With flowers, flames and teary eyes, veterans, soldiers and European leaders celebrated peace in ceremonies around the continent marking the 68th anniversary of the Allied victory over the Nazis.
The events offered a moment of reflection and illustrated the importance of European unity as the continent is struggling with economic troubles and lingering tension between Russia and the West.
Graying former fighters from Russia and other Soviet republics stood proudly beneath the Soviet war memorial at Treptower Park in Berlin, honoring millions of comrades-in-arms killed in World War II.
In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin attended a ceremony beneath the Kremlin walls ahead of two days of public holiday and military parades for Victory Day, which remains a significant event on the Russian calendar and in the Russian psyche.
To the west, the presidents of France and Poland laid a wreath beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, flanked by French and Polish soldiers. The two men, whose countries were occupied by the Nazis, then re-ignited the flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, their hands side by side gripping an enormous torch.
Several countries mark Victory in Europe Day.