Today is VE Day or Victory in Europe Day, which marks the end of World War II—the six-year time span in which millions of people were killed and the horrors of concentration camps and nuclear warfare changed humanity forever.
VE Day memories
There are dozens of articles reflecting on VE day and what it meant for the people of Europe. The BBC took a look at the wide array of mixed emotions about May 8, 1945. Today, 70 years later, there are just as many solemn memories of the tragedies and devastation that happened during the war as there are stories of celebration about its end.
Hans Kuhn, one of Adolf Hitler’s former bodyguards, had been carried off to a POW camp in the U.S. when VE Day arrived. Obviously they weren’t celebrating at the camp because their side had lost the war. Interestingly, Kuhn later married a British wife when he moved to Leicestershire to work after the war.
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Val Royston, who worked with the Women’s Royal Navy Service in London, joined in the celebrations on VE Day in front of Buckingham Palace. At the time of the celebration, she saw then-Princess Elizabeth, who later became Queen Elizabeth II, on the balcony of the palace.
And then there is Betty Allen, who was grieving her father’s death on VE Day. Her mother had received a telegraph the day before stating that he had died in the war.
What most don’t know about WWII
Metro put together a list of several things most people probably don’t know about the Second World War. For example, World War II is technically still going on between Japan and Russia. After all, VE Day marks Victory in Europe Day, the day Europe ended the war, but Russia and Japan never actually signed a treaty to put an official end to the war.
In fact, in one of the most spectacular battles ever occurred between Japan and the USSR in Manchuria right before Japan surrendered in August 1945. Within a matter of days, the Red Army destroyed the puppet state of Manchukuo, which had been setup by imperial Japan.
If you’ve ever drank Fanta soda (in the Great Lakes region we say “pop”), then you know that there are plenty of different flavors available. But did you know that we have a trade embargo that was put into place during WWII to thank for Fanta’s existence?
The Coca-Cola syrup was largely unavailable in Germany as a result of the embargo, so Coca-Cola Deutschland made a type of pop that used local ingredients like pomace and whey. The name Fanta comes from the team’s need to use their phantasie (imagination in English) to come up with a solution for the missing Coca-Cola syrup.
And then apparently some British spies thought Hitler would be easier to deal with if he was a woman, so spies tried to spike his food with female hormones in an attempt to make him more like a woman. However, there are many rumors about Hitler and it is not known if that is indeed true.
Other interesting tidbits include a report that the only casualty of the Nazi’s first bomb was a rabbit; a group of German soldieshelped the Americans battle the SS and helped save the leaders of France who were POWs in Austria (as recounted in the great book, The Last Battle: When U.S. and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II in Europe); and the fact that Joan Pujol Garcia, who was a double agent for the Nazis and the British during the war (all spies in Britain were double agents of the British, including Garcia), actually received war honors from both sides.