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May 8: V-E Day

Lawrence Bush
May 8, 2010

VE-DaySMLOn this date in 1945, World War II ended in Europe with the unconditional surrender of the German armed forces to the Allies. Japan would hold out until late August, by which time the U.S. had dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The war took a total of 60 million lives worldwide, including some 27 million in the USSR, 10 million in China, and 12 million, nearly half of them Jews, in Nazi concentration camps. V-E Day did not mark the complete end of suffering for European Jews, however: Between one and two thousand returning Jews were murdered in postwar Poland, hundreds were killed in Romania, and hundreds more suffered through pogroms in Hungary, Ukraine, Slovakia and Russia. Before the war, the international Jewish population was estimated at 15.3 million; by the war’s end, it was reduced to under 10 million; today it stands at between 13 and 14 million.
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” —Albert Einstein

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.