Victory in Europe Day

Victory in Europe Day

Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day or VE Day) was May 7 and May 8, 1945, the dates 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. On April 30, Hitler committed suicide during the Battle for Berlin, and so the surrender of Germany was authorized by his replacement, President of Germany Karl Dönitz. The administration headed up by Dönitz was known as the Flensburg government. The "act of military surrender" was signed on May 7 in Reims, France, and May 8 in Berlin, Germany.


urrender in Reims

At 02:42 on 7 May 1945, at the SHAEF headquarters in Reims, France, the Chief-of-Staff of the German Armed Forces High Command, Colonel General Alfred Jodl, signed the German Instrument of Surrender. All active operations were to cease at 23:01 Central European Time on 8 May 1945. However since the British were operating on British Double Summer Time this was 00:01 on May 9th in London. [ [ RAF Site Diary 7/8 May] ]

Western journalists broke the news of surrender prematurely, precipitating the earlier celebration. Fighting continued on the Eastern Front until the Germans surrendered specifically to the Soviets at Karlshorst. The Soviet Union kept to the agreed celebration date, and Russia and other countries still commemorate the end of World War II, a significant part of which is known as the Great Patriotic War in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, as Victory Day on May 9th.

By May 8th, most of Germany had already been taken by Allied forces. Hence V-E day was not such a drastic change for most German civilians. In the years after, V-E day was predominantly perceived as the day of defeat. But over the decades, this perception changed, culminating in the speech by West German President Richard von Weizsäcker on the 40th anniversary of V-E day in 1985, in which he called May 8th "the day of liberation" from the Nazi regime.

urrender in Berlin

Shortly before midnight on May 8th, a second unconditional surrender was signed in the outskirts of Berlin, Germany. The signing ceremony took place in a villa in an eastern suburb of Berlin, Karlshorst. Representatives of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States arrived shortly before midnight. After Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov opened the ceremony, the German command representatives headed by Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel were invited into the room, where they signed the final German Instrument of Surrender entering into force at 23:01 Central European Time. [Keitel is defiant at Berlin ritual. The New York Times. May 10, 1945] The main outside representatives were:

-Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, representing the SHAEF and the United Kingdom.

-USAAF General Carl Spaatz, for the United States

-General d'armée Jean de Lattre de Tassigny for France.


On that date, massive celebrations took place, notably in London, where more than a million people celebrated in a carnival atmosphere the end of the European war, though rationing of food and clothing was to continue for several years, and in fact continued longer during peacetime than the war in Europe had lasted. In London, crowds massed in particular 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 cheering crowds. Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret were allowed to wander anonymously among the crowds and take part in the celebrations.

In the United States, President Harry Truman, who celebrated his 61st birthday that day, dedicated the victory to the memory of his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, because he had been so committed to ending the war. Roosevelt had died less than a month earlier, on April 12. Flags remained at half-staff for the remainder of the 30-day mourning period, which ended on May 12, to pay tribute to Roosevelt's commitment toward ending the war. Massive celebrations also took place in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and especially in New York City's Times Square.

oviet victory Day

Red Army veterans and many people in Russia customarily instead of Western European May 8 celebrate the Victory in Russia's Great Patriotic War day on May 9.

May 8 as Public Holiday

*The former East Germany as "Tag der Befreiung" (Day of liberation).
* France
* Slovakia as "Deň víťazstva nad fašismom" (Victory over Fascism Day) [Public holidays in Slovakia] .
* Czech Republic as "Den vítězství" or "Den osvobození" (Day of liberation).

ee also

*End of World War II in Europe
*Victory over Japan Day
*Time of remembrance and reconciliation


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