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Using Primary Sources in the Classroom:

Lesson 8: VE Day!

Background Information for Teachers

By the fall of 1944, Allied victory over the Axis Powers in Europe seemed inevitable. While final victory over Germany did not come until May of 1945, the end of nearly four long years of war in Europe and of sacrifice at home was eagerly anticipated in Alabama and the nation. Fearful that wild celebrations would disrupt public order, cautious community leaders made "Victory in Europe" plans which stressed sober thanksgiving over joyous revelry, reminding citizens that the war against Japan was far from over.

 

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this lesson, students should be able to:
  1. Define VE Day.
  2. Analyze the importance of planning for public activities.
  3. Discuss the importance of safety in public activities.
  4. Synthesize a plan for VE Day for their community.
Suggested Activity
  1. Make a copy of the plan for VE Day in Jefferson County.

     

  2. After the students read the plan, ask them to list the concerns of the county.

     

  3. Compare the lists and compile them to create one list for the class. (Emphasize the need for cooperation, control and concern for the war in the Pacific.)

     

  4. Ask the students to write a suggested plan for their community for VE Day. Remind the students that less populated areas might have a totally different approach to a large scale celebration. What problems might be encountered? What would be their biggest concern? What city organizations would need to be involved? (Police, firemen, etc.?) Who would they ask to serve on the planning committee?
Document: Birmingham VE Day Plan
  • Document: John H. Atkinson. "VE Plan." 1944. Alabama State Council of Defense (1941-1946), Program Administrative Files, SG 19856, Folder 22, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.