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War's end

May 8, 2011

Germany has commemorated the anniversary of the surrender of the Nazis with a choral symphony in Berlin and the opening of a historic submarine yard in Bremen.

Soviet soldier raises flag over Reichstag
The Nazis surrendered to Allied troops on May 8, 1945Image: AP

Germans across the country commemorated the 66th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe on Sunday, with a pan-European performance of a choral symphony in Berlin.

A 1,250-strong choir of singers from across Europe performed "War Requiem" by British composer Benjamin Britten. First performed in May 1962, the masterpiece blends traditional Latin music with the war poetry of Wilfred Owen, a British soldier who died toward the end of World War I.

The War Requiem features three solos, symbolically written for a Russian soprano, and English tenor and a German baritone.

Submarine yard

Meanwhile in the northern city of Bremen, officials opened Germany's largest bomb-proof World War II submarine yard as a historic site.

Work on the Valentin Yard, the centerpiece of a 4-square-kilometer (1.5-square-mile) base, began in 1943. British forces heavily bombed it in March 1945 and the Nazis abandoned the project before completion.

Ten thousand forced laborers and prisoners worked at the site on any given day. Harry Callan, an 87-year-old Irishman taken prisoner by the Nazis when he was 17, recalled the 14-hour workdays and brutal treatment by his captors.

"They treated us like animals," said Callan. "We just got food and water and had to work till we dropped."

Events took place across Europe. Some 7,000 people in Austria commemorated the war's end in a ceremony at the Mauthausen concentration camp.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Kyle James