Edward Kennedy (journalist)
Edward Kennedy (c. 1905 – November 29, 1963) was an American journalist best known for being the first Allied newsman to report the German surrender at the end of World War II, getting the word to the Associated Press in London before the surrender took effect. This angered Allied commanders who had imposed a news embargo until the official surrender announcement. After being forced stateside, Kennedy was fired by the AP for his actions. In 2012, the Associated Press apologized for this, saying "It was handled in the worst possible way."
Breaking the news
The documents for Germany's surrender in World War II were signed on May 7, 1945, at 2:41 a.m. local time at General Dwight D. Eisenhower's headquarters in Reims, France. The surrender was subject to a time delay to ensure compliance across the entire theatre, and was to take effect at 23.01 on 8 May. Edward Kennedy, as the AP's Paris bureau chief, had been among a group of reporters hastily assembled aboard a C-47 aircraft, and only told they were to cover the official signing once aloft. After the ceremony, however, they were told that instead of a few hours of embargo, they were being asked by Eisenhower to hold the news for 36 more hours until after the definitive surrender, to take place in Berlin, the German capital. It was deemed important that the surrender be made by the heads of the German Armed Forces, not merely their representatives, and that the Germans formally surrender to the Soviets, as well as the Western Allies, something the Nazis were trying to avoid.
After a German radio station in Allied-controlled Flensburg broadcast the news, however, Kennedy believed that military censors must have allowed it. Evading wartime censorship, he phoned the AP bureau in London and reported the surrender. The story moved on the AP wire at 9:36 a.m. EST, mid-afternoon in France.
The official announcements of the surrender varied from German foreign minister Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk early May 7, to Winston Churchill on May 8, and Joseph Stalin on May 9 (accounting for the Soviet Victory Day). The formal cessation of hostilities was at 23:01 hours on May 8.
Kennedy believed previous embargoes that he had respected were related to military security, but this one was simply political, that the Soviets were insisting on a formal signing ceremony in Berlin and the Allies had agreed to wait until that took place. Opinion on Kennedy's action was divided; supporters pointed to the freedom of the press, but the AP eventually apologized. SHAEF disaccredited Kennedy and the AP returned him to New York. Initially Kennedy was kept on the payroll but given no work to do, eventually being fired in November. The following summer, the military acknowledged that the German broadcast, made under Allied orders, was almost two hours before Kennedy's dispatch.
Kennedy's story was accurate, but he had violated the military's embargo. Both the military and other reporters were angry with him. Two days after The New York Times ran his story as the lead item, The Times wrote an editorial saying Kennedy had committed a "grave disservice to the newspaper profession." According to Time, the incident gave the press a black eye and "strengthened the censor's hand".
In 1948, in the August issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Kennedy published a personal essay about the embargo event entitled "I'd Do It Again."
After the war Kennedy became the managing editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press, and three years later in 1949 he was hired by The Monterey Peninsula Herald as the associate editor, eventually serving as editor and associate publisher. Kennedy was struck by a car on November 24, 1963, and died five days later at the age of 58. A monument to Kennedy stands in Laguna Grande Park in Seaside, CA, with an inscription referring to his famous scoop: "He gave the world an extra day of happiness."
During his later years, Kennedy composed a memoir of his years as a World War II correspondent but was not able to locate a publishing company. His accounts were eventually published in 2012 by his daughter, Julia Kennedy Cochran, under the title Ed Kennedy's War: V-E Day, Censorship & The Associated Press, which chronicled his early days as a stringer in Paris to his firing from the Associated Press.
Memoir and AP's apology
In 2012, Louisiana State University Press published Kennedy's memoir, Ed Kennedy's War: V-E Day, Censorship, and the Associated Press. Associated Press President Tom Curley co-wrote an introduction to the book and apologized for the way the company treated Kennedy, telling an AP reporter, "It was a terrible day for the AP. It was handled in the worst possible way." Kennedy, Curley wrote, "did everything just right." According to his daughter, Julia Kennedy Cochran of Bend, Ore., Kennedy had long sought such public vindication from his old employer. "The AP, after 67 years, is finally apologizing for firing my father," Cochran said. "He was really a hero and should have got a lot more credit."
In 2015, Le grand secret by Christophe Remy, 52', movie in French.
- "Edward Kennedy, 58, Reporter Who Flashed '45 Surrender, Dies". Associated Press via The New York Times. 1963-11-30. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- Caruso, David B. (4 May 2012). "AP apologizes for firing reporter over WWII scoop". The Associated Press. Retrieved 15 Oct 2018.
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- Jones, Michael (2015). After Hitler: The Last Days of the Second World War in Europe. John Murray. p. 217.
- "The Army's Guests". TIME magazine. May 21, 1945. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- James, Barry (1995-05-10). "A Grand Message, and the Messenger Who Sparked an Uproar". The International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
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- Browne, Malcolm W. (August 27, 1995). "Reporters at War". The New York Times.
- "After the Battle". The International Herald Tribune. 1948-11-22. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-09-13. Retrieved 2014-05-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)