Victory in Europe Day
Winston Churchill waving to the crowds in Whitehall on 8 May celebrating the end of the war, showing the V of Victory
Also called
  • VE Day
  • V-E Day
Observed by
European states
Full list see below
SignificanceEnd of World War II in Europe
Date8 May
First time8 May 1945; 79 years ago (8 May 1945)
Related toVictory over Japan Day, Victory Day (9 May) and Europe Day

Victory in Europe Day is the day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces on Tuesday, 8 May 1945; it marked the official end of World War II in Europe in the Eastern Front, with the last known shots fired on 11 May.

Russia and some former Soviet countries celebrate on 9 May, as Germany's unconditional surrender entered into force at 23:01 on 8 May Central European Summer Time; this corresponded with 00:01 on 9 May in Moscow Time.

Several countries observe public holidays on the day each year, also called Victory Over Fascism Day, Liberation Day, or Victory Day. In the UK it is often abbreviated to VE Day, a term which existed as early as September 1944,[1] in anticipation of victory.


Crowds gathering in celebration at Piccadilly Circus, London during VE Day on 8 May 1945
Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signing the final surrender terms on 8 May 1945 in Berlin
Final positions of the Allied armies, May 1945
United States military policemen reading about the German surrender in the newspaper Stars and Stripes

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,[2] and a slightly modified document, considered the definitive German Instrument of Surrender, was signed on 8 May 1945 in Karlshorst, Berlin at 22:43 local time.

The German High Command will at once issue orders to all German military, naval and air authorities and to all forces under German control to cease active operations at 23.01 hours Central European time on 8 May 1945...

Upon the defeat of Germany, celebrations erupted throughout the Western world, especially in the United Kingdom, in North America and in USSR. More than one million people celebrated in the streets throughout the UK to mark the end of the European part of the war. In London, crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by their daughters and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of the palace before the cheering crowds. Churchill went from the palace to Whitehall, where he addressed another large crowd:[3]

God bless you all. This is your victory. In our long history, we have never seen a greater day than this. Everyone, man or woman, has done their best.

Celebrations in London on 8 May 1945
Celebrations in Toronto on 8 May 1945

Churchill asked Ernest Bevin to come forward and share the applause. Bevin said, "No, Winston, this is your day", and proceeded to conduct the people in the singing of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow".[3] Later, Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret were allowed to wander incognito among the crowds and take part in the celebrations.[4] The 2015 film A Royal Night Out was inspired by Elizabeth and Margaret mingling with the public that night.[citation needed]

In the United States, the event coincided with President Harry S. Truman's 61st birthday.[5] He dedicated the victory to the memory of his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died of a cerebral hemorrhage less than a month earlier, on 12 April.[6] Flags remained at half-staff for the remainder of the 30-day mourning period.[7][8] Truman said of dedicating the victory to Roosevelt's memory and keeping the flags at half-staff that his only wish was "that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day".[6] Later that day, Truman said that the victory made it his most enjoyable birthday.[5] Great celebrations took place in many American cities, especially in New York's Times Square.[9]

Tempering the jubilation somewhat, both Churchill and Truman pointed out that the war against Japan had not yet been won. In his radio broadcast at 15:00 on 8 May, Churchill told the British people, "We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing (as Japan) remains unsubdued".[10][11] In America, Truman broadcast at 09:00 and said it was "a victory only half won".[12]

On the same day in 1945, Muslims in French Algeria celebrating the end of the war (of which some were also peacefully protesting for independence) became the targets of violence and massacres by colonial authorities and pied-noir settler militias, which would last until 26 June 1945.[13][14][15] While details of the killings were largely overlooked in metropolitan France, the impact on the Algerian Muslim population was traumatic, especially on the large numbers of Muslim soldiers in the French Army who were then returning from the war in Europe.[16] Nine years later, the Algerian War began, leading to independence from France in March 1962.[17] In February 2005, Hubert Colin de Verdière, France's ambassador to Algeria, formally apologized for the massacre, calling it an "inexcusable tragedy".[18][19]

National celebrations

VE Day is celebrated across European nations as public holidays and national observances.


The Festival of Joy is an Austrian event held in honor of VE Day. The Austrian Mauthausen Committee (MKÖ) has organised the Festival of Joy since 2013, in cooperation with the Austrian Government and the City of Vienna. The festival is held annually on Heldenplatz.[20]

On the eve of the diamond jubilee in 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the request of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, gave a live address broadcast on Austrian TV channel ORF.[21]


France celebrates VE Day on 8 May, being a national and public holiday. Orléans simultaneously celebrates both VE Day and the anniversary of the Siege of Orléans being lifted on this date by French forces led by Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years War.[22]


Events in Berlin occur on 8 May to commemorate those who fought against Nazism in the German Resistance and died in World War II. In 2020, a regional holiday in Berlin occurred on 8 May to mark the 75th anniversary of surrender.[23] East Germany celebrated 8 May as its Tag der Befreiung (Day of Liberation), first celebrated under Walter Ulbricht's government in 1950 and repeated annually until the fall of communism.[24] Between 1975 and 1990, it was Tag des Sieges (Victory Day).[citation needed]


8 May is known in Poland as "Narodowy Dzień Zwycięstwa" (National Victory Day). Poland officially recognised 9 May from 1945 until 2014, and on 24 April 2015, Poland officially recognised National Victory Day.[25] On 8 May 1945, a meeting of the Council of Ministers was held, debating whether to establish the holiday on 8 May (proposed by Marshal Michał Rola-Żymierski) or 10 May (proposed by the government).[26] Finally, in Poland, the National Day of Victory and Freedom was established on 9 May by decree.

From 1946 to 1989, it was celebrated with Russian traditions, as Poland was a socialist state at the time. The main celebrations were carried out at Plac Zwycięstwa or Plac Defilad in Warsaw (most notably in 1985).

After 1990 and the fall of the Soviet Union, no official ceremonies were organized; however, many cities and military units together with local governments organized their own festivities. The Russian minority in Poland continues to celebrate 9 May traditions to this date. At the end of March 2015, due to the upcoming 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, the President of the Institute of National Remembrance Łukasz Kamiński sent a letter to the Marshal of the Sejm requesting a change from 9 to 8 May.[27] On 24 April, the Sejm adopted the Act on National Victory Day to be celebrated on 8 May, at the same time abolishing the National Day of Victory and Freedom celebrated on 9 May.[28]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, VE Day is not an annual public holiday. In 1995 and 2020, the bank holiday was moved from the preceding Monday to 8 May to commemorate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of VE Day, respectively.[29][30]

Commemorative events

List of associated holidays

Country Holiday name Date Type Notes
 Armenia Victory and Peace Day 9 May National public [42]
Shushi Liberation Day 8 May National public It is celebrated jointly with VE Day
 Azerbaijan Victory Day 9 May National public [42]
 Bailiwick of Guernsey Liberation Day, Guernsey 9 May Regional public British Channel Islands have three Liberation Days: 9 May in Jersey and Guernsey;[43] 10 May in Sark;[44] and 16 May in Alderney
Liberation Day, Sark 10 May Regional public [44]
Liberation Day, Alderney 16 May Regional public [43]
 Belarus Victory Day 9 May National public [45]
 Bosnia and Herzegovina Victory Day 9 May Regional public Public holiday only in Republika Srpska but celebrated across the nation[46]
 Czech Republic Victory Day 8 May National public as "Den vítězství"
 Estonia Remembrance Day 8 May National commemorative Not a public holiday; commemorative services are held during the day.[47]
 Georgia Victory over Fascism Day 9 May National public As "ფაშიზმზე გამარჯვების დღე" (Victory over Fascism Day)[48][49]
 Israel VE Day 9 May National commemorative Considered a national day of remembrance.[50]
 Italy Liberation Day 25 April National public Public holiday.[51]
 Jersey Liberation Day 9 May Regional public [52]
 Kazakhstan Victory Day 9 May National public [53]
 Kosovo Europe Day 9 May National public [54]
 Kyrgyzstan Victory Day 9 May National public [42]
 Latvia Remembrance Day 8 May National commemorative As Nacisma sagrāves un Otrā pasaules kara upuru piemiņas diena (The Crushing of Nazism and Commemoration Day of Victims of World War II). Not a public holiday; commemorative services are held during the day.[55]
 Lithuania Remembrance Day 8 May National commemorative As Antrojo pasaulinio karo aukų atminimo diena (Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the World War II).[56] Not a public holiday; commemorative services are held by the President and other officials.
 Moldova Victory Day 9 May National public [42][57]
 Netherlands Liberation Day 5 May National commemorative as "Bevrijdingsdag" (Liberation Day), a public holiday held once every year on 5 May.[58]
 Denmark Liberation Day 5 May National commemorative as "Befrielsesdag" (Liberation Day), an official flag flying day, not a public holiday.[59]
 Norway Liberation Day 8 May National commemorative as "Frigjøringsdagen" (Liberation Day) and The National Veterans Day, an official flag flying day, not a public holiday.[60]
 Russia Victory Day 9 May National public as "День Победы" (Victory Day)[61][62]
 Serbia Victory Day 9 May National public as "Дан победе" / "Dan pobede" (Victory Day), a public working holiday.[63][64]
 Slovakia Victory over Fascism Day 8 May National public as "Deň víťazstva nad fašizmom" [65]
 Tajikistan Victory Day 9 May National public [42]
 Turkmenistan Day of Remembrance of National Heroes of Turkmenistan in the 1941–1945 World War 9 May National public [66]
 Ukraine Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism in World War II 1939 – 1945 8 May National public [67]
 Uzbekistan Day of Remembrance and Honour 9 May National public [68] Known as "День Памяти и Почестей"; before 1999, it was known as "Галаба куни" or "День победы" (Victory Day).[citation needed]

Soviet Victory Day

Main article: Victory Day (9 May)

The instrument of surrender signed 7 May 1945 stipulated that all hostilities must cease at 23:01 (CET), 8 May 1945. Since that point in time would be on 9 May in local time in the Soviet Union, most Soviet states including Russia celebrated Victory Day on 9 May.[69][70]


See also



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  2. ^ Hamilton, Charles (1996). Leaders & Personalities of the Third Reich, Vol. 2. San Jose, CA: R. James Bender Publishing. pp. 285, 286. ISBN 978-0-912138-66-4.
  3. ^ a b Hermiston 2016, p. 355.
  4. ^ Barr, Sabrina (8 May 2020). "How Princess Elizabeth celebrated VE Day". The Independent. Archived from the original on 17 August 2022. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Truman Marks Birthday". The New York Times. 9 May 1945. p. 6.
  6. ^ a b "Victory Wreath From Truman Is Laid On Hyde Park Grave of War President". New York Times. Associated Press. 9 May 1945. p. 15.
  7. ^ "Army Extends Mourning Period". New York Times. Associated Press. 12 May 1945. p. 13.
  8. ^ United Press (15 May 1945). "30 Days of Mourning For Roosevelt Ended". New York Times. p. 4.
  9. ^ Telfer 2015, p. 75.
  10. ^ Telfer 2015, p. 33.
  11. ^ Hermiston 2016, p. 356.
  12. ^ Telfer 2015, p. 76.
  13. ^ Morgan, Ted (31 January 2006). My Battle of Algiers. HarperCollins. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-06-085224-5.
  14. ^ Horne, Alistair (1977). A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954–1962. New York: The Viking Press. p. 26.
  15. ^ Peyroulou, Jean-Pierre (2009). "6. La mise en place d'un ordre subversif, le 9 mai 1945". Guelma, 1945 : une subversion française dans l'Algérie coloniale. Paris: Éditions La Découverte. ISBN 9782707154644. OCLC 436981240.
  16. ^ Porch, Douglas (1991). The French Foreign Legion. Macmillan. p. 569. ISBN 978-0-333-58500-9.
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  58. ^ Bevrijdingsdag 5 mei (in Dutch)
  59. ^ Befrielsen (in Danish)
  60. ^ Frigjøringen Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian)
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