Victory in Europe Day | World War II

Victory in Europe Day | World War II

Overview

Victory in Europe Day marks the formal recognition by the Allies of World War II of Germany's unconditional surrender of its military forces on May 8, 1945, marking the end of World War II in Europe. Several countries commemorate public holidays every year, also known as Victory over Fascism Day, Liberation Day, or Victory Day. In the United Kingdom, it is sometimes abbreviated to VE Day, or V-E Day in the United States, a word coined in September 1944 in expectation of triumph. In addition, several former Soviet bloc countries, notably Russia, Belarus, and Serbia, commemorate the conclusion of all combat operations at 23:01 CET, which was already 9 May in the Soviet Union, on May 9th. Because of the vast number of immigrants from the former Soviet bloc, Israel commemorates VE Day on May 9th, but it is not a national holiday.

History

The Nazi leader Adolf Hitler committed himself on April 30th during the Battle of Berlin, and his successor, Reichspräsident Karl Dönitz, approved Germany's surrender. The Flensburg Government was the name given to Dönitz's administration. The initial act of military surrender was signed at 02:41 on May 7 in SHAEF HQ in Reims. A slightly amended document, considered the formal German Instrument of Surrender, was signed at 21:20 local time May 8 in Karlshorst, Berlin.

The German High Command will instruct all German military, naval, and aviation authorities and troops under German control to halt active operations on May 8, 1945.

German Instrument of Surrender, Article 2: Following Germany's defeat, jubilation erupted worldwide, particularly in the United Kingdom and North America. To honor the end of the European war, almost a million people marched through the streets of the United Kingdom. Crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square and marched to Buckingham Palace along the Mall. Queen Elizabeth and King George VI, accompanied by their daughters and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, stood on the palace balcony in front of jubilant crowds. Churchill made his way to Whitehall from the palace, where he addressed another large group, saying, "God bless you all." It is your victory. There has not ever been a more appropriate day in the history of our country than today. Male or female, everyone has given it they are all.

He then motioned for Ernest Bevin to come up and join in the ovation. "No, Winston, this is your day," Bevin remarked before leading the crowd in singing For He's a Jolly Good Fellow. Later, Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret were permitted to mingle with the masses and participate in the festivities in secret.

The ceremony took place on President Harry Truman's 61st birthday in the United States. Less than a month before, he dedicated the win to his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died of a brain haemorrhage on April 12. For the 30-day mourning period, flags were flown at half-staff. Truman's only wish was that "Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day" when dedicating the triumph to Roosevelt's memory and flying the flags at half-staff. Later that day, Truman stated that the win had made his birthday the most pleasurable he had ever had. Many American cities held large festivities, notably New York's Times Square.

Both Churchill and Truman tempered the joy by pointing out that the war against Japan had not yet been won. "We may afford ourselves a small period of rejoicing (while Japan remains unsubdued)," Churchill addressed the British people in a radio broadcast at 15:00 on May 8. Truman broadcast at 09:00 a.m. in America, saying it was "a triumph only half won."

National Celebrations

VE Day is commemorated as a public and national holiday in many European countries.

Austria

At the request of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a live speech on the Austrian TV channel ORF on the eve of the diamond jubilee in 2020. The Joy Festival is an Austrian commemorative event for VE Day. The Festival of Joy has been organized by the Mauthausen Committee Austria (MK) in conjunction with Vienna and the Austrian government since 2013. Every year, the festival takes place in Heldenplatz.

France

The 8th of May is VE Day in France, a national and public holiday. On this date, Orléans commemorates both VE Day and the anniversary of the Siege of Orléans, which was lifted by French forces headed by Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years War.

Germany

On May 8, commemorations will be held in Berlin to honour individuals who fought against Nazism in the German Resistance and died in World War II. On the 75th anniversary of the surrender, Berlin will celebrate a regional holiday on May 8, 2020. East Germany's Tag der Befreiung (Day of Liberation) was first observed in 1950 under Walter Ulbricht's regime every year until communism fell. It was Tag des Sieges from 1975 to 1990. (Victory Day).

Poland

In Poland, the 8th of May is recognized as the "National Day of Zwycistwa" (National Victory Day). From 1945 to 2014, Poland officially recognized 9 May, and on April 24, 2015, Poland recognised formally National Victory Day. A conference of the Council of Ministers was held on May 8, 1945, to discuss whether the holiday should be established on May 8 (as proposed by Marshal Micha Rola-ymierski) or May 10. (offered by the government). Finally, a decree issued on May 9 proclaimed Poland's National Day of Victory and Freedom. It was observed with Russian traditions from 1946 to 1989, while Russia was still a Soviet state. The most significant events occurred in Warsaw at Plac Zwycistwa or Plac Defilad (most notably in 1985). Although no formal ceremonies were held after 1990, several cities, military units, and municipal administrations celebrated. To this day, the Russian minority in Poland celebrates 9 May traditions. In late March 2015, the President of the Institute of National Remembrance, ukasz Kamiski, wrote to the Speaker of the Sejm, proposing that the date be changed from 9 to 8 May, in light of the coming 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. On April 24, the Sejm passed the Act on National Victory Day, observed on May 8, while also repealing the National Day of Victory and Freedom, celebrated on May 9.

United Kingdom of Great Britain

On May 8, the United Kingdom commemorates Victory in Europe Day as a national holiday. Due to the proximity to the May Day bank holiday on the first Monday in May, VE Day is not a yearly public holiday. The bank holiday was moved from the earlier Monday to the 8th of May in 1995 and 2020, respectively, to celebrate VE Day's 50th and 75th anniversaries.

Other Commemorative Events

Belgium

Since 1974, the Armistice of 11 November 1918 (Dutch: Wapenstilstandsdag), an annual national holiday in Belgium, has commemorated the end of World War II. Every year on this day, a truce-ceremony is held in the king's presence at the Tomb of the Anonymous Soldier near the Congress Column in Brussels, initially to honour the casualties of World War I those of World War II and all other wars around the world.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has officially celebrated 8 May as Victory Day (Den vtzstv) and Liberation Day (Den osvobozen) since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993. The liberation of Plze by American forces was honoured on May 5th in subsequent years. The communist Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was observed on 9 May, commemorated every five years on Letná by a military parade of the Czechoslovak People's Army (SLA) from 1948 to 1993

European Union

The European Union celebrates "peace and togetherness in Europe" on May 9th, the 50th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration.

Baltic States

Due to their shared occupational heritage, the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) remember 8 May but do not formally recognize 9 May as a holiday. Despite this, local Russian communities continue to commemorate the occasion unofficially. Diplomats (mainly Russian and other Commonwealth of Independent States ambassadors) and local politicians of Russian ancestry are generally present.

Last updated: 2022-January-13
Tags: History World War II
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