top of page

VE Day, Germany and Translation

Updated: May 14, 2020

Today we take time to celebrate and reflect as we mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. This week I was asked to translate, into German, a press release article by the University of Exeter about VE Day. In the past I have only done very little English into German translation as German is my second language. However, I was humbled and excited by this project and with the trusty help of some native friends I was able to get the text translated, proofread and submitted within 48 hours.

Not only is German not my native language, but it is a culturally sensitive topic to translate. The 8th May is not known as VE Day in Germany, as it was of course not a day of victory for them. Many Germans don't even know the significance the 8th May has. However, it does mark Germany's liberation from the Nazi regime, 'Tag der Befreiung'/ Day of Liberation. In the area of what was known as East Germany, it was taught as a day to celebrate the end of the National Socialist rule. In the West, however, families try to forget about what happened prior to the 8th May 1945. Since the reunification of Germany, almost no cities have celebrated or acknowledged the date.

For the first time in history, Berlin has taken an unprecedented stance to mark this day with a holiday. It has been met with a range of criticism from Berliners, it is a bittersweet topic and one which brings back a range of emotions. If it was not for the coronavirus outbreak, Berlin would have been hosting various celebrations - which has never been done before.

This posed additional challenges in terms of translation - and so I had to add a translator's note to my translation to justify my decision to calque (or Germanise) VE day into VE-Tag, as opposed to 'Tag der Befreiung'.

The article in which Professor Richard Overy at the University of Exeter discusses how VE day is not a day of celebration for all in the UK, can be read using the link below. It is also accompanied by my German translation and my translator's note in both English and German:

85 views0 comments


bottom of page