Cause and Consequence
VE Day was on May 8, 1945. This was caused by the critical pressure on Germany from the allies from the east and west. Britain had pressured Germany from the West and the Russians from the East. By April, the German Army was nearly destroyed. On April 30, 1945, Hitler committed suicide. This led to Germany’s surrender to the allies. After Germany surrendered, celebrations erupted across Europe and North America. On this day, German troops laid down their arms. They did not want to be captured, as there was little hope of escape. Over 13,000 British prisoners of war were released and sent back to their home country. On VE Day, Canada moved to liberate the German held areas in the Netherlands. This pushed Canada’s view as a nation willing to help others. The victory of the allies also showed how Canada can be a helpful war ally. On March 8, 1945, the world saw the end of its worst war. VE Day was a day of celebration for many across the globe, including Canadians.
VE Day was viewed as a joyous day for Canadians. It signaled the end of the fighting that had cost 42,000 Canadians’ lives and caused injuries for tens of thousands of soldiers. Since many Canadians were in Europe, they celebrated the end of the war there. In Toronto, thousands of people were dancing in the streets. Prime Minister William Lyon
Mackenzie King told Canadians, “You have helped rid the world of a great scourge”. For the soldiers, this was also a happy, but somber day. An Anonymous Canadian flyer said, ““I was so relieved that I myself no longer had to be destructive, that I was not too concerned about the possibility of being fired upon by the German ground installations”. At this point, Canada was ready for peace. Canada has fought at Hong Kong, Dieppe, Normandy, and the North Atlantic. There was also a debate about conscription in Canada, and the deaths in World War II were adding to the flames. Once news of German surrender had made its way to Canadians, relief was felt across the country. VE Day was a day of celebration for the end of the violence, but also a day to remember those who died so that those alive could celebrate.
Continuity and Change
The end of World War II had a great impact on Canada’s economic norms and values. Once soldiers returned home, they returned to work, married, and had children. Canadians also started to buy more things. For the first time since the Great Depression, Canadians were spending money freely. Most of what Canadians were consuming came from the United States, which alerted the economic relationship between the two countries. The return of soldiers to their wives caused a baby boom, which meant that there were more people to stimulate Canada’s economy. With the increase of babies, many families moved from big cities to smaller suburbs. The new suburbs grew the transportation industry, as more freeways and railways were built. Canada’s economy also grew because the economies of many other countries were destroyed. Since there was little fighting in Canada, industries did not suffer much damage because of the war. Europe especially needed Canada’s exports to help their homeless and rebuild their economy. After VE Day, Canada’s economy grew as there were more people returning and coming into the country. The need for Canada’s exports after the destruction of other economies also helped stimulate Canada’s.
VE Day contributed to Canada’s social autonomy. Although Canada was an independent nation before World War II, the war unified the country. The fight against a common enemy brought together the young country. Canada was helpful in the allies fight against the axis powers. Canada’s role in the Italian, Normandy, and Air Campaigns had a big impact on the War. Once the war was won, Canada’s national pride and confidence grew. Canadians felt less irrelevant and part of a bigger world. Although Canada had a smaller population and army than the bigger nations, they were still on the winning side of World War II. Canada’s national identity was also strengthened when they joined the newly formed United Nations. As Canada’s pride, relevance, economy, and population grew, so did their autonomy. Canada was starting to separate itself from the British. Although Canada helped Britain during the war, Canada’s importance signaled that they had strength in their own right. After the war ended, Canada had a new place in the global power structure through their newfound military and economical strength. Canada’s economy would continue to grow from VE Day to today.