Friday, May 4, 2012

V-E Day "Victory in Europe"

On May 8, 1945, V-E Day (Victory in Europe), the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.  On April 30th Hitler committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin, and his replacement, President of Germany Karl Donitz, authorized the surrender.  The act of military surrender was signed on May 7, 1945 in Reims, France, and ratified on May 8th in Berlin, Germany.

World War II started on September 1, 1939.  These six years of war are known as the most widespread ever fought.  With over 100 million serving in military units, this period is called the deadliest conflict in human history.

When Nazi Germany was defeated celebrations erupted throughout the Western world.  From Moscow to New York, people were in the streets cheering.  In the United Kingdom, more than one million people celebrated in the streets.  In London, crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square and up and down The Mall of Buckingham Palace, where King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of the palace before the cheering crowds.  Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen of England, and her sister, Princess Margaret,  were allowed to wander anonymously among the crowds and take part in the celebration.

In the United States, President Harry Truman dedicated the victory to the memory of Franklin D. Roosevelt who had died of a cerebral hemorrhage less than a month before.  Huge celebrations also took place in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and especially in New York City's Time Square.

The Soviet Union was east of Germany, so they celebrated the surrender on May 9.

The war with Germany ended with the total victory of the Allies. World War II altered the political alignment and social structure of the world. The United Nations was established "to foster international cooperation and prevent future conflicts." The Soviet Union and the United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the Cold War, which lasted for the next 46 years. Meanwhile, the influence of European great powers started to decline, while the decolonisation of Asia and Africa began. Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery. Political integration, especially in Europe, emerged as an effort to stabilize postwar relations.

**The picture to the right is an aspirin box that was made to commemorate V-E Day in 1945.  It was a light cardboard box and read on the back, "Because Steel is Needed for Tanks, Guns, Planes, Ships We Have Adopted This New Victory Package to Help Conserve Metals Needed For The War Effort".  In 1975, this Author, was visiting her great aunt.  I told her I had a headache.  She went to the bathroom and returned with this box of aspirins for me to take!  I declined the offer, but did ask her if I could have the box.  God bless Aunt Eva.

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