Dittmar surrenders

Voice of German High Command

Lt. General Kurt Dittmar, the voice of the German High Command, after surrendering to troops of the US 30th Infantry Division. Copyright by Life Magazine.

After Lt. General Kurt Dittmar broadcast his evening German Armed Forces High Command communique, German national radio played “Another Beautiful Day Comes to a Close” as their sign-off song.

The German communique was broadcast at midnight German time. German-speaking stenographers working for various news agencies including UPI and AP took down the communique, translated it into English, and “moved it on the wire.”

The German armed forces communique was usually printed in the morning New York Times and other major newspapers along with the communiques from all the other belligerent powers. If you have a subscription to the Times you can go online to their archives and type in “communique” and a whole lot of them will turn up.

Capture of Lt. Gen. Kurt Dittmar of Magdeburg

from official info of US 30th Infantry Division

“On April 25th, 1945 Lt. Gen. Kurt von Dittmar, German official army news commentator, together with Major Pluskat, Dittmar’s son and two orderlies crossed the Eble River. They crossed at Magdeburg in the zone of the 117th’s Third Battalion [of the 30th Infantry Divison]. Dittmar, the German General Staff radio spokesman, crossed in a boat under a white flag.

He had come, he said, to arrange aid for German wounded on the east bank of the Elbe. It was then discovered he commanded no troops and traveled to the west without the knowledge of the German commander in that sector. Dittmar was then offered to surrender but he refused.

On his way back to recross the river he changed his mind and surrendered along with his son and Major Pluskat, an artillery officer.”

info on the reverse of the photograph above

official history US 30th Infantry Old Hickory Division


Here are several communiques from the archives of the New York Times:



Below is a brief excerpt from my novel, An Honorable German. The phrasing from communiques in the interior monologue of the main character (Max) comes directly from actual German armed forces communiques during WW II. Max is on a train packed with young German soldiers on their way to Russia. In the time line of the novel, it is approximately 23 January 1943 and Max is thinking about the German 6th Army which has been trapped in Stalingrad since November of 1942.

“How would it end? Not well. Most alarming, a few days after Christmas, in his evening radio address, General Dittmar, the voice of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, had begun to speak of “heroic resistance” by Six Armee’s brave troops–never an encouraging sign. Everyone in Germany had learned to decipher the High Command’s euphemisms: “grim and sanguinary fighting increasing in violence” meant the line had collapsed and troops were being pushed back under murderous fire with terrible casualties; “bitter and prolonged fighting” meant you were hopelessly surrounded; “heroic resistance” meant you were already dead.”