Milestone Documents in the National Archives

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Japanese Surrender


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From the sands of North Africa and the hedgerows of France to the steppes of Russia and the jungles of Asia, the world was at war. On December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States became a part of World War II, adding its manpower and industrial might to the Allied cause.

By late 1941 Germany dominated the continent of Europe and had penetrated deep into Soviet territory. Quick victories on Wake Island and in Thailand, Malaya, Guam, and the Philippines gave its Axis partner, Japan, dominance over an area stretching from the borders of India to the mid-Pacific by the summer of 1942.

By then, American military induction centers and training camps were rapidly filling. Eventually, nearly 16 million men and women would serve in the Armed Forces. Shipyards and factories had begun to produce unprecedented numbers of liberty ships, tanks, B-17 bombers, and Browning automatic rifles. America was rapidly turning into what President Roosevelt called the "great arsenal of democracy." Civilians were growing accustomed to bond drives and blackouts, gasoline rationing cards and meat shortages. World War II had become everyone’s cause.

A wave of national hysteria right after Pearl Harbor led to the shipping of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, both American citizens and noncitizens, from the Pacific states to relocation, or internment, camps in the interior on the premise that if they were left unguarded, they would create a "security" problem. Later, in a great national irony, a regiment of Japanese-American (nisei) soldiers in Italy became the most decorated unit in the war.

The gloom created by the early defeat of American forces was lifted slightly by Gen. James H. Doolittle’s bomber raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942. Nevertheless, the tide of the war did not begin to turn until the defeat of the Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway in June 1942. Later that year, American sea, air, and land forces began the process of recapturing the Pacific islands that would lead them to Japan: Guadalcanal in 1942, Tarawa in 1943, Saipan and the Philippines in 1944, and Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1945. When Gen. Douglas MacArthur stepped ashore in the Philippines in October 1944, he fulfilled his promise—"I shall return"—made when he was forced to evacuate Corregidor 2 1/2 years earlier.

In the European theater, the road to an Allied victory began when the British repelled the German Afrika Korps at El Alamein in November 1942. American forces landed in North Africa that same November and, following the defeat of German armies there, joined the British in the invasion of Sicily and Italy in the summer of 1943. On D-day, June 6, 1944, the Allies carried out the invasion of France and established the long awaited "second front" in western .Europe.

On the eastern front, the Russians halted the German advance at Stalingrad in the single bloodiest battle of the war, 1942-43. Soviet forces then counterattacked, pushing the German forces ever backward toward their own borders. Finally, in April 1945, Russian and American troops met at the Elbe River inside Germany. The Nazi war machine, finally outgunned and outmanned, was forced to surrender unconditionally on May 8, 1945.

Victory would soon come in the Pacific, where an awesome new weapon, the atomic bomb, was about to be used. As early as 1939, physicist Albert Einstein had written President Roosevelt that the development of an atomic bomb was feasible. Early in 1942, the secret Manhattan project had been launched, and in closely guarded sites at Hanford in Washington, Los Alamos in New Mexico, and Oak Ridge in Tennessee, scientists raced to create a practical atomic weapon ahead of the Germans.

In August 1945 President Harry S. Truman gave the order to drop the world’s first two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and on September 2, 1945, the Japanese forces surrendered to the Allies aboard the U. S. S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

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Chicago: "Japanese Surrender," Milestone Documents in the National Archives in United States. National Archives and Records Administration. Milestone Documents in the National Archives (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995), Pp.112-117 97–102. Original Sources, accessed July 3, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=WUIPVXF6WVA4QXU.

MLA: . "Japanese Surrender." Milestone Documents in the National Archives, in United States. National Archives and Records Administration. Milestone Documents in the National Archives (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995), Pp.112-117, pp. 97–102. Original Sources. 3 Jul. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=WUIPVXF6WVA4QXU.

Harvard: , 'Japanese Surrender' in Milestone Documents in the National Archives. cited in , United States. National Archives and Records Administration. Milestone Documents in the National Archives (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995), Pp.112-117, pp.97–102. Original Sources, retrieved 3 July 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=WUIPVXF6WVA4QXU.