Happy V-E day
Today, May 8th, is the date that commemorates the defeat of Nazi Germany's campaign to enslave Europe in 1945. It had, of course, been clear for a long time that the end was coming. Germany's cities were in ruins from relentless Allied bombing; the Red Army had been steadily pushing back and grinding down the Wehrmacht ever since Stalingrad; the Americans and British had liberated most of western Europe. By the time Hitler blew his brains out in his bunker on April 30, the fruits of his megalomania had already taken the form immortalized in Yevgeny Khaldei's iconic photo- graph above -- Berlin reduced to smoldering wreckage under the Soviet flag.
In addition to launching the most disastrous war in history and murdering millions of people by means of extermination camps, slave labor, and starvation, the Nazi regime ended a century of German pre-eminence in the life of the mind by turning Germany into a place from which scientists and intellectuals fled. By leading Germany into an all-out war against the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and the United States all at the same time (perhaps the most spectacular error in judgment in history), Hitler all but gua- ranteed the catastrophic defeat that followed. The Nazi regime's crimes blackened Germany's name forever. The day of its defeat is indeed a date to celebrate.
Unconditional surrender was signed in Reims, France, on May 7, to formally take effect at 11:01 PM on May 8. Because of the time- zone difference, in Moscow it was May 9 when the war officially ended. For this reason the Soviet Union and its successor states have always commemorated V-E Day, which they call Victory Day (День Победы), on May 9.