May 8 is a very peculiar date in the calendar. Maybe nowhere quite near the glory of Christmas or even Easter, but I'd like to give it extra points for subtlety. So, this fun facts Friday is going to take you through some events that transpired on the 8th of May.
1. The end of World War II
VE day (Victory in Europe Day) is a celebration of the official acceptance by the allies of World War II and the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany's armed forces. These historical events took place on Tuesday 8th of May 1945, signifying the end of World War II in Europe.
VE Day is observed in western European States with some countries (Czech Republic, France, Slovakia) having public holidays on May 8th. The final surrender was signed by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel on 8th May 1945 in Berlin, Germany.
Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, had by then committed suicide on the 30th of April while the battle of Berlin was being fought. Germany’s surrender was subsequently authorised by Hitler’s successor Karl Dönitz.
Since then, the May 8th observance celebrates those who lost their lives during the second world war fighting against Nazism in the German resistance.
2. Mount Pelée
Let us cast our minds back to 1902 on the island of Martinique in the Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc of the Eastern Caribbean, France. Eruptive activity would begin on April 23rd as Mount Pelée generated a series of phreatic explosions.
On May 8th, some 15 days later, a brief reprieve was ended by a great explosion. A low riding cloud of incandescent lava particles rush that hurricane speed reaching the Saint-Pierre settlement in less than 3 minutes.
Virtually everyone in the city (between 28000 to 30000 plus) died horrifically; burnt or buried by detritus. Hot ash ignited a firestorm which was even further fuelled by smashed buildings and casks of Rome. Only a handful survived, all of them burnt badly.
The volcano would remain active for another 3 years claiming even more lives until October of 1905.
3. May 8th 1974
The reign of terror describe the period of the French Revolution characterized by series of massacres and numerous public executions. It was during this time that French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, was branded a traitor.
On May 8th 1794 he was tried, convicted, and subsequently guillotined in Paris. All in one day!
In conclusion May 8th has a very storied past as you have seen, and not all of it is good. We take comfort in the good parts and hope for better days in the future.
Have a great weekend.