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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

'We have come through' - Remembering VE Day 1945

Part of an online exhibition from Durham County Record Office commemorating the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe on 8 May 1945

Soldiers from B Company, 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry in Kangaroo armoured carrier, Germany, late March 1945 (D/DLI Acc: 10050)

By the end of March 1945, Hitler's Germany, under attack from all sides, was collapsing in ruins. An Allied victory seemed certain. It was only a matter of time. Then, on 30 April 1945, as Soviet forces advanced on the devastated centre of Berlin, Hitler killed himself, and, with his death, German resistance finally ended.

German forces in Italy had already surrendered on 29 April. Berlin's surviving defenders followed on 2 May and on 4 May all German forces in North West Germany and Denmark surrendered on Lüneburg Heath to Field Marshal Montgomery commanding the 21st Army Group.

The Northern Echo, Monday 7 May 1945 (D/Dor 7/5)
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Berlin: City of the Dead, extract from SEAC Services Newspaper, 30 April 1945 (D/DLI 7/60/26)
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Extract from 'SEAC' The Services Newspaper of South East Asia Command, 30 April 1945, printed in Calcutta (D/DLI 7/60/26)

The Northern Echo, Monday 7 May 1945 (D/Dor 7/5).

VE Day Newspapers (PDF, 139kb)

Three days later at Rheims, early in the morning of 7 May, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower. The next day, 8 May, at the insistence of Stalin, the Soviet leader, a second surrender document was signed in Berlin. The war in Europe was finally over.

The Evening Chronicle, 7 May 1945 (D/X 820/127)
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The Evening Chronicle, ‘VE Special’, Monday 7 May 1945 (D/X 820/127)
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The Evening Chronicle, 'VE Special', Monday 7 May 1945 (D/X 820/127)

Selected from Durham County Record Office's own collections, including the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Archive, this exhibition will look at how Victory in Europe was celebrated by civilians and soldiers not only on VE Day itself (Tuesday 8 May 1945) but also in the days, weeks and months that followed.

However, though the war in Europe was over, the Second World War was still raging in the Far East and it was not until Wednesday 15 August 1945 that Victory over Japan (VJ Day) was finally achieved. And that victory is not forgotten.

Images © reproduced with kind permission of Newsquest Media Group Ltd and Newcastle Chronicle and Journal.

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