VE-Day Goes Virtual: Europe Commemorates ‘Lonely’ 75th Anniversary of WWII‘s End

Written by | Saturday, May 9th, 2020

Today, as on 8 May every year, Germany commemorates the 75th anniversary of what is now officially called the “Day of Liberation” – Nazi Germany’s defeat and the end of World War II in Europe. But before this day, in April and May 1945, Red Army tanks, artillery and infantry fought forward street by street in the bloody Battle of Berlin, reducing the Nazi capital to rubble. After a war that had raged for nearly six years, finally Hitler was dead and Germany had surrendered. And this was the moment that people across Europe had long been waiting for.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday (8 May) came together – 1.5 meters apart – to mark a somber and “lonely” commemoration of the end of World War II in Europe. In his speech, German President noted with sadness that representatives of the Allied nations that defeated Nazi Germany, as well as thousands of young people that had been invited from all over the world, were unable to attend the ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic. Steinmeier also called on people to reject the temptations of “new nationalism” and isolationism. “Perhaps this being alone will take us back to May 8, 1945, because at that time the Germans were actually alone…defeated militarily, politically and economically…morally shattered. We had made ourselves the enemy of the whole world,” he said.
Also in London, 75 years ago, vast crowds gathered outside the British Parliament and all over central district to hear the Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s speech relayed by loudspeaker, officially announcing the end of the war in Europe: “Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight, Tuesday, the 8 May,” Churchill declared. “The German war is therefore at an end… We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing. Today is Victory in Europe Day”. VE Day came almost a year after D-Day when Allied forces landed in Normandy on the northern French coast. The previous months had seen cities and countries across Europe liberated from the Nazis – General de Gaulle took control of Paris towards in late August 1944, Belgium was declared free in early 1945, while the Netherlands and Denmark celebrate Liberation Day on 5 May and Italy on 25 April.

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