Victory in Europe Day

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Victory in Europe Day
Churchill waves to crowds.jpg
Winston Churchill waving to crowds celebrating the end of the war in Whitehall on 8 May 1945
Also called
  • VE Day
  • V-E Day
Observed byEuropean states (see below)
SignificanceEnd of World War II in Europe
Date8 or 9 May 1945
Related toVictory over Japan Day, Victory Day

Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day (Great Britain) or V-E Day (North America), or simply as V-Day, is a day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces on May 8, 1945.

On 30 April 1945, Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin. Germany's surrender was authorised by his successor, Reichspräsident Karl Dönitz. The administration headed by Dönitz was known as the Flensburg Government. The act of military surrender was first signed at 02:41 on 7 May in SHAEF HQ at Reims,[1] and a slightly modified document was signed on May 8th in Berlin.

Most European countries celebrate the end of World War II on the 8th of May. Russia, Belarus, and Serbia celebrate on May 9th, as did several former Soviet bloc countries. Israel marks VE Day on May 9th, as well, as a result of the large number of immigrants from the former Soviet bloc, although it is not a public holiday. The term VE Day existed as early as September 1944,[2] in anticipation of victory.

Celebrations[edit]

Crowds gathering in celebration at Piccadilly Circus, London during VE Day in 1945
Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signing the final surrender terms on 8 May 1945 in Berlin
Final positions of the Allied armies, May 1945.
United States military policemen reading about the German surrender in the newspaper Stars and Stripes
Britain remembers the 50th anniversary in 1995 with a Lancaster bomber dropping poppies in front of Buckingham Palace

Upon the defeat of Germany, celebrations erupted throughout the western world, especially in Great Britain and North America. More than one million people celebrated in the streets throughout Great Britain 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.[3][4]

In the United States, the victory happened on President Harry Truman's 61st birthday.[5] 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 12 April.[6] Flags remained at half-staff for the remainder of the 30-day mourning period.[7][8] Truman said of dedicating the victory to Roosevelt's memory and keeping the flags at half-staff that his only wish was "that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day".[6] Later that day, Truman said that the victory made it his most enjoyable birthday.[5] Massive celebrations took place in many American cities, especially in New York's Times Square.[9]

Tempering the jubilation somewhat, both Churchill and Truman pointed out that the war against Japan had not yet been won. In his radio broadcast at 15:00 on the 8th, Churchill told the British people that: "We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing (as Japan) remains unsubdued".[10] In America, Truman broadcast at 09:00 and said it was "a victory only half won".[11]

Soviet Victory Day[edit]

The instrument of surrender signed 7 May 1945 stipulated all hostilities had to stop at 23:01 (CET), 8 May 1945, just an hour before midnight. Since that time would be already 9 May in the USSR, most post-Soviet states, including Russia celebrated Victory Day on 9 May. Since the end of Communism the former Soviet bloc in Europe except Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Serbia have shifted to celebrate, where the date is celebrated such as on major anniversaries, 8 May as the end of World War II, in line with the 7 May 1945 unconditional surrender document that Soviet and Russian leaders refused to recognise.

Commemorative public holidays[edit]

(May 8 unless otherwise stated)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hamilton, Charles (1996). Leaders & Personalities of the Third Reich, Vol. 2. San José, CA: R. James Bender Publishing. pp. 285, 286. ISBN 978-0-912138-66-4.
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas. "VE Day". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Welcome to the Dunmow & District Branch of The Royal British Legion". The Royal British Legion. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  4. ^ "VE Day". www.simcoe.ca. County of Simcoe. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Truman Marks Birthday". The New York Times. May 9, 1945. p. 6.
  6. ^ a b "Victory Wreath From Truman Is Laid On Hyde Park Grave of War President". New York Times. Associated Press. May 9, 1945. p. 15.
  7. ^ "Army Extends Mourning Period". New York Times. Associated Press. May 12, 1945. p. 13.
  8. ^ United Press (May 15, 1945). "30 Days of Mourning For Roosevelt Ended". New York Times. p. 4.
  9. ^ Telfer, Kevin (2015). The Summer of '45. Islington: Aurum Press Ltd. p. 75. ISBN 978 1 78131 435 7.
  10. ^ Telfer, p. 33.
  11. ^ Telfer, p. 76.
  12. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MAZqv0F5L8
  13. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPDDhbRDoD8
  14. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHwXKqesKR0
  15. ^ "2020 May bank holiday will be moved to mark 75th anniversary of VE Day". GOV.UK. 7 June 2019. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  16. ^ Public holidays in Slovakia
  17. ^ Ukraine to mark both May 8 and May 9 this year – deputy PM, Interfax-Ukraine (24.03.2015))
  18. ^ Президент утвердил мероприятия по празднованию 70-й годовщины Победы и установил 8 мая Днем памяти и примирения Archived April 29, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, President of Ukraine (24.03.2015))
  19. ^ Victory Day (9 May)
  20. ^ Victory Day (9 May)

External links[edit]