VE Day 75
Seventy five years after the end of the Second World War, the anniversary of VE Day is an occasion for remembering the victims of war and learning from the past.
On the 8th May 1945, VE Day marked the Allies' acceptance of the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. The day was met with complex emotions, many rejoicing at the downfall of fascism and an end to years of fighting, whilst many mourned those who were killed and reflected on the devastation left behind. Though VE Day was supposed to mark the end of the war in Europe, fighting carried on in several parts of Europe after this date, while deaths from war-related starvation and poverty continued too. The war carried on in Asia until August.
The seventy-fifth anniversary of VE Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the suffering and destruction caused by the Second World War in the widest sense, the many millions killed, the countless individuals displaced, injured, raped and traumatised.
At 11am 8th May 2020 members and supporters of the Peace Pledge Union will observe a two minute silence to remember all victims of the war including both civilian and military deaths, and people of all nationalities, and to affirm a commitment to lasting peace. In many parts of the world today war is still a daily reality, making it vital that we continue to oppose war and its causes.
The PPU is also calling on its supporters to challenge any attempts to simplify or glorify the past. The UK government has recently published its plans for 'celebrating' the anniversary, encouraging people to stage '1940s style' tea parties at home. Meanwhile Royal British Legion Industries is urging people to place figures of World War Two soldiers in their windows. In the mainstream media there is likely to be a heavy focus on UK armed forces personnel, with little attention to the British civilians who were killed, let alone people of other nationalities.
VE Day 75 comes just a week before International Conscientious Objectors' Day on the 15th May, when people around the world remember those who have refused to bear arms and participate in war, including those who are currently imprisoned or forced to flee their home countries for refusing to join the armed forces. The PPU is co-organising the national online ceremony and publicising several actions you can do from home to show your support for conscientious objectors.
The PPU will be posting information and resources on social media to help people reflect widely on the meaning of VE Day 75, as well as to question the militarism and triumphalism accompanying the event.
An information sheet for primary-age children, designed for use at home by teachers and parents during the Coronavirus lockdown. The sheet highlights different reactions to VE Day in 1945 as well as the human cost of the war.
An information sheet for secondary school students, to stimulate discussion about the meaning of VE Day. This resource has been designed for use during the Coronavirus lockdown and includes links to further reading materials.
The PPU's message in 1945
At the time of VE Day, 75 years ago, the Peace Pledge Union issued a statement rejoicing at an end to war in Europe and the fall of military dictatorships in Germany and Italy, while insisting that “true victory comes not by force of arms”.
As in 1945, today we reaffirm our committment to working "for justice and lasting peace".