Countries around the world are marking 75 years since the end of World War II in Europe in pared-back fashion on Friday. Where large parades and street parties were planned, people in most European countries are instead being encouraged to commemorate the day from home or online.
In Germany, Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) is a work day like any other, but the capital of Berlin this year declared a one-off public holiday owing to the 75th anniversary. There has been some debate about whether the date should be made a nationwide public holiday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will lay wreaths at the Neue Wache memorial to victims of war and dictatorship in Berlin.
Street parades in the UK have been cancelled, and instead people are being encouraged to celebrate with 1940s-style tea parties at home. Queen Elizabeth II will address the nation in the evening, and a flyover by a single Spitfire will replace more elaborate aerial displays.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron will attend a small-scale event at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, in lieu of parties and memorials across the country.
Outside of Europe
New Zealand and Australia, which fought with the Allies in the war, have already marked the day with video messages from leaders.
“New Zealand remembers you are the ones who answered your country’s call,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told veterans in a video message.
In the US, eight World War II veterans are expected to join President Donald Trump at a wreath-laying ceremony.
The US veterans, along with other survivors and foreign dignitaries, were set to attend a ceremony hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Instead, Putin is expected to give an address on television, focusing not only on the legacy of the war, but on how Russia will go forward in handling the coronavirus crisis.
The war that claimed over 50 million lives came to an end in Europe with Germany’s surrender, but it was several months before two atomic bombs dropped over Japan by the US led to the end of the global war.
ed/rt (AFP, AP, dpa)