VJ Day-75th Anniversary

On this day in history, Imperial Japan surrendered and brought the Second World War to an end. It has been 75 years since this day occurred. The Second World War lasted almost six years and an estimated 75-85 million people perished worldwide. It is considered the deadliest military conflict in modern history and yet I realize there are so many aspects of this war that I have never heard of before.

On September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland from the west. A few days later, France and Britain declared war on Germany and initiated the beginning of the Second World War. On September 17, Soviet troops invaded Poland.

Throughout the war, Britain fought with force and ferocity and held out till the end. Regarding Britain’s struggle during the war, Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said, “We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”

Despite the war beginning in 1939 and the majority of Europe being engulfed in conflict, the United States did not enter the war until after the Imperial Japanese army bombed the fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

During the time span of the Second World War, the lives of civilians were greatly affected as they suffered atrocities that were committed by more than just one nation. In the European theater, the bombing of Dresden was a British-American aerial bombing attack on the civilian city of Dresden. During the Malmedy Massacre, eighty-four American prisoners of war were massacred by their German captors. The Biscari Massacre was committed by members of the United States Army towards unarmed Italian and German prisoners of war.

On August 9th America dropped the second atomic bomb, “Fat Man”, over the city of Nagasaki. Less than a week later, Japan surrendered to the Allies. The amount of destruction resulting from the detonation of the A-bombs is incomprehensible. The survivors of these bombings were known as hibakusha , translated as “explosion-affected people”. The bombs were indeed effective in prompting a quick end to the Second World War. Even though the war ended on August 15, 1945, the struggle for hibakusha to survive would last a lifetime as they battled cancer, discrimination, radiation sickness, etc.  

Early Sunday morning on September 2, 1945, Japan arrived before representatives of nine Allied nations and signed their surrender with General Douglas MacArthur.  

Despite V-J day and Japan’s official surrender on September 2, 1945, many Japanese soldiers refused to believe the truth and kept fighting any way they could.

If you enjoy reading World War II books or watching war films, you should check out the library’s current display in honor of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. I am not an expert on the Second World War, but I know there are numerous stories, situations, and experiences outside the battlefield that are waiting to be discovered. Below you can find some great suggestions:

Unbroken- On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared–Lt. Louis Zamperini. Captured by the Japanese and driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor.

Killing the Rising Sun-  O’Reilly takes readers to the bloody tropical-island battlefields of Peleliu and Iwo Jima and to the embattled Philippines, where General Douglas MacArthur has made a triumphant return and is plotting a full-scale invasion of Japan. Across the globe in Los Alamos, New Mexico, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and his team of scientists are preparing to test the deadliest weapon known to mankind. In Washington, DC, FDR dies in office and Harry Truman ascends to the presidency, only to face the most important political decision in history: whether to use that weapon. And in Tokyo, Emperor Hirohito, who is considered a deity by his subjects, refuses to surrender, despite a massive and mounting death toll.

Code Girls- Recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy, more than ten thousand women served as code breakers during World War II. These women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them.

No Surrender My Thirty-Year War- Hunted by American troops, the Philippine army and police, hostile islanders, and eventually Japanese search parties, Onoda had skillfully outmaneuvered all his pursuers, convinced that World War II was still being fought and waiting for the day when his fellow soldiers would return victorious.

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