400,000 Nazi troops give up in Austria (5-5-45)

The Pittsburgh Press (May 5, 1945)

400,000 Nazi troops give up in Austria

German surrender in Norway may come hourly, enemy says
By Phil Ault, United Press staff writer


LONDON, England (UP) – An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 troops of the German Army group defending Austria surrendered unconditionally to Gen. Jacob L. Devers today.

The second mass German surrender in two days collapsed resistance to the American and British forces on the continent except for Norway, Czechoslovakia, and some coastal pockets.

Germans in Czechoslovakia, Eastern Austria and the Dresden-Chemnitz area of Germany were still fighting the Russians.

LONDON, England – Reliable Czechoslovak sources in London said today that a patriot uprising had liberated Prague.

A Nazi report said the German forces in Norway might surrender at “any hour.”

Responsible quarters here said Prague, main bastion of Germany’s southeastern redoubt, had been in the hands of patriots since early this afternoon and the Czechoslovak flag was flying over the capital for the first time since 1939.

The Nazi-controlled Scandinavian Telegraph Bureau reported that Maj. Vidkun Quisling, puppet premier in Norway, had been overthrown and that the German garrison estimated at 250,000 men might give up at any time.

The Swedish newspaper Stockholms-Tidningen said the surrender of German forces in Norway was expected today. “Agreement has already been reached” between the Allied and German authorities, it said, and “only technical details in connection with the evacuation of troops” remained.

The Exchange Telegraph News Agency said unconfirmed reports indicated the Nazis were negotiating for the withdrawal of all German troops, totaling from 500,000 to 750,000, from Czechoslovakia.

The last big pockets of German resistance in Europe are in Norway and in and around Czechoslovakia. The loss of these last major citadels would leave only tiny enemy nests scattered around the fringe of the continent from Latvia to the French ports to the Aegean.

Already the war was ended in Denmark, Holland and Northwest Germany with the formal surrender of one million German troops. Developments occurred so fast that even as this capitulation to the British became effective, attention was already focused on the possible fall of other zones.

One vague and roundabout report even said that Josef Terboven, Reich Commissar in Norway, had offered to surrender his forces unconditionally. It was accepted with some reserve pending more authoritative accounts.

If Prague had indeed fallen, it appeared to herald the collapse of the Germans’ southern pocket. The Germans had already shown signs of being willing to be rid of Czechoslovakia. They declared Prague a “hospital city” – presumably open city not to be defended against the Allies.

Other evidence of Nazi disintegration in the south came in the form of a German High Command report that the U.S. Third Army had captured Linz, Austria’s third largest city. The report as contained in a communiqué broadcast from Flensburg on the Danish border was not confirmed immediately.

The German-controlled Oslo radio reported heavy fighting between the Danube and Mur Rivers in Austria, and west of St. Poelten. This indicated that the Russian forces west of Vienna were in action.

The German command said the surrender to Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery was arranged on orders of Adm. Karl Doenitz “after an honorable fight lasting nearly six years because the war against the western powers has lost its meaning and results only in the loss of precious German blood.”

But resistance against the Russians “is being continued to save as many Germans as possible from the Bolshevik terror,” the Nazi communiqué said.

“All formations of the armed forces not affected by the truce continue to fight against the attacker,” the High Command communiqué reported.

The reliable London reports of a patriot uprising in over the Nazi-controlled Prague radio.

Radio Prague appealed three times for Czech soldiers and police to hurry to the radio building at 12.45 p.m. (6:45 a.m. ET).

“We need help!” the station cried, a hint that patriots might be attempting to seize the building.

A few seconds later, the station returned to the air with music.

V-E Day was at hand, but whether it was hours, days or weeks away nobody in authority could say. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a formal statement, said the Germans were “thoroughly whipped” and attributed any further resistance to “either their own stupidity or that of the German government.”

A London Daily Mail dispatch said the Allies this weekend may address a final demand to the Germans to surrender unconditionally the remainder of their forces.

Failure of the enemy to accept the ultimatum, the dispatch said, would result in a final big offensive to envelop the enemy pockets. This might take several days, he said, “in which case V-E Day might not come until the middle or end of next week.”

Other unconfirmed reports circulated in London that President Truman, Premier Stalin and Prime Minister Churchill may meet soon in Germany.

All hostilities ceased in Denmark. Holland and Northwest Germany, including the Heligoland Fortress and the Frisian Islands, at 8 a.m. (2 a.m. ET) today in accordance with the enemy’s unconditional surrender yesterday.

Marshal Montgomery. commander of the British 21st Army Group, said upwards of one million troops – “a good egg,” he added – were included in the surrender. It ended the war in Northwest Continental Europe just one week short of five years after the Germans invaded the Lowlands.

Preliminary reports indicated the surrender went into effect everywhere without incident. The German radios at Wilhelmshaven and Bremerhaven, two of the main German ports that fell into Allied hands with the surrender, called on the population to maintain “exemplary calm, order and discipline.”

1,000 fight patriots

In Denmark, nearly 1,000 Danish Nazi police, many of them wanted for trial as collaborationists or war criminals, barricaded themselves in buildings and behind walls in Copenhagen last night. They fired on Danish patriots.

Copenhagen dispatches said all German forces throughout Denmark laid down their arms without incident.

Included in the surrender terms signed by Germany were all naval ships in the great naval bases of Kiel, Wilhelmshaven, Flensburg and Copenhagen. It was likely, however, that all warships in seaworthy condition fled to Norway before the surrender was signed.

Play game

Norwegian sources in London said the Germans appeared to be playing a game of “come and get us.” They believed the enemy would surrender immediately if the Allies sent any sort of force at all to Norway.

“They might give in if Montgomery sailed up Olsofjord in a cruiser,” one Norwegian official said.

Should the Germans decide on a last-ditch stand, six or seven Allied divisions could defeat them in three weeks or less in an amphibious invasion, a Norwegian general said.

It was assumed that Doenitz and possibly Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler went to Norway.

Ask for discipline

A possible clue to German intentions was seen in a broadcast by the Quisling radio in Norway calling on members to maintain calmness and discipline “to prevent Norway from becoming a battlefield.”

“With this end in view, we are prepared to collaborate with all forces willing to do so,” the broadcast said.

The Swedish Foreign Office was understood to be playing a major role in negotiations in Norway. Sweden could hold a big stick over the Germans in Norway by threatening to permit Allied troops to move through Sweden to Norway or even sending her own army against the Nazis.

Close on Linz

In the southeast, Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army was fast closing on the Danube River fortress of Linz, third largest city in Austria, in a bid to link up with the Red Army and complete the encirclement of Czechoslovakia.

The Third Army advanced as much as 38 miles in the past 24 hours. The Americans were within three miles northeast, five miles north, six miles northwest and seven west of Linz. More than 20,000 prisoners, including four lieutenant generals, were captured along the Third Army’s 50-mile front yesterday.

Biting into the Bohemian pocket from the east, two Russian armies attacked on a 110-mile horseshoe-shaped front and bent its prongs to within 150 miles of Prague. They cleared the last German-held portions of Slovakia.

Capture 45,700

Northwest and southwest of Berlin, other Russian forces captured 45,700 prisoners in two fast-shrinking German pockets. U.S. troops on the opposite side of the pockets accepted the surrender of the remnants of two German armies, the Ninth and 12th.

German resistance on the Seventh Army front vanished along a 70-mile stretch from a point 30 miles from the tip of Austria eastward up in the Inn Valley. Berchtesgaden, site of Hitler’s mountainous retreat, was seized without a major fight. Other Seventh Army units linked up with the U.S. Fifth Army in North Italy.