April 6, 2023

1945. Bill Downs from Germany on V-E Day

Bill Downs Reporting from Lüneburg on V-E Day

Bill Downs

CBS News

May 8, 1945

This is Bill Downs speaking from Lüneburg. This V-Day has started out very quietly here in Lüneburg on the British sector. The convoys continue to roll through the narrow streets, and the long, long lines of surrendering Germans and liberated Allied war prisoners and slave laborers stream back to the rear areas. The people of Lüneburg are going about their business as if it was just another day. It may be V-Day for the Allies, but it's Surrender Day for the Germans.

The people I saw this morning looked like they're trying to ignore the whole thing. The shops are opening up, and already the long lines at the food stores are collecting. Ex-Nazi Hausfrauen with their baskets and string bags beginning a life of queuing that has plagued all of Europe since the Nazis went on the warpath.

It's a beautiful day here; the weatherman could not have planned more perfect weather for a surrender celebration. But right now there's very little celebrating. The British are a reserved people, and out of propriety for the French and American and Russian forces still fighting, they did no dancing in the streets when Montgomery signed the surrender terms that put the British Second and Canadian First Armies out of the war last Thursday.

But no doubt tonight the bottles of French champagne that we find in every rich German's wine cellar will make their appearance. But meanwhile the army is too busy to celebrate Victory in Europe Day. The millions of German soldiers must be kept moving to the concentration areas, the liberated Allied prisoners must be evacuated, and somehow the slave laborers who look to us for help must be housed and fed. But I have an idea that tonight there'll be a hot time in Lüneburg.

This is Bill Downs with the British returning you to CBS in New York.