Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of V-E Day

Friday May 8, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of V-E Day here in the United States. On this day 75 years ago, the unconditional surrender of Nazi German forces in Europe was formalized. Days after Hitler’s suicide on April 30, the German government under the control of Karl Dönitz first signed paperwork at the Allied headquarters in Reims, France on May 7, 1945, then signed slightly modified and formal paperwork on May 8 in Berlin.

Most Allied nations recognize May 8 as V-E Day, though some former Soviet countries celebrate May 9, due to lingering skirmishes between German and Soviet forces until that date in 1945.

As news of the surrender spread around the world, celebrations broke out in big cities and small towns alike. In London, thousands gathered in the streets, celebrating at Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Winston Churchill appeared on the palace balcony to share the news. In New York, Times Square was flooded with people joyous that the war in Europe was over.

Ultimately, the celebrations were tempered by the fact that the war in the Pacific was still raging. Both Churchill and President Truman emphasized in addresses that while a period of celebration was warranted, there was still much to be done. For many who had lost loved ones in the European fronts, the day was observed on a more somber note. 

To commemorate 75 years since victory in Europe, explore the gallery below with photos and an audio clip from the original celebrations. 

A photo of the celebrations in Toronto, Ontario, Canada showing the newspaper headline: “GERMANY SURRENDERS”

A group of U.S. MPs in Europe gathered around a jeep reading about the Nazi surrender. Many American troops would remain in Europe long after V-E Day as part of occupation and rebuilding operations

Prime Minister Winston Churchill flashes his famous “V for Victory” salute to a crowd celebrating in the street on V-E Day

Celebrating the end of war in Europe

U.S. soldiers in the 77th Infantry Division learn about the German surrender from their position on the island of Okinawa. (Photo: “Army in Okinawa on VE Day,” cropped, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 by England via Flickr)

Victory in Europe Day – Radio Broadcasts

Featuring a clip of Truman’s V-E Day address and news about celebrations in London and New York