the line of the Elbe and the Mulde as a common border. Moscow declared the following day that the Soviet command contemplated both the occupation of Berlin and the clearing of German forces from the east of the Elbe north and south of Berlin and from the Vltava (Moldau) valley. This answer bothered the British Chiefs of Staff. Fearing that the Russians might be trying to apply the line of the Elbe to the north as well as the center of the SHAEF line, they asked the Supreme Commander to make the distinction clear to the Russians.27
After the formal link-up of Allied and Soviet units on 26 April, numerous other meetings followed rapidly along the entire front. From the announcement of the first contact, SHAEF made a special effort to establish close liaison with the
Soviet forces, carefully checking on tanks and troops in forward areas before permitting air strikes to be made.28
General Eisenhower's efforts to stop on a well-defined geographical line ran into certain political objections by the British Chiefs of Staff. Near the end of April they pointed out that the Western powers could derive remarkable political advantages by liberating Prague and as much of the rest of Czechoslovakia as possible. They agreed that this effort should not be allowed to detract from the force of the drives toward the Baltic and into Austria, but proposed that the Supreme Commander take advantage of any improvement in his logistical situation to advance into Czechoslovakia. General Marshall, in passing these views on to General Eisenhower for his comments, declared: "Personally and aside from all logistic, tactical or strategical implications I would be loath to hazard American lives for purely political purposes."29
This statement, startling as it may have seemed later, was in accord with the policy followed by the U.S. Chiefs of Staff throughout the war: to place everything behind those offensives which would most quickly bring military victory. The war was now virtually at an end in Europe--at a place where the Russian advance would soon clean out the remaining Germans. If the war in Europe and the Pacific was intended solely for the purpose of defeating the Germans and the Japanese, then there was no point in continuing to use U.S. forces to seize objectives that could easily be taken by the Red Army. Especially was this true at a time when it still seemed necessary to send troops from the European theater to the Pacific theater and when it appeared that Soviet aid might be needed to crush the enemy in the Far East. This observation, of course, raises the question of what should have been the war aims of the Western Allies in 1945 and enters a realm of strategy and politics beyond the province of the Supreme Commander. His directive as given by the U.S. and British Chiefs of Staff was to "undertake operations aimed at the heart of Germany and the destruction of her armed forces." At no time did his military and political superiors define his mission as the maintenance or restoration of the balance of power in central and eastern Europe.
General Eisenhower showed that he understood General Marshall's meaning in his reply. He said that the first priority of his offensive should go to the northern thrust toward Luebeck and Kiel, a move he had already said was intended to forestall the Russians, and to the southern drive toward Linz and the Austrian Redoubt. If additional means were available, he planned to attack enemy forces that were still holding out in Czechoslovakia, Denmark, and Norway. He thought that the Western powers should deal with the enemy in Denmark and Norway, but concluded that the Red Army was in perfect position to clean out Czechoslovakia and would certainly reach Prague before the U.S. forces. He assured General Marshall: "I shall not attempt any move I deem militarily unwise merely to gain a political prize unless I receive specific orders from the Combined Chiefs of Staff."30 Such orders were never given and, according to Admiral Leahy's notes on meetings of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, the matter, like
the question of whether to take Berlin, was never considered by them. When, a short time later, the Prime Minister discussed a slightly different phase of the question-the one involving readjustment of occupation zones--President Truman made clear that matters of that nature should be left to the commander in the field.31
The Supreme Commander on 30 April informed the Russians fully of his plans to advance to the east. He explained that, while operational positions were being adjusted along the Elbe and Mulde in the center, he would launch an operation across the lower Elbe to establish a firm operational east flank on the approximate line Wismar-Schwerin-Doemitz, the exact position to be adjusted locally by the commanders on the spot. From the headwaters of the Mulde southward, he intended to hold a line approximately along the 1937 frontiers of Czechoslovakia in the Erz Gebirge and Boehmer Wald. Later, the Allied forces could advance to Karlsbad, Pilzen, and Ceské Budejovice. On the southern flank, he proposed an advance to the general area of Linz, from which forces would be sent to clear out any resistance to the south. He thought a suitable line on this front would be the main north-south highway line east of Linz and thence along the valley of the Enns. If at any time the situation required his forces to advance farther, he would take such action as permitted by the situation.
The USSR indicated its full agreement with these proposals. On 4 May, however, when General Eisenhower again spoke of his willingness to move forward after the occupation of Ceské Budejovice, Pilzen, and Karlsbad to the line of the Elbe and the Moldau to clear the west bank of these rivers, General Antonov expressed strong dissent. To avoid "a possible confusion of forces," he asked General Eisenhower specifically "not to move the Allied forces in Czechoslovakia east of the originally intended line, that is, Ceski-Budejovice, Pilzen, Karlsbad." He added significantly that the Soviet forces had stopped their advance to the lower Elbe east of the line Wismar, Schwerin, and Doemitz at the Supreme Commander's request, and that he hoped General Eisenhower would comply with Russian wishes relative to the advance of U.S. forces in Czechoslovakia. General Eisenhower assured the Soviet commander that he would not move beyond the line suggested.32 By this action he left Prague and most of Czechoslovakia to be liberated by the Red forces. Except for minor adjustments of boundaries and the closing up to lines of demarcation, operations of the Western Allies were at an end.
The End of Hitler
The month of April, which saw the Western Allies drive from the Rhine to the Elbe and complete a junction with advance elements of the Red Army in central Germany, also witnessed the fall of Berlin and the suicide of Hitler. Before these last two events had been consummated, however, the Führer had attempted to provide for the continuance of his government, first, in the event that part of the Reich was cut off from his headquarters and, second, in the event that death claimed him. He tried also to
direct the defense of Berlin and to arrange for punishment of those former trusted colleagues and servants whom he now accused of treason.
The precise moment when Hitler realized that he had no prospect of avoiding complete defeat at the hands of the Allies is not clear. Orders throughout the early part of April indicate that he was still determined to hold to every foot of ground and insisted on fighting to the last at a time when a number of his commanders and political associates were contemplating surrender. Apparently hoping that the death of President Roosevelt in mid-April might help his cause, he issued an order of the day asking for resistance to the "deadly Jewish-Bolshevist enemy" and declared, "At the moment when fate has removed the greatest war criminal of all times from this earth the turning point of this war will be decided."33
Hitler was sufficiently aware of ominous developments to know that his forces might soon be divided by a link-up of his enemies which would make it impossible for him to keep close control of all sections of Germany. He decided that if he was in the southern zone when this occurred Admiral Doenitz would command in the north. If the Führer was in the northern zone, then Field Marshal Kesselring was to command in the south. Hitler reserved to himself the right to announce the time when this arrangement would go into effect.34
He recognized the difficulty of holding Berlin indefinitely and apparently planned to send his ministers and their staffs to various points in southern Germany where he would join them for a final defense of the Reich. The bulk of the ministerial staffs had left for the south by mid-April, and only the ministers and a few of their aides remained in Berlin. Hitler continued to postpone a definite decision on evacuating the capital until Russian advances made it too dangerous for the chief ministers to leave by the highways south of Berlin. It was decided instead that they should go to some safe place north of the city and fly south from there. During the evening of 20-21 April and throughout the following day, ministers and their staffs slipped out of Berlin to Eutin, about halfway between Luebeck and Kiel, and near the site of Doenitz' future headquarters.35
Marshal Hermann Goering, heir designate to Hitler's post, discussed the matter of a shift south with the Führer on 20 April, Hitler's birthday. In what proved to be the last conference of the two Nazi leaders, Goering said that he or the Luftwaffe chief of staff, General der Flieger Karl Koller, should be in southern Germany to provide unified command for the almost defunct Luftwaffe. Upon Hitler's reply that Koller was to remain and that Goering could leave, the Reichsmarschall hastened to his string of cars, loaded and
waiting, and departed for Berchtespden.36
The growing exodus from the capital now gained momentum. The Soviet advance had forced OKW to leave its wartime offices at Zossen and move to Wannsee, a western suburb of the capital, on the night of 20-21 April. The headquarters immediately began to leave for Strub near Berchtesgaden. Keitel, Jodl, and a small staff remained behind.37
Admiral Doenitz was the next to go. He had been told on the 20th that he was to organize the defense in the northern sector. At the suggestion of Keitel, who was worried about the deterioration of the situation around Berlin, Doenitz discussed the matter with Hitler on the 21st and was told that he should leave very shortly. The admiral and his staff departed from Berlin in the early morning of 22 April and reached their new headquarters in Ploen the same day.38
While attempts were being made to establish elements of the government in other parts of the Reich, Hitler was trying to save Berlin. Reports on the 21st indicated that the attack he had previously ordered Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen SS Felix Steiner to launch from points north of Berlin toward the south had failed to materialize. All efforts in that direction succeeded only in drawing German strength from the north where the Red Army had broken through. The failure of Steiner's corps to attack on the 22d and reports of other reverses apparently forced Hitler for the first time to admit that prolongation of the war was hopeless. Hitler's decision, as reported by Jodl to Koller, was to remain in the city, take over its defenses, and shoot himself at the last moment. The German leader said that he could not take part in the fighting for physical reasons and that he could not run the danger of failing into the hands of his opponents when only wounded. He added that he was not the man to carry on negotiations with the Allies--a task, he said, for which Goering was far better fitted than he. Keitel, Jodl, Martin Bormann, Chief of the Party Chancellery, and later Doenitz and Himmler, all tried to get Hitler to change his mind, but he refused. Instead he told Keitel, Jodl, and Bormann to go south and conduct operations from there. They, in turn, declined.39
Jodl now proposed that some of the troops fighting against the Western Allies be thrown into the fight for Berlin and that OKW conduct the operation. Hitler agreed, and Keitel went to the headquarters of the Twelfth Army, fighting near the Elbe, to oversee the planned shift of forces from west to east. The remaining members of the OKW in Berlin now moved a few miles north of the city to Krampnitz. On 23 April, Keitel and Jodl attended the situation conference at the Reichskanzlei, where they saw Hitler for the last time. Thereafter, being cut off from Berlin, they and the small OKW staff with them moved north by stages to a point near Flensburg on 3 May 1945.40
Informed by General Koller on 23 April that Hitler had made up his mind to stay and die in Berlin, Goering asked the Chief of the Reich Chancellery, who was also at Berchtesgaden, if he should assume control of the government under the circumstances. It was decided that he should radio Berlin for instructions, saying that if he received no answer by the late evening of that day he would take charge of the affairs of the Reich. Goering also radioed Keitel and Reichsminister Joachim von Ribbentrop asking that they join him unless they received orders to the contrary from Hitler. The Führer, considering these actions treasonable, now had Goering and his entourage arrested and ordered Generaloberst Hans Juergen Stumpff, head of Air Force Reich, to close all airports in the northern area in order to prevent any further moves of personnel to the south. Hitler next demanded Goering's resignation as head of the Air Force and appointed in his place Generalfeldmarschall Robert Ritter von Greim.41
Jodl on 24 April gave the armed forces their first indication of the policy to be followed during the remaining days of the war. Senior commanders in the west, southwest, and southeast were told that the fight against Bolshevism was the only thing that now mattered and that loss of territory to the Western Allies was of secondary importance.42 Other directives issued on the 24th and 25th regulated the over-all chain of command. OKW, which absorbed the Army General Staff (Operations Group), became responsible for the conduct of operations on all fronts. Keitel personally reserved for himself the control of all army units in the northern area,43 and also of Army Groups South and Center on the Eastern Front. General der Gebirgstruppen August Winter was to organize all the resources of the southern area for further resistance44 and Field Marshal Kesselring, Commander in Chief West, was to take or retain control of OB SUED WEST (Italy), OB SUEDOST (the Balkans), Army Group G, and the Nineteenth Army. The primary mission of the armed forces was defined as the re-establishment of a connection with Berlin to defeat the Soviet troops in that area.45
These efforts at reorganization were taking place on paper while the Red Army was bypassing Berlin to the north and the south and starting to encircle the Ninth Army southeast of Berlin. On 25 April, the Twelfth Army, which was holding the Elbe against the U.S. thrust, was ordered to join the Ninth Army and attack northward to break the Soviet hold on
that city. Despite a belief that U.S. forces might seize this opportunity to drive toward Berlin, the Twelfth Army commander ordered attacks on American forces stopped and said that shooting would be resumed only in case of an attack by them. Only small forces were left to guard the Ninth U.S. Army bridgehead south of Magdeburg.46
OKW also ordered the Commander in Chief Northwest to bring as many troops as possible from the 21 Army Group front to a point east of Hamburg. To the southeast of Berlin, Army Group Center was directed to aid the Ninth and Twelfth Armies' attacks toward the north. Many of these orders had little connection with reality, since the forces involved were too badly scattered to be organized for an attack. Hitler, after some qualms about weakening the area in the northwest, approved the measures being taken to help Berlin and on 26 April expressed satisfaction over the results achieved by his forces.47
Any pleasure that Hitler may have felt on 26 April was certainly dissipated by the news that came on the 28th. General Winter sent gloomy tidings of an uprising in upper Italy, a report of Mussolini's arrest by the Partisans, and an attempted coup in Munich. There was also the distressing rumor that armistice negotiations were being initiated by commanders in Italy. Worse still was the report that the Ninth Army's attack toward Berlin had failed and that its units had not held firm. A state of nerves was possibly responsible for Keitel's decision on that day to remove Generaloberst Gotthard Heinrici from the command of Army Group Weichsel because Heinrici had independently ordered withdrawals on his front.48
By 30 April, Keitel had to admit that the relief of Berlin had failed and that the city was facing its final fight. He ordered all units in the northern area to be concentrated so that connections could be maintained with Denmark. The armies in the south were directed to close all their fronts in a big ring and to undertake the task of saving as many men and as much land as possible from the Red Army. When they could no longer get instructions from the north, they were to fight to save time and to beat down all tendencies toward political and military disintegration. To co-ordinate activities in the south, Keitel now subordinated Army Group South to Army Group Center. Doenitz at this point was setting on foot plans to save the forces facing the Soviet troops east of Berlin by removing them to the west by sea.49
These efforts to retrieve something from the ruins were, of course, carried on independently of Hitler, who was cut off from his armies and chief commanders and waited in Berlin for the Red Army. During the evening of 28 April and the early hours of the following day, he discussed with his advisers in the command post in Berlin the naming of a successor. He expelled Goering and Himmler from the Nazi party and stripped them of any claim
they had to the succession.50 On the 29th he drew a will in which he appointed Grand Admiral Doenitz as head of the German state and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. On 30 April, when it became clear that no German defense against the Red advance was possible, Hitler committed suicide.51
Later in the evening, Bormann notified Admiral Doenitz that the latter had been appointed Hitler's successor and was to take all measures necessary to meet the existing situation. Bormann had planned to go to Doenitz' headquarters, but for some reason he did not notify the admiral at that time of Hitler's death. Not until 1 May was Doenitz finally told that Hitler was dead. He was notified that copies of the will were on the way to him and to Generalfeldmarschall Ferdinand Schoerner, commander of Army Group Center, and that Bormann would come to Doenitz' headquarters at Ploen to give him full details of the existing situation. Doenitz was to choose the form and time of communicating to the public and troops the news of Hitler's death and the grand admiral's succession.52
Doenitz announced Hitler's death to the armed forces and the German people in the late evening of 1 May. On the following day he called a conference of his chief military and political advisers to choose between two courses--surrendering at once or continuing the attempt to save what they could from the Russians.53
Table of Contents
Previous Chapter (23) * Next Chapter (25)
1. Malnutrition and Starvation in Western Netherlands, September 1944--July 1945 (The Hague, 1948), pp. 5-45. Marshall to Eisenhower, W-70055, 19 Apr 45; Eisenhower to Marshall, FWD 19562, 20 Apr 45. Both in Eisenhower personal file.
2. Eisenhower to Marshall, 23 Apr 45; Eisenhower to Marshall, 27 Apr 45. Both in Eisenhower personal file; de Guingand, Operation Victory, pp. 445-49; Ltr, Brig Williams to author, 22 Sep 51.
3. Memo, Smith for Eisenhower, 1 May 45, Diary Office CinC, 1 May 45; de Guingand, Operation Victory, pp. 450-51; Interv with Brig Williams, 30-31 May 47. Stacey, The Canadian Army, p. 268, says that 510 tons of food were dropped as early as 29 April.
4. Memo, Smith for Eisenhower, 1 May 45, Diary Office CinC, 1 May 45; de Guingand, Operation Victory, pp. 451-53; interv with Williams, 30-31 May 47.
5. De Lattre, Hittoire de la Première Armée Française, pp. 565-70.
6. Eisenhower to de Gaulle, 28 Apr 45, SHAEF cbl log.
7. Eisenhower to CCS, 2 May 45 (Text of Ltr, de Gaulle to Eisenhower, 1 May 45, and Reply, Eisenhower to de Gaulle, 2 May 45), SHAEF cbl log.
8. Paraphrase of President Truman's and General de Gaulle's messages cited in Diary Office CinC. The Truman letter is also in Marshall to Eisenhower, W-76554, 3 May 45, SHAEF cbl log.
9. The author has relied to a considerable extent on General Deane's The Strange Alliance. Many of the pertinent documents cited by Deane may be found in SHAEF SGS 373.5 Bomb-line, Liaison, and Coordination of Fronts, I, and SHAEF SGS 380.01/1 Exchange of Information on Operations Between the Allies and Russia, I.
10. Deane, The Strange Alliance, pp. 142-54.
11. Deane, The Strange Alliance, 135-39. CCS to Wilson, FAN 454, 20 Nov 44; Mil Mission Moscow to CCS, MX-21802, 22 Nov 44; Wilson to CCS, NAF 817, 24 Nov 44; CCS to Wilson, FAN 458, 24 Nov 44; JCS to Deane, WX-67900, 24 Nov 44; Wilson to CCS, NAF 820, 27 Nov 44; CCS to Deane and Archer, WX-69568, 28 Nov 44; Wilson to CCS, NAF 822, 30 Nov 44. All in SHAEF SGS 373.5 Bomb-line, Liaison, and Co-ordination of Fronts, I.
12. Spaatz to Arnold, Sp-163, 28 Nov 44. SHAEF approved this statement. SHAEF to CCS, SCAF 140, 3Dec 44, SHAEF SGS 373.5 Bomb-line, Liaison and Co-ordination of Fronts, I; Deane, The Strange Alliance, pp. 138-39.
13. 1st, 2d Tripartite Mtgs, Yalta, 5, 9 Feb 45, ARGONAUT Conf Min; Extract, CCS 188th Mtg, 9 Feb 45, SHAEF SGS 373.5 Bomb-line, Liaison and Co-ordination of Fronts, I; Deane, The Strange Alliance, p. 139.
14. See above Ch. XIX. pp. 349--51.
15. Philip E. Mosely, "The Occupation of Germany, New Light on How the Zones Were Drawn," Foreign Affairs, XXVIII (July, 1950), 580-604.
16. Stettinius, Roosevelt and the Russians, pp. 56, 63, 69.
17. Stettinius, Roosevelt and the Russians, pp. 101-02, 126-27, 129; Mosely, op. cit., p. 599.
18. For earlier views of General Eisenhower on the division of Germany, see above, Ch. XIX, pp. 349-50.
19. Eisenhower to CCS, SCAF 264, 5 Apr 45; Br COS to JSM, COS (W) 748, 11 Apr 45. Both in SHAEF SGS 373.5 Bomb-line, Liaison, and Co-ordination of Fronts, I.
20. Memo, G.A.L. (Brig Gen George A. Lincoln) for Gen Hull, 13 Apr 45, sub: Military Contacts With the Russians, CCS 805/7 and CCS 805/8, OPD 381, Sec V.
21. CCS to SHAEF, FACS 176, 12 Apr 45; Eisenhower to CCS, SCAF 274, 11 Apr 45; Eisenhower to Mil Mission Moscow, SCAF 275. All in SHAEF SGS 373.5 Bomb-line, Liaison, and Co-ordination of Fronts, I.
22. Mil Mission Moscow to Eisenhower, MX-23875, 14Apr 45; Eisenhower to Mil Mission Moscow, SCAF 282, 15 Apr 45. Both in SHAEF SGS 373.5 Bomb-line, Liaison, and Co-ordination of Fronts, I.
23. CCS to Eisenhower, FACS 191, 21 Apr 45. Eisenhower to Comdrs, 21, 12th, 6th A Gps, 21 Apr 45. Both in SHAEF SGS 373.5 Bomb-line, Liaison, and Co-ordination of Fronts, I.
24. WD Memo, with covering note by Maj Gen Clayton L. Bissell, G-2, German Line of Demarcation Between Anglo-American and Soviet Operations, 22 Mar 45, OPD 381, Sec IV. This memorandum, which apparently was never passed on to General Eisenhower, was interesting in that it suggested a line of demarcation closely resembling the one along the Elbe later drawn by General Eisenhower, The Saale was used south of the Elbe rather than the Mulde however.
25. Eisenhower to Mil Mission Moscow, SCAF 284, 17 Apr 45; Mil Mission Moscow to Eisenhower, MX23992, 21 Apr 45. Both in SHAEF SGS 373.5 Bombline, Liaison and Co-ordination of Fronts, I.
26. CCS to Eisenhower, FACS 191, 21 Apr 45; Eisenhower to Mil Mission Moscow, SCAF 292,21 Apr 45; Eisenhower to Mil Mission Moscow, SCAF 298, 22 Apr 45. All in SHAEF SGS 373.5 Bomb-line, Liaison, and Co-ordination of Fronts, I.
27. Eisenhower to Mil Mission Moscow, SCAF 299, 23 Apr 45; Mil Mission Moscow to Eisenhower, MX24032, 24 Apr 45; Mil Mission Moscow to Eisenhower, MX-24055, 25 Apr 45; Br COS to JSM, COS (W) 801, 25 Apr 45. All in SHAEF SGS 373.5 Bomb-line, Liaison, and Co-ordination of Fronts, I.
28. Eisenhower to Mil Mission Moscow, SCAF 317, 27 Apr 45, SHAEF SGS 373.5 Bomb-line, Liaison, and Co-ordination of Fronts, I.
29. Marshall to Eisenhower, W-74256, 28 Apr 45, SHAEF cbl log.
30. Eisenhower to Marshall, FWD 20225, 29 Apr 45, SHAEF cbl log.
31. Leahy, I Was There, pp. 349, 350, 382.
32. Eisenhower to Mil Mission Moscow, SCAF 349, 6 May 45; Eisenhower to Mil Mission Moscow, SCAF 323, 30 Apr 45; Mil Mission Moscow to Eisenhower, MX-24166,4 May 45; Mil Mission Moscow to Eisenhower, MX-24193, 5 May 45. All in SHAEF SGS 373.5 Bomb-line, Liaison, and Co-ordination of Fronts, I and II.
33. Hitler's order of 15 Apr 45 (Chef Genst.d.H./B. Nr. 3064/45). ONI Führer Directives.
34. For general information on the period from 20 April to 20 May 1945 the author has made use of Entwurf Weissbuch (May 1945) and annexes in file OKW, Politische Angelegenheiten (referred to hereafter as German White Book 1945). Intended as a defense of Doenitz' interim government, the unsigned paper is accompanied by numerous documents and comports in most particulars with other accounts of this period. Despite its possible bias, it is nonetheless valuable for the period. The author is indebted to Mr. Detmar Finke of Foreign Studies Branch, OCMH, for research in and translation of German documents used in this and the remaining chapters of the book. Hitler's order naming Doenitz and Kesselring was apparently drawn up about 10 April and issued 15 April 1945. See Extract from the Naval War Diary, Part A, 20 Apr 45. ONI Führer Directives, 15 Apr 45.
35. Memo, Vermerk ueber die Absetzung der Fuehrungsstaebe der Obersten Reschsbehoerden, late Apr 45, by Staatssekretaer Kritzinger. Annex to German White Book 1945.
36. Rpt by Koller A. D.I. (K), Rpt No. 349/ 1945, 12 Jul 45, British Air Ministry (referred to hereafter as Koller Rpt). This account, based on his personal diary, was dictated by General Koller while he was a prisoner of war in Britain. A later, slightly different, version was published as Der Letzle Monat (Mannheim, 1949).
37. MS # C-020 (Schramm); OKW, KTB 20.IV.19.V. 45, 20, 21 Apr 45. The OKW KTB, which recorded the last days of the OKW, was kept by Maj. Joachim Schultz, a disabled officer assigned to that headquarters in the spring of 1945. The official account plus his own recollections of the events of that period formed the basis for his book Die Letzten 30 Tage (Stuttgart, 1951).
38. German White Book 1945.
39. Koller Rpt; Schultz, Die Letzten 30 Tage, pp. 21-23.
41. Interrogation of Goering, CCPWC # 32/DI-7, 15 Jun 45; Koller Rpt; Hist Div Interrogation of Dr. Hans Heinrich Lammers, chief of the Reich Chancellery, 17 Jul 45); German White Book 1945. According to Goering, he and his family were imprisoned at Mauterndorf on 26 April. On 30 April a radiogram from Martin Bormann ordered the SS guards to execute all of the traitors of 23 April. The officer in charge did not recognize Bormann's authority and refused to carry out the order. Goering was released on Kesselring's order on 5 May and on 7 May surrendered to U.S. troops.
42. Rad, Jodl to Kesselring and others, 24 Apr 45. OKW, Befele an die Truppe (Kapitulation) 13.IV.-20.V.45 (referred to hereafter as OKW, Befehle 13.IV.20. V.45). This file is exceedingly valuable on the period from mid-April to mid-May inasmuch as most of the messages were personally initialed by Keitel and Jodl and frequently have their corrections, changes, and comments.
43. Units under Keitel control were Armed Forces Commander Denmark; Armed Forces Commander Norway; OB NORDWEST (formerly Army Group H); Twelfth Army; Army Group Weichsel; Army Group Kurland; and Army Ostpreussen. For style of designating German theater commands, see above, Ch. X, n. 7.
44. Winter, Deputy Chief Armed Forces Operations Staff (OKW/WFSt), arrived in the southern area on 24 April and took control of OKW, Operations Staff B (Fuehrungsstab B), the same day.
45. Dir sgd Hitler, 24 Apr 45; Dir sgd Keitel, 26 Apr 45. Both in OKW, Befehle 13.IV.-20.V.45.
46. MS # B-606, The Last Rally: Battles Fought by the German Twelfth Army in the Heart of Germany, Between East and West, 13 Apr-7 May 45 (Col Guenther Reichhelm, Chief of Stair of Twelfth Army).
47. OKW Communiques, 25, 26 Apr 45. OKW, Wehrmachtberichte, I.IV.-9.V.45; Tel, Jodl to OB NORDWEST, 26 Apr 45; Tel, Hitler to Jodl, 26 Apr 45; Tel, Jodl to Hitler, 26 Apr 45; Sitrep Konteradmiral Hans Voss to Doenitz, 26 Apr 45; Dir, Jodl to Winter, 27 Apr 45; Rad, Jodl to Twelfth Army, Army Group Weichsel, and Ninth Army, 27 Apr 45. All in OKW, Befihle 13.IV.-20. V.45.
48. Tel, Winter to OKW/WFSt, 27 Apr 45; Rad, Winter to Jodl, 28 Apr 45; Sitrep Ninth Army, 28 Apr 45; Rad, Jodl to Reichskanzlei, 29 Apr 45; Tel, Keitel to Heinrici, 28 Apr 45; Rad, Keitel to Krebs, 30 Apr 45. All in OKW, Befehle 13.IV.-20.V.45.
49. Rad, Keitel to Winter, 30 Apr 45. OKW, Befehle 13.IV.-20.V.45; German White Book 1945.
50. Hitler was apparently aware of Himmler efforts to negotiate a surrender with the Western Allies. For Himmler's activities, see below, pp. 476-77.
51. H. R. Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler (New York, 1947), Chs. VI, VII. Much of the volume is based on interrogations made by Trevor-Roper of individuals who were with Hitler shortly before his death. Trevor-Roper describes efforts made during the afternoon and evening of 30 April to arrange an armistice or truce with Marshal Zhukov, who was notified of Hitler's death. The Soviet commander is said to have terminated the conference with demands for unconditional surrender of the German forces and of the individuals who were in Hitler's final command post. See also Hitler, Mein politisches Testament, 29 Apr 45. The original of Hitler's political testament is filed in Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Archives.
52. When no copy of the will arrived, Doenitz took steps to establish the authenticity of the messages informing him of his appointment as Hitler's successor and of the instructions in the will. A group headed by Flottenrichter (Fleet Judge Advocate) Doctor Schattenberg interrogated all personnel on duty in the communications and coding rooms at Ploen who saw or handled the messages of 30 April and 1 May and had them declare under oath that these were the exact messages they saw. The texts and testimony are in Minutes of the Hearing Relative to Messages Dealing With Hitler's Successor, 6 May 45. OKW, Hitler's Tod-Doenitz Nachfolger, Funksprueche, 28 IV.6. V. 45.
53. The three top advisers suggested by Hitler--Bormann as Party Minister, Seyss-inquart as Foreign Minister, and Goebbels as Chancellor--were of course unavailable. Bormann disappeared, Seyss-Inquart was prevented by the British from leaving the Netherlands, and Goebbels imitated his master by committing suicide. Doenitz appointed Reichsminister Graf Schwerin von Krosigk as Foreign Minister on 2 May and left the other posts unfilled at the time.