A joyous world event 70 years ago today.  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.

US Navy sailor, Glenn McDuffie and nursing student, Gloria Bullard in famous August 14, 1945 photograph

US Navy sailor, Glenn McDuffie and nursing student, Gloria Bullard in famous August 14, 1945 photograph

Gloria Bullard re-enacts her famous Victory Over Japan Day kiss from 1945, 67 years later. WW2 fighter pilot Jerry Yellin substitutes for sailor, Glenn McDuffie not present

Gloria Bullard re-enacts her famous Victory Over Japan Day kiss from 1945, 67 years later.
WW2 fighter pilot Jerry Yellin substitutes for sailor, Glenn McDuffie not present

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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8 responses

  1. Lot’s of reason to celebrate! In so many ways they had defeated evil and saved the world.
    Stopping in from Life & Faith in Caneyhead

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  2. Jo Wake says:

    I was 6 and I remember there was a parade in town in which my father took part. We were staying in “digs” and several of us kids tried to crowd the TV in order to see the picture on the tiny screen. The adults kept trying to make us back up telling us the picture was better from a distance. They were right, but we didn’t agree as kids.

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  3. There was a story today in the paper about a local man who was held prisoner for the last two months of the war. He said he survived on dandelions and the occasional rutabaga. Makes me feel differently toward all the weeds I saw on my walk this morning.

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  4. Birgit says:

    I love that picture by Alfred Eisenstadt (the 2 kissing). He was a famous Life Photographer. The other famous one that comes into my head is the one he took of Josef Goebbels glowering at him-picture of pure evil in my mind. Esienstadt was Jewish. This is a great victory and we must be thankful to all the people who fought and help during WW2. My feelings are always somewhat sad because my mom said this is when he real hell began. She and her family were praying the Americans would take over their area but it was the Russians. The first 6 months for her were one of rape, starvation and sadness

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