26 Mar: David Llyod George, British statesman
12 Apr: Franklin D. Roosevelt, US President
genocide n: systematic extermination of a particular group of people
|Atomic Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki|
Before sunrise, on August 6, 1945, an American B-29 bomber named Enola Gay set off from Tinian Island, in the Marianas. Over Hiroshima, Japan, at 8.15am, it released one bomb. Instantly, 80,000 people died, and most of Hiroshima was completely wiped out.
President Harry S Truman told the American people:
"Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima... If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the sky the likes of which has never been seen on this earth"
Two days after Hiroshima, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan (as agreed at the February Yalta Conference between the big three – Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin) and invaded Japanese-held Manchuria.
On August 10, America dropped a second atomic bomb, killing 40,000 in Nagasaki. On August 14, Japan surrendered unconditionally. The following day, Emperor Hirohito addressed his nation over the radio for the first time. Explaining that the enemy "has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable," he annouced Japan’s acceptance of Allied terms. Thus ended World War II.
On September 2, aboard the US battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay, General MacArthur, the Allied Supreme Commander, received the surrender documents.
The bloodiest conflict in history ended with an even greater threat of inconceivable violence. Humanity had obtained the power to destroy the entire world. Till today, debates continue, as to the necessity of using nuclear weapons against Japan.
Please read the arguments supporting and rejecting the bombing.
For the European Axis powers, January 12 marked the start of their end, as the (Soviet) Red Army launched a vast attack in Poland. Having been stretched thin along the 700-mile Eastern Front, losing in the Balkans, and encircled in Lithuania, the German forces fell. The Soviets quickly took Warsaw (Poland) and Lódz. Hitler withdrew from the Ardennes (a wooded plateau in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France; the site of intense fighting in World Wars I and II) on the Western Front and rushed to Budapest in hopes of holding Hungary. By February, some Soviet divisions stood only 40 miles from Berlin.
On March 23, the Allies attacked across the Rhine River. The Canadian 1st Army trudged through the Netherlands, the British 2nd drove to the Baltic Sea, and US forces fanned out from Magdeburg to the Czech and Austrian border.
Meanwhile, the Soviet pressed on, wreaking revengeful atrocities and driving hordes of refugees before them. By mid-April, they had taken Vienna, Danzig, and Königsberg. On April 25, they met with the Americans – with toasts and embraces – on the Elbe River.
Berlin fell on May 2, Axis forces in Italy and Austria surrendered the same day. On May 4, five days after Hitler’s suicide, his counterparts in Germany, Holland and Denmark followed suit. And on May 7, in Reims, France, the German High Command (represented by German General Alfred Jodl and Admiral Hans Friedeburg) surrended unconditionally. Only in Czechoslovakia did fighting go on for a few more days. On May 8, five years and eight months after it started, the war in Europe was officially over.
In the following weeks, the Allies arrested every Nazi official they could find on war-crimes charges. Hitler’s dream of a Thousand-Year Reich (empire) lasted only 12 years.