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World War II After 75 Years: Beyond the War We Know

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.

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

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.


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.

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


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 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.


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


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


Claude Eatherly spent years punishing himself for his role in the first atomic bombing. His public remorse made him an international celebrity. Read more


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

“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


From jubilation in the streets of New York and Nairobi to solemn moments on the front lines. Read more


What the end of a long war might have been like for a sailor in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. Read more


In 1945, thousands of Japanese-Americans were released from internment camps. But they couldn’t return to the world they left. Read more


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


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


“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

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