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Two Minute Silence

75th Anniversary of VE Day and Birth of the United Nations
7 min read
Seventy-five years. Three quarters of a century of passed since the ending of the second 'war to end all wars'. Each year the number of veterans grows smaller but their contribution to the life we have today does not diminish, nor does it make Remembrance Day any less important. While Remembrance Day is a time to pause and reflect on the sacrifices and contributions of all veterans of all wars and all peacetime involvements, this being the 75th anniversary of the end of hostilities of the last "great war" deserves a refocus on the events of 75 years ago. Without intending to do any disservice to any campaign fought, there were in essence two arms of the war. The first arm was the War in Europe against the Axis powers of Germany and Italy, while the second arm was the War of the Pacific waged against the third part of the Axis Tripartite power, Japan. The Tripartite Pact of 1940 integrated the military ambitions of the three countries and included provisions for mutual assistance in the event of attack. Other allies and client states of the 'big three', such as Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Slovakia, later joined the alliance.
It was early in 1945, that the tide began to turn against the Axis forces in Europe. With the Soviet Army pushing back the eastern front and wresting control of Poland from the Germans after nearly six years of occupation, Hitler pulled back and tried to regroup giving his generals authority to do whatever they needed to stop the advance of the Allies. From the first time since the beginning of the war the eastern and western fronts were close enough for air reinforcements to benefit both. The Italian Campaign had already been won by the Allied Forces and Hitler's military were stretched thin trying to defend both fronts. Prisoners of War were moved to other POW camps deeper in the heart of Germany and the horrible purge of the Concentration Camps had begun. Hitler made one final push to take back territory lost to the Soviet Army, but after a few days of initial victories, the weather changed and the German army was mired in the mud of early spring. The Soviets came back with overwhelming force and pushed the Germans back to their original positions. On April 16, 1945 the Allied forces of the Soviet Union began the move to take Berlin. By April 23, the Soviets had reached Berlin and began the assault on the city. The next day the city was encircled. The Gestapo headquarters fell to the Soviets on April 29 and by the end of the day on April 30th, Hitler, who did not want to leave the city, would be dead by suicide. The following days would see a complete military defeat of the German army followed by an unconditional surrender on May 7th, 1945.

Victory in Europe was celebrated as VE Day and celebrations in Wakaw spanned two days May 7 & 8, 1945. Citizens of Wakaw gathered at the Town Hall for a program arranged by the Saskatchewan Department of Education that was to be used in all schools. From the May 10, 1945 edition of the Wakaw Recorder:

The theme of the program was developed by a narrator, Bryce Stout. Peggy Paul, Olga Ferniuk and Benita Bilorosek acted as…
Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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