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May 5, 1945 – with the final collapse and capitulation of Germany only days away, and a much anticipated VE Day, reports of mass surrenders and pockets of fighting continued. Reports Supreme Allied Headquarters of a steady demoralization of German troops on all fronts. German commanders who were continuing to surrender couldn’t give an accurate estimate of just how many troops were under their command – during one surrender, a German commanding general said his forces were “between 200-400,000”. As, one by one, the German armed forces quit, more allied armies were now out of danger with only isolated pockets of fighting going on. In the Alps there was still isolated fighting going on, and General Patton’s forces were moving so quickly into Czechoslovakia that German forces hadn’t heard of official surrender. In those areas, fighting was still intense. But for the most part, fighting had all but ended. On 6 May 1945, Plzeň was liberated from Nazi Germany by the 16th Armored Division of General Patton’s 3rd Army. Also participating in the liberation of the city were elements of the 97th and 2nd Infantry Divisions supported by the Polish Holy Cross Mountains Brigade. Other Third Army units liberated major portions of Western Bohemia.
And the discoveries were now being made. Former high-ranking Nazi Party officials, who surrendered were now telling of having full knowledge of atrocities and, in the case of one official, a cache of looted artworks estimated to be worth $50 million (in 1945 dollars).
But in the midst of discoveries and victories, the big news was the anticipation of VE Day – and that had everyone on pins and needles.
This report, from Paul Manning to Mutual Broadcasting comes as what was called a “closed circuit” and would be part of a longer broadcast, but this was the nature of war reporting, particularly near the end, when events were happening rapidly and their reporting was of critical importance to the audience at home.
And that’s part of what happened on May 5, 1945.