Message by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on VE Day
8 May 2020
Seventy-five years ago, the people of this country celebrated victory against Hitler’s aggression. In cities scarred by enemy bombing, the crowds gave thanks for a national exertion greater than anything else before or since. What our country and our allies did was to save freedom, not just here but everywhere.
Britain and the Commonwealth and Empire were the only nations who fought Hitler from the first day of the Second World War to the last without being defeated and occupied. For a whole year, 1940-41, we stood alone against him, the last barrier to his tyranny. If we’d gone down, then it wasn’t just our country that would have been destroyed, but liberty and democracy everywhere.
But we did not fail: we survived and eventually triumphed thanks to the heroism of countless ordinary people, who may be elderly today, but who once carried the fate of freedom itself on their shoulders.
Across the world, our soldiers, sailors and airmen fought the Nazis with courage, ingenuity and stubborn endurance. On the home front, women defended out cities against air raids, worked the factories, ran the hospitals and broke enemy codes. People of every age, race and background came together in one supreme effort, and they paid a grievous price, with over 450,000 British people laying down their lives. And yet they triumphed over every ordeal and hardship and because of their victory, hundreds of millions of people live in peace and freedom today. The countries who we fought are now among our closest friends, and most of Europe has enjoyed 75 years of peace.
We are now engaged in a new struggle against the coronavirus, which demands the same spirit of national endeavour. And that means we can’t hold the parades and street celebrations we enjoyed in the past. But all of us, who were born since 1945, are acutely conscious that we owe everything we most value to the generation who won the Second World War.
Today, we celebrate their achievement, we remember their sacrifice and we take pride in being their compatriots. We are a free people because of everything they did – and our gratitude will be eternal.