Exactly 75 years ago, on this day in 1945, German Generaloberst Alfred Jodl signed the first Instrument of Surrender ending World War II in Europe.
This first of three documents signalling unconditional surrender to the Allies and ending German participation in WWII, bringing the War in Europe to a close as of 11pm UK time on 8th May 1945, was signed by General Jodl on the morning of Monday 7th May in the college building in Rheims which at the time was serving as the SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) headquarters.
- Today Victory in Europe (VE or V-E Day) is commemorated by the three victorious powers first in the UK and US on 8th May, and then in Russia (as Victory Day) on the 9th*. This year the planned 75th Anniversary commemorations in London and Moscow are being cut back because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- V-J Day marking the surrender of Japan and the ending of World War II is commemorated on 15th August (date of announcement) by the UK and on 2nd September (date of signing) by the US.
- Last year I spent the evening of 9th May, Victory Day, in the company of Russian-speaking Estonian veterans of their Afghan War and this year I will be raising a glass to them too.
* The different dates are primarily due to time zone difference.