75 years ago today the fight against fascism in Europe came to an end. Victory in Europe or VE Day marks this historical occasion as Prime Minster Winston Churchill announced at 3pm on the radio that Germany had surrendered the previous day. It was a day that millions everywhere had been waiting almost six years for and there were celebrations and street parties with huge crowds gathering on the streets.
St Paul’s Cathedral held 10 services which saw thousands of people attending. But it was also a bittersweet occasion after “so much was owed by so many to so few,” as Churchill said a few years earlier. And while this marked the end to Germany’s war, many would continue fighting in other battles and many more were kept as prisoners of war abroad. The war itself wouldn’t come to an end until August when Japan surrendered following the atomic bombs on Hiroshima (6th August) and Nagasaki (9th August).
“We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing,” Churchill said in his VE Day announcement, “but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead.” More soldiers after the 8th would be sent east to help in the fight against Japan and finally, on the 15th of August 1945, the second world war would come to an end.
The 2nd of September is known as VJ Day when Japanese leaders signed a document to officially surrender and Emperor Hirohito announced the news shortly afterwards to his people.
The years that followed proved that while victory in a war was hard, recovery after it is no easy feat. Germany would see itself divided for almost half a century with the East, and much of Eastern Europe, under Soviet control.
And what to do with the perpetrators? The Nuremberg Trials would hope to provide justice to the victims of the atrocities, most notably the mass murder of millions of Jews in the Holocaust, not to mention the millions more gypsies, homosexuals, and Slavs who were slaughtered by the Nazis.
Britain would also have to rebuild after the war. This was such a feat that clothing and food rationing would stay in place for some time afterwards.
Today we mark the occasion as the whole world comes together to say Never again.