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This Day in History: Europe Celebrates ‘VE Day’ After German Defeat  

  • VOA News

Pfc. Clarence K. Ayers of Evansville, Ind., reads the news of VE Day as newly arrived German prisoners stand of a New York City pier on May 8, 1945.

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.

A crowd gathers to celebrate V-E Day at Piccadilly Circus in London, England, May 8, 1945.
A crowd gathers to celebrate V-E Day at Piccadilly Circus in London, England, May 8, 1945.


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 Chancellor Adolf Hitler during his address in Berlin, May 1, 1936.
German Chancellor Adolf Hitler during his address in Berlin, May 1, 1936.

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.

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