Featured Document Display: 75th Anniversary of V-E Day: End of WWII in Europe

Thursday, April 30, 2020 - Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Victory in Europe

World War II, the deadliest military conflict in history, erupted in Europe on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. For nearly six years it raged in the European Theater resulting in millions of military and civilian deaths and destroying cities, homes, and families. Finally, in the spring of 1945, Allied forces exhausted the will and fighting capacity of the German war machine. Slowly, but completely, the Nazi-led Third Reich collapsed in a series of piecemeal surrenders culminating on V-E (Victory in Europe) Day on May 8, 1945. 

Celebrations of Nazi Germany’s defeat in the West were tempered, however, by the ongoing war with Japan in the East. Allied victory over Japan followed just four months after V-E Day, bringing World War II to an end. 

Act of Military Surrender, May 8, 1945
Act of Military Surrender, May 8, 1945
National Archives, Records of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1941 - 1977
German instrument of surrender (in German), May 8, 1945
Kapitulationserklaerung, May 8, 1945
National Archives, Records of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1941 - 1977

Germany surrenders and is disarmed

Following a series of military capitulations Germany signed an unconditional surrender of its forces on May 7, 1945, at Reims, France. At the insistence of the Soviet Union, a second formal instrument of surrender was signed the following day at Berlin to ensure that the war in Europe ended on all fronts. The formal surrender documents signed on May 8, or V-E Day, were written in English, Russian, and German. Besides the addition that Germany “disarm completely,” the formal surrender documents differ little from those signed at Reims.

Read about “Celebrating Victory in Europe (V-E) Day, 1945” in The Text Message blog. 

See "VE Day in Color" in the Unwritten Record blog.

Find more resources related to World War II records at Archives.gov.


The Featured Document display is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation, through the generous support of the Ford Motor Company Fund.