Victory in Europe Day
Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day (Great Britain) or V-E Day (North America), is a day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces on 8 May 1945.
|Victory in Europe Day|
Winston Churchill waving to crowds in Whitehall on 8 May celebrating the end of the war
|Observed by||European states (see below)|
|Significance||End of World War II in Europe|
|Date||8 or 9 May 1945|
|Related to||Victory over Japan Day, Victory Day|
Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, had committed suicide on 30 April during the Battle of Berlin and Germany's surrender 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 first signed at 02:41 on 7 May in SHAEF HQ at Reims, and a slightly modified document was signed on 8 May in Berlin.
Most European countries celebrate the end of World War II on 8 May. Russia, Belarus, and Serbia celebrate on 9 May, as did several former Soviet bloc countries. Israel also marks VE Day on 9 May, as a result of the large number of immigrants from the former Soviet bloc, although it is not a public holiday. The term VE Day existed as early as September 1944, in anticipation of victory.
Upon the defeat of Germany, celebrations erupted throughout the western world, especially in Great Britain and North America. More than one million people celebrated in the streets throughout Great Britain 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 event coincided with 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. Massive celebrations took place in many American cities, especially in New York's Times Square.
Tempering the jubilation somewhat, both Churchill and Truman pointed out that the war against Japan had not yet been won. In his radio broadcast at 15:00 on the 8th, Churchill told the British people that: "We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing (as Japan) remains unsubdued". In America, Truman broadcast at 09:00 and said it was "a victory only half won".
Soviet Victory DayEdit
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The instrument of surrender signed 7 May 1945 stipulated that all hostilities must cease at 23:01 (CET), 8 May 1945, just an hour before midnight. Since that time would be already 9 May in the USSR, most Soviet states including Russia celebrated Victory Day on 9 May. Since the end of Communism, the former Soviet bloc in Europe, except Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Serbia, have shifted to celebrate where the date is celebrated, such as on major anniversaries, 8 May as the end of World War II, in line with the 7 May 1945 unconditional surrender document that Soviet and Russian leaders refused to recognise.
Commemorative public holidaysEdit
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(8 May unless otherwise stated)
- Belarus on 9 May as "Дзень Перамогі" (Victory Day).
- Bosnia and Herzegovina on 9 May as "Дан побједе", "Dan pobjede" (Victory Day).
- British Channel Islands have three Liberation Days: 9 May in Jersey and Guernsey; 10 May in Sark; and 16 May in Alderney.
- Denmark on 5 May as "Danmarks befrielse" (Liberation Day).
- Czech Republic as Den vítězství (Day of Victory) or Den osvobození (Day of Liberation).
- France as 8 mai 1945. Orléans simultaneously celebrates both VE Day and the anniversary of the Siege of Orléans being lifted by French forces led by Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years War on this date.
- Georgia on 9 May as "ფაშიზმზე გამარჯვების დღე" (Victory over Fascism Day).
- Germany. Many people go to Berlin on 8 May to commemorate relations who fought against Nazism in the German Resistance and lost their lives in World War II.
- Israel on 9 May as Victory in Europe Day.
- Italy on 25 April as "Festa della Liberazione" (Liberation Day).
- Kazakhstan on 9 May as "Жеңіс күні" or "День победы" (Victory Day).
- Netherlands on 5 May as "Bevrijdingsdag" (Liberation Day).
- Norway as "Frigjøringsdagen" (Liberation Day), which is an "offisiell flaggdag" (official flag day) not a "helligdag" (public holiday).
- Poland as "Narodowy Dzień Zwycięstwa" (National Victory Day).
- Russia on 9 May as "День Победы" (Victory Day).
- Slovakia as Deň víťazstva nad fašizmom (Victory over Fascism Day).
- Ukraine on 9 May as "День перемоги над нацизмом у Другій світовій війні" (Victory over Fascism Day).
- United Kingdom. Not an annual public holiday because of the proximity of the May Day bank holiday on the first Monday in May. In 1995, for that year only, the bank holiday was moved from Monday, 1 May to Monday, 8 May to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VE Day. For the 75th anniversary in 2020, the bank holiday will move from Monday, 4 May to Friday, 8 May.
- Uzbekistan on 9 May as "День Памяти и Почестей" (Victory Day); before 1999, it was known as "Галаба куни" or "День победы".
- East Germany celebrated 8 May as its Tag der Befreiung (Day of Liberation), a public holiday from 1950 to 1966 and in 1985. Between 1975 and 1990, it was Tag des Sieges (Victory Day).
- Yugoslavia celebrated 9 May as (multi-lingual) "Дан победе", "Dan pobede", "Dan pobjede" and "Dan zmage" (Victory Day).
- Hamilton, Charles (1996). Leaders & Personalities of the Third Reich, Vol. 2. San José, CA: R. James Bender Publishing. pp. 285, 286. ISBN 978-0-912138-66-4.
- Harper, Douglas. "VE Day". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- "Welcome to the Dunmow & District Branch of The Royal British Legion". The Royal British Legion. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
- "VE Day". www.simcoe.ca. County of Simcoe. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
- "Truman Marks Birthday". The New York Times. 9 May 1945. p. 6.
- "Victory Wreath From Truman Is Laid On Hyde Park Grave of War President". New York Times. Associated Press. 9 May 1945. p. 15.
- "Army Extends Mourning Period". New York Times. Associated Press. 12 May 1945. p. 13.
- United Press (15 May 1945). "30 Days of Mourning For Roosevelt Ended". New York Times. p. 4.
- Telfer, Kevin (2015). The Summer of '45. Islington: Aurum Press Ltd. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-78-131-435-7.
- Telfer, p. 33.
- Telfer, p. 76.
- "2020 May bank holiday will be moved to mark 75th anniversary of VE Day". GOV.UK. 7 June 2019. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
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