How France abolished celebrating VE Day in favour of EU tribute

May 8 is marked in France, as it is in the UK, as the day Germany officially surrendered and the war in Europe came to an end. From 1953 to 1959, the day was a bank holiday until Charles De Gaulle changed it to be a commemoration instead. Then, in 1975 the commemoration was abolished by President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (VGE) in favour of marking the next day, May 9, instead, according to The Connexion.

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This was to commemorate May 9, 1950, when French statesman Robert Schuman made a foundational speech for the precursor to the European Union, and the French foreign affairs minister called for friendship with Germany.

The German president at the time thanked VGE, saying it gave him “deep satisfaction” and that it would “give a new impetus to accomplish the work of European unification”.

Meanwhile, VGE justified abolishing VE Day by insisting that hardly anyone had turned up to the commemorations in Paris that year.

However, many people disputed this and were angry that their war commemoration had been taken away.

READ MORE: ‘Real reason’ Queen decided to miss VE Day celebrations exposed

macron ursula von der leyenFrance abolished VE Day bank holiday for 22 years (Image: GETTY)

ve day franceVE Day celebrations in France, 1945 (Image: GETTY)

In 1980, the question of bringing VE Day back was raised again in the French cabinet by Guy Genermont, president of an association for decorated service people.

He said: “The decorated veterans saw around 400,000 of their comrades killed and awarded medals posthumously, and they don’t think that dedicating one day a year to them is over the top.”

After the election of Francois Mitterrand the following year, the day was brought back as a bank holiday.

France, which suffered deeply under Nazi German occupation during World War 2 is one of a few European countries to have a bank holiday on May 8 – along with Poland and the Czech Republic – although , Denmark and the Netherlands have bank holidays commemorating liberation days earlier in the year.

ve day franceVE Day celebrations in France, 1945 (Image: GETTY)

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Due to its special significance to French people, this date ‘Le 8 Mai 1945’ is a common name for a street or square in France.

As for May 9, it has officially been Europe Day

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