VE "Victory Over Europe" Day marks the formal acceptance by the Allied Forces of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender.
Prior to the surrender of the German Nazi forces, Adolf Hitler and his new bride (and longtime mistress), Eva Braun, committed suicide, which left the Nazi's under the control of General Karl Dönitz. Dönitz negotiated for surrender in hopes that the Allies would prove more lenient than their Soviet adversaries and their leader, Josef Stalin. Unfortunately for Dönitz, Britain, France and the United States insisted that Germany surrender to all the Allied Forces simultaneously. The unconditional surrender occurred in France on May 8th, 1945 at the Reims headquarters of US General Dwight D. Eisenhower- the supreme commander of all the Allied Forces in Europe.
Celebrations Held Around the World
- Great Britain- Over one million people celebrated in the streets of Great Britain. In London, celebrations took place in Trafalgar Square and through the Mall to Buckingham Palace. King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill were witnessed joining in on the celebrations from the Palace's balcony. Buckingham Palace was lit by floodlights during the night of VE day as well as a giant V was illuminated into the sky above St. Paul's Cathedral, which ended the six year darkness of Britain during the second World War.
- United States- VE Day took place on then-President Truman's 61st birthday. He dedicated the victory to his beloved predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who passed away almost a month prior on April 12th, 1945. Truman said that his only wish was that FDR "had lived to witness this day." Due to his death, Americans were in mourning and American flags were at half-staff. Crowds still gathered in many cities across the nation, such as New York City in Times Square, but the celebrations were less expressive than Europe due to Roosevelt's passing.
- France- At the Allied Forces Headquarters in Reims and throughout Paris, crowds exploded into celebration through the Arc de Triomphe with citizens waving Allied Forces flags cheerfully.
- Soviet Union- Josef Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, refused to accept Germany's surrender agreement in Reims. On May 9th, 1945, Stalin made the Germans sign another surrender agreement in Soviet-Occupied Berlin, thus VE Day was celebrated that day. Fireworks erupted over the Kremlin and celebrations rang out in Red Square.