Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day) 8 May 1945

Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day (United Kingdom) or V-E Day (US), is a day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces on Tuesday, 8 May 1945, marking the end of World War II in Europe. VE Day is celebrated across Western European states on 8 May, with several countries observing public holidays on the day each year, variously called Victory Over Fascism Day, Liberation Day or simply Victory Day.

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Princeton Daily Clarion
Princeton, Indiana
08 May 1945, Tue  •  Page 1

Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, had committed suicide on 30 April during the Battle of Berlin and Germany’s surrender was authorised by his successor, Reichspräsident Karl Dönitz. The administration headed by Dönitz was known as the Flensburg Government. The act of military surrender was first signed at 02:41 on 7 May in SHAEF HQ at Reims, and a slightly modified document, considered the definitive German Instrument of Surrender, was signed on 8 May 1945 in Karlshorst, Berlin at 21:20 local time.

German Instrument of Surrender, 8 May 1945, at Berlin-Karlshorst
General Alfred Jodl signing the capitulation papers of unconditional surrender in Reims
Front page of the U.S. Armed Forces newspaper Stars and Stripes on 2 May 1945

Hitler killed himself by gunshot on 30 April 1945 in his Führerbunker in Berlin. Eva Braun, his wife of one day, committed suicide with him by taking cyanide. In accordance with Hitler’s prior written and verbal instructions, that afternoon their remains were carried up the stairs through the bunker’s emergency exit, doused in petrol, and set alight in the Reich Chancellery garden outside the bunker. Records in the Soviet archives show that their burned remains were recovered and interred in successive locations until 1946. They were exhumed again and cremated in 1970, and the ashes were scattered.

Accounts differ as to the cause of death; one version states that he died by poison only and another view claims that he died by a self-inflicted gunshot while biting down on a cyanide capsule. Contemporary historians have rejected these accounts as being either Soviet propaganda or an attempted compromise in order to reconcile the different conclusions. One eyewitness stated that Hitler’s corpse showed signs of having been shot through the mouth, but this has been proven unlikely. Dental remains found on Hitler’s corpse were matched with his dental records in 1945.

For political reasons, the Soviet Union presented various versions of Hitler’s fate. They maintained in the years immediately following the war that Hitler was not dead, but had fled and was being shielded by the former Western Allies.

Newspaper Clippings and Images From The Event

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The Huntsville Times
Huntsville, Alabama
08 May 1945, Tue  •  Page 1
United States military policemen reading about the German surrender in the newspaper Stars and Stripes
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The Tennessean
Nashville, Tennessee
08 May 1945, Tue  •  Page 1
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Vidette-Messenger of Porter County
Valparaiso, Indiana
08 May 1945, Tue  •  Page 1
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Vidette-Messenger of Porter County
Valparaiso, Indiana
08 May 1945, Tue  •  Page 8
VE Day celebrations in London on 8 May 1945
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The Gaffney Ledger
Gaffney, South Carolina
08 May 1945, Tue  •  Page 1
Churchill waves to crowds.jpg

On May 8, 1945, the nation cheered as Prime Minister Winston Churchill (pictured) announced that after six years of bitter conflict, the Second World War in Europe was finally over
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The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
08 May 1945, Tue  •  Page 1
People ride on a van loaded with beer at Piccadilly Circus in London
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The Times Dispatch
Richmond, Virginia
08 May 1945, Tue  •  Page 1
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The Courier-Journal
Louisville, Kentucky
08 May 1945, Tue  •  Page 2
Huge crowds gathered around Piccadilly Circus during the celebrations
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The Courier-Journal
Louisville, Kentucky
08 May 1945, Tue  •  Page 3
VE Day London
8th May 1945: Crowds clamber on trucks and buses during the VE Day celebrations in Piccadilly Circus. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
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The Tennessean
Nashville, Tennessee
08 May 1945, Tue  •  Page 1
Two small girls waving their flags in the rubble of Battersea, snapped by an anonymous American photographer.

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