“We Are Across The Rhine To Stay” – The 1st Army Crosses The Rhine – Russians 25 Miles From Berlin – March 8, 1945
6 O’Clock News – WEAF/NBC – March 8, 1945 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
The big news this day was word from Supreme Allied Headquarters that The Rhine had officially been crossed by the 1st Army commanded by General Hodges
. Although not disclosed the exact location where the crossing took place, it was widely assumed the cross was accomplished over the Ludendorff bridge at Remagen, which was unexpectedly still intact. Many felt it was because the German army was caught by complete surprise and unable to destroy the bridge that such an undertaking would take place. The Rhine crossing was actually 90 days ahead of schedule, but it was cautioned not to celebrate the end of the war so soon. There were many more obstacles to face, including the possibility that the remaining German armies could always retreat in a South-easterly direction for the mountainous, wooded country of Austria and Czechoslovakia and resort to guerrilla warfare. The German army could also produce a new reserve Army by stripping the Italian and Scandinavian fronts. So it was indeed caution not to be over-eager to celebrate. There were a lot more battles pending and much more bloodshed lay ahead.
Meanwhile, fighting in Bonn was continuing with the 1st infantry division of the 1st Army was being met with stiff resistance. With control of half the town, the Army was meeting for the first time, resistance from civilians. It was reported the battle for Bonn was much tougher than the battle for Cologne was. A former P.O.W. was quoted as saying the Germans had a guard at the western end of the Rhine bridge with orders to shoot any civilians trying to escape to the Eastern bank and only the previous night, orders came from Hitler that Bonn was to be defended to the last.
And word came from the German High Command that the Russians were now within 25 miles from Berlin with German defenses collapsing along the Oder River. Moscow kept silent about details of the battle so far.
And that’s just a small slice of what was going on, this 8th day of March in 1945 as reported by WEAF and NBC Radio’s 6 O’Clock News.
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