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Seventy-five years ago on 8th May 1945, the guns fell silent over Europe signalling the end of the Second World War in Europe. This day has since become known as Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day – the day that the Allied nations formally recognise and celebrate the defeat of the Nazi German war machine and the end of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.
 

By April, the German army was attacked on two sides – from the east by the combined Allied forces and from the west by the advancing Russian army. On 25th April 1945, when both powers met at the Elbe River, the German Army was all but destroyed. No more than five days later, Hitler killed his wife Eva and then committed suicide in his Berlin bunker, all but ending the war in Europe. As a result, his successor, Admiral Karl Doenitz, sent General Alfred Jodl to General Dwight Eisenhower’s Supreme Allied Headquarters in Rheims to seek terms for an end to the war. On 7th May, General Jodl signed the unconditional surrender of German forces, which was to take effect from 8th May at 11:01pm.
 

Despite this, there was still some pockets of German-Soviet confrontation that continued into the next day. On 9th May, the Soviets would lose 600 more soldiers in Silesia before the Germans finally surrendered. Consequently, V-E Day was not celebrated until the ninth in Moscow, signalled by a radio broadcast salute from Stalin himself: “The age-long struggle of the Slav nations… has ended in victory. Your courage has defeated the Nazis. The war is over.”
 

Finally, after years of carnage and destruction, resulting in millions of lives being lost, the Nazi scourge had been crushed and the war in Europe was over.
 

This surrender saw great celebrations take place across Europe and North America. In London alone over a million people celebrated as crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to cheering crowds. Amongst those crowds Princess Elizabeth (future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister, Princess Margaret blended anonymously, apparently enjoying the celebrations for themselves first hand.
 

In the United States, President Harry Truman, who celebrated his 61st birthday that same day, dedicated the victory to his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died less than a month earlier on 12th April 1945.
 

Whilst celebrations continued in Europe, in the Pacific, the war raged on. An Allied land invasion of the Japanese mainland was fast approaching as a possibility after some key and devastating battles had been won by the Allies in the Pacific. This lead to an attempt to break Japanese resistance before a land invasion became necessary. This was done in part by consistently bombarding Japan from the air and sea, dropping some 100,000 tons of explosives on more than 60 Japanese cities and towns between March and July 1945 alone.
 

On 26th July 1945, the Allied leaders issued the Potsdam Declaration, which called on Japan to surrender; if it did, it was promised a peaceful government according to “the freely expressed will of the Japanese people.” If it did not, it would face “prompt and utter destruction.” The embattled Japanese government in Tokyo refused to surrender and on the 6th August 1945, America dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, killing more than 70,000 people and destroying a 5-square-mile expanse of the city. Three days later, they dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, killing another 40,000. The following day, the Japanese government issued a statement accepting the terms of the Potsdam Declaration.
 

On 14th August 1945 from the White House in Washington, US President Harry S. Truman announced news of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies: “This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor. This is the day when Fascism finally dies, as we always knew it would.” Whilst in a radio address in the early afternoon of 15th August 1945 Emperor Hirohito urged his people to accept the surrender, blaming the use of the “new and most cruel bomb” on Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the country’s defeat. “Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in the ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation but would also lead to the total extinction of human civilisation.” What the Emperor failed to mention however, was that the Allies had delivered Japan an ultimatum to surrender on 26th July 1945.
 

The war was over. Following the official announcement of the victory of Japan, the citizens of the Allied nations around the world displayed an overwhelming sense of relief and exhilaration. Crowds of people descended onto the streets shouting, singing, dancing, lighting bonfires and fireworks – all acts of joyful celebrations to mark the end of the long and bloody conflict.
 

King George VI himself also addressed the nation and the Empire in a broadcast from Buckingham Palace, “Our hearts are full to overflowing, as are your own. Yet there is not one of us who has experienced this terrible war who does not realise that we shall feel its inevitable consequences long after we have all forgotten our rejoicings today.”
 

Since then 14th August and 15th August became known as Victory over Japan Day, or VJ Day. This term has also been used for 2nd September 1945, the date Allied Supreme Commander General Douglas MacArthur, along with the Japanese foreign minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, and the chief of staff of the Japanese army, Yoshijiro Umezu, signed the official Japanese surrender aboard the U.S.S Missouri, which at the time was anchored in Tokyo Bay. Effectively ending World War Two.
 

This two-coin set commemorates the 75th anniversary year since these historic moments took place, as well as presenting an opportunity to remember the enormous sacrifice, courage and determination of people from all walks of life who saw us through these dark and terrifying times.

Specifications

  • Historic 75th Commemorative Set
     

  • Capturing the moments that changed the world
     

  • .999 Silver two-coin set
     

  • Exclusive to The Bradford Mint

VE VJ DAY
75th Anniversary

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