V E Day, 70 years later
Tomorrow, May 8, will be the 70th anniversary of V E Day, marking the end of the Second World War in Europe. Adolph Hitler had committed suicide on April 30, as Allied Forces were entering Berlin. Officials of Nazi Germany’s Third Reich signed a military surrender on May 7 in Reims, France. Because there was no representative from the Soviet Union with the authority to sign the document, the formal unconditional surrender was signed May 8, 1945 in Berlin. While millions took to the streets of Europe to celebrate the victory, the War raged on in the Pacific. The final victory over Japan came on V J Day, Sept. 2, 1945.
The Second World War (1939 to 1945) was the bloodiest in world history with more than 60 million military and civilian deaths. The War involved all the great powers of the world and they committed all their resources to the fight. With the exception the United States and Canada, all the great powers suffered heavy damage to their infrastructure. This left the United States and Canada with a significant economic advantage after the War ended.
In 1947 the United States, through the Marshall Plan, committed more than $160 billion, in inflation adjusted 2015 dollars, to rebuild 14 countries in Europe. By the time the Marshall Plan expired in 1951 political alliances in Western Europe had realigned and all 14 economies had exceeded their pre-war production by 35% or more.
The Marshall Plan was a key part of the American Exceptionalism in the 20th century.