The poignant track spans concentration camp survivors to Windrush immigrants

Imperial War Museums (IWM) will commemorate 75 years since the end of World War II in Europe by sharing the personal stories of people who stood together during a time of national crisis and their reflections once the fighting had stopped. 

Conflicting jubilation, hope, sadness and fear...was felt during the summer of 1945

At a time when people across the nation are coming together to support each other through an unprecedented crisis, IWM is asking households to take a moment on Bank Holiday Friday 8th May, the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day, to play the four-minute soundscape Voices of War on its website.

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The Imperial War Museums group includes IWM North in Salford

Voices of War brings together first-hand accounts of VE Day from IWM’s vast sound archive, from an army nurse who served in Egypt at the time and a Jamaican aircraftsman who emigrated to the UK aboard the Empire Windrush in 1948, to a Jewish man from Berlin who spent six weeks in Sachsenhausen concentration camp and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Echoing how families heard that war in Europe had ended (via the wireless), the audio work reflects on what victory really meant for people in factories and fields, and in hospitals and homes, around the world in 1945.

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© US Public Domain (IWM EA 65799) Celebrations in London to mark VE Day, 8th May 1945

As part of Voices of War, commissioned contemporary artistic responses to the end of World War II and its resonance today will also be released on the IWM website and social media channels from Friday 8th May. These responses, ranging from spoken word performances to music and poetry, will question our understanding of what victory means and reinterpret these pivotal moments in our history for modern audiences.  

Diane Lees, director general of IWM, said: “Originally we had planned to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in public spaces around the UK. Due to the current situation, this is no longer possible. However, the need to commemorate this national anniversary and to remember the sacrifices made on our behalf by past generations is as pressing as ever.

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© IWM (HU 41808) Celebrations in London to mark VE Day, 8th May 1945

“With Voices of War, IWM will be bringing the stories and memories of those who lived through the conflicting jubilation, hope, sadness and fear that was felt during the summer of 1945 directly to homes around the country. We want the public to reflect on this important historical milestone as many others did 75 years ago – in the privacy of their own kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and gardens – and be part of this important national moment with IWM and with the rest of the country.”

Children and families will be also able to explore the conflict’s dramatic end through IWM resources including: Adventures in History: VE Day, an interactive film that sees one of IWM’s experts share ingenious, surprising and moving stories they won’t have heard in the classroom; and Family Missions: VE Day, a fun challenge for the whole family inspired by IWM’s stories and collections. These educational activities will be available on IWM’s website, along with additional photos and personal stories from its vast collection and articles from curators.

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© IWM (EA 65948) News of victory in Europe reaches London, 7th May 1945

As part of its plans to mark 75 years since the end of World War II this summer, IWM will also share voices from its diverse sound archive on the anniversaries of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on 6th August and Victory over Japan (VJ) Day on 15th August. 

You can find Imperial War Museums’ VE Day content hereFor more info on what's happening for VE Day in your area, check your local council website 

Read more: Warth Mills: The Bury WWII internment camp that time forgot