VE Day – a twentieth century turning point

Early May sees the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe - or VE - Day. After the suicide of Adolf Hitler on 30th April, the Germans surrendered on 7th May 1945, bringing an end to the Second World War in Europe.

The following day was designated Victory in Europe Day - a day of celebration and relief but tinged with great sadness. Gatherings and parades were held by victorious, but exhausted, nations around the world.

Due to the time difference, VE Day was held on 9th May in New Zealand.

Caption: Victory celebration stirs Christchurch crowds. Christchurch turned out yesterday en masse to attend the second day of Victory Celebrations. A section of the crowd in the Square. Description: 10 May 1945 Source: The Press, 11 May 1945, p.8

Victory celebration stirs Christchurch crowds. Christchurch turned out yesterday en masse to attend the second day of Victory Celebrations. A section of the crowd in the Square. 10 May 1945. The Press, 11 May 1945, p.8

The war against Japan in the Pacific was still raging, with New Zealand, British and American forces, amongst others, still fighting. Victory in the Pacific was still a few months away.

The closeness of this anniversary to the 100th anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli Campaign reminds us that there was only thirty years between the landings towards the beginning of the First World War and the end of the Second World War. In turn, the end of the Second World War led to the dismantling of the British Empire, independence for many colonised nations around the world and the Cold War.

Celebrating victory in Europe (VE Day, 9 May 1945), Normans Road, Bryndwr [9 May1945]

Celebrating victory in Europe (VE Day, 9 May 1945), Normans Road, Bryndwr
[9 May 1945] CCL Photo Collection 22, Img02308_01

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