Sample Chapter from ...

Buried In Paper:

Fascinating and Poignant Stories Revealed in Actual World War II Documents


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Chapter 67

The War Is Over, the Exodus Begins

At 8:15 a.m. on May 7, 1945, the 1st Infantry Division, fighting its way east into Czechoslovakia, received an order to cease firing. World War II in Europe was over, triggering a mass flight toward the American lines to avoid capture by the Soviet Union’s armies, which were approaching from the east.

"Apparently the entire German nation within traveling distance of the 1st Division zone was on the roads leading toward the Division front—Wehrmacht soldiers, SS men, women auxiliaries, renegade Russian troops and, in the greatest mass of all, civilians by the thousands, all in frantic flight from the Russians," a report read. "Every conceivable means of transportation was employed—wheelbarrows, tremendous Army troop transports, civilian buses, pushcarts, horses and wagons, sporty civilian cars, generals' staff cars, bicycles, buggies. Every road was clogged with crawling German humanity and the brew of sights, sounds, heat, dust, shouts and smells was fantastic."

Summing up the 1st Infantry Division’s World War II experience: 443 days at combat; 108,000 prisoners of war captured and another 100,000 from overrun hospitals and at the collapse of Germany; approximately 500 tanks and self-propelled guns destroyed.

Another interesting account in this section: When the war ended, the 1st Infantry Division was in a part of Czechoslovakia (today’s Czech Republic) that had been annexed by Germany before the war and renamed the Sudetenland. A German general, trying to salvage some "honor" for Germany, wanted his surrender document to indicate he surrendered in the Sudetenland. Brig. Gen. George A. Taylor, 1st Division assistant commanding general and representative of the Third Army commander, told him, "There is no Sudetenland. You are in Czechoslovakia!"

In its final form the surrender document read, "Elborgen, Czechoslovakia."

The Document

For a link to the actual WWII report, plus lots of other great stories, click the "Get it on iBooks" logo at the top of this page!

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