Today, May 8, is the 70th anniversary of VE Day (victory in Europe) — the day Germany surrendered to the Allied Forces, effectively ending World War II in the European theater. VE Day – History Learning Site:
VE Day officially announced the end of World War Two in Europe. On Monday May 7th at 02.41. German General Jodl signed the unconditional surrender document that formally ended war in Europe. Winston Churchill was informed of this event at 07.00. While no public announcements had been made, large crowds gathered outside of Buckingham Palace and shouted: “We want the King”.
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However, even by the afternoon there was no official notification even though bell ringers had been put on standby for a nationwide victory peal. Ironically the Germans had been told by their government that the war was officially over. Joseph Stalin, who had differing views on how the surrender should be announced, caused the delay. By early evening, Churchill announced that he was not going to give Stalin the satisfaction of holding up what everybody knew. At 19.40 the Ministry of Information made a short announcement:
“In accordance with arrangements between the three great powers, tomorrow, Tuesday, will be treated as Victory in Europe Day and will be regarded as a holiday.”
Within minutes of this announcement, tens of thousands of people gathered on the streets of Central London to celebrate. People gathered in Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus and boats along the Thames sounded their horns in celebration.
After addressing the nation, Churchill went to Parliament to address the Commons. After this he led some MP’s to a thanksgiving service.
In the late afternoon, the Royal Family came out onto a balcony at Buckingham Palace. In front of them were 20,000 people. George VI wore his Royal Navy uniform while Princess Elizabeth wore her ATS uniform. They were joined by Churchill. He later spoke to those gathered outside the Ministry of Health. At the end of the speech, the crowd sang ‘For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow’.
Mass celebrations broke out in London, Paris, Lisbon, New York, and other major cities as news of peace spread.
Times Square in New York City.
Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.
Trafalgar Square in London, England.
Winston Churchill waves to the crowd at Whitehall, London, England.