- Adolf Hitler died by suicide on April 30, 1945.
- Newspapers around the world reacted to reports of Hitler’s death with bold, full-page headlines, and in some cases, cheery delight.
- “Germans put out the news everyone hopes is true,” one newspaper wrote.
Seventy-three years ago, on April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in a bunker in Berlin, bringing to an end the life of one of history’s most notorious figures.
News of Hitler’s demise was slow to reach the United States, and the reports that did reach across the Atlantic were initially met with scepticism. Most American newspapers didn’t run the news until May 2 – a full two days later – and even then, President Harry Truman was cautious in confirming the reports at a press conference.
Still, Hitler’s death signalled the final nail in the coffin for the Axis Powers in World War II. Less than a week after the news broke, German forces unconditionally surrendered in Europe, and by September the war had officially ended.
Newspapers around the world announced Hitler’s death with bold, full-page headlines and in some cases, cheery delight. “Germans put out the news everyone hopes is true,” the United Kingdom’s Daily Express wrote. “Will rant no more,” said Boston’s Daily Record.
Read on to see how newspapers covered the news in 1945.
Here’s what The New York Times looked like on May 2, 1945
According to the Times report from the UK’s House of Commons, “there was an almost complete lack of excitement here. Those who believed the report seemed to accept it as a matter of course that Hitler would die. There was no official reaction.”
The Times also included an interesting note about how the news disseminated in the UK: “London newspapers received the announcement of Hitler’s death just as the early editions were going to press but the second editions went ‘all-out’ on the news, with long obituaries of Hitler and biographical sketches of Doenitz,” it wrote.
One of the biggest headlines of all came from Stars and Stripes, a publication of the US military
“Churchill hints peace is at hand,” the military paper said.
The New York Daily News devoted the entire front page to the striking headline ‘HITLER DEAD’
The Daily News wrote years later: “Knowing that the end was near, Hitler moved into his bunker by January of 1945 and decided to kill himself before anyone else could by April.”
The Daily Record, a now-defunct newspaper from Boston, reacted in similar fashion
“Will rant no more,” a headline inside the paper read.
The Cincinnati Times-Star had the news a day before most other news outlets
“American troops speeding across Austria,” a headline read. “Peace by week’s end hinted by Churchill,” read another one.
Here’s the Salt Lake Tribune out of Utah
The Tribune seemed especially sceptical of reports of Hitler’s death. It refers to the leader’s “‘death’ site” in quotation marks, and lower on the page, it ran an editorial from Associated Press Berlin correspondent Louis Lochner:
“I still find it difficult to believe that Hitler is really dead,” he wrote.
“Hitler couldn’t afford to accept unconditional surrender, so what may prove to be the legend of his meeting a hero’s death had to be staged,” he went on. “I still cannot escape the feeling that Hitler is some place where nobody expects him to be.”
The UK’s Daily Express was near giddy to break the news: ‘Germans put out the news everyone hopes is true’
In a 2014 article about this front page, the writer Dominic Midgley wrote that “when the Daily Express reported the death of Adolf Hitler, it refused to dignify his passing with a picture on its front page and in a box entitled ‘Obituary’ said: ‘The Daily Express rejoices to announce the report of Adolf Hitler’s death.'”
One of Time magazine’s most iconic covers of all time was used to mark Hitler’s death
Time would go on to use the “red X” motif over three more faces on future covers: Saddam Hussein, terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Osama bin Laden.
The news reached, Melbourne, Australia, around the same time it reached the US
“Hitler killed, Germans report,” the lead headline read.
French newspaper L’Aube led with ‘La mort de Hitler’ — ‘The death of Hitler’
“Berlin est tombé” – “Berlin falls,” the next headline says.
Here’s the front page of another French newspaper, Le Bien Public
“Hostility in Europe is coming to an end,” the newspaper wrote.
The news also reached South America at the same time, as evidenced by the front page of Ecuador’s El Universo
A smaller headline reads: “Despite [Germany’s] decision to continue the fight against the Allies, it is believed that Hitler’s death will hasten the end of the contest.”
Here’s what SHAEF — a newspaper for displaced Allied military members in Europe — had to say
SHAEF stands for Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, and its newspaper was delivered by parachute “to supply news and at the same time important military instructions to displaced foreign nationals in Germany.”
A special edition of the German newspaper Hamburger Zeitung was less celebratory: “The Fuhrer has fallen,” its headline read
Karl Kaufmann, a Nazi leader in Hamburg, wrote on the front page: “It is the hardest hour of our people, when today we hear the news that our Führer has fallen fighting in the empire’s capital.”
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