Sept. 2, 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of the official end of World War II, a conflict that changed millions of lives and the course of global history. For our Beyond the World War II We Know series, we set out to recount stories both personal and profound, and explore the end of the war and its aftermath. Here is a selection of those articles.
We Are Still Living the Legacy of World War II
Act III of the war — After the War — is now simply part of our daily reality, in America and globally, writes Tom Hanks. Read more
Returning From War, Returning to Racism
After fighting overseas, Black soldiers faced violence and segregation at home. Many, like Lewis W. Matthews, were forced to take menial jobs. Although he managed to overcome racist policies, that wasn’t an option for many. Read more.
The Man Who Won’t Let the World Forget the Firebombing of Tokyo
As a child, Katsumoto Saotome barely escaped the air raids over Tokyo that killed as many as 100,000 people. He has spent much of his life fighting to honor the memories of others who survived. Read more.
My Family’s Shrouded History Is Also a National One for Korea
Decades after the war ended, scars left by the Japanese occupation persist for millions of Koreans and Korean-Americans, including the author Alexander Chee. Read more
‘We Hated What We Were Doing’: Veterans Recall Firebombing Japan
American airmen who took part in the 1945 firebombing missions grapple with the particular horror they witnessed being inflicted on those below. Read more
The Black Female Battalion That Stood Up to a White Male Army
The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion was set up to determine the value Black women brought to the military. They ultimately ran the fastest mail service in the European Theater during World War II, though their actions weren’t recognized until more half a century later. Read more.
How We Retain the Memory of Japan’s Atomic Bombings: Books
Literature is a refuge we turn to when we are forced to confront contradictions that lie beyond reason, writes the Japanese novelist Yoko Ogawa. Read more
I Fled Yugoslavia in 1941. Then I Returned to Join the Resistance.
Stasha Seaton returned to Yugoslavia in 1944 to join the National Liberation struggle, a resistance campaign made up of a variety of anti-fascist left-wing groups, including smaller movements and Josep Tito’s Communist National Liberation Army. She recounted her story to Jake Nevins. Read more
The Hiroshima Pilot Who Became a Symbol of Antinuclear Protest
Claude Eatherly spent years punishing himself for his role in the first atomic bombing. His public remorse made him an international celebrity. Read more
When Jim Crow Reigned Amid the Rubble of Nazi Germany
Thousands of African-American troops were sent to a defeated Germany to promote democracy, even as they were confined to the social order of Jim Crow. Read more
For Some Holocaust Survivors, Even Liberation Was Dehumanizing
“If their eyes were mirrors, it seems I’m not far from dead.” After being freed by Allied troops, some former prisoners continued to be mistreated. Read more
How V-E Day Echoed Around the World
From jubilation in the streets of New York and Nairobi to solemn moments on the front lines. Read more
The Japanese Surrender: A Sailor’s Perspective
What the end of a long war might have been like for a sailor in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. Read more
For Japanese-Americans, Housing Injustices Outlived Internment
In 1945, thousands of Japanese-Americans were released from internment camps. But they couldn’t return to the world they left. Read more
At the Olympics in Bombed-Out London, She Forever Changed Women’s Sports
The 1948 Summer Games, the first held after the war, were a celebration of improvisation, renewal and change, embodied in a Dutch track star named Fanny Blankers-Koen. Read more
When the Mexican Air Force Went to War Alongside America
In 1945, the 201st Mexican Fighter Squadron helped the U.S. Army Air Forces defeat Japan — significantly changing relations between the two allies after the war. Read more
The Forgotten Colonial Forces of World War II
“There’s a scattered memory of their sacrifice all over Europe.” The Allied powers relied on colonial troops to defeat the Axis, but their contributions are not often recognized. Read more