May 8 - 1945 - Victory in Europe Day
When the German Instrument of Surrender was officially signed, it meant the war in Europe was officially over. Of course, World War II was not yet done, but it also seemed to be a rather late acknowledgement of the facts on the ground. Allied troops had been marching through Germany for most of April, successively defeating German armies and liberating concentration camps. On April 29, German troops in Italy surrendered and Soviet troops had surrounded Berlin. The next day, Adolf Hitler killed himself so he would not be captured. At that point, a wide variety of German armies surrendered to their Allied counterparts. The only option the Allies gave the Nazis was unconditional surrender, terms set out at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. It was only when Alfred Jodl and Wilhelm Keitel agreed on May 8 could people actually celebrate. And in Britain, France, America, and the Soviet Union, people did celebrate. In Germany, any remnant of the Nazi government had to be eliminated after May 8, 1945, because that was the way World War II was fought.