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This Day In History: Victory In Europe Day Is Celebrated

Winston Churchill waves to crowds in Whitehall on the day he broadcast to the nation that the war with Germany had been won, May 8, 1945. (IWMCollections)
May 08, 2017

This day in history, May 8, 1945, both the United States and Great Britain celebrated Victory in Europe Day. The day marked the end of World War II in Europe.

On this day, millions of people from several nations celebrated the defeat of Germany in the streets.

In Prague, Germans surrendered to the Soviets, after the Soviets had lost more than 8,000 soldiers, and the Germans considerably more; in Copenhagen and Oslo; at Karlshorst, near Berlin; in northern Latvia; on the Channel Island of Sark—the German surrender was realized in a final cease-fire.

Many Germans attempted to free the clutches of the Soviet Union and not be taken prisoner. About one million Germans attempted a mass exodus to the West when the fighting in Czechoslovakia ended, but were instead taken prisoner by the Soviets. Roughly two million people were taken captive by the Soviets around the time of German surrender.

The Soviet Union does not celebrate Victory Day until May 9 because at the time of German surrender, it was May 9 in Moscow.