Yesterday I wrote about Germany’s unconditional surrender.  On May 8, 1945 its official, Victory in Europe.  Great Britain and the United States celebrate Victory in Europe Day. Cities in both nations, as well as formerly occupied cities in Western Europe, put out flags and banners, rejoicing in the defeat of the Nazi war machine.  The eighth of May spelled the day when German troops throughout Europe finally laid down their arms: In Prague, Germans surrendered to their Soviet antagonists, after the latter had lost more than 8,000 soldiers, and the Germans considerably more; in Copenhagen and Oslo; at Karlshorst, near Berlin; in northern Latvia; on the Channel Island of Sark–the German surrender was realized in a final cease-fire. More surrender documents were signed in Berlin and in eastern Germany.

The main concern of many German soldiers was to elude the grasp of Soviet forces, to keep from being taken prisoner. About 1 million Germans attempted a mass exodus to the West when the fighting in Czechoslovakia ended, but were stopped by the Russians and taken captive. The Russians took approximately 2 million prisoners in the period just before and after the German surrender.

Meanwhile, more than 13,000 British POWs were released and sent back to Great Britain.

Pockets of German-Soviet confrontation would continue into the next day. On May 9, the Soviets would lose 600 more soldiers in Silesia before the Germans finally surrendered. Consequently, V-E Day was not celebrated until the ninth in Moscow, with a radio broadcast salute from Stalin himself: “The age-long struggle of the Slav nations…has ended in victory. Your courage has defeated the Nazis. The war is over.”

A little over three months later, the world would be celebrating again for V-J Day – Victory over Japan.  For V-E Day, I think photographs tell the story well.

V-E Day, Times Square, NYC

V-E Day, Times Square, NYC

 

V-E Day, Whitehall, UK

V-E Day, Whitehall, UK

 

German Prisoners, Moscow May 1945

German Prisoners, Moscow May 1945

VE Day Celebrations in London, 8 may 1945.

VE Day Celebrations in London, 8 may 1945.

Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the King and Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth.

Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the King and Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth.

 

 

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3 responses

  1. Birgit says:

    It was a great moment and a shame it could not have happened sooner. My mom and her family were praying the Americans would take over their area but it was the Russians and she said that is when the real hell began. She was taken by the Russians and was placed on a train. They were told they were going some place but my mom and a few others noticed they were heading towards the Polish border and Russia. There was a dispute between Russia and Poles at the border so my mom and the other were hearded into a nearby barn. My mom and a few tried to convince the others they were going the wrong way. It ended up my mom and 5 others escaped and she hid for a month or so. I never heard about where she was going or what this was until i heard about it on a show called It Seems Like Yesterday. My mom could have disappeared and never seen again. The victory needs to be always remembered and taught in schools but so should other things like what my mom and thousands others experienced. so sad for everyone

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    • Wow your mom really endured a lot. You should write her story. I think it would be really interesting and teach others about that time in history.

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    • Janine says:

      Hi Maryann! I knew you would write something about Germany’s final surrender and the end of that part of the war, so I came looking for it. I still haven’t made any inroads at writing my mothers story in something more marketable, but I will always be thinking about it and one day will make it happen.
      Hi Brigit. I don’t know if you’ll be reading this comment, but I wanted to say hello just in case. It sounds like our mothers were both in Germany at the same time. On May 8th my mother was also in the Russian zone, but somehow was never taken away. Instead they wreaked havoc in other ways. Eventually my mom and her family went back home to Berlin where the Americans were occupying. Our mothers have very serious stories to tell. It doesn’t seem that enough is written from their point of view.

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