8th May 20
On this Friday, 8th May, we are commemorating the victory over the forces of Nazi Germany and their allies during the Second World War as we do every year. However, this year’s VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) takes on added significance as it is the 75th anniversary of the event, the day when Reichspresident, Karl Donitz, successor of Adolf Hitler, who committed suicide a few days earlier, authorised Germany’s unconditional surrender. Interestingly, Russia, as well as many of the former Soviet republics, commemorates VE Day a day later due to bureaucratic technicalities at the time which saw the Russian text of the surrender document delivered incomplete to the German High Command, necessitating a revision that did not arrive for signing until the early hours of 9th May.
This year’s VE Day comes at a time of crisis which has engulfed virtually the whole world. As such, we are perhaps able to get a glimpse into the experiences of the millions of combatants and civilians who endured so much to secure our liberty, the loss of loved ones, the isolation, the loneliness and material privations. This may help us to understand a little better the price that these genuine heroes paid and consequently calls on us never to forget their sacrifice:
When you go home, tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.
(John Maxwell Adams)
Gregory Slysz, History Subject Leader, DLD College London