07 May, 2012

07 May 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
7 May, 1945      0830
Germany

Dearest darling Wilma –

Monday morning and the start of another week. This one, though, should be an uneventful one – and thank God for that! It rained all day yesterday and generally, it was a sort of moody day. But I’ve had those before and I got over it all right. Sometimes it seems as if the war will be tougher for us now than before when there was an element of danger, moving front lines – etc – we were always tense, keyed up – and the days really went by swiftly – individually and collectively.

0915

Sorry, dear – but I was called away in a hurry. Some one found a Frenchman who had hanged himself – in the cellar of one of the barracks buildings. I had to pronounce him dead. I have done that already, but a couple of Frenchmen are still giving him artificial respiration. No one knows who the fellow is; there are only a handful of French left here – mostly officers. This fellow apparently got into camp last nite – unseen. C’est la vie.

The few French officers – by the way – are a swell bunch. One of them is an M.D. Shabby as their clothes may be after 4 years of being kicked around, they nevertheless carry themselves with dignity and always seem to have an air of smartness lacking in the American officer. And they certainly surprised us yesterday when they asked us – 3 American officers to dinner. Their rations are not as good as ours and they don’t have the facilities, but damn it – they have the imagination! Where they dug up a cook, I don’t know – but we sat down to a neatly arranged table and first of all had hors d’oeuvres – yes hors d’oeuvres! It consisted chiefly of sardines, onions, radishes and salad – but hell – we never have that. I don’t know where they got it – but the radishes were fresh and the salad was green fresh lettuce – and it had salad oil and vinegar. We then had horse-radish – cut-up and flavored as I’ve never had it before. The main course was roast veal. We then went to their quarters and had two types of cake – mocha and chocolate – with frosting, filling and all, plus coffee and finally a liqueur. Mind you, dear, these officers are ex P.W.’s and have taken a tremendous physical and mental beating – until released very recently. It was a revelation – and certainly puts our cooks to shame.

I’m writing this at the Infirmary. I brought this along when I was called away. And you may think you sometimes have a lot of confusion at your place, darling. You should be here to hear Mullins – my Kentucky prodigy – trying to find out from a Russian – what’s the matter with him. Even an American has trouble understanding him; besides – we have a Dutchman who works as an aidman, and a Ukranian. The patients – fortunately – are all Russian so we’re consistent in the reactions we get.

I was going to look thru a few of your old letters and answer some of the things you’ve mentioned but I’m going to have to close now instead. If I wait until later – I’ll not get this mailed today. So will you excuse me, sweetheart? Heck – I haven’t even told you how much I love you – when actually that thought is first in my mind – morning, noon and night. It will be nice – when life returns to normalcy and I can concentrate on things that are most important to me – ‘things’ being you, darling. All for now – love to the folks – and remember – I’m
Yours for always,
Greg

* TIDBIT *

about The AP'S Article about the European War's End
and
The Story Behind the Story


From The New York Times Learning Network's "On This Day" comes this article re-print:
By Edward Kennedy
Associated Press Correspondent


Reims, France, May 7 --- Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Western Allies and the Soviet Union at 2:41 A. M. French time today. [This was at 8:41 P.M., Eastern Wartime Sunday.] The surrender took place at a little red school house that is the headquarters of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. The surrender, which brought the war in Europe to a formal end after five years, eight months and six days of bloodshed and destruction, was signed for Germany by General Gustav Jodl. General Jodl is the new Chief of Staff of the German Army.

The surrender was signed for the Supreme Allied Command by Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith, Chief of Staff for General Eisenhower. It was also signed by General Ivan Susloparoff for the Soviet Union and by General Francois Sevez for France. [The official Allied announcement will be made at 9 o'clock Tuesday morning when President Truman will broadcast a statement and Prime Minster Churchill will issue a V-E Day proclamation, General Charles de Gaulle also will address the French at the same time.] General Eisenhower was not present at the signing, but immediately afterward General Jodl and his fellow delegate, General Admiral Hans Georg Friedeburg, were received by the Supreme Commander.

Germans Say They Understand Terms

They were asked sternly if they understand the surrender terms imposed upon Germany and if they would be carried out by Germany. They answered, "Yes." Germany, which began the war with a ruthless attack upon Poland, followed by successive aggressions and brutality in internment camps, surrendered with an appeal to the victors for mercy toward the German people and armed forces. After having signed the full surrender, General Jodl said he wanted to speak and received leave to do so.

"With this signature," he said in soft-spoken German, "the German people and armed forces are for better or worse delivered into the victors' hands. In this war, which has lasted more than five years, both have achieved and suffered more than five years, both have achieved and suffered more than perhaps any other people in the world."
Now here is "The Story Behind the story," taken largely from an article published by the UK's Daily News online on 4 May 2012.

Sixty seven years later, The Associated Press is apologizing for the way it condemned and then fired Edward Kennedy for reporting perhaps the biggest scoop in its history.

Journalist Edward Kennedy on Anzio Beach
1 March 1944

Edward Kennedy and 16 other journalists were taken by Allied military officials to witness the 7 May 1945, surrender by German forces at a schoolhouse in Reims, France. On the flight to Reims, Military censors swore the journalists to secrecy (as a condition of being allowed to witness it firsthand), saying they couldn't report the surrender until given the OK by Allied commanders .

But later that day German officials went ahead and announced the news.

That meant, Kennedy knew, that the transmission had been authorized by the same military censors gagging the press. Furious, Kennedy went to see the chief American censor and told him there was no way he could continue to hold the story. Word was out. The military had broken its side of the pact by allowing the Germans to announce the surrender. And there were no military secrets at stake.

The censor waved him off. Kennedy thought about it for 15 minutes, and then acted.

"He used a military phone, not subject to monitoring by censors, to dispatch his account to the AP's London bureau" the wire service says. "Notably, he didn't brief his own editors about the embargo or his decision to dodge the censors. The AP put the story on the wire within minutes." In fact, Edward Kennedy gave his news agency perhaps the biggest scoop in its history.

Retribution was swift. The military briefly suspended the AP's ability to dispatch any news from the European theater. When that ban was lifted, more than 50 of Kennedy's fellow war correspondents signed a protest letter asking that it be reinstated. The military expelled Kennedy from France. Condemnation also came from the AP's president at the time, Robert McLean. Kennedy was fired.

"The Associated Press profoundly regrets the distribution on Monday of the report of the total surrender in Europe which investigation now clearly discloses was distributed in advance of authorization by Supreme Allied Headquarters," he said in a public statement on 10 May 1944.

Now, in May of 2012, current AP CEO Tom Curley says that was "a terrible day for the AP. It was handled in the worst possible way." Curley rejected the notion that the AP had a duty to obey the order to hold the story once it was clear the embargo was for political reasons, rather than to protect the troops. Of the news that Kennedy broke, Curley says, "once the war is over, you can't hold back information like that. The world needed to know."

He called Kennedy's dismissal "a great, great tragedy" and hailed him and the desk editors who put the surrender story on the wire for upholding the highest principles of journalism. "They did the right thing," Curley said. "They stood up to power."

Kennedy, who died in a traffic accident in 1963, had long sought such public vindication from his old employer. His daughter, Julia Kennedy Cochran, of Bend, Oregon, said she was "overjoyed" by the apology. "I think it would have meant a lot to him," she said.

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