Tuesday May 8, 1945 signalled the end of fighting in Europe during World War II and was the day on which allied forces announced the surrender of Germany across the continent. At Carlsberg, we thought we’d gear up for the day by paying a visit to the Carlsberg archives in search for historic photos of the VE Day celebrations.
We had hoped we’d find some pictures from Denmark with links to the UK. However, the documents sent over from Copenhagen would reveal so much more. Not only did we find historic photos of cheerful British airborne troops visiting Carlsberg in Copenhagen in the days after the war ended, but records from back then truly made our eyes go wide open.
On the top of a hill in Valby in Copenhagen lies the original Carlsberg brewery from 1847. There, the cellars are filled with history. Some were used by resistance fighters in the second world war for shooting practice, others functioned as an infirmary where approx. 250 people over the years were treated for their wounds.
There were two resistance groups at Carlsberg, both of which were only known to Carlsberg’s technical management. Both groups were to be deployed for combat action during April, but only one of them ever made it into combat – a gunfight in the heart of Copenhagen on Sunday, May 5. None of the resistance fighters were killed.
Fast forward 75 years and we find ourselves in a very different time with a national lockdown and social distancing enforcements. Measures that prevent us from gathering to celebrate the 75th VE Day as we’d planned. However, we can still commemorate and thank those who sacrificed so much during the war and fought for our freedom.
At 3 p.m. tomorrow, when the pubs ring their bells, we’ll raise a glass of Carlsberg Danish Pilsner and join people across the UK in a nationwide toast to honour our veterans – the heroes of World War II.