April 27, 1945
The first two things dictators restrict are guns and information.
Stalin was master of both in the Soviet Union.
His paranoia forced the flow of information to his office but little trickled back out. For example, Soviet generals were discouraged from communicating directly with American and British forces on the Western Front.
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The U.S. presidency had been thrown into transition with the death of Franklin Roosevelt, and German forces were collapsing.
A command decision needed to be made.
Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower decided that American and British forces would fight to the Elbe River and not press on to Berlin. He communicated this plan to the Soviets, who took their orders from Stalin.
Eisenhower wanted to avoid accidentally engaging the Soviet Army, which Stalin had already launched on a final attack of Berlin.
Eisenhower’s view was not universal among his generals.
Major Gen. George Patton was a student of history of conflicts in Europe. He had the opinion that a fight was inevitable over the future of Europe, and the best time to fight it was when the U.S. Army was at peak efficiency.
Patton was not the ideal Cold War leader.
At Cal Poly, 450 people filled the bleachers of the natatorium to see demonstrations for swimming and aquatic warfare techniques by Navy students.
April 28, 1945
A limited number of Italian prisoners of war were now working at Camp San Luis Obispo. They wore clothing marked P-W. High school pranksters were warned not to paint this on their clothing or “serious consequences” could result.
A captured German general, Lt. Gen. Kurt Dittmar, said that Adolf Hitler and propaganda minister Joseph Gobbels were in Berlin and would die there. “The war will end in a few days,” Dittmar said. “Hitler will either be killed or he will commit suicide.”
This was one of many scraps of information floating at the time. One theory had the Nazi leadership retreating to southern mountains for a final fight to the death. Another story on the page said Heinrich Himmler was trying to negotiate a surrender too the U.S. and Great Britain.
The Soviets were not pleased with the idea of being cut out of negotiations and were pressing to Berlin.
April 30, 1945
Word that the body of former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini had been dishonored by a mob after execution by Partisans.
Hitler no doubt learned some of the grisly details in his Berlin bunker as the Soviet Army cut off escape.
German teenage boys and old men were being pressed into service to fight the Red Army in a scorched earth defense as the fighting went from house to house.
The United States and Red Armies had linked up along a 50-mile stretch of the Elbe River from Riesa to Wittenberg.
The battle for Italy was nearly over, according to an announcement from Gen. Mark Clark.
Rumors that Goering had shot himself came from Zurich. He had displeased Hitler by suggesting surrender as Berlin was surrounded. Himmler was said to have sent an armed guard to Reichmarshal Goering’s house.
Some rumors would later prove to be true others only had fragments of truth.
The gritty reality was that nothing would be decided until Hitler was dead or captured.
The Telegram-Tribune published the last column from Ernie Pyle this day. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Scripps-Howard correspondent was popular among foot soldiers because he wrote from their perspective.
Readers liked his down-to-earth point of view; generals were sometimes embarrassed, but Pyle was the voice for many in the trenches.
Pyle had been killed April 18, 1945, by Japanese machine-gun fire on Ie Island near Okinawa.
The subject of his last column was a tribute to another correspondent, Fred Painton, who had died of a heart attack on Guam a few days before Pyle was killed.
Suicide attacks by Japanese aircraft on U.S. Navy ships were being reported more often. The hospital ship Comfort was hit over the weekend near Okinawa.
Plans to taper back American war production were announced as it became clear the Victory Europe Day was approaching.