WORLD WAR II, V-E DAY--General Dwight David EISENHOWER (1890-1969). Two documents, cables (teleprinter texts) 'signed' by Eisenhower, addressed to AGWAR [Adjutant General for the War Department] for the Combined Chiefs of Staff, to AMSSO for the British Chiefs of Staff and to the Military Mission in Moscow, and copied for information to other addressees, SHAEF Forward [Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, i.e. Eisenhower's headquarters at Rheims], 7 May 1945, the first 'Confidential', numbered 'FWD 20800', one page, 310 x 215 mm (perforated margins, small rust stains from 2 staples in right hand edge); the second, 'Secret', numbered 'FWD 20802', one page, 370 x 215 mm (perforated margins, small tears in right hand edge); and a black and white photograph of three women teleprinter operators at SHAEF Forward, Rheims, 1945, 128 x 100 mm (slightly worn). Provenance: Muriel Wheeler (the teleprinter operator whose initials appear at the foot of the second document).
THE GERMAN SURRENDER AND THE END OF THE WAR IN EUROPE
'A representative of the German High Command signed the [...] unconditional surrender of all German land, sea and air forces in Europe to the Allied Expeditionary Force and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command at zero one four one hours Central European Time seven May, 1945. General Susloparoff [sic] signed four [sic] Russians. Surrender effective at two three zero one hours Central European Time eight May at which time all active operations will cease'.
The second cable refers particularly to the timing of the official announcements in Washington, London and Moscow which, if they are to be timed closely with the cessation of hostilities, should be at 'fifteen hundred hours Zone Baker Time on Tuesday, eight May' and 'Victor Easy Day' should be on Wednesday, 9 May. Realistically, Eisenhower continues 'it will be impossible to keep millions of individuals in France and neutral countries from learning the facts. It is therefore suggested that the Governments may consider it best to announce at the earliest hour on which agreement can be secrured [sic] that Germany has surrendered unconditionally [...] Then Victor Easy Day could be designated as Tuesday, eight May'.
The tense hours before the signature of the surrender at Rheims by General Jodl, on behalf of the German High Command, were marked by a complex series of cables leading up to the dramatic announcements in nos. 20800 and 20802. A critical issue had been the negotiations to assure the Russians that the Allies would not permit the Germans to capitulate (as Admiral Doenitz wanted) to the Western Powers alone. Major General Susloparov, Chief of the Soviet Mission to France, represented the Russians, but the communications which follow hard upon the present cables show that the Russian High Command's approval of the signing at Rheims then appeared to be reversed and it was subsequently clear that Stalin was enraged by the news of Susloparov's participation. Later on 7 May Eisenhower declared his willingness to attend a formal signing in Berlin if the Russians wished it (The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1978), vol.VI). On the same day, Churchill made eight telephone calls to Eisenhower, whose Victory Order to the Allied Expeditionary Force was issued on 8 May, which thus became V-E Day. The text of the cables was originally drafted in manuscript in General Eisenhower's office, and then typed into the teleprinter for transmission, en clair, to the addressees, by whom it was received in similar form. Both include the SHAEF numberings (SCAF 347 and 358) for designated cables to the Combined Chiefs of Staff. 'Baker Time' was British Double Summer Time (Greenwich time plus two hours), in use during the War.
The photograph includes Muriel Wheeler, the teleprinter operator who was on duty on the night the surrender was signed and whose initials appear at the foot of the second document. (3)