Victory in Europe!

Conflict: World War II

VE Day celebrations in Toronto, Canada

On 7 and 8 May 1945, exultant crowds poured into the streets across the Western world to celebrate the news of Germany’s surrender and the Allied victory in Europe. Huge crowds gathered in New York’s Times Square, London’s Piccadilly Circus, and other cities to celebrate and let loose after years of fear and tension.

Newspapers began reporting the end of the war in Europe on the 7th, but it wasn’t officially verified until the 8th, which was declared “Victory in Europe Day.” President Harry Truman and Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave speeches to their respective countries, rejoicing in the victory against Germany but reminding the countries that the war with Japan was far from over.

Truman giving his VE Day broadcast

Truman remarked:

For this victory, we join in offering our thanks to the Providence which has guided and sustained us through the dark days of adversity.

Our rejoicing is sobered and subdued by a supreme consciousness of the terrible price we have paid to rid the world of Hitler and his evil band. Let us not forget, my fellow Americans, the sorrow and the heartache which today abide in the homes of so many of our neighbors-neighbors whose most priceless possession has been rendered as a sacrifice to redeem our liberty. […]

We must work to finish the war. Our victory is but half-won. The West is free, but the East is still in bondage to the treacherous tyranny of the Japanese. When the last Japanese division has surrendered unconditionally, then only will our fighting job be done.

Churchill greets VE day crowds

Churchill made similar comments in his speech:

Finally almost the whole world was combined against the evil-doers, who are now prostrate before us. Our gratitude to our splendid Allies goes forth from all our hearts in this Island and throughout the British Empire.

We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan, with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued. The injury she has inflicted on Great Britain, the United States, and other countries, and her detestable cruelties, call for justice and retribution. We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance, Britannia! Long live the cause of freedom! God save the King!

For more, read Truman’s and Churchill’s complete speeches online, or watch a video of London’s VE Day celebrations.