65 years ago, victory in Europe

7 May 2010

Victory Day in Europe

May 8th 1945, was the date the Allies celebrated the defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler’s Reich, formally recognising the end of the Second World War in Europe.

The Allies had begun to overrun Germany from the west during April as Russian forces advanced from the east. On 25th April 1945, Allied and Soviet forces met at the Elbe River, the German Army was all but destroyed.

Five days later, Hitler killed his dog, his new wife Eva and then committed suicide in his Berlin bunker. His successor, Admiral Karl Doenitz, sent General Alfred Jodl to General Dwight Eisenhower’s Supreme Allied Headquarters in Rheims to seek terms for an end to the war. At 2:41 a.m. on 7th May, General Jodl signed the unconditional surrender of German forces, which was to take effect from 8th May at 11:01 p.m.

After six years and millions of lives lost, the Nazi scourge was crushed and the war in Europe was finally over.

It was on this date that great celebrations took place across Europe and North America: in London over a million people celebrated the end of the European war. Crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of the Palace to cheering crowds.

The rest of this article is here and includes historic photographs.

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H/T to Andrew Stuttaford at National Review Online:

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there”
L.P. Hartley

Remembering VE Day celebrations

This weekend sees the 65th anniversary of VE Day, the day the war in Europe finally ended.

With Hitler dead and Nazi Germany defeated people celebrated in street parties and parades.

BBC Correspondent Robert Hall has been to the village of Kings Langley in Hertfordshire where rare amateur footage was filmed, showing ordinary people gathering to mark the day.

A group of villagers from the time met up to watch it and share their memories.

Footage courtesy of Imperial War Museum

Footage shows VE Day celebrations in Gateshead
Video at BBC.co.uk

CAJ Note: while viewing the film from Gateshead, we wondered about all the food on the table and where anything resembling pastries might have come from: by the end of the war, Britons had endured years of rationing which would not completely end until 1955.

2010: The Retirement of Major Geoffrey Langlands, Pakistan
Meet the 92 year-old teacher finally calling it a day.

Almost seventy years ago, a young British army officer arrived in the Indian subcontinent ready for adventure. He never left.

Major Geoffrey Langlands was present at the birth of Pakistan in 1947 and has spent more than half a century teaching there. Now he is looking for a successor to take over his mountain school in the Chitral Valley in northern Pakistan.

Watch the video profiling this remarkable man.

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V-E Day celebrations 2010: veterans criticise lack of ‘enthusiasm’ to mark anniversary

Britain is not doing enough to mark the 65th anniversary of V-E Day, according to Second World War veterans’ groups.

by Peter Hutchison
Telegraph [UK]
04 May 2010

The anniversary falls this Saturday and with many veterans now in their late eighties or nineties, veterans suggested that a special effort should have been made for what may be the last major anniversary for many.

The government was, however, unable to say on Monday whether it would be organising anything more than the usual events to mark the date carried out every year amid concerns they will be overshadowed by the election.

In Europe, by contrast, thousands of Canadian students, teachers, and veterans will travel to Holland to take part in an official ceremony which will be followed by a week of Dutch commemorative events.

On Sunday the French President Nicolas Sarkozy will attend a victory parade in commemoration of the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union.

Significant celebrations took place across Britain for the 50th anniversary in 1995 including an open-air concert in Hyde Park while street parties were organised in towns and villages across Britain.

Veterans suggested that something on a similar scale should have been organised this year to pay tribute to the 580,406 UK and Commonwealth Forces and 67,073 British civilians who lost their lives during the Second World War.

They also complained that the General Election was threatening to overshadow the celebrations and questioned whether it was respectful to those who died to hold the election so close to the anniversary marking the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Douglas Young, the executive chairman of the British Armed Forces Federation, which represents both serving personnel and veterans, said the celebrations “could have been done better”.

“We feel it would have been much better to celebrate this significant anniversary with a little bit more enthusiasm,” he said.

The article continues at the Telegraph.

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