On the anniversary of VE Day I have been taking a look at some old newsreel of the celebrations and trying to imagine what it must have been like to hear the news and know that a six year nightmare was nearly at an end.
But try as I might, I find that it is almost easier to imagine what it must have felt like to be “at war” than what it must have felt like on the 8th May 1945 when you knew that, at least in Europe, the war was over.
These scenes captured by Pathe and shown in cinemas in a special extended Pathe Gazette, can only provide a snapshot of the “spontaneous” celebrations. A series of black and white newsreel shots, many set up for the camera, which are now such familiar images we almost take them for granted.
But inside each and every head in the crowd are memories of hardship, pain and fear, grief for loved ones lost, lives on hold, homes and families destroyed, friendships made, courage, relief, disbelief, joy and so much more – such intensity and variety of emotions that there isn’t a word which encapsulates it all.
With luck it is a word we will never need to define again.
The Fruits of Victory, 1945, Pathe Gazette
THE FRUITS OF VICTORY