On May 8, 1945, World War II in Europe came to an end. As the news of Germany’s surrender reached the rest of the world, joyous crowds gathered to celebrate in the streets, clutching newspapers that declared Victory in Europe (V-E Day). Later that year, US President Harry S. Truman announced Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II. The news spread quickly and celebrations erupted across the United States. On September 2, 1945, formal surrender documents were signed aboard the USS Missouri, designating the day as the official Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day).
V-J Day was especially momentous—the gruesome and exhausting war was officially over—but the day was also bittersweet for the many Americans whose loved ones would not be returning home. “More than 400,000 Americans gave their lives to secure our nation’s freedom, and in the midst of exultation, there was recognition that the true meaning of the day was best represented by those who were not present to celebrate,” said Robert Citino, PhD, Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy at The National WWII Museum.
Seventy-five years later, The National WWII Museum will pay tribute to the historic anniversaries, as well as the myriad servicemembers and Home Front workers who helped preserve freedom and democracy.
See below for a list of The National WWII Museum’s 2020 commemorative initiatives:
"TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY"
In the midst of history’s greatest war, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and died just 11 weeks into his fourth term. "To the Best of My Ability" is a nine-part podcast series that examines what happens in the wake of his death, pulling directly from the newly sworn-in President Harry S. Truman’s diaries, oral histories from the men and women who lived through it, and more. Join The National WWII Museum as we explore the tragedies, triumphs, and difficult choices made by one of history’s most unexpected leaders.
Through a discussion of monuments, memorials, and memory acts, this course explores how different nations remember or forget the past and how the memory of World War II impacts national and international politics today. This course will feature lectures, interviews, and interactive assignments by top scholars from The National WWII Museum and Arizona State University, including a former US Ambassador and a retired Lieutenant General of the US Army. Learners will engage these materials while analyzing the many commemorations for V-E Day around the world.
End of War Classroom Resources
Explore essays, lesson plans, and multimedia resources exploring liberation and the legacy of World War II, connecting events like the Holocaust, the Nuremberg Trials, the Marshall Plan, and the founding of the United Nations to the world of today.
As the world celebrated victory over Nazi Germany and the boys eventually did come home, the war they fought thousands of miles from American shores came home with them. It came home with them in their wounds, in their memories, in their daily life…in their nightmares.
Japanese military leaders debated Japan's possible surrender up to the last moment. Emperor Hirohito's intervention was critical.
By VE-Day, 1.6 million American soldiers stood on German soil. Their first months in the land of their former enemy were marked by a number of surprising observations and interactions.
Although a decision to continue the war would mean national suicide, members of the Japanese military came close to refusing Emperor Hirohito’s surrender order.
Monuments and fields of white crosses mark the cost of victory in Europe. Majestic today, the cemeteries were in a much different state 75 years ago.
On the morning of August 6, 1945, the American B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
Featured Video Content
Roosevelt's passing was a tremendous shock to the citizenry and the military serving overseas. Through his steady leadership, did the country ultimately emerge victorious.
World War II in Europe began in 1939 with Nazi Germany invading Poland. Through persistent efforts of teamwork and ingenuity the Allied powers were able to defeat Nazi Germany and free Europe.
As the US Army moved into Germany in 1945, the months of bloody fighting had left a mark on each man.
The Japanese, realizing that the War was nearly lost, turned to their most fearsome weapon in their attempts to stop the American advance: The Kamikaze.
Shortly after midnight, USS Indianapolis was struck by two enemy torpedoes. The ship sank in 12 minutes. Over 900 of her crew abandoned ship and began to drift in the sea.
Advances in science and industrial capability during World War II brought forth new devices that would shape the face of the world for the next 75 years.
What is the full schedule of commemorative programming for the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II?
How do I watch your webinars?
The Museum’s daily webinars will be hosted on Zoom. You can access a Zoom webinar on your smart phone, tablet, or computer.
If you are watching for the first time on your smart phone or tablet, you will need to download the Zoom app from the app store on your device. The Zoom app is free to download. Once the app is downloaded, click the Zoom webinar link for the program you are interested in. It will then open the app, and you will enter the webinar room. You will need to provide your email address to participate in a webinar.
If you are participating in a Zoom webinar for the first time on a computer, Zoom will prompt you to download and run a bit of software. Once downloaded and installed, click the Zoom webinar link for the program you are interested in. It will then open the application and you will enter the webinar room. You will need to provide your email address to participate in a webinar.
See here for additional information: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115004954946-Joining-and-participating-in-a-webinar-attendee-
What if I miss a webinar?
This ongoing series of digital programming commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II is made possible by The Nierenberg Family and Bank of America.