A Look Back: V-E Day
Do you have World War II veterans in your family tree? On May 8, 1945, the Allied nations celebrated Victory in Europe Day. Millions throughout Western Europe took to the streets to celebrate the unconditional surrender of the Nazis, which effectively marked the end of World War II in Europe.
Check out some interesting facts about V-E Day:
The official act of military surrender was signed on May 7, 1945
After the suicide of Adolf Hitler during the Battle of Berlin and the collapse of the Nazi party, the end of the war was clearly in sight. Hitler’s successor, Karl Dönitz, would authorize Germany’s surrender and officially sign the documentation on May 7, 1954 in Reims, France. The news was held 24 hours and announced simultaneously on May 8th.
President Harry S. Truman’s birthday was extra special
In the United States, the victory announcement coincided with President Harry S. Truman’s 61st birthday. He dedicated the victory to the memory of his predecessor Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died less than a month earlier on April 12.
The future Queen Elizabeth got to celebrate amongst the people
Celebrations in London took place in Trafalgar Square and up the street to Buckingham Palace. While King George VI and Winston Churchill appeared on the Palace’s balcony before the cheering crowds, Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret wandered incognito among the crowds to take part in the celebrations.
Russia celebrates V-E Day on May 9
Joseph Stalin claimed the Soviet representative at Reims, General Ivan Susloparov, didn’t have the proper authority to sign for the Soviet side. Displeased, Stalin declared the document drafted by the Allies a “preliminary” act. The ceremony was repeated the next day in Berlin, thus Russia and most of the other Soviet republics celebrate V-E Day on May 9th.
V-E Day did not mark the end to all of the fighting in World War II
Although the war officially ended in Europe, fighting continued in the Pacific. The Japanese continued to fight until their surrender on August 15, 1945. Japan’s surrender is celebrated as V-J Day (Victory over Japan Day).