Monday, March 11, 2013

Victory in Europe Day

Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives the &qu...
Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives the "Victory" sign to crowds in London on Victory in Europe Day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel signing the unco...
Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel signing the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht at the Soviet headquarters in Karlshorst, Berlin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
May 8th, 1945, was a joyous day for the Allies of World War II indeed. Following Italy's previous surrender and Hitler's suicide on April 30th, Germany agreed signed to unconditional surrender on May 7th, and it was ratified in Berlin on May 8th. This marked the end of the European Axis Powers, leaving only the Empire of Japan to oppose the Allies. It was German General Jodl's signature that officially ended the war in Europe.

In the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill stood on the Palace Balcony and waved to part of the more than one million people out in the streets, celebrating. Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth II, and Princess Margaret took place in the festivities in disguise amongst the crowd.

In the United States, flags remained at half-mast in accordance with the 30-day mourning period following former President Franklin Roosevelt's death of a cerebral hemorrhage. The Victory in Europe Day occured on current President Truman's 61st birthday, and he dedicated the victory to Roosevelt, wishing only "that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day." Indeed, FDR, President throughout most of World War II, died less than a month before the victory in Europe.

In Canada, festivities and celebrations were dampened heavily as servicemen, seamen, and civilians turned to raids, known as the Halifax raids. In Soviet Russia, the surrender was considered only preliminary until German Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel signed the surrender in USSR headquarters, where Soviet signatures had authority. Due to time difference, Victory in Europe day is usually celebrated on May 9th in Russia. 

Sources: InfoPlease, Wikipedia, History Learning
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