Were You Alive in April 1945?
Baby Boomer Trivia From April 1945: Death Camp Liberation, Il Duce Killed, Maple Leafs Win the Stanley Cup
In Japan, U.S. troops invaded Okinawa on April 1st to begin the Battle of Okinawa (known as Operation Iceberg). Senior citizens will remember the sad day that United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died – April 12, 1945. V.P. Harry Truman was sworn in as the 33rd President of the United States that same day.
With American troops closing in, on April 1 1945 the Ohrdruf Concentration Camp SS began moving between 11,700 – 13,000 prisoners on death marches to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Baby boomers might not know that Ohrdruf was the first death camp to be liberated during World War II, on April 4 1945. Ohrdruf Liberation photo right, jewishgen.org; General Eisenhower in the middle wearing a Kepi.
It’s estimated that over 7,000 Ohrdruf prisoners died from exhaustion or were murdered inside or enroute to/from the camp between November 1944, and April 4 1945 when US troops arrived and liberated the prisoners.
A German U-boat torpedoed Royal Canadian Navy minesweeper HMCS Esquimalt near Halifax, Nova Scotia in the early morning hours of April 16, 1945.
The Esquimalt sank within 5 minutes and lost 44 of her crew, much of them to exposure from the cold water before rescuers arrived.
German ally, former Italian Prime Minister and National Fascist Party leader Benito Mussolini “Il Duce” and his mistress Clara Petacci, were shot to death (along with other fascists) on April 28, 1945 by communist partisans when they attempt to escape from Italy and take refuge in Spain. Their bodies were hung on meat hooks for display in Milan’s Piazza Quindici Martiri and stoned by onlookers; the plaza had just been renamed for 15 non-fascists “martyrs” who had been executed there by fascist forces. Mussolini’s widow Rachele lived to be an 89-year-old octogenarian senior citizen.
One of the reasons Mussolini had originally aligned Italy with Germany was that he thought the British Empire was doomed because one-quarter of the British population in the late 1930’s was over the age of 50.
The Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team defeated the Detroit Red Wings in game 7 on April 22, 1945 by a score of 2-1 to win the Stanley Cup. Despite losing their veteran goalie Turk Broda to army service during World War II, rookie Canadian goalie Frank McCool stepped up and saved the day. McCool kept the Detroit Redwings scoreless in the first three games of the series, a playoff record that stood for 58 years and won him the 1945 Calder Trophy. Below, the 1945 Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leafs (photo: icehockey.wikia.com)
Calgary native Frank McCool was born October 27, 1918 and had also served in World War II, but had been discharged with stomach ulcers. Severe stomach ulcers plagued him for the rest of his life and were the reason for his retirement from hockey in 1946; they also played a role in his death in 1973 at age 54.
For more “Were You Alive in 1945?”,