What You Need To Know About VE Day (2022)

8 May 1945– VE (Victory in Europe) Day – was one that remained in the memory of all those who witnessed it. It meant an end to nearly six years of a war that had cost the lives of millions; had destroyed homes, families, and cities; and had brought huge suffering and privations to the populations of entire countries.

Millions of peoplerejoiced in the news that Germany had surrendered, relieved that the intense strain of total war was finally over. In towns and cities across the world, people marked the victory with street parties, dancing and singing.

But it was not the end of the conflict, nor was it an end to the impact the war had on people.The war against Japan did not end until August 1945, and the political, social and economic repercussions of the Second World War were felt long after Germany and Japan surrendered.

Here's what you need to know about VE Day and how it was marked in Britain and around the world.

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Germany signed an unconditional surrender

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Germany signed an unconditional surrender

With Berlin surrounded, Adolf Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945. His named successor was Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz. During his brief spell as Germany’s president, Dönitz negotiated an end to the war with the Allies – whilst seeking to save as many Germans as possible from falling into Soviet hands.

A German delegation arrived at the headquarters of British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery at Lüneburg Heath, east of Hamburg, on 4 May. There, Montgomery accepted the unconditional surrender of German forces in the Netherlands, northwest Germany and Denmark. On 7 May, at his headquarters in Reims, France, Supreme Allied Commander General Eisenhower accepted the unconditional surrender of all German forces. The document of surrender was signed on behalf of Germany by General Alfred Jodl and came into effect the following day.

Soviet leader Josef Stalin wanted his own ceremony. At Berlin on 8 May, therefore, a further document was signed – this time by German Field Marshal William Keitel. Dönitz’s plan was partially successful and millions of German soldiers surrenderedto Allied forces, thereby escaping Soviet capture.

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What You Need To Know About VE Day (1)

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VE Day was a national holiday

(Video) 5 Things You Need to Know About V-E Day

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VE Day was a national holiday

A national holiday was declared in Britain for 8 May 1945. In the morning, Churchill had gained assurances from the Ministry of Food that there were enough beer supplies in the capital andthe Board of Trade announced that people could purchase red, white and blue bunting without using ration coupons. There were even commemorative items hastily produced in time for the celebrations, including‘VE Day’ mugs. Some restaurants had special ‘victory’ menus, too.

Various events were organised to mark the occasion, including parades, thanksgiving services and street parties. Communities came together to share the moment. London’s St Paul’s Cathedral heldten consecutive services giving thanks for peace, each one attended by thousands of people. Due to the time difference, VE Day in New Zealand was officially held on 9 May. The country’sleadership wanted to delay the national holiday until peace in Europe had been announced by Winston Churchill. New Zealanders therefore had to go to work on 8 May and wait until the following day to celebrate. In the Soviet Union, too, VE Day was on 9 May due to the different time zones.

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Churchill addressed the nation

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Churchill addressed the nation

Winston Churchillwas the man of the hour on VE Day. Britain’s Prime Minister had been a major driving force behind the Allies’ victory over Nazi Germany and, now that peace had come, the British people were keen to celebrate it with him.

At 3pm on VE Day, Churchill made a national radio broadcast. In it, he announced the welcome news that the war had ended in Europe – but he included a note of caution, saying: ‘We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead.’ He knew that the war was not over: Japan still had to be defeated. Later on, Churchill appeared on the balcony of the Ministry of Health building in central London and gave an impromptu speech. Huge,cheering crowds gathered below and he declared, 'This is your victory.' The crowd shouted back,'No – it's yours!' Despite Churchill’s crucial wartime role, the British public did not vote him back into power in the July 1945 General Election. Instead, Clement Attlee’s Labour government had control of the country in the immediate post-war years. For Churchill, nothing would match his period as wartime prime minister – he later wrote that everything afterwards was 'all anti-climax'.

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(Video) What Is VE Day? | London History

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The Royal Family took part in the celebrations

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The Royal Family took part in the celebrations

The British Royal Family also played a central role inLondon's victory celebrations. Huge numbers of people surged down The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and their daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, soon appeared on the balcony to wave to the cheering crowds.

In total, the King and Queen made eight appearances on the balcony, and at one point were joined by Winston Churchill. While the King and Queen were waving to the crowds for the last time that evening, their daughters were secretly mingling with the jubilant crowds below them. The future monarch, Princess Elizabeth, and her sister Margaret had been allowed to leave the palace and take part – anonymously – in the party-like atmosphere. Princess Elizabeth later recalled, 'We stood outside and shouted, "We want the King"… I think it was one of the most memorable nights of my life.'

King George VI, likeChurchill, also gave a radio address. In it, he praisedhis subjects'endurance and called for a lasting peace. He also paid tribute to those who could not join in the celebrations, saying: ‘Let us remember those who will not come back…let us remember the men in all the services, and the women in all the services, who have laid down their lives. We have come to the end of our tribulation and they are not with us at the moment of our rejoicing.’

What You Need To Know About VE Day (4)

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There was dancing in the streets and pubs stayed open late

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There was dancing in the streets and pubs stayed open late

TheVE Day celebrationscontinued well into the night. The largest crowds in Britain were in the capital, but people all around the country took part in the parties, singing and dancing. Many bonfires and fireworks were lit to mark the occasion.

An estimated 50,000 people were crowded around Piccadilly Circus by midnight. The joy of the day broke down normal social conventions, and people spoke to and embraced those whom they had never met before. Music was provided by gramophones, accordions and barrel organs, and revellers sang and danced to the popular tunes of the day. Licensing hours were extended so that people could toast the end of the war with a drink (or two), and dance halls stayed open until midnight.

(Video) Victory in Europe Day: What You Need to Know

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Victory in Europe was marked around the world

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Victory in Europe was marked around the world

The news that the war was over in Europe quickly spread around the world, and people of the British Empire and the Allied countries wanted to celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany.

In the United States of America, the victory was tempered with the recent death of President Roosevelt, who had led his country through the war years. His successor, Harry S. Truman, dedicated the day to Roosevelt and ordered that flags be kept at half-mast–as part of the 30-day mourning period. Despite this, there were still scenes of great rejoicing in America: in New York, 15,000 police were mobilised to control the hugecrowds that had massedin Times Square.

In Australia, the celebrations were also tinged with a sombre mood. The war in the Far East and Pacific was still being fought, and many Australians were serving overseas. But there were scenes of rejoicing in many cities, and services were held in churches around the country to give thanks for the war ending in Europe.

In Paris, huge numbers of people flocked to the centre of the city to celebrate. An eyewitness recalled: ‘On the Champs Elysees they were singing 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary,'…in the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe in the Place de l'Etoile, there was hardly any place to breathe and no place at all to move.’

The charged atmosphere and large crowds could lead to unrest. In Halifax, Canada, riots broke out among the large concentration of military personnel stationed there. Thousands of soldiers, sailors and civilians looted liquor stores – which had been closed for the VE Day holiday – and the resulting riots and vandalism resulted in several deaths.

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It was a day of mixed emotions

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It was a day of mixed emotions

Not everyone celebrated VE Day. For those who had lost loved ones in the conflict, it was a time to reflect. Amidst the street parties and rejoicing, many people mourned the death of a friend or relative, or worried about those who were still serving overseas. For many of the widows the war had produced, the noise and jubilation as people celebrated VE Day was too much to bear and not something they could take part in.

There was also an air of anti-climax. The hardships of the war years had taken their toll on many people and left them with little energy for rejoicing. In Britain, the strain of air raids, the strictures of wartime life and the impact of rationing all left their mark on a weary population who knew there were more difficulties yet to endure.

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(Video) KS1 VE Day 75TH Anniversary

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It was not the end of the war

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It was not the end of the war

For members of the Allied forces who were still serving overseas on VE Day, the occasion was bittersweet. Although it meant victory in one theatre, the war was not yet over in the Far Eastand Pacific. The battle conditions there had been some of the toughest of the war. In May 1945, thousands of Allied servicemen were still fighting in the Far East andthousands more were held as prisoners of war in terrible conditions.

The final months of the war in the Pacific saw heavy casualties on both sides, but ultimately ended in victory for the Allies. Japan’s leaders agreed to surrender on 14 August and the act of surrender was signed on 2 September. For people in Britain, the end of the fighting didn’t mean an end to the impact of the war on their lives. Although many things slowly began to return to normal, it took time to rebuild the country and shortages were still felt:clothes rationinglasted until 1949 andfood rationingremained in place until 1954. Peace brought its own problems. The huge economic cost of the war resulted in post-war austerity in a practically bankrupt Britain andthe far-reachingpolitical effects of the conflict ranged from the fall of the British Empire to the onset of the Cold War.

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FAQs

What do I need to know about VE Day? ›

On 7 May 1945 the formal act of military surrender was signed by Germany, ending the war in Europe. The next day celebrations broke out all over the world to mark Victory in Europe or VE Day. In Britain, Churchill marked the occasion by declaring 8 May a public holiday.

What was most significant about VE Day? ›

On May 8th, 1945 – known as Victory in Europe Day or V-E Day – celebrations erupted around the world to mark the end of a nearly six year war that had cost the lives of millions; destroyed homes, families, and cities; and brought huge suffering to the populations of entire countries.

How did people feel on VE Day? ›

For many though, the celebrations were bitter-sweet. People mourned their lost friends and loved ones, while others were still engaged in combat, as the war in the Far East continued. Here are 10 photos of some the celebrations that took place that day.

What was VE Day quizlet? ›

May 8, 1945; victory in Europe Day was also when the Germans surrendered, Victory in Europe Day on May 8th, 1945 celebrated the official defeat of the Nazis and end of WWII in Europe. Name chosen for the day on which the Surrender of Japan occurred, effectively ending World War II.

What is VE Day facts for kids? ›

VE Day, Victory in Europe Day, marks the defeat over Germany by the Allied Forces during World War II. Part of the Allied Forces were Britain, France, Russia, and the US. VE Day doesn't mark the end of WW2 – the end is considered to be on September 2nd, 1945 after the defeat of Japan.

What does VE Day stand for? ›

V-E (Victory in Europe) Day, the end of the conflict with Hitler's Germany, came first. Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, and in Toronto and all cities in Allied countries, people streamed out of workplaces and schools to start the party.

What events led up to VE Day? ›

What events led to VE Day? The final collapse of Nazi Germany began in January 1945, when the Soviet Red Army launched a series of offensives across a front that ran all the way from the Baltic Sea to the borders of Yugoslavia. By the end of March they had reached the River Oder, just 60km from the German capital.

What is the difference between V day and VE Day? ›

What's the difference between VE Day and VJ Day? There can sometimes be some confusion between VE Day and VJ Day. Though both days mark moments where the Allied Forces celebrated the end of the war, VJ Day stands for Victory in Japan Day.

How did Britain celebrate VE Day? ›

Although parades and street parties took place across the UK, the largest events were held in London. Here, celebrations were at their most raucous as tens of thousand of revellers partied into the night.

How did soldiers react to the end of ww2? ›

After all they had seen and experienced, many soldiers did not feel much like celebrating. They were homesick, and anxious about what the future might now hold. Many were mourning dead comrades, and still felt vengeful towards their defeated foes.

What happened after VE Day? ›

After the war, the Allied fighting forces took on the roles of armies of occupation and military government. Between 17 July and 2 August, the leaders of the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union met at Potsdam to confirm the division of Germany and the nature of its occupation.

How long has it been since VE Day? ›

May 8, 2021 marked 76 years since the Allied victory over Nazi Germany and Axis forces in the Second World War. The date was doubly significant due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which saw the traditional celebrations limited due to the lockdown.

How many people died in ww2? ›

An estimated 40,000,000 to 50,000,000 people died during World War II. Among the Allied powers, the U.S.S.R. suffered the greatest total number of dead: perhaps 18,000,000.

Why did the Korean War Start quizlet? ›

June 25, 1950. What caused the Korean War? The Korean War was caused because North Korea, China, and the Soviet Union all wanted the Korean Peninsula to be a communist area. Then North Korean troops marched into South Korea which set off the war.

How many US soldiers died in ww2? ›

Deaths by Country
CountryMilitary DeathsTotal Civilian and Military Deaths
Soviet Union8,800,000-10,700,00024,000,000
United Kingdom383,600450,700
United States416,800418,500
Yugoslavia446,0001,000,000
36 more rows

When did V-E Day end? ›

What was the largest sea invasion in history? ›

D-Day - 6 June 1944 - was the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare. The statistics of D-Day, codenamed Operation Overlord, are staggering. The Allies used over 5,000 ships and landing craft to land more than 150,000 troops on five beaches in Normandy.

What food did they have on VE Day? ›

Traditional VE Day Food
  • Swiss Breakfast Dish. Seen as a lighter alternative to porridge, it included milk, sugar and apple.
  • Egg and Sausage Pie. Remember, dried eggs were the norm in making this dish! ...
  • Haricot Beans. ...
  • Wartime (National) Loaf. ...
  • Rabbit Fricassee. ...
  • Surprise Potato Balls. ...
  • Lord Woolton's Pie. ...
  • Pea Soup.
5 May 2022

What time was VE Day? ›

When was VE Day? At 2:41 a.m. local time on May 7, 1945, the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force (S.H.A.E.F.), led by future U.S. President Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower, received the Nazi government's unconditional surrender in Reims, France.

What were the effects of WWII? ›

At the end of the war, millions of people were dead and millions more homeless, the European economy had collapsed, and much of the European industrial infrastructure had been destroyed. The Soviet Union, too, had been heavily affected.

What were positive results that came out of the U.S. occupation of Japan? ›

The constitution established many new civil liberties, such as the right of free speech, and the powers of the police were weakened and carefully regulated. Finally, the military forces were completely abolished and Article 9 of the new constitution forbade Japan to maintain an army or go to war ever again.

What ended the war in Europe? ›

Why was the GI Bill of Rights a necessary law? ›

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed it into law June 22, just over two weeks after the Allied invasion of Normandy. It was dubbed the GI Bill of Rights because it offered federal aid to help veterans buy homes, get jobs and pursue an education, and in general helped them to adjust to civilian life again.

Which country suffered the most deaths in WWII? ›

Estimates for the total death count of the Second World War generally range somewhere between 70 and 85 million people. The Soviet Union suffered the highest number of fatalities of any single nation, with estimates mostly falling between 22 and 27 million deaths.

Does America still celebrate V-E Day? ›

On May 8, 1945, both Great Britain and the United States celebrate Victory in Europe Day. Cities in both nations, as well as formerly occupied cities in Western Europe, put out flags and banners, rejoicing in the defeat of the Nazi war machine during World War II.

Why do people celebrate VE Day? ›

VE Day stands for Victory in Europe Day. It marks the day in 1945 when Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that fighting Nazi Germany in Europe had come to an end.

Does Canada celebrate VE Day? ›

During the course of the Second World War, over one million Canadians served in places like the North Atlantic Ocean, Italy, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. One in eleven Canadians had participated and 42,000 were killed (2,024 in the Navy, 22,917 in the Army, and 17,101 in the Air Force).

Is VE Day a bank holiday? ›

Unlike last year, there will be no bank holiday for VE day in 2021. But as May 8 is a Saturday, most people will have the day off work anyway. In 2020, VE day became a one-off bank holiday to commemorate the extra-special 75th anniversary.

What happens V-E Day? ›

Victory in Europe Day is the day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces on Tuesday, 8 May 1945. Russia and some former Soviet countries celebrate on 9 May, marking the end of World War II in Europe in the Eastern Front.

What is V-E Day BBC Bitesize? ›

On 8 May 1945, people in the UK celebrated Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) after learning of the final surrender of the Nazis. Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced the news to the nation over the radio at 3pm and huge crowds quickly gathered in the streets to celebrate.

What was the largest sea invasion in history? ›

D-Day - 6 June 1944 - was the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare. The statistics of D-Day, codenamed Operation Overlord, are staggering. The Allies used over 5,000 ships and landing craft to land more than 150,000 troops on five beaches in Normandy.

Why did some scientists believe that it was immoral to drop the atomic bomb? ›

Some scientists claimed that it would be immoral to use the weapon without warning Japan first. However, those in favor of the bomb claimed it would save American lives and that it needed to be used in order to justify the cost of building it. What was Truman's view towards the bomb being dropped?

What events led up to VE Day? ›

What events led to VE Day? The final collapse of Nazi Germany began in January 1945, when the Soviet Red Army launched a series of offensives across a front that ran all the way from the Baltic Sea to the borders of Yugoslavia. By the end of March they had reached the River Oder, just 60km from the German capital.

Which countries celebrate VE Day? ›

On May 8, 1945, both Great Britain and the United States celebrate Victory in Europe Day. Cities in both nations, as well as formerly occupied cities in Western Europe, put out flags and banners, rejoicing in the defeat of the Nazi war machine during World War II.

When did VE Day end? ›

What happened on VE? ›

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. This became known as V.E (Victory in Europe) Day.

How many people died in ww2? ›

An estimated 40,000,000 to 50,000,000 people died during World War II. Among the Allied powers, the U.S.S.R. suffered the greatest total number of dead: perhaps 18,000,000.

What happened after VE Day? ›

After the war, the Allied fighting forces took on the roles of armies of occupation and military government. Between 17 July and 2 August, the leaders of the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union met at Potsdam to confirm the division of Germany and the nature of its occupation.

What does the D stand for in D-Day? ›

“day,” the term a code designation. The French maintain the D means “disembarkation,” still others say “debarkation,” and the more poetic insist D-Day is short for “day of. decision.”

How many men died on D-Day? ›

German casualties on D-Day have been estimated at 4,000 to 9,000 men. Allied casualties were documented for at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. Museums, memorials, and war cemeteries in the area now host many visitors each year.

How many people did Russia lose? ›

World War II Casualties by Country
PlaceTot. DeathsMilitary Deaths
Russia13,950,0006,750,000
Ukraine6,850,0001,650,000
Poland6,000,000240,000
Germany5,700,0004,456,000
58 more rows

How did atomic bomb affect the world? ›

It razed and burnt around 70 per cent of all buildings and caused an estimated 140,000 deaths by the end of 1945, along with increased rates of cancer and chronic disease among the survivors. A slightly larger plutonium bomb exploded over Nagasaki three days later levelled 6.7 sq km.

Why was the atomic bomb not justified? ›

The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was justified at the time as being moral – in order to bring about a more rapid victory and prevent the deaths of more Americans. However, it was clearly not moral to use this weapon knowing that it would kill civilians and destroy the urban milieu.

Do nuclear weapons maintain peace? ›

The study determined that nuclear weapons promote strategic stability and prevent largescale wars but simultaneously allow for more low intensity conflicts.

Videos

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