Celebrating Victory: The End of World War II as Seen in America's Historical Newspapers
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:
In America’s Historic Newspapers, one can find such joyous headlines as “Germany Quits!”; “Victory! Germany Gives Up”; “Germany Surrenders Unconditionally Ending Europe's Most Ruinous War”; and “Rapture of Victory Recalls Scene of 1918." Many papers also printed special victory editions on May 7, as seen below:
The fighting continued in the Pacific for another three months. On September 2, 1945, a formal surrender ceremony was performed in Tokyo Bay, Japan, aboard the battleship USS Missouri, finally bringing World War II to an end.