Today, May 8, is the 70th anniversary of VE Day (victory in Europe)—the day Germany surrendered to the Allied Forces, effectively ending World War II in the European theater.
British RAF servicemen and Danish Red Cross workers ride through the streets of Copenhagen, Denmark, May 8, 1945, to celebrate the city’s feedom after German troops had been ordered to lay down their arms and surrender to the nearest British troops.
Back in 1945, mass celebrations broke out in London, Paris, Lisbon, New York, and other major cities as news of peace spread.
In these photos, that joy is self-evident—Parisians were captured dashing through the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and New Yorkers packed into Times Square waving the front page of the newspaper (headline: “Nazis quit!”). According to legend, the UK’s future queen Elizabeth was allowed out to party among the jubilant masses for one night only.
Of course, one of the United States’ most iconic scenes of peacetime celebration—a sailor’s kiss in New York City— wouldn’t happen until the end of the war in the Pacific, several bloody months later.
Parisians march through the Arc de Triomphe jubilantly waving flags of the Allied Nations as they celebrate the end of World War II on May 8, 1945. German military leaders signed an unconditional surrender in Reims, France, on May 7. France’s Foreign Minister Georges Bidault makes a VE Day radio statement from the Opera House in San Francisco, CA, May 8, 1945. Listening to his address are, seated from left, China’s Ambassador to the U.S., Wellington Koo, Britain’s Foreign Minister Anthony Eden and U.S. Secretary of State Edward Stettinius. This general view of Times Square, New York, was made at 11 a.m. on May 7, 1945, and shows New Yorkers jamming the streets to cheer the news of the unconditional surrender of Germany. This is an aerial view of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on VE Day, May 7, 1945, shows thousands of French people celebrating the announcement of Germany’s unconditional surrender to the Allies. British, American and French servicemen mingled with the crowds who sang and danced throughout the night. Looking north from 44th Street, New York’s Times Square is packed Monday, May 7, 1945, with crowds celebrating the news of Germany’s unconditional surrender in World War II. The first British troops to land in Denmark were some of our airborne troops, fresh from their race across Germany to link up with the Russians. Welcome on the arrival of our airborne troops in the city in Copenhagen, May 7, 1945. People crowd into the street outside the U.S. and British Embassies, Lisbon, Portugal, on VE Day, May 8, 1945. Jubilant crowds celebrated for two days and nights. People crowd Times Square at 42nd Street in New York City on May 8, 1945, as the VE Day celebration continues into the night. The dimout and the brownout of the “Great White Way” have been replaced once more by the bright lights of victory. A crowd gathers to celebrate V-E Day at Piccadilly Circus in London, England, on May 8, 1945. The statute of Eros in the center of the square has been boarded up throughout the war for protection from bombing. Pfc. Clarence K. Ayers of Evansville, Ind., reads the news of V-E Day as newly arrived German prisoners stand of a New York City pier, May 8, 1945. Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill, center, joins the royal family, from left, Princess Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth, King George VI, and Princess Margaret, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, England, on VE Day on May 8, 1945. Staff Sgt. Arthur Moore of Buffalo, N.Y., who was wounded in Belgium, stands on 42nd Street near Grand Central Station in New York Monday, May 7, 1945 as New Yorkers celebrate news of VE Day, victory over Nazi Germany.