May 1, 1945
German radio announced overnight the death of Adolf Hitler. Admiral Karl Doenitz, chief of the German Navy was named leader. No details were given and there was no confirmation from Allied sources. He would be the first of many Nazi leaders who would take poison. His new bride Eva Braun took the same path. Long-time propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, his wife and six children would also die the same way. Hitler’s death would be shrouded in mystery for many years as Stalin, controlling information as usual, would use the specter of Hitler to mobilize his nation against capitalism. The American Third Army made a 25-mile advance into southern Germany closing in on Hitler’s mountain retreat Berchtesagaden. Some thought the Nazi leadership was planning a last ditch stand in the southern mountains. Radio Moscow announced the Red Army had hoisted colors over the captured Reichstag. Soviet planners had hoped to stage a May Day parade on Unter Den Linden where Hitler had staged his victory parades but the fight was still underway.
In San Luis Obispo a water treatment plant was urged by Mayor Fred C. Kimball. Waves of algae had been coming through the drinking water pipes from the new Salinas Dam. The bitter and pungent water could be improved with a charcoal filter. The plant was estimated to cost $200,000. A resolution was passed by the city council to accept an agreement between the State Highway Department and city to declare a portion of state Highway 2 between the intersection of Higuera and Marsh streets and Miles Station a “limited freeway.”
San Luis Obispo schools closed for the first day of fishing. Apparently last year the schools did not have a holiday and several hundred students were absent, but came in the next day with notes from their parents.
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Local business owners decided to close when V-E day was announced.
May 2, 1945
Stalin announced the capture of Berlin after a 12-day street fight. Nazis claimed that Hitler had died in battle. General Dwight D. Eisenhower said the statement was “in contradiction with the facts.” Heinrich Himmler had told a Swedish count that Hitler had suffered a brain hemorrhage. It would take years of investigation and interviews with the inner circle to find that Hitler had taken his own life and left instructions that the bodies of he and his wife be burned as the Soviet Army closed in.
Pfc. Paul L. Coffing, 24, of San Luis Obispo was reported killed on Okinawa. He was survived by a wife and daughter. He had worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad.
San Luis Obispo police and sheriff’s officers were engaged in a manhunt for a young man about 18 years old. The suspect was near where a 6-year-old child had been seen fishing in San Luis Creek. The child’s father Ernest Whitaker had tried to detain the suspect who fled from the scene before the child’s body was found. The 6-year-old was presumed drowned in the creek, and the coded language of the time said the boy had been been “criminally attacked.”
May 4, 1945
German armies in western Germany, Denmark and Holland surrendered unconditionally to British Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery. U.S. Armies converging from north and south met near the Italian border.
The war was not over yet and questions about the status of Poland were already on the table. Anglo-American officials hoped an independent government would be formed but Russian attitudes were hardening against that at the United Nations conference being in San Francisco.
U.S. Marines were attempting to take the airfields launching suicide attacks from Okinawa. Ground was hard fought from Japanese troops dug into “Maginot type” pillboxes. American casualties in the battle had reached almost 17,000.
Eight men were killed in Santa Ana when a Navy blimp burned and crashed while returning from patrol.
San Luis Obispo police were still conducting a manhunt for the murder suspect. The suspect was described as near 6 feet tall, bushy red-sandy hair, pimply chin and husky build. He was wearing overalls and a military windbreaker jacket.