Victory in Europe Day in France – l’Armistice du 8 mai 1945

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Victory in Europe Day takes place on the 8th of May 1945 and commemorates the victory of the 2nd World War Allies over Germany. This was the end of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and the Second World War. This date marks the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany. English speakers call this day the “VE Day” (Victory in Europe Day).


The May and September 1945 capitulations

The 7th of May 1945, the German Army surrender was signed by the German Marshal Alfred Jodl in a high school in Reims, which sheltered the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force. Journalists from the West quickly spread the news of the surrender and celebrations began. However, fights were still raging on the eastern front. Germans signed another surrender act with the Allies in Berlin.

The Musée de la Reddition in Reims has the act of military surrender signed on the 7th May 1945 on display. The document was written in English and signed in the same premises of the museum.

The 8th of May, that second capitulation was signed in a villa in Eastern Berlin. Representatives from the USSR, Great Britain, France and the USA arrived just before midnight. The Russian marshal Georgi Joukov opened the ceremony. The German representatives led by the Marshal Wilhelm Keitel were asked to sign the capitulation act at 11.01pm (central European time). Consequently, the surrender took place the 9th of May for the soviets and the allied central-oriental countries.

The official capitulation of Japan (“V-J Day“, Victory over Japan Day) occurred on the 2nd of September 1945 when the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mamoru Shigemitsu signed the surrender documents on the USS Missouri bridge in the Tokyo bay. This was the end of the second World War.


8th May commemorations in France

In France, the 8th of May has been turned into a commemorative public holiday in 1953. In 1959, the French President Charles De Gaulle, suppressed this public holiday. In order to be in correct terms with Germany, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (French president from 1974 to 1981) also suppressed the commemoration of the Allies victory in 1945. Finally, at the request of François Mitterrand in 1981, the commemoration and the public holiday of the 8th of May were re-established.

Nowadays, this public holiday is respected and celebrated by most French people. Shops are closed and most of the families commemorate this symbolic day bringing flowers to the city War Memorial.

In 2015 France celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Peace Treaty with a great number of commemorations and events.


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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

2 Comments

  1. la signature de l’armistice (1) a eu lieu le 11 novembre 1918 à Retondes. Elle marque l’arrêt des combats de la première guerre Mondiale mais pas de la guerre.
    (1) c’est à dire pause ; à ne pas confondre avec signature de la paix

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