WWII quiz: What prize went to the reporter who got Nazi surrender scoop?

 The Associated Press apologized today for firing World War II correspondent Ed Kennedy after he broke a pledge of secrecy to break the news of the German surrender on May 7, 1945.  

Did the people’s right to know the war was over in Europe trump the Allied chiefs’ plan to let Stalin stage his own Nazi surrender? What would you have done?

Here’s how the AP story on the apology explains the embargo: “British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Harry Truman had agreed to suppress news of the capitulation for a day, in order to allow Russian dictator Josef Stalin to stage a second surrender ceremony in Berlin.”

Kennedy, who was one of 17 correspondents allowed to witness the surrender in a French farmhouse at 2:41 a.m. on May 7, 1945, originally agreed to hold off on reporting it – as the other 16 did. But he then decided that the news was too big to be kept from the world for 36 hours, for the sake of staged politics.

For going around the military censors and reporting the the surrender a full day before anyone else, Kennedy was excoriated by the other correspondents, expelled from the European Theater and fired by the AP.

What would you have done then? What would you do in a comparable situation today? 

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Tobias Naegele

Stars and Stripes ombudsman

Over 30 years as a journalist, Tobias Naegele has focused almost exclusively on military and defense issues, headed up the Military Times newspapers — Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times — from 1998 to 2014, establishing Marine Corps Times as its own distinct product during that time. Prior to then, he was editor of Navy Times, where he created its weekly Marine Corps Edition.

From 2004 to 2014, he was editor in chief of the Military Times products as well as Defense News, Armed Forces Journal, Federal Times, and a number of other magazines and websites, including Military Times Faces of the Fallen and its Hall of Valor, along with the weekly syndicated TV program This Week in Defense News with Vago Muradian. Under his leadership, the newsroom was consistently recognized with awards from the Associated Press Managing Editors, Online News Association, Society of Professional Journalists, American Business Press Editors, Military Writers and Editors, White House Correspondents Association and more.

Tobias Naegele can be reached at naegele.tobias@stripes.com or (202) 761-0900.

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