The war in Europe started in earnest for Americans on D-Day, June 6, 1944, when the Allies invaded Europe. Before then, the United States was mostly involved through manufacturing materiel for the Allies. On D-Day, the American military took the brunt of the huge losses, mostly through the tragically exposed landing of the 1st and 29th U.S. Army Infantry Divisions on Omaha Beach.
The losses in the Soviet Union, Poland and Germany, and among European Jews and Gypsies, were already catastrophic.
Since 22 November 2004, by UN General Assembly resolution 59/26, May 8 and 9 are designated as a Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during World War II.
May 8 is the day that officially ended World War II in Europe by Germany's signing of an unconditional surrender of its armed forces in Berlin. The surrender was signed the day before in Reims, France. May 9 is the day that the German surrender became effective in Russia, and therefore they celebrate that day as the day of peace.
In preparation for our visit, I have been researching D-Day and World War II in Europe. My main focus is a new book targeted at young people by Rick Atkinson, D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy, 1944, published by Henry Holt. It is meant to be used in schools and is adapted from Atkinson's #1 best-selling book The Guns at Last Light.
The book is definitely for the older Young Adult market because the language does not make much allowance for expected vocabulary in the elementary school grades (see my post on age-appropriate books). But it is, as I said in my review, authoritative, comprehensive and compelling. Here are the top 15 books for children on World War II, as ranked by Goodreads. The Diary of Anne Frank is published in multiple editions, so its ranking as #3 is probably a result of some votes for the book going to other editions. These rankings are out of a total of 167 books currently on the Goodreads list for World War II. You can affect these rankings by voting.