Remembering 1945 Victory In Europe

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Seventy-five years ago today, The Hillsboro Journal heralded “Germany Quits War” in all caps on the front page of the May 7, 1945, edition.

Although it would be another three-plus months before Japan surrendered to end the war on Aug. 14, 1945, victory in Europe was cause for global celebration–and relief.

Under the sub-head “Official Word Of Surrender Not Yet Given,” (official victory-in-Europe day is May 8, 1945) the Journal story begins, “The world is awaiting the official announcement of victory over enemy forces in Europe, which appeared to be ready for announcement since the early hours of this morning, but as we go to press the final official announcement has not yet been publicly made.”

It continues, “People in this city, as well as in every village and hamlet of the United States and free world, have remained close to their radios all day today as there seemed little doubt official announcement that the war in Europe had finally ended would come soon.”

The story continued that German forces tendered their unconditional surrender to an emissary of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Victory in Europe signaled the end of a conflict that began nearly 5,000 miles away with Germany’s Sept. 1, 1939, invasion of Poland, an aggression that eventually impacted every single life in the United States–and the world.  After the U.S. entered the conflict more than two years later, nearly every single issue of The Hillsboro Journal and Montgomery County News over the next four years carried a story on the front page of local heroes killed in action (note the “Louis Schneider Killed In Action” headline on the front page of the May 7, 1945, edition).

Not only were families all over the country impacted by loved ones fighting for freedom in Europe and the South Pacific, those at home sacrificed by spending every available cent on war bonds, and by doing without goods due to rationing.  

Little more than two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Emergency Price Control Act signed on Jan. 30, 1942, granted the Office of Price Administration (OPA) the authority to set price limits and ration food and other commodities.  By spring that year, Americans needed government-issued food coupons to buy sugar. Vouchers for coffee were introduced in November, and by March of 1943, meat, cheese, fats, canned fish, canned milk and other processed foods were added to the list of rationed provisions.

“Every American was entitled to a series of war ration books filled with stamps that could be used to buy restricted items (along with payment), and within weeks of the first issuance, more than 91 percent of the U.S. population had registered to receive them,” according to History.com.

By the end of the war, restrictions on processed foods and other goods like gasoline and fuel oil were lifted, but the rationing of sugar remained in effect until 1947.

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