Featured Document of the Month
Telegram from Churchill to Stalin coordinating arrangements for VE Day
On 8 May 1945 in Britain, Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced the end of the war with Germany. This ended nearly six years of a war that had claimed millions of lives.
The ceasefire was signed at 2.41 am on 7 May at the American advance headquarters in Rheims. The BBC announced this to the British public on the same day, alongside the statement that Victory in Europe Day would be a national holiday.
Two days before Germany surrendered, Churchill wrote a telegram to Stalin coordinating plans for VE Day. The aim was to synchronise the timings for the announcement in Britain, the US and Russia. See Truman’s original message at CHAR 20/217/86*, and Stalin’s reply to Churchill at CHAR 20/218/13*. However, despite the surrender being signed in Rheims, Stalin insisted that the treaty be ratified in Berlin the following day. This resulted in Russia celebrating VE Day on 9 May, one day later than the rest of Europe.
*You will need to have access to the Churchill Archive to view these documents. Find out more about getting access here.