In History: Remembering V-E Day

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Friday was not only my mom’s birthday. It was also Victory in Europe Day. Seventy years ago, on May 8, 1945, the unconditional surrender of Nazi forces in Europe took place, ending World War II in Europe. Celebrations took place across the globe commemorating the allied victory against axis powers of Italy and Germany.

On the morning of May 8, citizens across Europe gained the knowledge that German forces had surrendered. This came just more than a week after Nazi Dictator, Adolf Hitler, had committed suicide by shooting himself and biting on a cyanide capsule while hiding in a bunker from impeding Soviet forces.

The demise of Hitler’s had rapidly transpired during the early months of 1945. The Yalta Conference, which took place in early February, leaders from the US, UK, and USSR allied, recognizing an imminent defeat of the Nazis.

Allied forces began taking large numbers of Axis soldiers. During the month of April, they captured 1.5 million soldiers. And took 800,000 German soldiers in the months prior.  The allied forces held these German soldiers in what were referred to as Rheinwiesenlager, or Rhine meadow camps.

Those forces took control of Milan in an attempt to close in the Italian Fascist Dictator, Benito Mussolini. He was captured by Italian resistance fighters and executed. Two days later, Italian military officer, Rodolfo Graziani surrendered forces in Southern Italy.

May 2 ended the Battle of Berlin, forcing Soldiers across the German capital city to surrender. Soon, Nazi forces occupying North West Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands followed suit. After that, the dominoes collectively fell until German Generals Alfred Jodi and Wilhelm Keitel signed the unconditional surrender for all German forces on May 7.

The next day, news of surrender spread across the continent. Celebrations mark the day in dozens of countries including the US. Each year, banners are placed, flags are flown, and those affected by the war rejoice in victory.