V-E Day, 75 years later
Both the U.S. and Europe celebrate Victory Europe Day. It was on May 8, 1945 when German troops throughout Europe finally laid down their arms. After the Soviet soldiers lost more than 8,000 soldiers and the Germans even more in Prague, the surrender began. Scandinavia is not always thought of as being part of the war, but in Copenhagen and Oslo there was a final cease-fire. At the center of the action in Berlin and in eastern Germany, the Nazi war machine signed surrender documents.
The Russians moved in and took nearly two million prisoners just before and after the surrender. More than 13,000 British prisoners of war were released and sent back to the UK.
May 9, the Soviets would lose more than 600 soldiers in Silesia before the surrender; hence, V-E day was not celebrated until the ninth in Moscow. Stalin gave a rare radio broadcast stating, “The age-long struggle of the Slav nations has ended in victory. Your courage has defeated the Nazis. The war is over.”
According to U.S. Veterans magazine, the national WWII museum was set to host a series of public events at its campus in New Orleans, as well as five educational travel programs throughout England, France and Germany. A special exhibit about Bob Hope’s work with the USO, called So Ready for Laughter, was also set to open at the New York Historical Society to kick off a nationwide tour.
As news of Germany’s surrender reached the rest of the world, joyous crowds gathered to celebrate in the streets, clutching newspapers that declared, “Victory in Europe!”
It was later in the summer that U.S. President Harry S. Truman announced Japans’ surrender and the end of World War II. Imperial Japan surrendered Aug. 15, 1945. Many celebrations across the U.S. and Europe originally scheduled for May 8 have been moved to the weekend of August 15-16 in hopes people can gather then.
The British trio The Charlalas wrote and released a song meant for the 75th anniversary celebrations across the UK. “Shine” was dedicated to the women in Britain who sacrificed for the war effort. In the fact of the current pandemic, the vocalists added images to their new music video to include front-line workers and medical staff and those caring for others as the meaning of the lyrics took on a new meaning.
The music video can be seen at thecharlalas.co.uk/shine/
Arsenal of Democracy is releasing a 75th anniversary tribute to V-E day, “Victory in Europe – VE Day 75 Years Later, which will be broadcast on May 8 starting at 10:30 a.m. when the Commemoration WWII Flyover was originally scheduled to begin its aerial tribute over the National Mall. The broadcast will take place on the U.S. Department of Defense Facebook and Twitter Page as well as the 75th WWII Commemoration Website: ww2flyover.org.
Bruno Peek, Pageantmaster for Britain’s VE Day 75, said despite quarantine restrictions, Britons and others are encouraged to stand at 3 p.m. GMT (9 a.m. Central Time) “within the safety of their living rooms, front or back gardens, outside their front doors or balconies if they have one,” and undertake a toast to the heroes of WWII with the words, “To those who gave so much, we thank you.”
For all of our World War II veterans, those who gave so much, we thank you.