People looking at the crowded Avenue des Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe on May 8, 1945, Paris, France
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Victory in Europe, 75 years later
On May 8, 1945, thousands of people poured onto the streets of Paris to celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of World War II in Europe. This view of the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées was taken atop the appropriately named Arc de Triomphe, looking east toward the distant Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. Victory in Europe (VE Day) had come at last.
The Nazis' unconditional surrender had actually been signed the day before, on May 7, at a ceremony in Reims, France. But a few changes were made, and representatives of the Nazi High Command of the Armed Forces signed it again in Berlin, officially, on May 8. Church bells rang out all over Paris that day, and revellers hugged and cheered in the streets because it was now clear that the battle would not return to their doorstep. But it was a victory half won, as war still raged in the Pacific Theatre and wouldn’t end completely until four months later. That certainly didn’t stop the jubilation felt in cities from Paris to London and far beyond 75 years ago today, as the long ordeal in Europe had finally ended.