The original of this historic document of Germany's unconditional surrender is in our National Archives in Washington D.C.
The ultimate concert in 70 years is barely a month away, unless that is, you think you might be around for the one in 2045. Rumor has it that the 70th anniversary of VE Day Concert will headline Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Rod Stewart. If true, they will perform May 9 at the Horse Guards Parade in London. The 100th Anniversary of the event in 2045 might outdo this one, but I wouldn’t bet a concert ticket on it.
In fact, good luck on tickets of any kind.
Could it be? All three at one concert?
In the U.S. a huge flyover of World War II aircraft is planned in Washington D.C. Free. No tickets to worry about, except maybe your airline ticket. According to that Warbirds.com announcement, the three-day events include a gala dinner at the Smithsonian on the Mall and lots more activities.
Events for this Anniversary will likely be held all over the U.S. and the world, including in your hometown. Watch for announcements in local news outlets in your area.
On May 7, 1945, two events happened: one event impacted me, the world, and probably you, somehow. The second was a revelation that occurred at my house in 1990.
First, the unconditional surrender of the German Third Reich was signed before dawn on a rainy Monday, May 7, 1945 at “The Little Red Schoolhouse,” location of the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) at Reims, about 90 miles north of Paris. Present were representatives of the four Allied Powers—France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States—and the three Germany officers delegated by German President Karl Doenitz—Gen. Alfred Jodl, who had alone been authorized to sign the surrender document; Maj. Wilhelm Oxenius, an aide to Jodl; and Adm. Hans-Georg von Friedeburg, one of the German chief negotiators. Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, SHAEF chief of staff, led the Allied delegation as the representative of General Eisenhower, who had refused to meet with the Germans until the surrender had been accomplished. Other American officers present were Maj. Gen. Harold R. Bull and Gen. Carl Spaatz.
In The Little Red Schoolhouse at Reims, May 7, 1945
Alfred Jodl was notoriously arrogant. A year after surrender, he was tried in Nuremberg, found guilty, and hanged for war crimes against humanity. Adolf Hitler was unable to be at the table in the Little Red Schoolhouse; he committed suicide in Berlin and had ordered his body to be burned. No trace has ever been found. A shame.
And second, that same day was my father’s 30th birthday.
At my house in 1990, we celebrated his 70th birthday. It was a beautiful May day and I had made his favorite: a homemade coconut cake. We were outside on the patio to east dessert.
I noticed he had become quiet and was staring out into space. Then he said it, out of nowhere. Or so it seemed that day, which today feels like all of my life ago.
“Forty-five years ago, on my 30th birthday, a friend and I were wandering around a town outside the POW camp begging for food.” Then his consciousness brought him back.
It was jarring. I said, “Oh my God, dad.” I hoped he would continue. He didn’t. The memory of that birthday lunch stayed tucked away in my brain’s ridges, valleys, and synapses, as a stray piece, until it became part of a whole picture that I would never have known had it not been for a strange, wholly unlikely, improbable event in September 2012, well after dad’s death in 1995. He died in February 1995, missing the 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II, as well as his 80th birthday, by fewer than three months.
He had been liberated from Stalag VII, Moosburg, by General Patton’s army on April 29, but he wasn’t yet released to be taken to a camp in France to wait his turn to be shipped back home. The neediest prisoners had to be taken first. He arrived in New York in early June, skinny and glad to be heading to Atlanta to rendezvous with mom, who had no idea he had lived to make it back to U.S. soil, let alone to be on his way south.
While I can’t make to the London event, I am going to find something special to do this May 7.
Today, April 12, is also the 70th anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's death in Warm Springs, Georgia. He was 63. A few hours later, Vice President Harry S. Truman became the 33rd President of the United States.
Other blog posts detailing dad’s World War II ordeal:
June 22, 2009, Father’s Day
February 20, 2013
Feb. 21, 2013
Nov. 9, 2013
A Cold Day in Italyhttp://spittingrits.blogspot.com/2014/01/january-28-1945-cold-day-in-italy.html