Europe marks 75 years since World War II

Zoom! The Red Arrows use special dye to make their vapour trails red, white, and blue. © Getty

Was it right to celebrate VE day? Despite the current lockdown, Britain marked 75 years since the end of World War II in Europe with 1940s’ tea parties, sing-alongs, and bunting.

What’s happening

On 8 May 1945, Winston Churchill broadcast a speech from Downing Street. The British people listened as their prime minister announced that Germany had surrendered. The war was over in Europe. Streets filled with people. Fireworks exploded. Music played into the night. It was Victory in Europe day.

Find out more

Every May, countries across the continent celebrate VE day. In France, which was occupied during the war, it is an opportunity to celebrate freedom. In Russia, the country honours its armed forces.

This year marked the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. Britain celebrated with events including a Red Arrows flypast and a speech from the Queen.

The events were a chance to recreate the excitement of that first VE day: after six years, the country was free from the threats of bombs and invasion. Winston Churchill called it the “greatest outburst of joy in the history of mankind”. For some, though, VE day remained a sad one: troops continued to fight in Asia and millions of people had died.

Was it right to celebrate VE day last week?

Some say…

Of course, it was. Celebrating VE day is about celebrating the triumph of good over evil. The 8 May 1945 marked the end of a six-year war, during which millions of innocent people had been killed. By coming together as a nation on Friday, we all celebrated overcoming Nazi terror and gaining the peace we have experienced in the UK for 75 years.

Others think…

No. Although it was the end of one war, the war against Japan continued for another four months. World War Two killed more than 60 million people worldwide. Germany marks the end of the war with a sombre day of remembrance. We should do the same. It’s important we are grateful for peace in Britain, but it is not a reason for a party.

You Decide

  1. Does celebrating victory in war make the violence of war acceptable?

Activities

  1. On VE day in 1945, the Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) and her sister were allowed out of the palace in disguise to celebrate in the street parties. Write a story about what you imagine they did while out in London with ordinary people.

Some People Say...

“Let us remember those who will not come back, their constancy and courage in battle, their sacrifice and endurance in the face of a merciless enemy.”

King George VI on VE Day, 1945

What do you think?

Word Watch

Winston Churchill
The UK prime minister in 1945.
Downing Street
10 Downing Street is the official home and the office of the British prime minister.
Surrendered
To give in to the enemy.
Occupied
Other countries invaded and taken over by the Germans included Belgium and Poland.
Red Arrows flypast
The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team use dye to make their smoke trails red and blue.
Asia
The war against Japan continued until 2 September 1945.
Nazi
The ruling party of Germany before and during WWII.
Sombre
Restrained and serious.

Subjects

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.