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Europe Marks 65 Years Since End Of World War II

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (center) and Prime Minister Francois Fillon (right) take part in a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in World War II in Colmar, in eastern France.
Veterans in Western Europe today are celebrating the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II on the continent.

Military parades, memorial events, and religious services are taking place in cities across Western Europe to celebrate the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945 and honor the millions of soldiers and civilians killed in the war.

Most countries in the former communist bloc mark Victory Day one day later, on May 9.

In London, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg (left), Conservative leader David Cameron (center), and Prime Minister Gordon Brown attend a VE Day memorial service.
A string of world leaders will attend a lavish May 9 parade on Moscow's Red Square, although French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi today canceled their visits to deal with the Greek financial crisis.

Russia boasts that this year's military parade will be the largest since the fall of the Soviet Union and will include troops from Britain, France, Poland, and the United States.

Today, some of the largest ceremonies are taking place in Paris and London.

In the French capital, Sarkozy solemnly placed a wreath at the foot of a statue of wartime leader General Charles de Gaulle.

Sarkozy and other top French officials, including Prime Minister Francois Fillon, then headed off to the eastern French region of Alsace, the site of bloody World War II battles.

In London, the leaders of the three main political parties took a break from intense negotiations on forming a government after inconclusive elections on May 6 to attend an outdoor religious service in honor of war victims. Prince Charles, war veterans, as well as serving soldiers, sailors, and airmen were also in attendance.

More celebrations and parades are expected throughout the day in all Western European countries, including Germany.

compiled from agency reports