PARIS, May 8, 1945 (UP) - The bloodiest war in European history will come to its official end at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, European time, with the formal end of hostilities on a continent desolated by more than five years of conflict.
The agreement formalizing the unconditional surrender will be ratified in Berlin today, with Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, chief of the German high command, officially acknowledging that Germany is beaten.
Sitting around the table with Keitel in Berlin will be:
For the Western Allies: Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur W. Tedder, deputy supreme commander.
For Russia: Marshal Gregory K. Zhukov, commander of the 1st White Russian army.
For France: General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, commander of the French 1st army.
To save lives, the cease fire order already has sounded. But the fighting went on today in some small and scattered sectors.
Fanatical Nazis, defying the high command's unconditional surrender, held out in some parts of Czechoslovakia, in French Atlantic ports, the Channel islands, and some pinpoints in the Aegean.
And on the Russian front resistance continued in some considerable strength. But Prime Minister Churchill warned in London that if the Nazis held out after the 12:01 a.m. deadline, they would become outlaws under the rules of war, and would be attacked from all sides by the Allies.
The German "peace" government of Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz, successor of Adolf Hitler, was carrying on a semblance of official functions at Flensburg on the Danish frontier.
Doenitz offered today in a Flensburg broadcast to continue the leadership of the German government during the Allied occupation of the Reich.
Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering, ousted in the last days of organized resistance from the command of the German air force, was believed to be with the Doenitz government. So was Heinrich Himmler, gestapo chief and interior minister.
Churchill said the unconditional surrender of Germany was signed at 2:41 a.m. Monday at Reims.
Doenitz and General Jodl, representing the German high command, signed for Germany. Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, Eisenhower's chief of staff, and General Francois Sevez signed for the Western Allies, and General Ivan Susloparov for Russia.
Eisenhower did not appear until after the documents - plain papers representing ordinary legal folios - were signed. Officers said that, in accordance with precedent, negotiations of this kind were carried out on the chief of staff level.
When Eisenhower appeared, he was greeted by Jodl's clicking of heels. He was asked sternly whether the Germans understood the terms completely. A stiff bow was the answer. Then, in English, he asked permission to speak. He uttered a plea for the Germans in his own language.
Throughout the conference, the Russians and French were silent. The Germans wore full military uniforms with medals and ribbons.
Even in the hour of Allied triumph in Europe, Churchill turned sober attention to the war against Japan. He warned that Japan, "with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued. ... We must now concentrate all forces for the task ahead."
The Allied proclamation of victory in Europe was made simultaneously in London, Washington and Paris. No word came immediately from Moscow. It appeared that the Russians might be waiting until Zhukov has signed the surrender document in Berlin later today.
General Charles DeGaulle told the French people by radio that "the war has been won! Victory is here! The victory of the United Nations and the victory of France!" The Germans have capitulated, and the French high command was a party to the act of capitulation, DeGaulle said.
He said it was possible that because of the collapse of central power in Germany, certain enemy units might hold out in isolated resistance.