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  • 5/9/2010

The Day in History

Victory Day

victory day

Victory Day marks the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in the Second World War commonly referred to in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War. This capitulation was signed late in the evening on May 8, 1945 (May 9 in the Moscow time zone), following the original capitulation Germany signed earlier to the joint Allied forces. The Soviet government announced the victory early on May 9 after the signing ceremony in Berlin.

General Zhukov reading the German capitulation. Seated on his right was Arthur Tedder, Marshal of the Royal Air Force.The May 9 Victory Day is celebrated in most of the successor states to the Soviet Union, especially in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The day is traditionally marked by ceremonial military parades with the most prominent one being traditionally held in Moscow Red Square.

Two separate capitulation events took place at the time. First, the capitulation to the Allied nations in Reims was signed on May 7, 1945, effective 23:01 CET May 8. This date is commonly referred to as the V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day) in most western European countries.

However, the Soviet Union"s only representative in Reims was General Ivan Susloparov, the Military Liaison Mission Commander. General Susloparov"s scope of authority was not entirely clear, and he had no means of immediate contact with Kremlin, but nevertheless decided to risk signing for the Soviet side. Susloparov was caught offguard; he had no instructions from Moscow. But if he did not sign, he risked a German surrender without Soviet participation. However, he noted that it could be replaced with a new version in the future. Stalin was indeed displeased by these events and had Susloparov executed upon his return to Moscow. He believed that the German surrender should have been accepted only by the envoy of the USSR Supreme command and signed only in Berlin and insisted the Reims protocol be considered preliminary, with the main ceremony to be held in Berlin, where Marshal Zhukov was at the time, as the latter recounts in his memoirs: Today, in Reims, Germans signed the preliminary act on an unconditional surrender. The main contribution, however, was done by Soviet people and not by the Allies, therefore the capitulation must be signed in front of the Supreme Command of all countries of the anti-Hitler coalition, and not only in front of the Supreme Command of Allied Forces. Moreover, I disagree that the surrender was not signed in Berlin, which was the center of Nazi aggression. We agreed with the Allies to consider the Reims protocol as preliminary. 

victory day

Therefore, another ceremony was organized in a surviving manor in the outskirts of Berlin late on May 8, when it was already May 9 in Moscow due to the difference in time zones. Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel submitted the capitulation of the Wehrmacht to the Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov in the Red Army headquarters in Berlin-Karlshorst. To commemorate the victory in the war, the ceremonial Moscow Victory Parade was held in the Soviet capital on June 24, 1945.

Field-Marshal Keitel signing the ratified surrender terms for the German militaryThe anniversary of May 9 was celebrated not only in Soviet Union but in the countries of the Eastern Bloc as well. Since the fall of the communism in Central and Eastern Europe these countries, as well as the Baltic States, recognize Victory in Europe Day instead on May 8th.

Source: encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com

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