Last modified on February 6, 2023, at 12:51

Victory Day

V-E Day depiction of the Soviet flag raised over the Reichstag. The original black and white photograph had been touched with color added by Soviet artists.

Victory Day commemorates the victory over Nazi Germany by the Soviet Union and its Allies of World War II in 1945. In Russia, Victory Day remains the largest national holiday celebrated on May 9, when German forces surrendered to Russian forces in the German capital of Berlin. On May 9, shortly after midnight Moscow time Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signed the surrender document to the Russian forces in Berlin.

Upon the death of Hitler and Goebbels, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz was appointed Chancellor (the short-lived Flensburg government). Dönitz immediately opened up negotiations with the Western Powers to offer Germany's unconditional surrender. Dönitz authorized General Alfred Jodl to sign an unconditional surrender before midnite on May 8 to American and British forces in Reims, France. The Western Powers had previously agreed with their Soviet allies not to accept a separate peace. During the Cold War, V-E Day or Victory in Europe day was marked as May 8 in the West. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower however, Commander of Allied Forces in France, recognized the May 9 Berlin surrender as the authentic surrender date and document.

May 9 has been a national holiday in the Russian Federation since its formation in 1991. May 9 became a non-working holiday in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1963 and only two years later in the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic in 1965.

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