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. 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 in order to permit Joseph Stalin to hold a ceremony in Soviet-occupied Berlin.
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, because the Soviets were insisting on a formal signing ceremony in Berlin and the Allies had agreed to wait until that took place. Meanwhile, men were still fighting and dying. Opinion on Kennedy's scoop 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".