World War II raged throughout Europe and the eastern pacific from 1939 to 1945.
It is a war that is highlighted and remembered by living history museums throughout the country, as it touched nearly every American and every nation in one way or another.
WWII was a devastating war, responsible for millions of deaths due to the advancement of military weaponry and vehicles that were so much more powerful than those used during WWI.
Popular World War II battle reenactments only show a spectator’s view of the story.
Yet it is the end of the story that is still recognized today in VE Day and VJ Day, the two marks of the official end of World War II.
VE Day - WWII Ends In Europe
VE Day, or formally Victory in Europe Day, is when World War II came to an end in Europe with the surrender of the Germans to Allied forces.
It is a day that is still recognized in Europe and throughout the world and commemorated in World War II living history museums as the end of the fighting in Europe and eventually the world.
This occurred shortly after the death by suicide of Adolf Hitler, which resulted in the Nazis surrendering to the Allies and the signing of the first of two documents of surrender on May 7, 1945, in Reims, France by General Alfred Jodi to Allied General Dwight Eisenhower.
Because German troops were currently surrounded by Soviet soldiers in Berlin at the very same time, German Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz who was Hitler’s successor demanded the signing of a second document of surrender, this one between himself and Soviet Premier Josef Stalin in an effort to spare the lives of the German soldiers who were surrounded by Allies in Berlin.
That document was signed on May 8, 1945.
As word spread of the signing of the second document, people all across Europe took to the streets to celebrate the end of the war.
May 8th was officially declared Victory in Europe Day, the start to the end of World War II.
VJ Day - WWII Ends In Japan - The War Is Officially Over
Though the celebrating had begun in Europe, the fighting still raged on in Japan, which had never before surrendered in a military conflict, leading many to believe they never would.
The turning point in the ongoing fighting in the Pacific region came after the dropping of the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, three days apart.
With enormous casualties and the Soviet Union then declaring war on Japan, Japan finally did surrender to allied forces on August 14, 1945.
The world once again rejoiced and the Allies declared August 15th as Victory in Japan or VJ Day and the official end to the war.
This is not the day that America recognizes, however, as the official surrender documents were signed later.
Once official surrender documents were signed on September 2, 1945 aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, the date was officially declared VJ Day in America.
Today, VJ Day is still recognized on August 14th in Europe and September 2 in America.
WWII Battle Reenactments And VE/VJ Day Commemorations
Regardless of when VJ Day is recognized, both VE Day and VJ Day are important dates in American and world history for their significance as the two official ending days of World War II in the two separate battle regions.
They are also popular events depicted in presentations and displays at World War II living history museums, as are the detailed World War II battle reenactments that can be viewed as well.
These and other days of significance are highlighted at living history museums, where pivotal events are used to tell the stories of important wars, from the American Civil and Revolutionary wars to WWI and II, to as recent as the Gulf War and many other battles involving Americans in any way.
Learn WWII History at the Museum of the American G.I.
For history buffs, military enthusiasts, and people of all ages, living history museums are a fantastic way to learn about America’s past in an entertaining and interesting way.
At the Museum of the American G.I., attendees can see military vehicles and weapons from multiple wars, watch World War I and World War II battle reenactments, participate in reenactment activities, witness impressive weapons displays, and much more.
In honor of VE Day and VJ Day, the public is encouraged to visit a World War II living history museum today!
Come See WWI and WII Battle Reenactments!