75 Years On
Victory in Europe Day, generally known as V-E Day, VE Day, or simply V Day was the public holiday celebrated on the 8th of May 1945 (7th of May in Commonwealth realms) to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces. It thus marked the end of World War II in Europe.
On the 30th of April, Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin. Germany’s surrender, therefore, was authorized by his successor, Reichspräsident Karl Dönitz. The administration headed by Dönitz was known as the Flensburg Government. The act of military surrender was signed on the 7th of May in Reims, France and on the 8th of May in Berlin, Germany.
Upon the defeat of Germany (Italy having already surrendered), celebrations erupted throughout the world. From Moscow to Los Angeles, people celebrated. In the United Kingdom, more than one million people celebrated in the streets to mark the end of the European part of the war. In London, crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of the Palace before the cheering crowds. Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret were allowed to wander incognito among the crowds and take part in the celebrations.
In the United States, the victory happened on President Harry Truman’s 61st birthday. He dedicated the victory to the memory of his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died of a cerebral hemorrhage less than a month earlier, on the 12th April. Flags remained at half-mast for the remainder of the 30-day mourning period.
Truman said of dedicating the victory to Roosevelt’s memory and keeping the flags at half-mast that his only wish was “that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day.” Later that day, Truman said that the victory made it his most enjoyable birthday.
Massive celebrations also took place in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and especially in New York City’s Times Square
Soviet Victory Day
As the Soviet representative in Reims had no authority to sign the German instrument of surrender, the Soviet leadership proposed to consider Reims surrender as a “preliminary” act. The surrender ceremony was repeated in Berlin on May the 8th, where the instrument of surrender was signed by supreme German military commander Wilhelm Keitel, by Georgy Zhukov and Allied representatives.
Since the Soviet Union was to the east of Germany, it was 9 May Moscow Time when the German military surrender became effective, which is why Russia and most of the former Soviet republics commemorate Victory Day on May the 9th instead of May the 8th.
United Kingdom: In 1995 the May Day Bank Holiday was moved from the first Monday in May, May 1st, to Monday the 8th of May, for that year only, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War.
East Germany as Tag der Befreiung (Day of Liberation), a public holiday from 1950 to 1966 and in 1985. Between 1975 and 1990, as Tag des Sieges (Victory Day (May 9th)).
France as Victoire 1945
Slovakia as Deň víťazstva nad fašizmom (Victory over Fascism Day)
Czech Republic as Den vítězství (Day of Victory) or Den osvobození (Day of Liberation)
Poland as “Dzień Zwycięstwa” (Day of Victory)
Norway as “Frigjøringsdagen” (Liberation Day) (8th May)
Denmark (5th May) as “Befrielsen” (The Liberation)
Netherlands (5th May) as “Bevrijdingsdag” (Liberation Day)
Ukraine (8th May) “День Пам’яті” (Memorial Day, non-holiday)
Ukraine (9th May) “День Перемоги” (Victory Day, holiday)
Belarus (9th May) “Дзень Перамогі” (Victory Day)
Russia (9th May) “День победы” (Victory Day)
Kazakhstan (9th May) as “Жеңіс күні” or “День победы” (Victory Day)
British Channel Islands Liberation Days: Jersey and Guernsey (9th May), Sark (10t May)
Italy (25th April) “Festa della Liberazione” (Liberation Holiday).
Crowds in London on V E Day 1945
Sir Winston Churchills V E Day Speech
Sourced from You Tube
Picture by “Churchill waves to crowds”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Churchill_waves_to_crowds.jpg#/media/File:Churchill_waves_to_crowds.jpg
Picture from Wikipedia
Sourced from Wikipedia