Today is the 70th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day – VE Day – when the war in Europe came to an end.
German troops had first surrendered to Field Marshall Montgomery at Lüneburg Heath on 4th May 1945. This though only concerned German units facing 21st Army Group, so the fighting in the American sector continued until a surrender was signed in the old school house at Reims on 7th May. The Soviets then formalised the surrender in their area at Karlshorst in Berlin which was signed on 8th May bringing the war in the west to a conclusion.
It had been just over eleven months since D-Day and the landings in Normandy; it is easy to think the war somehow skipped between those two dates but it had been a long and costly eleven months for all nations concerned. Germany lay in ruins. Millions of people were displaced all over Europe. Tens of thousands lay dead on the battlefields. Millions had died in the Holocaust.
The legacy of events 70 years ago is as important as it has ever been and must ensure that the Second World War and all it involved is never forgotten.
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May 8, 1945: Act of Military Surrender signed by Jodl (German Armed Forces) in Reims came into effect (VE-Day).