Seventy-two years ago on May 8, 1945, tens of thousands of people gathered in streets across the world to celebrate “VE Day” — Victory in Europe Day — the official end of the Second World War on the continent.
U.S. President Harry Truman announced the surrender of German forces during a broadcast address to the American people.
Truman said, “Much remains to be done,” a reference to fighting against Japan in the Asia-Pacific rim.
In Britain, Londoners celebrated that six years of death and hardship were finally over.
On May 7, at 2:41 a.m. local time, officials representing the victorious Allied nations met with German officials in Reims, France, the venue for the signing of the official surrender documents; but, in keeping with an earlier accord among Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union, 24 hours passed before they formally announced the end of fighting so the news could be made public simultaneously on May 8.
German leader Adolf Hitler had committed suicide a week earlier as allied Russian forces moved deeper into Berlin.
The Japanese surrendered months later on August 15, after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
To this day, VE Day is marked annually in Europe.