Victory in Europe Day
|Victory in Europe Day|
VE Day 70th anniversary celebrations in Paris
|Observed by||France, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia
|Significance||End of World War II in Europe|
|Date||7/8 May 1945|
|Related to||Victory over Japan Day|
Victory in Europe Day, generally known as V-E Day, VE Day or simply V Day was the public holiday celebrated on 8 May 1945 (7 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.
The term VE Day existed as early as September 1944, in anticipation of victory. On 30 April 1945, Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin. Germany's surrender, therefore, 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 signed on 7 May in Reims, France and on 8 May in Berlin, Germany.
The former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries have historically celebrated the end of World War II on 9 May. However, the Baltic countries now commemorate VE day on 8 May. In Ukraine from 2015, 8 May was designated as a day of Remembrance and Reconciliation, but it is not a public holiday.
Upon the defeat of Germany, 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 12 April. Flags remained at half-staff 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-staff 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.
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 8 May, 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 9 May instead of 8 May.
Commemorative public holidays
(May 8 unless otherwise stated)
- Italy (25 April) "Festa della Liberazione" (Liberation Holiday).
- Denmark (5 May) as "Befrielsen" (The Liberation)
- Netherlands (5 May) as "Bevrijdingsdag" (Liberation Day)
- United Kingdom: In 1995 the May Day bank holiday was moved from the first Monday in May, 1 May, to Monday 8 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 (9 May)).
- 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 "Narodowy Dzień Zwycięstwa" – National Victory Day.
- Norway as "Frigjøringsdagen" (Liberation Day)
- Ukraine (8 May) "День пам'яті та примирення" (Memorial Day)
- Ukraine (9 May) "День перемоги над нацизмом у Другій світовій війні" (Victory Day over Nazism in World War II) — from 2015.
- Georgia (9 May) "ფაშიზმზე გამარჯვების დღე" (Victory over Fascism Day)
- Belarus (9 May) "Дзень Перамогі" (Victory Day)
- Russia (9 May) "День победы" (Victory Day)
- Ex-Yugoslavia (9 May) "Дан победе", "Dan zmage" (Victory Day)
- Serbia (9 May) "Дан победе" (Victory Day)
- Kazakhstan (9 May) as "Жеңіс күні" or "День победы" (Victory Day)
- British Channel Islands Liberation Days: Jersey and Guernsey (9 May), Sark (10 May).
- "Victory in Europe Day". Retrieved 2016-05-03.
- "BBC - History - VE Day". BBC Online. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
- The formal surrender of the German forces occupying the Channel Islands did not occur until the following day, 9 May 1945.
- Harper, Douglas. "VE Day". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- "8 May: Memorial Day for the victims of World War II". Estonian Embassy in Washington. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
-  The Royal British Legion
- "Truman Marks Birthday". The New York Times. May 9, 1945. p. 6.
- "Victory Wreath From Truman Is Laid On Hyde Park Grave of War President". New York Times. Associated Press. May 9, 1945. p. 15.
- "Army Extends Mourning Period". New York Times. Associated Press. May 12, 1945. p. 13.
- United Press (May 15, 1945). "30 Days of Mourning For Roosevelt Ended". New York Times. p. 4.
- V-E Day at the Wayback Machine (archived May 15, 2008) University of San Diego, archived May 15, 2008 from http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/ww2Timeline/qt/v-eday.html
- Public holidays in Slovakia
- Ukraine to mark both May 8 and May 9 this year – deputy PM, Interfax-Ukraine (24.03.2015))
- 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))
- Victory Day (9 May)
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