Just for Fun: We're Celebrating VE Day With Our Favourite Facts!
Tomorrow is VE Day and, here at Stikins ® name labels, we’ve put together some of our favourite facts to celebrate!
Facts About VE Day…Did You Know?
- VE Day stands for “Victory in Europe Day”; it celebrates the surrender of Nazi Germany during World War II. Tomorrow will be the 75th anniversary of this date.
- The German surrender had been anticipated for some time. After Hitler committed suicide on 30th April and German forces suffered a number of heavy losses, Hitler’s successor, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, began negotiations with the Allies, seeking an end to the war. Dönitz agreed to a number of smaller, partial and localised surrenders before an unconditional surrender was agreed.
- The unconditional surrender was formalised by the signing of the German Instrument of Surrender, which had been drawn up by the Allied Forces. There were actually two versions and signings of the document. The first took place in Reims, France, where the document was signed by Dönitz’ representative, General Alfred Jodl, at 02:41am on 7th May 1945, announcing the surrender of all German forces, as of 11:01pm.
- However, the Soviet High Command rejected this document and so a second version was drawn up. A great deal of drafting, translating, and retyping was required before all of the Allies’ representatives were in agreement and so, while the document was officially dated as being agreed at 9:20pm on the 8th May, it was actually nearly 1am on 9th May by the time it was actually signed.
- News of the Act of Surrender spread rapidly through Europe and the rest of the World but had some help from over-eager journalists. A number of journalists had attended the first signing of the Act of Surrender but the Allies had agreed to a 36-hour embargo once it became clear that a second signing was required. This would allow the Allied Powers to hold a national day of celebration (VE Day) together. However, Edward Kennedy of the Associated Press news agency in Paris, broke the embargo on 7th May, which led to the Western Allies shifting their celebrations forward by a day (although formal proclamations of Victory were delayed to later in the day to coincide with the second signing). This is the main reason why some countries celebrate VE Day on 8th May and others on 9th May – although time differences also played their part.
- In the UK, news of the surrender was broadcast by radio late on the 7th May, which led to early celebrations breaking out across the country – including bonfires, fireworks, and many a visit to the pub. It is estimated that, by midnight, around 50,000 people had crowded into Piccadilly Circus. Music blared from gramophones, accordions, and barrel organs, while licensing hours were extended to allow pubs and dance halls to remain open longer.
- On 8th May, there were huge gatherings across the world. In the UK, millions took to the streets and street parties took place all over the country. Prime Minister Winston Churchill formally announced the news at 3pm in national radio broadcast, later making an appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the Royal Family (the Royal Family themselves would make eight appearances on the balcony that day, while King George VI also address the public in a radio broadcast). Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret were even given permission to secretly leave the palace so that they could anonymously participate in the celebrations.
- The streets were filled with flags and colourful bunting – with special permission being issued so people could purchase red, white, and blue materials without using up precious ration coupons. Some companies had even had time to start producing commemorative items, including VE Day mugs, while a number of pubs and restaurants created special “victory” menus for the occasion. At St Paul’s Cathedral in London, ten services giving thanks for peace were held consecutively, with thousands of people attending each one.
- VE Day actually only marks the end of the European part of the World War; fighting in the Pacific and Far East continued until Japan announced their surrender on 15th August 1945 (known as VJ Day – Victory Over Japan Day or VP Day – Victory in the Pacific Day). World War II itself wasn’t to end officially until 2nd September when a formal written declaration of surrender was written and signed by Japan – six years and one day after Germany invaded Poland, triggering the start of the war.
A Happy Bank Holiday From All Of Us At Stikins ® Name Labels
We would like to wish you all a happy bank holiday; while we can’t get together this weekend, there are plenty of ways to celebrate, from trying your hand at creating your own bunting or baking a special cake. We hope you have a great weekend and you all stay home and stay safe.