On May 8, 1945, the United States and Europe celebrated VE day, or Victory in Europe day. The war in Europe had lasted for six years, claiming the lives of over sixty million people. After Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, during the Battle of Berlin, the surrender of Germany was authorized by his successor, Karl Dönitz. On May 7,1945, Dönitz and the German High Command declared Germany’s unconditional surrender. News that the Europe war had ended was published that same day in many American newspapers, although the official announcement was made on May 8, when the surrender document was ratified.
Church bells rang and the streets resounded with singing and cheering. People flooded to places like Trafalgar Square in London and Times Square in New York City to celebrate, as reported in these papers on May 7:
On May 29, 1913, at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, a dance and orchestral performance was given that has reverberated throughout the American art world for the past 100 years. Ballet Russes, the ballet company founded and directed by Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev, performed a dance choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky to an orchestral piece composed by Igor Stravinsky. That performance, The Rite of Spring, portrayed a pagan Russian celebration of spring which culminated in the sacrifice of a young girl chosen to dance to her death.
Nijinsky’s choreography departed from the contemporary idea of ballet by incorporating pigeon-toed, knock-kneed, repetitive, stamping and jumping. If that wasn’t disconcerting enough, Stravinsky’s dissonant music, with its powerful, pulsating, irregular rhythm, was. Confronted by this combination of the primitive and the modern, which confounded current ideas of beauty, many in the audience jeered and hissed.
Established in 1994, the W. David Rozkuszka Scholarship provides financial assistance to an individual who is 1) currently working with government documents in a library and 2) trying to complete a master’s degree in library science.