VE Day: Europe marks 75th anniversary while under coronavirus lockdown

Leaders across Europe are marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day, as much of the continent remains under lockdown due to coronavirus.

A two-minute silence to honour the war dead will be held in the UK, followed by an address from the Queen.

Closed ceremonies are also being held by the leaders of France and Germany, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel.

Other events are also being held to mark the defeat of Nazi Germany, but large gatherings remain forbidden.

On 8 May 1945 Britain and its Allies formally accepted Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender after almost six years of war.

But that date was not the end of World War Two, as imperial Japan was not defeated by the Allies until August 1945.

President Macron will lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Paris – the ceremony closed to all but a small group of officials.

Chancellor Merkel will also lead a ceremony at Germany’s central War Memorial. In Berlin, residents have been given an unprecedented public holiday, although this is not in place across the rest of the country.

A similar celebration, known as Victory Day, is held on 9 May in several former Soviet countries including Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Media captionVE Day: «The peace treaty was drawn up by our dad»

World War Two cost more than 50 million lives, of whom an estimated 25 million were Soviet military and civilians.

The 75th anniversary comes at another pivotal moment, as coronavirus has taken more than 250,000 lives, infected more than 3.5 million and wrought economic havoc worldwide.

There are calls for economic rescue packages on a scale similar to the US Marshall Plan that speeded up Europe’s recovery after the war.

Yet there are fears that this crisis could plunge the world into its deepest recession.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had planned to hold a major parade in Moscow on Saturday, attended by President Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping. But the event – showcasing more than15,000 troops – has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, an air force flypast will take place and Mr Putin will lay flowers at a war memorial near Moscow’s Red Square.


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