On This Day In 1945: Act of Military Surrender Signed at Reims
On this day in 1945, the initial Instrument of Surrender was signed by the German High Command, General Alfred Jodl, at the city Reims. The document ordered unconditional surrender for all German forces and marked the end of WWII in Europe.
We honour the enormous sacrifice of all the people who gave their lives and contributed to ending this devastating conflict. We also honour all those who fell victim to the brutalities of war and the atrocities committed by the totalitarian regimes who instigated it in the first place.
Although the war was over in 1945, many old problems and threats remained and new ones emerged.
Western Europe was soon rebuilt and recovered to unprecedented prosperity thanks the the US Marshall Plan and the commitment of the US to help protect liberal and democratic institutions.
The situation in Eastern Europe was different, however. After the liberation from the Nazi occupation by the Red Army, the latter imposed its own rule and brought these countries under the control of Stalin’s totalitarian system. Democracy was soon abolished, and collectivization, repressions and mass deportations of peaceful populations took place. In the after war years antisemitism was also on the rise in the USSR and its satellites, and even by now has never been completely overcome.
If one views WWII as a fight between the forces of freedom and democracy and those of totalitarianism and repression, one can argue that only with the end of the Cold War in 1991 was one of its biggest legacies truly resolved.
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