On this day in history - May 8th, 1945

On this day in history - May 8th, 1945
The first Instrument of Surrender
The first Instrument of Surrender

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Nazi Germany officially surrenders to the Allies, ending World War II in Europe.

The nature of the Instrument of Surrender for Nazi Germany was in developmental stages since 1944. The Allies wanted to avoid what happened at the end of World War I, when the military claimed after the war that it did not officially endorse the surrender and therefore did not lose. Ideas like this spread around Europe after World War I were a part of the reason why Adolf Hitler gained enough support to make the Nazi Party one of the largest in Germany. The Allies intended to ensure that any surrender documents would be signed by military representatives and not civilian ones.

Nazi Germany surrendered twice: once in Reims on May 7th and finally in Berlin on May 8th. The first surrender happened in France at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force under General Dwight Eisenhower. The document prepared on May 7th contained no input from the Soviet Union and did not match the version agreed upon by the Big Three earlier in the war. The USSR pulled its support of the first document because Stalin wanted the Instrument of Surrender signed in Berlin. The United States, Great Britain and France conceded and drew up another Instrument of Surrender that was signed just before midnight May 8th by all parties.

Massive celebrations were held across the world when the news was announced. The surrender happened on President Harry S. Truman's 61st birthday. He said the victory brought him his most enjoyable birthday of all, and he dedicated it to Franklin D. Roosevelt.