German soldiers rounded up by Russian soldiers at the end of the war in Berlin 01051945 CREDIT PA
VE Day

VE Day: Why Not All Germans Stopped Fighting

Germans refer to the end of the war as ‘Stunde Null’ or ‘Hour Zero’ - the start of a brand-new era and a complete break with the past.

German soldiers rounded up by Russian soldiers at the end of the war in Berlin 01051945 CREDIT PA

Some German troops kept fighting for weeks after VE Day because they did not know Germany had surrendered, a leading historian has told Forces News.

The Second World War came to an end in Europe on 8 May 1945 - known as 'Victory in Europe' Day (VE Day).

But Dr Joerg Hillmann, a German navy captain and head of the German Armed Forces Centre for Military History and Social Sciences in Potsdam, said some German soldiers did not know the war had ended until the end of the month.

“Most people inside Germany did not realise that there was this unconditional surrender,” he said.

“Fights were ongoing after 8th May...we had some soldiers in the north of Norway who didn’t realise until the end of May that the end of the war was conducted already.”

After nearly six years of war, Germany was left devastated and many were struggling to survive.

“Most people inside Germany did not realise that there was this unconditional surrender,” he said.

“Fights were ongoing after 8th May...we had some soldiers in the north of Norway who didn’t realise until the end of May that the end of the war was conducted already.”

After nearly six years of war, Germany was left devastated and many were struggling to survive.

“Most of the houses were destroyed. People didn’t really know where to stay. They were starving,” said Dr Hillmann.

“They started eating dead horses or cows. Those who were living in the countryside, I think they faced a better life because they could take the food from the fields.

“They also had an uncertainty regarding their husbands, their fathers, sometimes their sons because they were at war.

"They didn’t know where they were and so, I think that most of the pressure was put to the women at the end of the war.”

WATCH: Dr Joerg Hillmann speaks to Forces News' Rob Olver.

In the immediate aftermath of the war, as well as struggling to survive, Germans had to face the awful reality of the millions who had been killed in Nazi death camps.

Dr Hillmann said it was a "really great shock" for many Germans to learn what had really happened at the concentration camps. 

Life in Germany slowly improved as the Allies helped revived some of the country's industries, including Volkswagen which was relaunched by the British.

“These companies were those who gave jobs to the people and they brought back normal life," the historian said.

"They brought back production areas. They brought back something like a little bit of money and economy to Germany.”

Seventy-five years later, only the German capital, Berlin, will have a public holiday on VE Day.

Across the rest of Germany, VE Day is expected to be a day of national reflection. 

Cover image: German soldiers are captured by Russian forces at the end of the war in Berlin, a week before VE Day (Picture: PA).