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V-J Day: 70 Years On
”Victory over Japan Day” heralds the defeat of Japan in the Second World War under Hirohito, Japan being the final Axis power to falter meant an official end to the Second World War as the Axis powers in Europe had already been defeated as commemorated by VE day three months ago. Controversy shrouds the surrender of Japan and the reasons they initially surrendered to the Allies, their surrender marked the enormous influence and power of the newly developed atomic bomb which laid waste to the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Their destructive power helped cement what would be the political struggle for power and dominance between the United States and Soviet Union, although the celebration commemorates the final end to the Second World War, its implications led to a new, frosty war.
Gyokuon-hōsō or ”Jewel Voice Broadcast” was the radio broadcast in which Hirohito read out the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War, it was the announcement to the Japanese people that the Japanese Government had accepted the Potsdam Declaration demanding the unconditional surrender of the Japanese military and the end of the Second World War, the speech was broadcast at 12pm Japan standard time on August 15, 1945, putting an end to all conflict and therefore bringing the Second World War to a close.
Gathered from the August 15, 1945 issue of The New York Times, translated, the text can be read here:
”TO OUR GOOD AND LOYAL SUBJECTS:
After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in Our Empire today, We have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.
We have ordered Our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that Our Empire accepts the provisions of their Joint Declaration.
To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of Our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by Our Imperial Ancestors and which lies close to Our heart.
Indeed, We declared war on America and Britain out of Our sincere desire to ensure Japan’s self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from Our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.
But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone – the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people – the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.
Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should We continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.
Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers.
We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to Our Allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire towards the emancipation of East Asia.
The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those who met with untimely death and all their bereaved families, pains Our heart night and day.
The welfare of the wounded and the war-sufferers, and of those who have lost their homes and livelihood, are the objects of Our profound solicitude.
The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable.
Having been able to safeguard and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, We are always with you, Our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.
Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion which may engender needless complications, or any fraternal contention and strife which may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.
Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishability of its sacred land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibility, and of the long road before it.
Unite your total strength, to be devoted to construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude, foster nobility of spirit, and work with resolution – so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.”
The tone of the speech ensures a positive out look should be viewed under the terms of the surrender as a new beginning for Japan. Japan was later occupied and suffering did continue to rebuild itself as a nation with its pride wiped out it needed to find alternative methods to rectify the issue. The nature of the surrender has sparked controversy, especially regarding the use of nuclear weapons by the United States, as they remain the first and only use of nuclear weapons actively against an opposing nation. Even throughout the heavy political conflict of the Cold War which was largely drawn from the overwhelming destructive power and influence of nuclear weapons they never used but mainly threatened.
V-J Day is the celebration felt by the Allies the day Japan surrendered, it is celebrated on August 15 in the United Kingdom and September 2 in the United States. The announcements saw public celebrations throughout the nations, enormous crowds littered the streets, most notable in Times Square, New York City, where the largest crowd the city had witnessed gathered to celebrate the end of the Second World War. On Saturday I witnessed a return of that celebration, a ceremony led by the Royal British Legion heralded the arrival of Second World War veterans who commemorated the closing of the war 70 years ago.
V-E Day may seem more significant as the war was finished in common home ground but V-J Day is the official conclusion of the Second World War. The surrender however is under more scrutiny as time goes by for the nuclear attacks against Japan by the United States but this claim was to ensure that the war was put to an abrupt end and help reduce the loss of American lives significantly if the war would draw out. The Soviet Union were planning a swift invasion of Japan for which they felt heavy casualties but there were many factors which led Hirohito to throw in the towel and life the white flag. Overall the finalisation of the Second World War was marked by Japanese surrender and although Japan did take two serious blows it helped end a war which resulted in the deaths of so many millions, much more than the loss of lives felt by the two nuclear attacks and the fire bomb air raids the previous nights before.
This article has been the first in a few months, I have been experiencing problems regarding the functionality of the site and therefore it has been disabled for quite a while, I’ll try and ensure this does not happen again as I did initially plan to write many articles throughout the months but I could not draft and therefore publish them but I will catch up eventually, sorry for the inconvenience.
V-E Day: 70 Years On
8th May 1945
It was 70 years on this date that the conflict in Europe officially came to an end, the date is signified by the signing of the Act of Military Surrender in Reims, France, and finally, in Berlin the next day. It was an enormous relief to everyone that finally the long six years of fighting that claimed the lives of many had ended. A wave of celebrations hit the streets of many cities across the continent, London saw masses of people in Trafalgar Square and the Mall up to Buckingham Palace to celebrate the end of the tyrannical Axis powers. Winston Churchill, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen mother) were on the balcony waving to the thousands that crowded the capital to finally celebrate the end of the Second World War.
Celebrations erupted from Los Angeles to Moscow, the United States also held a massive regard for the end of the conflict in Europe, Harry S. Truman dedicated the victory to the memory of his predecessor; Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died less than a month before, the flags were left at half-mast to commemorate this day and the president that should have been alive to witness it. In many cities crowds littered the streets with dancing, singing and flag waving with little pavement left to be seen under all the people, it was a victory that could have come too soon as the Second World War would leave a deep wound in many of the European countries. But lets gloss over that and discuss the heroes that made it possible.
Remembering the Victory
Like remembrance day, this day will remain in the memories of those in Western Europe, celebrations and commemoration of this victory still parade on the streets of London, Paris and New York. 1995 in particular, on the 50th anniversary of the victory, in Britain a Lancaster Bomber dropped poppies in front of Buckingham Palace to provide a spectacular sight and a suitable way to remember the ones we lost and celebrate the victory over Nazi Germany.
This article’s purpose was to celebrate those that defended western Europe from the central powers and most notably, the German invasion. It is with their sacrifice that we are not under the wings of the Third Reich, something Hitler dreamed would be around for 1000 years. It is because of our veterans that we can be proud of our nation and the victory that we claimed 70 years ago because of the brave people that fought for what they thought was right. 🙂
Death of Adolf Hitler – A Burning Desire
It was 70 years ago today that the world was finally blessed with the death of the leader of Nazi Germany; Adolf Hitler. A name which needs no introduction as he is possibly the most famous person in the world… for damaging the very fabric of a multicultural world. However, despite the circumstances, there is no denying that the death of Adolf Hitler was a key event of world history and therefore I consider it a topic of discussion. This article will be detailing the death of Adolf Hitler, however I haven’t left myself that much time but I’ll do my best, most of my past studies of Nazi Germany have mainly been from 1933 when Hitler became Chancellor to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. The Second World War is therefore quite a gap of knowledge I should really learn more about and that is what I’ll be doing today. This article will be covering the German situation and Hitler’s situation, the nature of the deaths and the reaction of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich’s demise, I will be adding a section on historical perspectives but that will not be realised until later in the year.
As you have probably read, Benito Mussolini was executed on 28 April 1945 and it was the next day that Hitler learned of his demise, Italian partisans had lay waste to Hitler’s Italian ally. The Russians were also bearing down towards Berlin and the Germany army was completely over matched. While Hitler was hiding in his Fuhrerbunker his ”1000 year Reich” was collapsing right above him. The reason I chose the title was simply because Heinz Linge and Martin Bormann doused the Fuhrer’s body with petrol and lit the fire with thick rolls of paper. The subheadings will consist of the current situation and Hitler’s hiding, the suicide, and initial reactions from the allies and the German people.
The German Problem
Following the decision to push through to the east towards Russia by Germany was probably the worst decision ever to be made by a nation. Hitler’s desire to conquer the east was a display or arrogance of his Aryan Race which left the army doomed by the mass numbers of the red army and the difficult weather conditions as the army trundled north towards Stalingrad. The German forces were eventually pushed back west and by early 1945 the German military situation was on the verge of total collapse and Poland had fallen to the advancing Soviet forces.
Knowing the opposing Soviet forces were closing in on the East side of Berlin and realising his Third Reich was disintegrating around him he decided to retreat to his Fuhrerbunker on 16 January 1945, it would be in Berlin where the final battle would take place and when the war is won or lost but it was clear to many members of the Nazi leadership that there demise was swiftly coming. The Soviet forces were preparing to capture Berlin and as the evidence suggests once this objective was achieved was to integrate a socialist political and economic stance to the citizens of Germany. Political discussions regarding the conclusion of the war were also taking place as it was clear to the allies that Germany would fall so plans were discussed during the Yalta Conference in February on the conditions regarding Germany’s surrender and post war plans.
By mid-April, the Americans were drawing closer to the city via the Elbe and the Soviets had crossed the Oder from the east and the battle for the Seelow Heights had initiated which was the last major German defensive line protecting Berlin from the east. The German army was completely out-manned and out-gunned but the Soviet forces did experience heavy casualties but their numbers were so great that hindrance caused by the swampy ground still left the German forces surrounded and outnumbered. Hitler decided to remain in his bunker for the remainder of the war, he left very rarely (most notably to decorate a squadron of the Hitler Youth), illustrating how desperate Hitler had become with children fighting as the Germany army.
While in the bunker the knowledge of his own fate was clearly taking a toll on Hitler and his mental stability. It is well documented that Hitler was beginning to lose his mind while in the bunker and more interestingly he was beginning to issue military orders for squadron’s of the Germany army which did not exist. This nervous collapse was further hindered when Hitler realised that some of his orders, (most notably Felix Steiner’s Army Detachment Steiner), Steiner had refused to attack knowing full well his that is exhausted military units did not have the capacity for a successful counter-attack and therefore refused. This was a key moment, as it was this which helped illustrate the situation of the falling Third Reich to Hitler himself, following this he decided to stay in Berlin until the end and planned to shoot himself after he culminated in a declaration of the treachery and incompetence of his commanders on 22 April 1945.
By 27 April 1945 Berlin had been cut off from the rest of Germany and all secure radio communications with defending units had been lost and therefore those in the bunker had to rely on telephone communications which were easily intercepted but all these factors did not matter, Hitler and the rest of the bunker new their fate. On 29 April 1945 all the defences of Berlin that remained had either been defeated or encircled. Along by his side since Hitler entered the bunker was his wife, whom he married only two days before they both committed suicide, and his long time canine companion, Blondi.
Hitler was warned by his officers that the Soviet forces were only a day or two from reaching the bunker and this left Hitler with very few options, his officers urged him to escape to a small town in the Bavarian Alps called Berchtesgaren which Hitler owned a home. However knowing full well he would eventually be found and captured, he chose suicide. It is widely believed that in order to test the potency of the Cyanide capsules they were first tested on his dog Blondi to ensure their reliability. Accordingly, both he and his wife swallowed cyanide capsules and Hitler also shot himself with his service pistol. Witnesses had reported hearing a loud gunshot at about 15:30 on 30 April 1945. Hitler was informed by his doctor that swallowing a cyanide capsule followed by a gunshot to the head would prove most effective. Cyanide proved a popular tool for Germany soldiers who wanted to avoid being publicly persecuted for their crimes against humanity. This is most notable when one of Hitler’s most notable Nazi leaders; Hermann Goering committed suicide by consuming a cyanide pill after being sentenced to death by hanging at the Nuremberg Trials.
The bodies of Hitler and Eva were carried up to the ground level to the garden behind the Reich Chancellery, they were then doused with petrol and set alight. The bodies were lit for over two hours and it did not even destroy the remains. It was on this day that the world had rid of the great dictator which attempted to grasp the world of its dignity and destroy the very fabric of humanity through backward views illustrated in his book… Mein Kampf. Stalin was informed of Hitler suicide just 13 hours after the event and he ordered that Hitler’s corpse be found as proof following the demand for the German army’s unconditional surrender. The remains were later recovered in part by Russian troops on 2 May but it was not until 1956 that the German court officially declared Hitler dead.
Different versions of Hitler’s fate were presented by the Soviet Union according to its political desires. In the years immediately following 1945, the Soviets maintained Hitler was not dead, but had fled and was being shielded by the former western allies. This tactic illustrated the hostilities between Russia and the Western allies following the end of the Second World War and the road to the long political Cold War. The corpses of Hitler and Eva were thoroughly burned but not completely and luckily the remains of Hitler’s lower jaw remained in tact which allowed the identification of the remains to be confirmed as that of Adolf Hitler’s.