Courtesy of the
Department of Defense
On May 8, 1945 - known as Victory in Europe Day or V-E Day - celebrations erupted around the world to mark the end of World War II in Europe. The war had been raging for almost five years when U.S. and Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. The invasion signaled the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. In less than a year, Germany would surrender and Hitler would be dead.
But in his speech to the nation on V-E Day, President Harry S. Truman cautioned that Allies must “work to finish the war” by defeating the Japanese in the Pacific.
There were two surrender signings. The first was on May 7, 1945, when German Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl signed Germany’s surrender on all fronts in Reims, France. The second signing - insisted upon by Soviet Premier Josef Stalin - was by German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel the next day in Berlin.
Jodl and Keitel were later found guilty of war crimes by the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany and both were subsequently executed.
V-E Day marked the end of most of the fighting in Europe, where tens of millions of service members and civilians were killed since the start of hostilities.
The conflict began in 1939, when Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland. Among the dead were about 6 million Jews who were murdered by Nazi Germany. Some 250,000 U.S. troops were also killed in the fighting in the European theater.
After the many deaths during the war in Europe, V-E Day was cause for worldwide celebration.