National Archives Marks 70th Anniversary of End of World War II
Press Release · Thursday, August 20, 2015
Special programs and display of the original Japanese Instrument of Surrender*
To mark the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II, the National Archives will host special programs and display the original Japanese Instrument of Surrender * that officially ended the war. This display is free and open to the public at the National Archives Museum, located on the National Mall on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. Metro accessible on Yellow or Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., daily. Additional information on exhibits and programs can be found online. Program attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW.
The National Archives Museum’s “Featured Documents” exhibit is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of The Coca-Cola Company.
FEATURED DOCUMENT EXHIBIT: “Seventy Years Ago: The End of World War II”
National Archives East Rotunda Gallery, August 27 – October 28, 2015
On September 2, 1945, in a formal ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan, representatives of the Japanese government signed this Instrument of Surrender, officially ending World War II. The formal ceremony took less than 30 minutes. Prepared by the U.S. War Department and approved by President Harry S. Truman, this document set out in eight short paragraphs the complete capitulation of Japan. The short second paragraph went straight to the heart of the matter: “We hereby proclaim the unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters and of all Japanese armed forces and all armed forces under Japanese control wherever situated.”
Chief of the Army General Staff General Douglas MacArthur, Commander in the Southwest Pacific, signed for the United States and accepted the surrender in his capacity as the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz also signed for the United States. Then representatives from eight other Allied nations signed, including the Republic of China, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. After the Instrument of Surrender was presented to President Harry S. Truman at the White House on September 7, 1945, this document, in its original leather case, was exhibited at the National Archives and formally accessioned into its holdings.
*Both pages of the original will be on view from August 27 through September 3. From September 4 through October 28, the original first page will be on display with a facsimile version of the signature page.
The display includes two photographs:
Signing the Instrument of Surrender September 2, 1945 – Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the surrender document as delegation members and troops on the battleship USS Missouri witness. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur stands at the microphone at the far right. National Archives, General Records of the Department of the Navy
General Wainwright unveils exhibit of surrender document September 12, 1945 - General Jonathan Wainwright and his wife were guests of honor at the opening of a special display of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender in the Rotunda of the National Archives in Washington, DC. General Wainwright was forced to surrender all U.S. forces in the Philippines to the invading Japanese troops in 1942 and was the highest-ranking U.S. prisoner of war in Japanese custody. National Archives, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration
Related upcoming programs
- FILM: Movies in Wartime: Projections of America (52 minutes)
Wednesday, October 14, at 7pm, William G. McGowan Theater
During the darkest hour of World War II, a team of idealistic U.S. Government filmmakers hoped the power of the movies could reshape the world. The Allied military campaign was accompanied by a vast propaganda effort that centered around 26 short documentaries about American life targeted at the newly liberated populations. These short films presented American stories of cowboys and oilmen, farmers and window washers, immigrants and school children. A discussion with filmmakers Peter Miller and Antje Boehmert will follow the screening.
- BOOK TALK: 1944: FDR and the Year that Changed History, by Jay Winik
Wednesday, October, 28, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
It was not inevitable that World War II would end as it did, or that it would even end well. New York Times bestselling author Jay Winik brings to life in gripping detail the year 1944, which determined the outcome of World War II and put more pressure than any other on an ailing, yet determined President Roosevelt, and the extraordinary struggles of the era’s outsized figures. A book signing will follow the program.
Related online resources
- Background information and a transcript of the Instrument of Surrender on the list of 100 Milestone Documents of American history.
- Selected Finding Aids related to World War II records at the National Archives
- Finding Information on Personal Participation in World War II
- See Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum’s “The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb” to view nearly 600 related pages of documents.
- Teaching With Documents: Photographs and Pamphlet About Nuclear Fallout
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