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Experiencing War (Companion to the PBS Series -- The War: A Ken Burns Film) Stories from the Veterans History Project

Episode Seven: “A World Without War ”
March 1945 - December 1945

The last island in the Pacific Theater to be contested was Okinawa, which previous to the war was considered part of the Japanese home islands. It was a final stand for the Japanese Army, and the battle for control of it raged for 10 weeks. That same spring, Allied troops uncovered evidence of the Third Reich’s heinous crimes against humanity in the liberation of the concentration camps. When the Allies reached Berlin and the German Army surrendered, it set off a celebration to mark V-E Day. In July, the USS Indianapolis delivered a secret shipment to the Pacific island of Tinian. After its mission, the ship was torpedoed and sank within minutes, leaving hundreds of sailors in shark-infested waters; some survived a four-day ordeal, but many more did not. The ship’s cargo was the atomic bomb that would devastate Hiroshima on August 6, eventually forcing the Japanese to capitulate. V-J Day marked the end of fighting, and after six years, World War II was over.


D Day Rescue, Omaha Beach, Rosenblum, Walter, 1919- photographer.

Image: Donald M. Carlton

"We lost a lot of men that day..."

Donald M. Carlton's story

Image: Desmond Thomas Doss

"...I felt like it was an honor to serve my country, according to the dictates of my conscience."

Desmond Thomas Doss' story

Image: Tony Fileff

"You really don't realize how destructive war is until you really see it."

Tony Fileff 's story

Image: James Mitsuo Furukawa

"The smell of death … is something that stays with you for a lifetime."

James Mitsuo Furukawa's story

Image: Carl Albin Hall

"Veterans should not be mute about history. It breeds blind generations of destructive dreamers who have learned nothing ..."

Carl Albin Hall's story

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"Bullets are flying in all directions… you [can] hear them but you don't know which way they're going."

Ralph B. Johnson's story

Concentration Camp Liberation
Image: James Ray Clark

"It looked like an explosion or an earthquake in a cemetery."

James Ray Clark's story

Image: James Frank Dorris, Jr.

"This is what hell is like. In my mind I imagined the devil himself coming up out of the ground."

James Frank Dorris, Jr.'s story

Image: Vera Cecilia Palmer

"At the time of her capture, she had spoken seven languages, and here she was, just worried about getting her food."

Vera Cecelia Palmer's story

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"My feeling was to get those ovens shut down."

Robert M. Walker's story

V-E Day
Image: Paul R. Allen

"Here we were in the middle of Germany, with the war over—our job done."

Paul R. Allen's story

Image: Isabelle Cook

"They invited all of the troops—American British, French—to march in full uniform."

Isabelle V. Cook's story

Image: John Ernest Dolibois

"...I had driven through Rheims the day that General Jodl was signing the surrender documents, and I didn't even know it."

John Ernest Dolibois' story

Image: Ed Goodwin

"We were scared to go out the gate because the women were waiting for us. A lot of us got our clothes ripped off."

Ed Goodwin's story

Image: Edward Wallace Hopkins

"Truman was giving his speech about the war being over and suddenly the German planes came over..."

Edward Wallace Hopkins' story

Image:Walter Morris

"We looked in [and] could see the German and Italian prisoners of war sitting down at the same table with white soldiers..."

Walter Morris' story

Image: Charles Raymond Remsburg, Jr.

"... it was interesting to note the different reactions of the German and Dutch people."

Charles R. Remsburg, Jr.'s story

Image: Arthur B. Scattergood

"There was a combination of solemn gratitude along with jubilant celebration."

Arthur B. Scattergood's story

USS Indianapolis
Image: Louis Harold Erwin

"We tried to all gather in the water and keep ourselves together where the sharks wouldn't get us."

Louis Harold Erwin's story

Image: Giles G. McCoy

"I didn't want to end up in the belly of some shark and neither did the other guys."

Giles G. McCoy's story

V-J Day
Image: Robert Llewellyn Balfour

"I knew all about the atomic bomb two months before it happened, but we didn't know what we knew."

Robert Llewellyn Balfour's story

Image: Yukio Kawamoto

"I did my best under trying circumstances with my parents in the camps."

Yukio Kawamoto's story

Image: Robert G. Mackey

"We can't have a formal surrender on a general mess table."

Robert G. Mackey's story

Image: Joseph Jefferson Mickey

"...send Land, Sea, and Air personnel into Japan, for the occupation of the Japanese Islands."

Joseph Jefferson Mickey's story

Image: Glenn Walter Nelson

"... An announcer cut in on the movie and said the Japanese had surrendered."

Glenn Walter Nelson's story

Image: Glen Harold Wallace

"If we appeared to take death lightly, it was because we had to in order to keep from going crazy."

Glen Harold Wallace's story

  Home » The War: Episode Seven
  The Library of Congress
  October 11, 2007
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