Europe marks VE Day amid coronavirus pandemic
London/Moscow/Berlin/Paris, May 8 (efe-epa).- Countries across Europe on Friday commemorated the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in the continent with ceremonies to reflect on the conflict that left millions dead between 1939-45.
Victory in Europe Day, more commonly referred to as VE Day, marks the moment on 8 May 1945 when the German Nazi regime’s surrender was accepted by the Allied Forces. Japan’s surrender officially came on 2 September that same year, ending the war altogether.
THE UNITED KINGDOM
Commemorations were slightly different this year due to the coronavirus lockdown but Prince Charles, the first-in-line to the British throne, and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, led a nationwide two-minute silence from northern Scotland, where they are currently isolating.
Queen Elizabeth II is due to address the nation in the evening at 9 pm, the same time her father, George VI, first informed the country of Nazi Germany’s surrender in a radio broadcast on this day 75 years ago.
An hour before the nation paused to remember the generations affected by World War II, the Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force’s famed aerobatic team, conducted a flyover of London while RAF Typhoons flew over Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh.
In a video message, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “75 years ago, the people of this country celebrated victory against Hitler’s aggression.
“People of every age, race and background came together in one supreme effort and they paid a grievous price, with over 450,000 British people laying down their lives.
“And yet they triumphed over every ordeal and hardship and because of their victory, hundreds of millions of people live in peace and freedom today.”
He said the response to the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, which has claimed over 30,000 lives, requires the same endeavour shown by wartime generation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent congratulatory telegrams to several world leaders on Friday on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Europe’s liberation from fascism, the Kremlin reported.
Putin congratulated Western leaders, including those from the United States, France and the United Kingdom, as well as leaders of ex-Soviet countries, who fought together with Russian soldiers in the ranks of the Red Army.
In addition, Putin spoke on Friday by telephone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the anniversary of the Soviet victory over fascism in Europe, to be commemorated tomorrow in Russia.
“For Russia and Germany this date has a special and symbolic meaning,” said the Kremlin.
Putin and Merkel stressed the need to preserve the memory of the “tragic events of those years”.
“In particular, the certainty was expressed that in both countries they will never forget the German patriots, who bravely fought the Nazi regime,” the Kremlin added in the note.
In another phone conversation, Putin congratulated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the same reason.
This year Russia will not celebrate the historic military parade on Red Square on May 9 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it will maintain an air stop and other commemorative events that will take place in a virtual format.