8 May 1945

8 May 1945Top: Sweets from American Soldiers (1945), Prussian Heritage Image Archive
Bottom: Victims of Sétif Massacre (1945), Photographer Unknown

This day in history I

Victory in Europe Day, 8 May 1945, marked the acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces and the end of World War II in Europe. The act of military surrender was signed on 7 May in Reims, France and on 8 May in Berlin, Germany.

During the march into Germany in 1945, American soldiers were often reserved in their dealings with German adults, mainly due to uncertainty about their complicity in Nazi crimes. With German children, however, they were friendlier, and very popular, particularly because their pockets were usually filled with candy and chocolate.

This day in history II

One war had ended but another one began. As France celebrated victory in Europe on 8 May 1945, its army was massacring thousands of civilians in Sétif and Guelma – events that were the real beginning of Algeria’s war of independence.

Recommended reading: Massacre in Algeria by Mohammed Harbi Le Monde Diplomatique + The Massacre in Sétif: How Peace Celebrations Ended in Bloodbath in French Algeria by Håkon Tranvåg Popular Social Science

Thanks to my friend Farah Feddal for informing me about the massacres in Sétif and Guelma. Due to my rather one-sided history classes back in high school and the German media’s neglect of these events, I never knew about them.


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