Victory in Europe Day

8 May 1945 – Victory in Europe Day (VE DAY) – is a day etched in the memory of everyone who witnessed it.

After nearly six years of war Germany officially surrendered on 7 May 1945 and the conflict was finally over.

The unconditional surrender came after Adolf Hitler took his own life on 30 April as the Allies surrounded Berlin, and was authorised by his successor Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz.

News that the war in Europe had ended did not come as a surprise and had been anticipated back in Britain for some time as the Allies advanced on Germany.

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VE Day group
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Long awaited news

The announcement that the war was over was broadcast across the radio to the British people on the evening of 7 May with a news flash announcing that VE Day would be a national holiday and would take place the next day.
© Getty Images
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Across the western world, millions rejoiced, relieved that years of conflict and incredible hardship were finally coming to an end.

Up and down the country millions of people took to the streets as communities came together to celebrate the end of the European conflict with street parties, dancing and singing.

Mass crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George the VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret were joined by Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the balcony of the palace before the jubilant crowds.

Princess Elizabeth and her sister also later secretly joined the celebrations in the crowds outside the palace, with Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen, describing it as "one of the most memorable nights of my life".

Image credit: © Getty Images and Imperial War Museum.

VE Day - Displaced Persons _ Refugees in Germany _ 1 year licence for Editorial use _ Media License_
© IWM BU 6638

Mixed emotions

But despite the joy and celebration, it was a day of mixed emotions for some who mourned loved ones lost during the war, and for those who worried about friends and relatives still serving overseas.
© IWM BU 6638

The conflict was over in Europe, but the war continued to wage in the Far East and Pacific, with many troops redeployed to fight in the east instead of coming home. The end of the war in Japan came a few months later in August after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The impact of the Second World War endured long after VE Day. Millions of lives had been lost, homes and cities were destroyed and needed to be rebuilt, and people all over Europe had been displaced by the conflict.

But after years of uncertainty and living in fear, it was one day that everyone came together to celebrate the start of new beginnings.

Children waving their flags in London_ 8 MAY 1945_ 1 year licence for Editorial use
© IWM HU 49414

Seventy five years on

75 years on we remember the struggles the wartime generation faced, as we experience something unprecedented and the lives we knew are put on hold.
© IWM HU 49414

But while the crisis we face may be different, there are many parallels between the struggles of the Second World War and the situation today.

We too face uncertainty, fear and separation from loved ones and friends.

But as the nation pulls together, and many make sacrifices to help others, we can look to the Second World War generation and learn from their resilience, determination and hope for better days to come.


VE Day 75 livestream highlights

Grab a cup of tea and watch the highlights of our special VE Day 75 livestream.
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