The Day the War Ended in Italy



The Day the War Ended in Italy

The 8th May 1945 marked this special date across Europe when the fighting of nearly 6 years came to an end.

The Surrender of Caserta of April 29, 1945 was the written agreement that formalized the surrender of German forces in Italy, ending the Italian Campaign of World War II The document, signed at the Royal Palace of Caserta, was to become effective at 2pm on May 2, 1945.
Although British Field Marshal Harold Alexander claimed the Surrender of Caserta shortened the war in Europe by six to eight weeks and saved Northern Italy from more destruction along with tens of thousands of lives, the German Commander-in-Chief of Army Group C Heinrich von Vietinghoff had noted on 28 April that fighting would cease within one or two days regardless of negotiations, the German troops having neither arms nor ammunition left. Further destruction was thus unlikely, Army Group C having decided already on 11 April to not carry out Hitler’s scorched earth policy.

Owing in part to Allied air attacks, the German forces in Italy had received no supplies from Germany since the first week of April. Since Allied aircraft had destroyed all bridges across the Po river, the Germans abandoned their heavy weapons and motor vehicles south of it during the Allied Spring Offensive what was left of the German infantry was mostly wiped out during the fighting. The remaining troops had retreated across the Po using improvised transports and were reorganized by blocking detachments to man the front line and fight on, but without arms their situation was hopeless.
On May 2, 1945, approximately 1 million German soldiers lay down their arms as the terms of the German unconditional surrender, signed at Caserta on April 29, come into effect. Many Germans surrender to Japanese soldiers—Japanese Americans. Among the American tank crews that entered the northern Italian town of Biella was an all-Nisei (second-generation) infantry battalion, composed of Japanese Americans from Hawaii.

On 29 April, the day before Hitler died, Oberstleutnant Schweinitz and Sturmbannführer Wenner, plenipotentiaries for Generaloberst Heinrich von Vietinghoff and SS Obergruppenführer Karl Wolff, signed a surrender document at Caserta after prolonged unauthorised secret negotiations with the Western Allies, which were viewed with great suspicion by the Soviet Union as trying to reach a separate peace. In the document, the Germans agreed to a ceasefire and surrender of all the forces under the command of Vietinghoff at 2pm on 2 May (local time). Accordingly, after some bitter wrangling between Wolff and Albert Kesselring in the early hours of 2 May, nearly 1,000,000 men in Italy and Austria surrendered unconditionally to British Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander at 2pm on 2 May

German Commander-in-Chief of Army Group C Heinrich von Vietinghoff and Supreme SS and Police Leader Karl Wolff, German officers in civilian cloths prepare to sign the surrender document in the Royal Palace of Caserta 29th April 1945. Effective from 2pm local time on 2nd May 1945

3 Comments

  1. woodrow smith

    my father THOMAS WOODROW SMITH army no. 7954109died (as a result of a battle accident) 19/11/1944 and is buried at ANCONA war cemetery.i understand he was a driver/ mechanic and could have been doing humanitarian work at the time of the accident.i have details of his army record but wondered if i could get any details of the accident.

    Reply
  2. Frank de Planta

    Your father’s number comes from the batch allocated to the Royal Armoured Corps when he was recruited. When he was killed, he was a Trooper in A Squadron 7th Queen Own Hussars who were supporting II (Polish) Corps operations at the time.

    The exact location of his death will be in the War Diaries which you can source from The National Archives at Kew.

    Ancona was well behind the front line on 19 Nov 44 so I suspect that he was wounded and evacuated to a Field or General Hospital before he died.

    Regards

    Frank

    Frank de Planta
    Guide
    http://www.Cassino battlefields.co.uk

    Reply
  3. Morag McLean

    Hello. According to my Mother, My Grandfather Antonio Rugero Sanqua was present for this agreement signing as he was an interpreter. He was not in the British Army but Civil Servant in the war department in Britain. I don’t have any documents to support this only what notes my Mother made on her personal family war record. I wonder if there is any way to find out for sure or if there are any photos of him.
    Thank you
    Sincerely,
    Morag McLean

    Reply

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