World War II Timeline: May 8, 1945-May 16, 1945
May 10 was a happy day for millions of U.S. troops -- the European World War II campaign was officially over, and the troops would be on their way home. Some of the troops, however, were sent to the Pacific Theater to continue fighting. The World War II timeline below summarizes important events that occurred during the war from May 8, 1945, to May 16, 1945.
World War II Timeline: May 8-May 16
May 8: Victory in Europe (V-E) Day is declared as German troops continue to surrender to Allies throughout Europe.
Hermann Göring surrenders to Allied troops. He will become, along with Admiral Dönitz, the highest-ranking Nazi to face trial at Nuremberg.
May 9: Norwegian collaborator and infamous turncoat Vidkun Quisling turns himself in to the authorities in Oslo.
The Allies assume control of the German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen in the port of Copenhagen, Denmark.
May 10: The U.S. high command announces that more than three million American troops stationed in Europe will soon be on their way home or to the Pacific Theater.
May 11: Australian troops capture Wewak from the Japanese, giving control of all of New Guinea's ports to the Allies.
May 12: Washington temporarily suspends Lend-Lease aid to the Soviet Union.
American Marines suffer heavy casualties as Japanese troops defend their positions on Okinawa's Sugar Loaf Hill.
May 14: Austrian self-determination returns to Vienna for the first time since the Anschluss.
The Allies discover a fortune in gold, currency, and looted art hidden by the Nazis in an Austrian salt mine.
USAAF B-29 bombers drop some 2,500 incendiary devices on the Japanese city of Nagoya.
Mid-May: The 1.2 million soldiers in German Army Group Center disband. Most will end up in U.S. or Soviet Union custody.
May 16: The Japanese cruiser Haguro goes down in the Malacca Strait after coming under attack by a small force of British destroyers.
World War II Headlines
Below are more highlights that outline the events of World War II and show the details of the surrender of Hermann Göring, as well as the American and British victory celebrations in May 1945.
Wernher von Braun, Germany's rocket man, becomes an American hero following the 1969 moon landing: Wernher von Braun had been steered (he said pressured) into the Nazi Party and the SS because of his genius with rocketry. While developing his V-2 rocket at Pennemünde, Braun visited the Mittlewerk facility, where enslaved laborers toiled and died under deplorable conditions. Fearing the Soviet Union forces who were approaching, Braun and his team surrendered to U.S. troops on May 3, 1945. In America's subsequent Operation Paperclip, 1,600 German scientists were sent to the U.S. to develop the space program. Following the 1969 moon landing, Braun became a hero in America.
Hermann Göring surrenders on May 8, 1945: Brigadier General Robert Stack, assistant commander of the U.S. 36th Infantry Division, was handed an envelope on May 7, 1945, addressed to General Eisenhower. It was from Hermann Göring, who agreed to surrender if General Eisenhower would work with him to reorganize Germany. Göring's request was refused, and he surrendered to the 36th Division the next day. Hermann Göring had incensed Adolf Hitler on April 23 by requesting that the Führer, who was trapped in a bunker in Berlin, name him as Adolf Hitler's successor. Accusing Hermann Göring of treason, Adolf Hitler ordered his arrest and considered ordering his execution.
British celebrate V-E Day in the streets of London: On May 8, 1945, the Allies celebrated Victory in Europe (V-E) Day. Mrs. Pat Burgess of Palmers Green in North London waved a newspaper announcing Germany's surrender. She was one of more than a million Londoners who took to the streets to celebrate. They listened to an address by King George VI, cheered at exploding fireworks, and burned effigies of Adolf Hitler. In his speech that day, Winston Churchill somberly reminded the British that their rejoicing must be brief. "Japan, with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued," he said.
The German military agrees to an unconditional surrender: Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signs the ratified surrender terms for the German military on May 8, 1945. The terms included the unconditional surrender of all German armed forces, cessation of active operations, and surrender of all weapons and equipment to local Allied commanders. Though the document neglected to mention the civilian government, an Allied Control Council was subsequently formed with authority over all military and civilian agencies.
U.S. soldiers find the Nazis' plundered art in a German salt mine: After the war, U.S. soldiers find Édouard Manet's In the Conservatory among many other paintings hidden by the Nazis in a German salt mine. Adolf Hitler's regime began looting cultural objects upon its rise to power in 1933. As the Germans conquered much of Europe, they confiscated millions of artworks, many of them from Jewish owners. In Warsaw alone, a reported 13,512 paintings and 1,379 sculptures were stolen. A great number of artworks were returned to their rightful owners after the war, but many more were lost forever or became tangled in litigation.
The American V-E Day celebration takes place in Times Square: Just as Londoners had done in Piccadilly Circus, New Yorkers packed Times Square on May 8, 1945, to celebrate V-E Day. By the end of the European phase of the war, the United States found itself a major player on the world stage, already assured leadership status in the soon-to-be-founded United Nations. However, America's V-E Day celebrations were dampened by the April 12 death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had done so much to assure an Allied victory and the creation of the UN.
With Nazi Germany defeated, the Americans focused their attention on the Japanese forces in the Pacific Theater. Check out the next page for a detailed timeline highlighting this and other important World War II events that occurred from May 17, 1945, to May 28, 1945.