On May 8, 1945, both Great Britain and the United States celebrated Victory in Europe (V-E) 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.
The eighth of May spelled the day when German troops throughout Europe finally laid down their arms.
I watched this documentary yesterday about events during the last seven days of WWII. It consists of first-person accounts of what happened that week, newspaper accounts, newsreels and other video evidence.
What a terrific relief it must have been for the people of allied countries when this terrible war ended. Britain, after all, had been in a virtual prison on their island for six long years.
This film is only available on YouTube, but I highly recommend that you watch it.
Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, had committed suicide on 30 April during the Battle of Berlin and Germany’s surrender was authorised by his successor, Reichspräsident Karl Dönitz. The administration headed by Dönitz was known as the Flensburg Government. The act of military surrender was first signed at 02:41 on 7 May in SHAEF HQ at Reims, and a slightly modified document, considered the definitive German Instrument of Surrender, was signed on 8 May 1945 in Karlshorst, Berlin at 21:20 local time.
The German High Command will at once issue orders to all German military, naval and air authorities and to all forces under German control to cease active operations at 23.01 hours Central European time on 8 May 1945…
— German Instrument of Surrender, Article 2
In the United States, the event coincided with President Harry Truman’s 61st birthday. He dedicated the victory to the memory of his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died of a cerebral hemorrhage less than a month earlier, on 12 April. Flags remained at half-staff for the remainder of the 30-day mourning period. Truman said of dedicating the victory to Roosevelt’s memory and keeping the flags at half-staff that his only wish was “that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day”. Later that day, Truman said that the victory made it his most enjoyable birthday. Great celebrations took place in many American cities, especially in New York’s Times Square.