When Evil Lost: V-E Day at 70 – A Look Back in Photos

Soldiers from the British Women's Royal Army Corps celebrate the end of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945, at Trafalgar Square in London. It is the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, when allied forces defeated Nazi Germany in World War II.  R. J. Salmon, Getty Images

Soldiers from the British Women’s Royal Army Corps celebrate the end of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945, at Trafalgar Square in London. It is the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, when allied forces defeated Nazi Germany in World War II. R. J. Salmon, Getty Images

Parisians march through the Arc de Triomphe jubilantly waving flags of the Allied Nations as they celebrate the end of World War II on May 8, 1945. German military leaders signed an unconditional surrender in Reims, France, on May 7.  Associated Press

Parisians march through the Arc de Triomphe jubilantly waving flags of the Allied Nations as they celebrate the end of World War II on May 8, 1945. German military leaders signed an unconditional surrender in Reims, France, on May 7. Associated Press

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, center, waves to crowds gathered in front of Whitehall in London.  Keystone

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, center, waves to crowds gathered in front of Whitehall in London. Keystone

People ride on a van loaded with beer at Piccadilly Circus in London.  Keystone

People ride on a van loaded with beer at Piccadilly Circus in London. Keystone

People gather around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on VE Day.  AP

People gather around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on VE Day. AP

People celebrate at Times Square and 42nd Street in New York City.  Matty Zimmerman, AP

People celebrate at Times Square and 42nd Street in New York City. Matty Zimmerman, AP

A British sergeant is carried by the crowd as they celebrate the end of World War II in Europe in Moscow.  Keystone

A British sergeant is carried by the crowd as they celebrate the end of World War II in Europe in Moscow. Keystone

People celebrate outside the U.S. and British embassies in Lisbon, Portugal. The jubilant crowds celebrated for two days.  AP

People celebrate outside the U.S. and British embassies in Lisbon, Portugal. The jubilant crowds celebrated for two days. AP

Crowds of civilians, British and Allied troops wave and cheer as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, second balcony from left, and members of the Cabinet appear at Whitehall in London.  AP

Crowds of civilians, British and Allied troops wave and cheer as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, second balcony from left, and members of the Cabinet appear at Whitehall in London. AP

A damaged bust of German dictator Adolf Hitler lies in the ruins of the Chancellery in Berlin.  Reg Speller, Fox Photos, via Getty Images

A damaged bust of German dictator Adolf Hitler lies in the ruins of the Chancellery in Berlin. Reg Speller, Fox Photos, via Getty Images

When the second British Army took the Prison camp at Westertinke near Bremen, which had been the only naval prison camp on May 8, 1945 in Germany, they found that many American and Allied prisoners had been moved in by the retreating Germans form camps farther to the west.   AP

When the second British Army took the Prison camp at Westertinke near Bremen, which had been the only naval prison camp on May 8, 1945 in Germany, they found that many American and Allied prisoners had been moved in by the retreating Germans form camps farther to the west. AP

Happy crowds gather round the Rond-Point on the Champs-Elysees, Paris, on VE Day, May 8, 1945, to celebrate the announcement of Germany's unconditional surrender.  Henry L. Griffin, AP

Happy crowds gather round the Rond-Point on the Champs-Elysees, Paris, on VE Day, May 8, 1945, to celebrate the announcement of Germany’s unconditional surrender. Henry L. Griffin, AP

Enthusiastic Danish crowds greeted the British column on its arrival in Copenhagen, May 8, 1945.  AP

Enthusiastic Danish crowds greeted the British column on its arrival in Copenhagen, May 8, 1945. AP

With the final capitulation of the German armed forces Denmark once again celebrates her freedom. Riding in horse-drawn vehicles, on bicycles and on foot, Nazis filed out of Copenhagen to surrender to the nearest British forces. Here Germans crowd onto a miniature tank carrying a trailer on their way to surrender to British troops, May 8, 1945.   AP

With the final capitulation of the German armed forces Denmark once again celebrates her freedom. Riding in horse-drawn vehicles, on bicycles and on foot, Nazis filed out of Copenhagen to surrender to the nearest British forces. Here Germans crowd onto a miniature tank carrying a trailer on their way to surrender to British troops, May 8, 1945. AP

Video: VE at 70: Picking Up the Pieces –

Even with the defeat of Nazi Germany, there were daunting concerns still facing the world.

Europe was in shambles, it needed to be rebuilt – it needed money, resources, clean water, food, supplies, there were countless German POWs to process before allowing them to return home while also weeding out war criminals (the SS were of major concern), and millions of Nazi camp survivors needed a new start.

Plus there were also the tasks of implementing de-nazification and dividing Germany between America, Britain, France and Russia as agreed on by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at the Yalta conference (sometimes called the Crimea Conference and code-named the Argonaut Conference) held February 4–11, 1945.

There was also Japan.  The war with Imperial Japan still raged on in the Pacific and would continue for another three months.

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Crash Course: Little Known History – Operation Unthinkable

Winston Churchill. Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945.

Winston Churchill. Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945.

The big secret behind World War II.

In the closing days of WWII, Winston Churchill came up with an ambitious plan for a joint French-British-American attack on the USSR. When he told the French, they reminded him about the fate of Napoleon’s Grande Armee and the Wehrmacht, the British PM quietly backed off.

March 1945 : When Winston Churchill learned in the spring of 1945 that the Americans were going to halt their advance on Berlin from the west and leave Hitler’s capital to the mercies of the Red Army of the Soviet Union, he was furious. Russian behavior was worsening by the day as Stalin’s all-conquering men rolled up the countries in the east and made them satellites of Moscow, in defiance of agreements made by the heads of state at the Yalta conference only weeks earlier. Many in the Allied ranks even knew that the D-Day was invasion to stop the Soviet influence in continental Europe rather than to defeat Nazi Germany who were at the point on the brink of defeat.

Churchill’s top secret plan to attack the Soviet Union was scheduled for 1 July 1945. British, US, French, Polish and German (Former Wehrmacht) forces were to attempt to liberate East Germany, East Prussia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. After liberating those forces the new allied forces would drive towards Moscow. The War Cabinet listed out the total allied strength in Europe on June 1st, 1945 : 64 American divisions, 35 British and Dominion divisions, 4 Polish divisions, and 10 German divisions.

The German divisions were purely imaginary because after the mauling they received, the surviving soldiers were in no hurry to fight. At most, the allies would have mustered 103 divisions, including 23 armored ones. Against this force were arrayed 264 Soviet divisions, including 36 armored. Moscow commanded 6.5 million troops – a 2:1 advantage – on the German border alone. Overall, it had 11 million men and women in uniform. Captured General Halder warned the Americans that war against Russia was certainly not a walk in the park just like he warned Hitler in 1941.

The Allied War Cabinet said it was beyond the capabilities of the 103 divisions of Allied troops in Europe to do what Napoleon and Hitler had failed to do. As Alan Brooke noted in his diary, “The idea is of course fantastic and the chances of success quite impossible. There is no doubt from now onwards Russia is all-powerful force in the world.”

The British generals were furious when a cable arrived from US President Harry Truman, saying there was no chance the Americans would offer help – let alone lead an attempt – to drive the Russians from Eastern Europe.

The Unthinkable file was closed.

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