75th Anniversary of VE Day

May 8 marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, celebrating the end of World War II, when Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allied forces. Usually people would be showcasing flags in parades and honoring those veterans who served in the war, but the day happens to occur amidst the pandemic.

 

President Trump and first lady Melania were joined with eight World War II veterans to take part in a ceremony together;Gregory Melikian, Steven Melnikoff, Guy Whidden, Harold Angle, Frank Devita, Donald Halverson, John Coates, and Jack Myers. As taps were being played on a bugle, the two placed a hand on a wreath and stood to salute at the World War II Memorial in the nation’s capital. They were able to observe the occasion while still practicing social distancing. Trump addressed each of the veterans privately and respectfully walked through the memorial. The soldiers were initially scheduled to attend an event in Moscow, but with the restrictions, they decided to commemorate in Washington. 

 

Britons experienced a national two minute silence at 11 am, and at the same time, Prince Charles led a wreath-laying service. In London, the Red Arrows flew 100 feet above Buckingham Palace and Westminster. The Queen delivered a televised speech from Windsor Castle at 9pm, which is the time King George VI had a radio address in 1945. She mentioned the difficulty of marking the anniversary from homes and doorsteps. Some neighborhoods found ways to enjoy the day by hosting socially distanced block parties. Afterwards there was a singalong of “We’ll Meet Again.” Britain’s Goverment Communications Headquarters also revealed the final Nazi message they decoded when allied forces were gaining on German troops, in a tweet.

 

For the first time, those in Berlin are celebrating as well, declaring it a new public holiday for democracy and the end of Nazism. A group called Kulturprojekte has a project where Berliners can go back to 1945 in various places over the city at the end of the war, using AR apps and podcasts, to remind it’s their responsibility to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. The holiday is controversial because most Germans have ignored it through the years, or thought of it as their country’s defeat. The only federal public holiday observing some of their history, that’s acknowledged by all of Germany’s states, is on October 3 for the reunification of West and East Germany.  A Holocaust survivor urged for the day to become a permanent nationwide public holiday with a petition signed by 101,000 others who agreed, but the AfD strongly opposes the thought. A leading figure from the AfD spoke saying it was a day of liberation for inmates in concentration camps, but also of absolute defeat and loss of generous parts of the country.