French politician, Georges Clemenceau once said, “War is a series of catastrophes that results in a victory”. On May 8th, victory will be celebrated across the globe in commemoration of V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day) and the end of World War II.
Without getting into a huge history lesson, on May 8th 1945, the Allied Nations formally accepted the surrender of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. At the time, the Allied Nations had grown to include France, Poland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, China, Belgium, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway and Yugoslavia but the major players were “The Big Three”; Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States and Winston Churchill of the British Commonwealth.
Each nation made its announcement in its own way, with citizens all over the world taking to the streets in an outpouring of emotion. Most notably, in central London, crowds flooded Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus and the boats along the Thames sounded their horns in merriment. In the United States, the newly elected President Harry Truman, dedicated the victory to the memory of Roosevelt, who had died of a cerebral hemorrhage less than a month prior.
It’s been 67 years and the fascination around WWII remains. Both in Europe and across North America, museums, monuments and national holidays are in place to ensure that this victory is never forgotten.
National World War II Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana
Though New Orleans may seem like an odd locale for a WWII museum, the city was home to the designing and building of the “Higgins Boats”, vital components in the 1944 Battle of Normandy. The museum opened in 2000 and is dedicated to the US role in WWII, “the war that changed the world”. A pavilion showcases large artifacts of the war (including planes) and exhibits on D-Day at Normandy while a 4-D theater screens the exclusive Tom Hanks production, “Beyond All Boundaries”.
The National War Museum, 945 Magazine Street, New Orleans, www.nationalww2museum.org
The museum’s biggest draw has to be the organized “Victory in Europe” tour that arranges trips based on World War II today with access to historians, WWII veterans, exclusive behind-the-scenes access to historic locations and accommodations.
For more information about the “Victory In Europe” tour, visit: www.ww2museumtours.org
The Bundeswehr Military History Museum, Dresden, Germany
Last October, The Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr re-opened in Dresden after the addition of the ninety-eight foot high, 14,500 ton wedge of concrete and steel designed by American-based architect Daniel Libeskind. Unlike other military museums, the Bundewehr will focus on the human component of war and will explore the stories people would rather not talk about, along with the negatives that are often glossed over. Visitors will need a strong stomach to sit through re-enactments of horrific invasions of villages, models of abused animals that were used for military experiments and a moving exhibition of self-portraits by Felix Nussbaum, a Jewish artist who fled the Nazis to Belgium.
The Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr, Olbrichtplatz 2, Dresden, www.mhmbw.de
Victory Day Parade at the Red Square, Moscow, Russia
Each year on May 9th(Russia celebrates a day later because of the time change), Moscow’s Red Square fills with veterans, soldiers, dignitaries and special guests in honour of Victory Day. Though civilians are not allowed inside the Red Square, they are able to view Russian soldiers and cadets march through the square, a parade of tanks and missiles and an address from the Russian president from various vantage points around the Kremlin. At night a massive firework display draws a close to the victorious holiday. The first Victory Day parade was held at the Red Square on June 24, 1945 under the order of Joseph Stalin.
Watch the 2011 Victory Day Parade footage below: