May 6 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Winston Churchill feared that French general Charles de Gaulle might upstage the Allied nations' acceptance of Germany's surrender and declare an early end to fighting in Europe, according to documents made available online to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
The new digitalized documents, made available online by Britain's National Archives, include British government records concerning London's reception and reaction to news of Germany's surrender. They show that Churchill was concerned a disgruntled de Gaulle could preempt a coordinated announcement with a speech of his own a day earlier.
Churchill, U.S. President Harry Truman and Soviet Union leader Josef Stalin agreed to make synchronized announcements on May 8, 1945, to mark victory in the European Theater.
The revelation is contained in details of a British cabinet meeting at the prime minister's Downing Street office on May 7, the day before the announcement. They show that Truman and Stalin agreed to the synchronized plan after "protracted negotiations," but Churchill worried de Gaulle might undercut the strategy and speak too soon.
"It was agreed that General de Gaulle should be informed of the plans for synchronizing the announcements by the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States and the USSR and advised to postpone his announcement until a corresponding hour on 8 May," the documents state. "If, however, he was unwilling to accept this advice no further pressure could be brought to bear on him."
De Gaulle had been upset with Churchill over several issues, including the futures of Syria and the German city of Cologne. Ultimately, the future French president agreed to wait and join the other Allied nations in the announcement.
Although Germany's surrender ended fighting in Europe, World War II ended in the Pacific Theater four months later after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan.