World Battlefronts: Historic Hour

At 11 a.m., a white flag fluttered out side the massive four-story shelter where the German commander at Aachen had holed up with his last surviving men. The surrender flag was carried by two U.S. sergeants who had been taken prisoner.

Wearing an immaculate uniform and mirror-shined boots, stiff, grey Colonel Gerhardt Wilck approached the commander of the U.S. attacking party — a 21 -year-old lieutenant. The young American took the elderly German to U.S. headquarters.

The first document produced by Wilck was unsatisfactory to the Americans: it did not contain the word "unconditional." After some hesitation, which he said...

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