On this day in 1945, Soviet troops parade past Red Square in celebration of their victory over Germany. As drums rolled, 200 soldiers performed a familiar ritual: They threw 200 German military banners at the foot of the Lenin Mausoleum. A little over 130 years earlier, victorious Russian troops threw Napoleon’s banners at the feet of Czar Alexander I.
Also on this day in 1945, British bombers destroy the “Bridge Over the River Kwai.” Thousands of British and Allied prisoners of war, forced into slave labor by their Japanese captors, had built a bridge, under the most grueling conditions, over the River Kwai, linking parts of the Burma-Siam (now Thailand) railway and enabling the Japanese to transport soldiers and supplies through this area. British aircraft bombed the bridge to prevent this link between Bangkok and Moulein, Burma. This episode of the war was dramatized in extraordinary fashion in the 1957 film Bridge on the River Kwai, directed by David Lean, and starring Alec Guinness and William Holden.