A Snapshot of San Antonio During World War II.
VE Day

With the end of the war in Europe in sight at last, the federal government worried that chaos would reign in the streets when VE (Victory in Europe) Day was announced, as had happened on Armistice Day, which ended WWI. Plans for VE Day began as early as August 1944, with churches setting up prayer meetings and liquor stores offering to close down to prevent public drunkenness. The following month, the City started working on plans for crowd control and the placement of city and military police officers in accordance with the guidelines presented in the National Defense Council's booklet on VE Day expectations.

By the time VE Day actually arrived to the blare of sirens on Tuesday, May 8, 1945, San Antonians were prepared to forego the type of boisterous celebrations that broke out in New York and New Orleans soon after the announcement of Germany's surrender at 8:05 a.m. The only real acts of exuberance consisted of a few yells and a celebratory rain of torn newspaper along Houston Street between the Gunter and Woolworth's Buildings. Schools and downtown stores (including the liquor stores) did close, but the City soon abandoned its detailed plans to limit street access and to police the streets. Many churches held services — Travis Methodist saw a growing crowd of over 200 for one service — and the military bases offered VE Day programs. 53

This day of quiet celebration honored the fight ongoing in the Pacific and reflected the tone set by President Harry S. Truman when he addressed the nation saying, "Our rejoicing is sobered and subdued by a supreme consciousness of the terrible price we have paid to rid the world of Hitler and his evil band... If I could give you a single watchword for the coming months, that word is work, work, and more work. We must work to finish the war. Our victory is only half over."54

Victory against Japan would not be achieved for another three months. For San Antonio and the rest of the nation, the end of WWII marked the beginning of a new era: one filled with new prosperity and challenges to be met.

About this Image:
Images 1-6 are taken from the plans for coordinating police, fire, and military personnel during the expected Victory in Europe (V-E Day) celebrations in downtown San Antonio. Images 5 & 6 come from the bulletin published by the National Safety Council on limiting excess during the celebrations.

7) Fire Chief C.A. Hart and Fire and Police Commissioner Preston Anderson stand in front of a fire engine manned by four firemen in Military Plaza. This photo looks south, towards Dolorosa Street, with the Vogel Belt Complex on the right. The Fawcett Building is on the left.

To Learn More:
Courtesy of San Antonio Conservation Society Foundation.
Click to Enlarge
Communication: P.L. Anderson to Police ChiefCommunication: P.L. Anderson to Police Chief
2) Communique: Police chief to Anderson2) Communique: Police chief to Anderson
3) Military Police Assignmets Comunique3) Military Police Assignmets Comunique
4) Local Plans for VE Day4) Local Plans for VE Day
5) National Safety Council's V Day Plan Booklet5) National Safety Council's V Day Plan Booklet
6) V Day Slogan6) V Day Slogan
7) 19477) 1947