Vintage photos from the library of congress capture a time when the country ran on womanpower
August 6th 1945: Hiroshima bombed
On this day in 1945, the first nuclear attack in history occurred when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The American plane Enola Gay dropped the bomb called ‘Little Boy’, which killed around 70,000 people instantly. The effects of the radiation killed thousands more in later years, resulting in a catastrophic death toll of around 140,000 people. Three days later the ‘Fat Man’ bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, resulting in the loss of around 75,000 lives; in both cases, the majority of casualties were civilian. Whilst other Axis powers including Nazi Germany had already surrendered earlier that year, ending the war in the European theatre, Japan had continued to fight the Allied forces. The bombings were therefore deemed necessary by the United States to end the war and avoid a costly invasion of Japan. In the aftermath of the devastating attacks, Japan surrendered to the Allies on 15th August, thus ending the war in the Pacific theatre of World War Two. Today, 69 years on, the atomic-bomb scarred cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki provide a sharp reminder of the horrors of nuclear warfare.
"My God, what have we done?"
- Enola Gay’s co-pilot Robert Lewis upon seeing the impact
The bodies of American soldiers lie on a beach in New Guinea, 1942
Robert Doisneau – Love and Barbed Wire, Tuileries, Paris, 1944 (via)
June 6th 1944: D-Day
On this day in 1944, the D-Day landings began on the beaches of Normandy as part of the Allied ‘Operation Overlord’. The largest amphibious military operation in history, the operation involved thousands of Allied troops landing in France. For those landing on the beaches of Normandy, they faced heavy fire, mines and other obstacles on the beach, but managed to push inland. In charge of the operation was future US President General Dwight Eisenhower and leading the ground forces was British General Bernard Montgomery. The landings proved a decisive Allied victory, as they secured a foothold in France which had been defeated by Nazi Germany in 1940. D-Day was a key moment in the Second World War and helped turn the tide of the war in favour of the Allies. 70 years on, we remember not just the strategic victory that was D-Day but also the ultimate sacrifice paid by thousands of soldiers on both sides of the fighting.
“You are about to embark upon the great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.”
- Eisenhower’s message to the Allied Expeditionary Force
70 years ago today
Pvt. John Farnsworth covered in kisses by famous pinups and actresses (L to R : Lynne Baggett , Dolores Moran , Barbara Hale ,Ginger Rogers, Gloria DeHaven , Chilli Williams and Jinx Falkenburg.) 1944 (via)
WWII illustration by Jon Whitcomb c. 1940s
Technical Sergeant William E. Thomas and Private First Class Joseph Jackson prepared a gift of special “Easter Eggs” for Adolph Hitler and the German Army. Scrawling such messages on artillery shells in World War II was one way in which artillery soldiers could humorously express their dislike of the enemy. Easter, 1945
Soldier & his English girlfriend kissing under a tree in Hyde Park. London,1944 (via)
American soldier kissing his English girlfriend on lawn in Hyde Park,1944. Photo by Ralph Morse (via)
january 27 is holocaust remembrance day. it was on this day in 1945 that the soviet army liberated auschwitz concentration camp. it is estimated that at least 1.3 million people were deported to auschwitz between 1940 and 1945. of these, a minimum of 1.1 million were murdered.
it’s worth noting that the u.s. state department knew about the genocide as early as 1942, but actively sought to suppress its public knowledge. also of note, the war department declined to bomb the extermination facilities and the railway lines leading to auschwitz because it was deemed “too far a flight”, even though u.s. bombers flew directly over the camp to bomb oil factories only 5km away.
in 1955, an exhibition at the camp opened to the public, displaying such things as prisoner mug shots; hair (of which almost eight tonnes was found by the red army) and shoes taken from murdered prisoners; and canisters of zyklon b pellets used for gassing.
the sign seen at the gates of base camp reads arbeit macht frei, or “work makes you free”. built by prisoner-labourers, there is speculation the upside down ‘B’ was done on purpose as a signal to new arrivals about what was actually happening behind the facility’s gates.
to learn more, see “auschwitz: the nazis and ‘the final solution" (bbc, 2005), "escape from auschwitz" (secrets of the dead, 2011), "america and the holocaust: deceit and indifference" (american experience, 1994) (william j vanden heuvel’s response), and “god on trial" (masterpiece, 2008). photos by bruno tamiozzo