02 May, 2012

02 May 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
2 May, 1945       0835
My dearest sweetheart –

The radio is playing that song about “over and over again” – which is fairly new for us by the way. It’s a catchy song and at the moment reminds me that although I do tell you I love you, darling, perhaps I’m not telling you over and over again. If not, dear – let me make myself clear: I love you – and only you and that’s the way it will always be. Now – if I’m overdoing it – will you please let me know?

Well May hasn’t warmed this place up one bit. The last week or two it has really been cold and we have had a stove going continuously. But it’s raining today and perhaps the weather will break. I must start getting a tan. A couple of the officers have come back from leave and they make us all look pale by comparison. I don’t recall whether I told you about the leaves. The occasional leaves – not 3 day passes – available to London or the Riviera. I won a drawing to go to England some time ago and turned it down. But two of the officers have already won the Riviera deal – and it’s really something. The E.M.’s go to Nice, officers to Cannes. They took a truck back only about 100 miles and then boarded a C47 and were flown to their destination. The reports dwelt on the luxuriousness of everything, the hot sun, the swimming – the cocktails etc. It really sounded nice. If I drew one of those, I’d be interested. Otherwise – I’ve had enough traveling for awhile – i.e. – except for that nice trip home to you, dear.

I did get up to Battalion yesterday morning. Their new set-up is in a tremendous factory – with elaborate offices etc. It’s quite comfortable – but I like where I am just a bit better and I’ll stay here a while longer if I can. (My pen just ran dry and the only thing here is Parker 51 – which I’m dipping into. There’s some kind of warning about not filling your pen unless it’s a Parker – which mine isn’t. I’m getting only about 4 words per dip, dear – so please be patient.) The city – by the way – isn’t as badly beat up as a good many others we’ve seen or been in – but it’s plenty kaput just the same. It must have been a beautiful place at one time. I suppose you know what city I’m talking about, dear? It starts with the same letter as does my brother’s first name. Battalion ought to be there for awhile I think.

Meanwhile – I came back here to find the French moving out and a mob of Russians moving in. Boy – are they a wild bunch and completely uncivilized! They really ran us wild. They have no discipline and have never really soldiered. With most of them it was a question of being given a uniform, a rifle and being told to go out and kill Germans – which they did. I have a heck of a time with them on sick-call – but if I stay here long enough I’ll learn a little Russian. It’s a sure bet they won’t learn a little English. I’ve had a few suture jobs – cuts about the face – usually the story is the same – someone’s friend bashed him with a bottle. But they don’t seem to mind. They’re tough and I use the so-called Bulgarian anesthesia – which is no anesthesia at all. To date, sweetheart, I’ve had no complaints.

In the evening – we heard the news of Hitler’s alleged death. If he’s dead – he’s been dead a long time. I just don’t believe those bums – and I hate them all even more – for prolonging this fruitless war. A lot of guys would forgive them a lot had they called it quits even a month ago. But their stupid continuation to fight thereby delaying our plans – is making us hate them even more – if that is possible.

Well – dearest – I’m getting tired of dipping and besides – I’ve got to get going on sick call. No mail for me yesterday – but I’ll send up this p.m. For now, darling, so long, love to the folks – and

All my everlasting love –

The following Commendation addressed to Lieutenant Colonel John J. Lane
was dated 2 May 1945. A typed version is posted as a separate page and
can be seen by clicking on the tab above called "438th Commendation".



about the Surrender of Berlin

From Sam Houston State University in Hunstville, Texas comes this excerpt from a piece called "How the Berlin Garrison Surrendered, 2 May 1945," written by Colonel Igor N. Venkov, archivist of the Soviet General Staff and a member of the editorial staff of the National Book of Memory.
At 00:40 on 2 May the radio unit of the 79 Guards Rifle Division intercepted a message in Russian from a portable radio set of the 56 Panzer Corps: "Hello, Hello! This is the 56 Panzer Corps. Please cease fire. We are sending truce envoys to the Potsdam Bridge.... They will be identified by a white flag on a red background. We await your reply." The message was reported to the army commander, who ordered a ceasefire in the sector and that the envoys be received.

At the appointed time the German truce envoys, headed by Colonel von Dueffing were met. Von Dueffing stated that they had been authorized by General Weidling, commander of the 56 Panzer Corps, to announce the cessation of resistance and the surrender of the corps. The commander of the 47th Guards Rifle Division, after determining the time the 56 Panzer Corps would require for complete disarmament and the organized transfer of personnel, sent von Dueffing to General Weidling with the Soviet command's reply, i.e., that the surrender was accepted; the units of the corps were to be completely disarmed and transferred to the Soviet command by 07:00 on 2 May General Weidling and his staff were to give them selves up by 06:00. This Soviet demand was met.

At 06:00 General Weidling and two other general officers crossed the front line and surrendered. They were taken to the command post of Colonel-General Chuykov, who checked their documents and asked them a few questions. Then the army commander suggested that Weidling sign an order of surrender for the entire Berlin garrison and deliver the order to the defenders using officers of the 56 Panzer Corps with Soviet representatives.

General Weidling composed the following order: "Every hour of fighting increased the terrible suffering of the civilian population of Berlin and our wounded; anyone who falls for Berlin dies in vain. On agreement with the high command of the Soviet forces, I demand that the fighting cease immediately." This order was announced by radio through an amplifier for the enemy garrison, which had continued its resistance.

Representatives from the First Deputy Minister for Propaganda, Dr. Fritzsche, arrived at the commander's command post. They stated that Goebbels had committed suicide during the night of 2 May and that Fritzsche was the only representative of the Nazi regime left in Berlin. Dr. Fritzsche sent word of his agreement to give the order of surrender for the Berlin garrison and the entire German Army. A lieutenant colonel, representing the Soviet command, was sent to Fritzsche with a response and a demand that Fritzsche issue an order for unconditional surrender of the entire German Army, and that he come to Eighth Guards Army command post for further negotiations.

Dr. Fritzsche accepted the demand, issued the order for surrender, and presented himself with his aides at the command post. All resistance by the Berlin garrison had ceased by the evening of 2 May. Archival documents of both the Eighth Guards Army and the Fifth Shock Army, therefore, confirm that the command of the Eighth Guards Army received the German truce envoys. No battle was waged by forces of the Soviet Army for direct capture of the Reich Chancellery building. The German garrison defending the chancellery had surrendered along with the forces of the 56 Panzer Corps defending the government block in Berlin before the moment of general surrender on 2 May 1945.

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