[Video] VE Day: Berlin in ruins at the end of World War II
75 years ago today, on May 8, 1945, World War II came to an end in Europe with the surrender of Nazi Germany.
The end of World War II in Europe
Many other countries celebrate this day as Victory in Europe (VE) Day, but in Germany it has always been just another working day. This year, however, the city of Berlin has declared it a one-off public holiday to mark the end of a conflict that claimed 50 million lives.
After several years of intense conflict, Soviet troops finally launched their attack on Berlin on April 16, 1945. By April 23, the Nazi capital was completely surrounded by more than 1,5 million soldiers, as the last major offensive of the war began. After spending the last days of his life underground in his so-called Führerbunker, Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, shortly after marrying Eva Braun. Their bodies were taken above ground and burnt in a nearby bomb crater.
Just a few days later, on May 2, Soviet forces captured the Reichstag and raised the USSR flag above the city. Fighting continued for a few days until Germany’s surrender on May 8. Six years of war had reaped death and destruction across the continent - and left Berlin in ruins. This rare colour footage of the city in May 1945 gives an idea of the extent of the damage.
Thumb image credit: IWM C 5284