Victory Over Fascism in Europe
May 9, 1945
The Anglo-American Plot Against the Peace: Operation Sunrise
– Dougal MacDonald –
According to the renderings of history put forward in many Anglo-American accounts of World War II, the war against Germany did not end on May 9 with the German surrender in Berlin, but on May 4 or May 7 or 8.
On May 4, 1945, a German surrender took place in a ceremony at the headquarters of British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, on the Luneburg Heath in northern Germany. The British marked this as the end of the war even though fighting persisted in Europe as the Nazis continued to throw themselves against the Red Army in a desperate attempt to avert their fate in Berlin. In fact, the German capitulation on the Luneburg Heath applied only to German troops that had been battling Montgomery’s British-Canadian 21st Army Group in the Netherlands and Northwest Germany. It is reported that, just to be on the safe side, the Canadian Command actually accepted the capitulation of all German troops in Holland the next day, May 5, at a ceremony in Wageningen, a town in the eastern Dutch province of Gelderland. In some accounts this is spoken of as the prelude to the definitive German capitulation which they claim took place at the headquarters of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of all Allied forces on the Western Front, in a school building in the city of Reims in the early morning of May 7, 1945. However, because this armistice was to go into effect only at 11:01 p.m. the next day, commemoration ceremonies in the United States and in Western Europe take place on May 8.
All of this is to deny the fact that the definitive capitulation of Germany took place in Berlin on May 9 when the highest representative of the Red Army was also present. This definitive capitulation is recognized throughout the world with the photograph of the flag of the Soviet Red Army flying over the Reichstag, the German Parliament. To this day, that flag is recognized as the Victory Banner.
But the story of the date of the capitulation of the German fascists is not merely a matter of a date and time and place. On March 3, 1945, while the Second World War still raged, the U.S., UK, and Nazi Germany opened a series of secret negotiations in Switzerland to arrange a local surrender of German forces in northern Italy. This was known as “Operation Sunrise” or “Operation Crossbow.” The main U.S. negotiator was Allen Dulles, later head of the U.S. CIA, while the main Nazi negotiator was Waffen SS General Karl Wolff, Supreme Commander of all SS forces in Italy, who went to work for the CIA after the war along with many other former Nazis, continuing to promote the “communist threat.” The Operation Sunrise go-between was Italian industrialist and fascist sympathizer, Baron Luigi Parilli. Subsequently, on March 15 and 19, Wolff conducted further secret negotiations on the surrender with U.S. General Lyman Lemnitzer and British General Terence Airey. The German forces in northern Italy and western Austria eventually surrendered unconditionally on May 2, 1945, only six days before Nazi Germany surrendered in Berlin.
The Soviet Union, which had borne the brunt of the fighting against the Nazi occupiers since June 22, 1941, and which had resoundingly defeated the Nazi forces at the heroic battle of Stalingrad on February 2, 1943, the turning point of the war, was informed of the Operation Sunrise negotiations but was excluded from actual participation. On March 22, 1945, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vyacheslav Molotov wrote to U.S. Ambassador Averell Harriman: “For two weeks, in Bern, behind the back of the Soviet Union, negotiations between representatives of the German Military Command on one side and representatives of American and British Command on the other side are conducted. The Soviet government considers this absolutely inadmissible.”
On March 29, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin wrote a letter to U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt clearly exposing the real purpose of the Operation Sunrise negotiations. He rightly accused the U.S. and UK of having concluded an agreement with German General Albert Kesselring, the overall German commander in the Mediterranean theatre, in order to open the front to allow full concentration of German forces against the Red Army. He noted that in fact the Germans had stopped fighting the Anglo-American forces and that three divisions of German troops had already shifted from Northern Italy to the Soviet front. On April 3 and April 7, Stalin again pointed out in blunt letters to Roosevelt (who died April 10) that negotiations with the Nazis in Switzerland were related to German non-resistance in the west and ferocious resistance against the Red Army in the east.
In his own book on Operation Sunrise, The Secret Surrender (1966), Dulles states that he also pushed for a negotiated surrender with the Nazis in northern Italy because he was worried that if a quick surrender was not negotiated, and the Germans, still fighting, fell back west of Venice, then Soviet troops and their partisan allies would reach Trieste, an important Italian industrial centre and deepwater port, before the Anglo-American troops arrived. This could have led to greater Soviet post-war influence in France and Italy, which Dulles wanted to prevent at all costs. Dulles makes it clear that post-war arrangements of advantage to the U.S. and UK were the dominant factor in Operation Sunrise, not assisting the Soviet Union. In the end, U.S. troops did arrive in Trieste before the Soviet troops, resulting in acrimonious post-war border disputes between Italy and Yugoslavia.
The Operation Sunrise machinations also fitted completely with the Anglo-American refusal throughout most of the war to open a second front in Europe, which Stalin repeatedly requested. An Anglo-American landing in Europe would have forced Hitler to remove some of his forces from the Eastern Front, affording the Soviet Union some relief and speeding the Nazi defeat. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill openly opposed a second front. He was pleased that Hitler and Stalin were battling to the death on the Eastern Front with huge casualties, and he believed that the Anglo-American imperialists would benefit from allowing that fight to continue. U.S. Senator and future president Harry S. Truman also opposed a second front. On June 24, 1941, Truman stated: “If we see that Germany is winning, we should help Russia, and if Russia is winning, we should help Germany, so that as many as possible perish on both sides.”
The Soviets would eventually get a Second Front, but only much later, with the Normandy landing on June 6, 1944, almost a year and a half after the decisive battles of Stalingrad and Kursk had turned the tide against the Nazis and begun Germany’s forced retreat back to Berlin. Also, by June 1944, the Anglo-Americans had urgent reasons of their own for landing on the coast of France. Soviet troops were relentlessly marching towards Berlin with the Nazis in full flight. It became imperative for the Anglo-Americans to land their own troops in France and to drive into Germany to keep most of that country out of what they saw as Soviet hands.
Once the defeat of Nazi Germany became a foregone conclusion, Nazi propaganda in the U.S. and UK also ramped up attacking the Soviet Union and promoting the notion that the Anglo-Americans had much more in common with the faltering Nazis and a post-war Germany than with their erstwhile ally. For example, on January 22, 1944, following the historic Tehran Agreement, the Neue Volkszietung, the main pro-Nazi, German-American newspaper based in New York, which incessantly published propaganda playing the other allies against the Soviet Union, stated: “The whole of Europe west of the Russian border will have a common interest after this war. That is, to preserve their independence in the face of their powerful Russian neighbour. This cannot be achieved without the help of England and America.”
Throughout the Second World War, the overall Anglo-American strategic plan was to try to minimize their own military losses, then intervene when both Germany and the Soviet Union were exhausted. The U.S., with its British ally, could then create a post-war Europe that was to its own economic and political advantage. When Operation Sunrise was implemented in March-April 1945, and when a second front was finally opened in Normandy in June 1944, the main aim of both was not to help bring about a just peace. Instead, both operations were first and foremost aimed at trying to prevent the Soviets from playing the decisive role in winning the war against the Hitlerites, even though the Soviet Union had already played that role and had already won the everlasting acclaim of the world’s people for its great accomplishments.
1. Wolff saved his own skin due to his Anglo-American links. He served less than two years in prison after the Nuremberg trials, then served another short sentence after conviction by the post-war German government in 1948. Due to revelations during the Eichmann trial, Wolff was convicted in 1964 of deporting 300,000 Jews to the Treblinka extermination camp, the deportation of Italian Jews to Auschwitz and the massacre of Italian Partisans in Belarus. For these heinous war crimes he served a mere five years of a 15-year prison sentence.
2. Parilli would surface again after the war working with the OSS/CIA to prevent a communist-led government in Italy.