09 May, 2012

09 May 1945

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
9 May, 1945     0825
Germany

My dearest sweetheart –

I missed you a terrible lot last night and if mental messages do have any power at all – you must have realized it. The war was over – and late p.m. 2 of our officers and an M.C. from another unit near here, dropped in. Well we decided to drink – that being the only way to commemorate a rather notable day. The day and evening were balmy and a good part of the evening I leaned out of the window and up into the sky – filled with stars. And I looked all the way across – to you, darling – and gosh – I would have loved to have been with you. Chalk up another Holiday we missed and which we’ll make up. It was strange, by the way, to have no black-out up and see the light from our window shine outside – and no one yelled “Put out that light!”

Am packing this a.m. and going up to Leipzig – so I haven’t much time – except to say – I love you. Love to everyone, dear.

All my deepest love,
Greg

VICTORY ORDER OF THE DAY
from General Courtney H. Hodges,
Commander of the U.S. First Army,
Distributing the Message from the Supreme Commander,
Dwight D. Eisenhower


Now, typed for easier reading:


HEADQUARTERS
FIRST UNITED STATES ARMY
APO 230
9 May 1945
SUBJECT :      Victory Order of the Day
TO            :       Corps, Division and Separate Unit Commanders

       The following Victory Order of the Day issued by the Supreme Headquarters is to be delivered to every member of all headquarters and units under your command:

I

      "MEN AND WOMEN OF THE ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE:  THE CRUSADE ON WHICH WE EMBARKED IN THE EARLY SUMMER OF NINETEEN FORTY FOUR HAS REACHED ITS GLORIOUS CONCLUSION.  IT IS MY ESPECIAL PRIVILEGE, IN THE NAME OF ALL NATIONS REPRESENTED IN THIS THEATER OF WAR, TO COMMEND EACH OF YOU FOR VALIANT PERFORMANCE OF DUTY.  THOUGH THESE WORDS ARE FEEBLE THEY COME FROM THE BOTTOM OF A HEART OVERFLOWING WITH PRIDE IN YOUR LOYAL SERVICE AND ADMIRATION FOR YOU AS WARRIORS.

      "YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS AT SEA,  IN THE AIR,  ON THE GROUND AND IN THE FIELD OF SUPPLY,  HAVE ASTONISHED THE WORLD.  EVEN BEFORE THE FINAL WEEK OF THE CONFLICT,  YOU HAD PUT FIVE MILLION OF THE ENEMY PERMANENTLY OUT OF THE WAR.  YOU HAVE TAKEN IN STRIDE MILITARY TASKS SO DIFFICULT AS TO BE CLASSIFIED BY MANY DOUBTERS AS IMPOSSIBLE.

II

      "YOU HAVE CONFUSED,  DEFEATED AND DESTROYED YOUR SAVAGELY FIGHTING FOE.  ON THE ROAD TO VICTORY YOU HAVE ENDURED EVERY DISCOMFORT AND PRIVATION AND HAVE SURMOUNTED EVERY OBSTACLE INGENUITY AND DESPERATION COULD THROW IN YOUR PATH.  YOU DID NOT PAUSE UNTIL OUR FRONT WAS FIRMLY JOINED UP WITH THE GREAT RED ARMY COMING FROM THE EAST,  AND OTHER ALLIED FORCES,  COMING FROM THE SOUTH.

      "FULL VICTORY IN EUROPE HAS BEEN ATTAINED.

      "WORKING AND FIGHTING TOGETHER IN A SINGLE AND INDESTRUCTIBLE PARTNERSHIP YOU HAVE ACHIEVED A PERFECTION IN UNIFICATION OF AIR,  GROUND AND NAVAL POWER THAT WILL STAND AS A MODEL IN OUR TIME.

      "THE ROUTE YOU HAVE TRAVELED THROUGH HUNDREDS OF MILES IS MARKED BY THE GRAVES OF FORMER COMRADES.  FROM THEM HAS BEEN EXACTED THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE;  BLOOD OF MANY NATIONS -- AMERICAN,  BRITISH,  CANADIAN,  FRENCH,  POLISH AND OTHERS -- HAS HELPED TO GAIN THE VICTORY.  EACH OF THE FALLEN DIED AS A MEMBER OF A TEAM TO WHICH YOU BELONG,  BOUND TOGETHER BY A COMMON LOVE OF LIBERTY AND A REFUSAL TO SUBMIT TO ENSLAVEMENT.

III

      "NO MONUMENT OF STONE,  NO MEMORIAL OF WHATEVER MAGNITUDE COULD SO WELL EXPRESS OUR RESPECT AND VENERATION FOR THEIR SACRIFICE AS WOULD PERPETUATION OF THE SPIRIT OF COMRADESHIP IN WHICH THEY DIED.  AS WE CELEBRATE VICTORY IN EUROPE LET US REMIND OURSELVES THAT OUR COMMON PROBLEMS OF THE IMMEDIATE AND DISTANT FUTURE CAN BE BEST SOLVED IN THE SAME CONCEPTIONS OF COOPERATION AND DEVOTION TO THE CAUSE OF HUMAN FREEDOM AS HAVE MADE THIS EXPEDITIONARY FORCE SUCH A MIGHTY ENGINE OF RIGHTEOUS DESTRUCTION.

      "LET US HAVE NO PART IN THE PROFITLESS QUARRELS IN WHICH OTHER MEN WILL INEVITABLY ENGAGE AS TO WHAT COUNTRY,  WHAT SERVICE,  WON THE EUROPEAN WAR.  EVERY MAN, EVERY WOMAN,  OF EVERY NATION HERE REPRESENTED, HAS SERVED ACCORDING TO HIS OR HER ABILITY,  AND THE EFFORTS OF EACH HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE OUTCOME.  THIS WE SHALL REMEMBER -- AND IN DOING SO WE SHALL BE REVERING EACH HONORED GRAVE, AND BE SENDING COMFORT TO THE LOVED ONES OF COMRADES WHO COULD NOT LIVE TO SEE THIS DAY.

SIGNED DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER."


COURTNEY H. HODGES,
General, U.S. Army
Commanding.

* TIDBIT *

about Victory Day in the Soviet Union
Searchlights and Fireworks over Red Square
9 May 1945

The German capitulation to the Allied nations in Reims was signed on 7 May 1945, effective 23:01 CET 8 May. This date is commonly referred to as the V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day) in most western European countries. However, the Soviet Union's only representative in Reims was General Ivan Susloparov, the Military Liaison Mission Commander. General Susloparov's scope of authority was not entirely clear, and he had no means of immediate contact with the Kremlin, but nevertheless decided to sign for the Soviet side. Susloparov was caught off guard; he had no instructions from Moscow. But if he did not sign, he risked a German surrender without Soviet participation. However, he noted that it could be replaced with a new version in the future. Joseph Stalin was later displeased by these events, believing that the German surrender should have been accepted only by the envoy of the USSR Supreme command and signed only in Berlin and insisted the Reims protocol be considered preliminary, with the main ceremony to be held in Berlin.

Shortly before midnight on May 8, a second unconditional surrender was signed in the outskirts of Berlin, Germany. The signing ceremony took place in a villa in an eastern suburb of Berlin called Karlshorst. Representatives of the USSR, Great Britain, France, and the United States arrived shortly before midnight. After Soviet Field Marshal Georgy Zhukov opened the ceremony, the German command representatives headed by General Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel were invited into the room, where they signed the final German Act of Unconditional Surrender entering into force at 23:01 Central European Time, which was 9 May by Moscow's time zone and calendar.

From The Independent UK, published on 9 May 2005, comes this:
In London they danced in the fountains but in Moscow they were too shell-shocked, too exhausted and too battle-weary to manage such high jinks. Up to 30 million soldiers and civilians were dead, the Soviet Union had lost a third of its national wealth, cities such as Stalingrad had been reduced to lunar landscapes, and an entire generation of men had been decimated.

That is not to say there was not euphoria though. Searchlights illuminated a city that a few years earlier had almost fallen to the Germans, cannon-fire and fireworks exploded over the Kremlin and relieved citizens crowded into Red Square to share their enormous collective relief.

A large and apparently grateful crowd gathered outside the US embassy in Moscow and revelers on Red Square danced, kissed, sung and chatted excitedly. One Soviet captain was overheard saying, "Pora jit" (It's time to live).

But Josef Stalin was not in celebratory mood and reportedly became annoyed when his then underling, Nikita Khrushchev, telephoned him to congratulate him on his victory. "Why are you bothering me?" he is reported to have snapped. "I am working." The night before, one of the USSR's most respected radio announcers had reported the German surrender.
This is Moscow. On May 8th, 1945, the representatives of the German High Command signed in Berlin the Act of the Unconditional Surrender of all German troops. The Great Patriotic War waged by the Soviet people against Nazi invaders has been victoriously concluded. Germany has suffered a total defeat. Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in the battles for the freedom and independence of our Motherland. Long live the victorious Red Army and Navy!"
It would not be until 24 June 1945, that the USSR held a proper victory parade, in torrential rain. On that day, one by one, soldiers lined up to toss the defeated German army's banners and standards, including Hitler's own personal standard, into a sodden mess at Stalin's feet beneath Lenin's tomb.

General Zhukov salutes the Red Army soldiers
during the Victory Parade on 24 June 1945

and downed and thrown German flags (below)

The parade was particularly poignant because just a few years earlier, when it looked as if Moscow itself might fall to Hitler, soldiers had marched straight from Red Square to the front. The circle was complete.

During the Soviet Union's existence, May 9 was celebrated throughout the USSR and in the countries of the Eastern Bloc. After the fall of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe, most former USSR countries retained the celebration as a national holiday even though it was not openly celebrated by some of them. Today and traditionally, ceremonial military parades are held on the day, such as the one in Moscow on the Red Square.

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