On May 8, the world will mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day, the end of World War II in Europe. After more than five years of war, which wrapped nearly the entirety of the continent in violence and fear, German leaders signed an unconditional surrender on May 7, 1945 which was confirmed and announced to enormous celebration the next day.
As the years pass, the number of those who saw that day firsthand grows smaller and smaller. Photographer Sasha Maslov spent years traveling to 21 countries that were most affected by the war — from the U.S. and Europe to Asia — and shooting astounding portraits of those who experienced it.
His goal was "to look behind the emotional drape of each individual photographed. After 70 years, after the war that took millions of lives, [I] strive to analyze and compare the lives of those who survived and are still living," he writes, in an artistic statement.
He was interested in how the shared experience of the war united subjects who had otherwise led very different lives. "[I wanted] to assemble a mosaic of people who at one moment were all engaged in this incredible tragedy, and in the other were living their separate lives in different corners of our planet," he adds.
Here, we've assembled a few of the striking portraits and briefly excerpted their stories. For more, see the VETERANS website here