Friday, August 14, 2015

On the Day 70 Years Ago: The Second World War Ends

Times Square New York on VJ Day - August 14, 1945

The Second World War ended 70 years ago today with the surrender of Japan following the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by atomic weapons. The day would be known as  VJ or Victory Over Japan Day. Although Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, celebrations began in the Western Hemisphere, most notably in the USA and Canada, on the afternoon of August 14- since Japan lies in front of the International Date Line. The exact date of VJ Day is less important than the photographic images which remain of it,  including the famous celebration scene in New York's Times Square.

Except for some holdouts who were not able to get news over radio broadcasts the Second World War ended when Emperor Hirohito of Japan heroically saved millions of lives on all sides by broadcasting Japan's acceptance of surrender terms over those in power in his own government in what is known as the Jewel Voice Broadcast. The leaders of Japan wanted to preserve the nation's honor by not surrendering - even if millions of Japanese citizens were to die as a result. The Emperor narrowly avoided a Coup D'eTat which would have put him under house arrest even though fighting would go on his name.The Emperor was revered as a semi-divine figure, whose voice was never broadcast before. The Japanese people laid down their arms when the Emperor assured them that it was the only possible course of action given the situation.

VJ Day Celebrated in Toronto, Canada

The ending of the war was celebrated around the world by the Allied powers, but it was in New York City's Times Square which saw the greatest crowds celebrating the huge victory. VE or Victory in Europe Day was celebrated around the world on May 8, 1945 with the surrender of Germany -- the most famous celebrations occurred outside of Buckingham Palace in London. But the war was not yet over for nations fighting Japan in the Pacific sphere --  particularly in the United States and Canada -- where millions of casualties were expected if an invasion of Japan was necessary.

To find out more about VJ Day:

The Iconic Photograph from Times Square on VJ Day - the Kiss by Alfred Eisenstaedt

You can see my other posts about key events in the Second World War here:

September 1, 1939 - World War 2 Begins

December 7, 1941- The Japanese Navy attacks the United States at Pearl Harbor

June 4, 1942- The United States Navy achieves a huge naval victory over Japan at Midway

June 6, 1944- D Day-  British, Canadian, and American Forces begin to liberate Western Europe.

May 8, 1945- Victory in Europe (VE) Day

 August 6, 1945- An Atomic Weapon is dropped on Hiroshima, Japan

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