by Flint Whitlock In May 1945—70 years ago—the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) sent out a terse, unemotional, 15-word communiqué: “The mission of this Allied force was fulfilled at 0241 local time, May 7, 1945.” Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were dead, the Third Reich and Fascist Italy were defunct, and the war in Europe was, at long last, well and truly over. A very strange sound came over Europe: the sound of silence. It was as if someone had suddenly turned the war switch to “Off.” This story was first published in the Spring 2015 edition of WWII Quarterly. Order your subscription here! A Deep and Profound Silence There was no more rattle of machine guns; no more pop-pop-pop of small arms; no more whistle of falling bombs; no more visceral thud of incoming artillery shells; no more screams and shrieks of soldiers and civilians caught in war’s merciless grip. It was a deep and profound silence that came over Europe, punctuated only by the tolling of church bells (in those places where churches, with their bells intact, still stood) announcing that peace, after nearly six years of continuous bloodshed, had finally returned to the Continent. The surviving soldiers and civilians on all sides took a moment to get down on their knees and offer thanks that they had been spared, and to say a prayer for the 50 to 60 million people around the world who had not been so fortunate. In places like London, Paris, New York, an


$2 / Month

Subscribe now for only $3.99 $2 a month!

Unlimited Website Access, Thousands of Searchable Articles, Warfare Newsletter, and more.