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VE Day! Victory in Europe

Symbolic of the Nazi defeat, an AAF fighter lands at a former Luftwaffe airfield as an Me-109 is pushed aside. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Symbolic of the Nazi defeat, an AAF fighter lands at a former Luftwaffe airfield as an Me-109 is pushed aside. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Before they could be completed, these new Me 262s were systematically destroyed by the Germans to prevent the Allies from capturing them intact. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Before they could be completed, these new Me 262s were systematically destroyed by the Germans to prevent the Allies from capturing them intact. (U.S. Air Force photo)

By April 1945, the German Army was shattered. On April 25, American and Soviet forces met at the Elbe River. Five days later, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker. His successor, Admiral Karl Doenitz, sent Gen. Alfred Jodl to the SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces) detachment in Rheims to seek terms for an end to the war. At 2:41 a.m. on May 7, Jodl signed for the unconditional surrender of German forces on all fronts, which was to take effect on May 8 at 11:01 p.m. After six years and millions of live lost, the Nazi scourge was crushed and the war in Europe was finally over.

The Cost of Victory
The tremendous contribution of the AAF in ending the war in Europe came at a high price. AAF casualties totaled 34,362 killed, with 13,708 wounded, and another 43, 035 missing, captured or interned. AAF losses in Europe from all causes totaled 27,694 aircraft, including 8,314 heavy bombers, 1,623 medium and light bombers, and 8,481 fighters destroyed in combat.

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