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Victory in Europe Day
Date 8 May
Next time 8 May 2020 (2020-05-08)
Frequency annual
Churchill waves to crowds

Winston Churchill waves to crowds in Whitehall, London on the day he broadcast to the nation the war with Germany was over.

VE DAY Piccadily 1945

Crowds gathered in celebration at Piccadilly Circus during VE Day, 1945.

German instrument of surrender2

The instrument of surrender signed at Reims on 7 May 1945.

Allied army positions on 10 May 1945

Final positions of the Allied armies, May 1945.

4 US MPs reading about German surrender army.mil-2007-05-07-132957

US MP's reading about German surrender in Stars and Stripes

Victory in Europe Day—known as V-E Day or VE Day—was the public holiday celebrated on 8 May 1945 (in Commonwealth countries, 7 May 1945) to mark the date when the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich, thus ending the war in Europe. The formal surrender of the occupying German forces in the Channel Islands was not until 9 May 1945. On 30 April Hitler committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin, and so the surrender of Germany was authorized by his successor, President of Germany 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.

CelebrationsEdit

Upon the defeat of Germany (Italy having already surrendered), celebrations erupted throughout the Western world. From Moscow to Los Angeles, people cheered. 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.[1]

In the United States, the victory happened on President Harry Truman's 61st birthday.[2] 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.[3] Flags remained at half-staff for the remainder of the 30-day mourning period.[4][5] 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."[3] Later that day, Truman said that the victory made it his most enjoyable birthday.[2]

Massive celebrations also took place in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and especially in New York City's Times Square.[6]

Soviet Victory DayEdit

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 8, 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 May 9 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 holidaysEdit

(May 8 unless otherwise stated)

  • United Kingdom - 1995 May Day Bank Holiday was moved from the first Monday in May to 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 (May 9)).
  • France as Victoire 1945
  • Slovakia as Deň víťazstva nad fašizmom (Victory over Fascism Day)[7]
  • Czech Republic as Den vítězství (Day of Victory) or Den osvobození (Day of Liberation)
  • Norway as "Frigjøringsdagen" (Liberation Day) (8 May)
  • Denmark (5 May) as "Befrielsen" (The Liberation)
  • Netherlands (5 May) as "Bevrijdingsdag" (Liberation Day)
  • Ukraine (9 May) "День Перемоги" (Victory Day)
  • Belarus (9 May) "День Перамоги" (Victory Day)
  • Russia (9 May) "День победы" (Victory Day)
  • Kazakhstan (9 May) as "Жеңіс күні" or "День победы" (Victory Day)[8]
  • British Channel Islands Liberation Days: Jersey and Guernsey (May 9), Sark (May 10)

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. About VE Day The Royal British Legion
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Truman Marks Birthday". May 9, 1945. p. 6. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Victory Wreath From Truman Is Laid On Hyde Park Grave of War President". May 9, 1945. p. 15. 
  4. "Army Extends Mourning Period". May 12, 1945. p. 13. 
  5. United Press (May 15, 1945). "30 Days of Mourning For Roosevelt Ended". p. 4. 
  6. V-E Day University of San Diego, archived May 15, 2008 from http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/ww2Timeline/qt/v-eday.html
  7. Public holidays in Slovakia
  8. Victory Day (9 May)

External linksEdit

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