Victory in Europe Day: Time of Celebration, Reflection

On Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day, Germany unconditionally surrendered its military forces to the Allies, including the United States.

Red roses placed on the National World War II Memorial during the Victory in Europe Day observance at the memorial in Washington, May 8, 2019

On May 8, 1945 - known as Victory in Europe Day or V-E Day - celebrations erupted around the world to mark the end of World War II in Europe.

The war had been raging for almost five years when U.S. and Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. The invasion signaled the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. In less than a year, Germany would surrender and Hitler would be dead.

But in his speech to the nation on V-E Day, President Harry S. Truman cautioned that Allies must "work to finish the war" by defeating the Japanese in the Pacific.

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A German officer signs surrender papers.

There were two surrender signings. The first was on May 7, 1945, when German Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl signed Germany's surrender on all fronts in Reims, France.

A military man signs some papers while others look on.

The second signing - insisted upon by Soviet Premier Josef Stalin - was by German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel the next day in Berlin.

Jodl and Keitel were later found guilty of war crimes by the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, and both were subsequently executed.

Prisoners cheer and wave as U.S soldiers walk by.

V-E Day marked the end of most of the fighting in Europe, where tens of millions of service members and civilians were killed since the start of hostilities.

German planes fly over Poland

The conflict began in 1939, when Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland. Among the dead were about 6 million Jews who were murdered by Nazi Germany.

Some 250,000 U.S. troops were also killed in the fighting in the European theater.

Troops smile as the read a message on a large board.

After the many deaths during the war in Europe, V-E Day was cause for worldwide celebration.

A group of people crowd into a car smiling and waving flags.
Two men stand by a large gun and hold a newspaper.
Soldiers, sailors and civilians hug each other and smile at the camera.
Three sailors read newspapers.
Crowds of people gather on a main street in Paris.

Tens of thousands of people filled the streets of New York, New Orleans, London, and cities in Canada, Australia and other Allied nations. There was also a massive celebration in Paris. U.S. forces participated in the celebrations in France, a nation that had borne much of the brunt of the fighting. The Soviets celebrated their own "Victory Day" on May 9.

President Harry S. Truman sits behind a desk with a microphone holding papers.

President Harry S. Truman announced V-E Day to the American people, saying in a radio address: "Our rejoicing is sobered and subdued by a supreme consciousness of the terrible price we have paid to rid the world of Hitler and his evil band. Let us not forget, my fellow Americans, the sorrow and the heartache, which today abide in the homes of so many of our neighbors - neighbors whose most priceless possession has been rendered as a sacrifice to redeem our liberty."

U.S. troops unload equipment from two Coast Guard tank landing ships on the beach of Leyte Island in the Philippines during the Pacific campaign in 1944.

Although fighting ended in Europe, it continued in the Pacific, where U.S. and Allied forces fought the Japanese in Okinawa, the Philippines and other places. The areas of Western Europe liberated by Allied forces would become thriving democracies, while those liberated in the East would be occupied for decades by Soviet forces.

Eight service members in dress uniforms stand next to several flags at a memorial.

Today, memorials around the world mark the events of V-E Day and World War II and honor those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice, including the National World War II Memorial in Washington.

There were two surrender signings. The first was on May 7, 1945, when German Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl signed Germany's surrender on all fronts in Reims, France.

A German officer signs surrender papers.

The second signing - insisted upon by Soviet Premier Josef Stalin - was by German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel the next day in Berlin. Jodl and Keitel were later found guilty of war crimes by the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, and both were subsequently executed.

A military man signs some papers while others look on.

V-E Day marked the end of most of the fighting in Europe, where tens of millions of service members and civilians were killed since the start of hostilities.

Prisoners cheer and wave as U.S soldiers walk by.

The conflict began in 1939 when Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland. Among the dead were about 6 million Jews who were murdered by Nazi Germany. Some 250,000 U.S. troops were also killed in the fighting in the European theater.

German planes fly over Poland

After the many deaths during the war in Europe, V-E Day was cause for worldwide celebration.

Troops smile as the read a message on a large board. A group of people crowd into a car smiling and waving flags. Two men stand by a large gun and hold a newspaper. Soldiers, sailors and civilians hug each other and smile at the camera. Three sailors read newspapers.

Tens of thousands of people filled the streets of New York, New Orleans, London, and cities in Canada, Australia and other Allied nations. There was also a massive celebration in Paris. U.S. forces participated in the celebrations in France, a nation that had borne much of the brunt of the fighting. The Soviets celebrated their own "Victory Day" on May 9.

Crowds of people gather on a main street in Paris.

President Harry S. Truman announced V-E Day to the American people, saying in a radio address: "Our rejoicing is sobered and subdued by a supreme consciousness of the terrible price we have paid to rid the world of Hitler and his evil band. Let us not forget, my fellow Americans, the sorrow and the heartache, which today abide in the homes of so many of our neighbors - neighbors whose most priceless possession has been rendered as a sacrifice to redeem our liberty."

President Harry S. Truman sits behind a desk with a microphone holding papers.

Although fighting ended in Europe, it continued in the Pacific, where U.S. and Allied forces fought the Japanese in Okinawa, the Philippines and other places. The areas of Western Europe liberated by Allied forces would become thriving democracies, while those liberated in the East would be occupied for decades by Soviet forces.

U.S. troops unload equipment from two Coast Guard tank landing ships on the beach of Leyte Island in the Philippines during the Pacific campaign in 1944.

Today, memorials around the world mark the events of V-E Day and World War II and honor those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice, including the National World War II Memorial in Washington.

Eight service members in dress uniforms stand next to several flags at a memorial.
U.S. troops head back home from Europe following the German surrender, May 25, 1945.

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