This Week in History

This Week in History

Hello All,

Since this week in particular has so many crucial events to take place in such a short time, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about ‘This Week in History’ instead of just one day in history.

Clara Petacci

This week essentially marks the end of World War II for the European Theater. Years of turmoil, strife, and heartache came to a dramatic end, beginning with today, April 28.

Benito Mussolini

On April 28, 1945, while attempting to flee his country into a neutral one, Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, were caught and executed while crossing the border into Switzerland. Benito knew being captured by the Allied countries would certainly mean trial and execution, so his alternative was to attempt escape.

While approaching the Swiss border, Mussolini and Petacci realized guards were waiting for them just beyond the border. To disguise themselves, Mussolini obtained a Luftwaffe coat and helmet, thinking he would sneak past with the rest of the Germans filing through. However, his plan failed and they were discovered by partisans and shot on site. The partisans transported their bodies back to Italy, where they were publicly displayed for revilement by all.

Hitler and Eva

The following day, April 29, 1945, Adolf Hitler married his girlfriend, Eva Braun. Eva was an assistant to Hitler’s photographer and spent much of her time with Hitler, gallivanting around the countryside.

“Never Again” depicted in five different languages, Dachau Memorial.

Simultaneously, on this day, American troops liberated Dachau, the first established concentration camp in Germany. All of the German troops stationed there were killed within 60 minutes. The horrifying scene the American troops witnessed fueled their rage against the Germans; no prisoners were taken. 33,000 people survived Dauchau, including 2,539 Jewish prisoners; however, at least 160,000 souls passed through the main camp and another 90,000 around the surrounding camps throughout Germany. Thousands upon thousands of prisoners died of malnutrition and mistreatment alone, another innumerable amount of souls were taken to the gas chambers. A memorial was established in Dauchau on September 11, 1956.

Russian soldier amidst the rubble of the Furher’s bunker.

 

The very next day, April 30, Hitler and Eva committed suicide by cyanide capsules, then pistol, in a swanky air-raid shelter located fifty-five feet below the chancellery. Hitler fortified his beloved bunker for the last stand Germany would make in the war, including eighteen rooms with water and electric. When it was certain the Russian Army were just days away from taking the bunker, Hitler was urged by his officers to seek refuge in the Bavarian Alps,  at one of his many homes. However, Hitler chose suicide instead; most likely expecting the very worst if taken by the Allies. Testing the efficiency of the poison on his own dog, Blondi, Hitler and Eva swallowed the pills and then shot themselves ‘for good measure’. As ordered, the Fuhrer and his wife were cremated and buried in the chancellor gardens. It was not until 1956 that Hitler was officially pronounced dead.
By the end of the week, on May 2, nearly one million German troops conceded to unconditional surrender to the Allies in Italy, while Berlin fell to the Soviets, with the Russians taking over 134,000 German soldiers prisoners.

German soldiers surrendering to the Allies, Italy 1945.
Even though ‘this week in history’ is not a particularly cheery one, we can all agree if it were not for these events the war may have lasted a bit longer, which would have most certainly resulted in more loss of life for both sides.
 
Take Care,
Elizabeth
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