Victory Order of the Day, 1945

by Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Victory Order of the Day,” May 8, 1945. (GLC05622.04)In March 1945 American and British forces moved eastward into Germany in large numbers, stopping at the Elbe River in mid-April in accordance with pre-negotiated agreements with the Soviet Union. The Red Army, meanwhile, had moved westward, reaching Berlin by late April as Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his bunker on April 30. On May 7, Allied efforts forced Germany’s unconditional surrender, ending the war in Europe after nearly six years of fighting.

Future president Dwight D. Eisenhower, then commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe, issued this Victory Order of the Day to commend the victorious Allied troops.

While Eisenhower encouraged troops to celebrate their hard-won victory, he also urged them to recall the horrific casualties and universality of destruction wrought by the war: “As we celebrate Victory in Europe let us remind oursleves . . . of comrades who could not live to see this day.” Between America’s entrance into World War II in 1941 and V-E Day on May 8, 1945, more than 300,000 American soldiers had died in combat. Other Allies also suffered even greater combat losses, with nearly 500,000 British troops and a staggering 7.5 million Soviet troops dying in battle. Hoping to preclude factionalism among the Allies, Eisenhower emphasized the shared nature of both Allied losses and ultimate victory: “The route you have travelled through hundreds of miles is marked by the graves of former comrades. From them has been exacted the ultimate sacrifice; blood of many nations—American, British, Canadian, French, Polish and others—has help to gain the victory.”

A full transcript is available.

Excerpt

Men and women of the Allied Expeditionary Force:

The crusade on which we embarked in the early summer of 1944 has reached its glorious conclusion . . .

“Your accomplishments at sea, in the air, on the ground and in the field of supply, have astonished the world. Even before the final week of the conflict, you had put 5,000,000 of the enemy permanently out of the war. You have taken in stride military tasks so difficult as to be classed by many doubters as impossible. You have confused, defeated and destroyed your savagely fighting foe. On the road to victory you have endured every discomfort and privation and have surmounted every obstacle ingenuity and desperation could throw in your path. You did not pause until our front was firmly joined up with the great Red Army coming from the Easy, and other Allied Forces, coming from the South.

Full victory in Europe has been attained.

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