Prelude to Potsdam, the historic entry of the first advance units of British and U.S. occupation troops into Berlin on July 3, 1945, is indelibly recorded in this dispatch from Edwin Tetlow his first message to The Daily Mail from inside Berlin since August 25, 1939.
Cossack horsemen, cavorting in the early morning drizzle and shouting their traditional war cries, gave us a rousing welcome today on our way into Berlin. We met them soon after our convoy of British and U.S. troops, with 200 war correspondents, crossed the Elbe. They were exercising their horses, sending great clods of earth into the air as they performed their unrivalled tricks of horsemanship.
We entered Berlin with warm hearts after a journey which began at dawn. In a few hours now the full occupation of the silent capital by the victorious Powers will have begun, and the sage will have been set for the meeting of the Big Three at Potsdam.
The first phases of the entry today were full of novelty and colour. One extraordinary thing about it was that, despite the many preliminary announcements of its imminence, it came as a surprise to Russian troops and German civilians alike.
The Russians reacted with beaming smiles and the smartest of salutes. Some Germans in the outskirts of Potsdam and in the Zehlendorf suburb half-smiled as they watched the convoys go through, and some even waved. But I saw two young women shake their fists and scowl as they stood on the roadside and saw us speeding on through the April-like showers this morning.
It was just light enough to see the gaunt outlines of the bomb-wrecked buildings in Halle when we set out on the last lap of our journey - light enough, too, to see the white cloth banners which were displayed over the roads, bearing the blood-red words in German: "We greet the Red Army".
Our way was leading through an area into which the Red Army is now moving fast. Very soon we saw it coming in. We passed small columns of infantrymen and gunners hauling their cannon behind them as they sped westwards along the autobahn. They looked across at us in bewilderment at first, and then, recognizing us, they waved and smiled a welcome.
And now we are in Berlin, where a bemused and hang-dog populace awaits the next moves of its conquerors. When I stopped in the Kaiserallee, more than a score of people came out and eagerly asked how long we were staying, what area we were to take over, and whether there would soon be more food. They even began asking for cigarettes.