Michael's Modern Blog
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A breezy review of current events, updated twice weekly

Tuesday, September 4, 1945

THE END. With today’s posts, I bid farewell to this blog.

When I began keeping this blog in March of 1939, some 3,287 postings ago, I intended to record a few highlights and comments on what I airily hoped would be a European crisis of perhaps a few more months’ duration. The alternative of all-out war seemed too dire to contemplate. I remember an article in Radio Times from May of that year, postulating how an all-out Nazi air raid of London would be reported on the airwaves, with sensationalistic bulletins of "thousands" killed. That seems so quaint now. We have traveled a terrible distance since then, and for all the horrors we’ve seen, heard of, and read, we’ve avoided the one unspeakable horror, that of defeat. And we now live in an America that is, both for better and for worse, profoundly different than the one we have ever known in our history. There will be no "return to normalcy" this time. We are now a full partner with the other great nations of the world, and must remain so.

Our world has come to a place where we have never known such potential terror, or such hope. The two walk hand-in-hand. The atom bomb is for now in America’s custody, but a future dictator will surely have such weapons, or worse ones, easily enough to wreck civilization completely. Yet, with the coming birth of the United Nations as a peace-time organization, we will have the all the great powers joined together for the first time in history, and given an opportunity to put an end to war on a large scale.

Such an effort has never succeeded before. But it has never had such incentive.

posted by Michael 8:26:00 AM
. . .
THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. A fitting way to close would be to quote General MacArthur’s concluding remarks at the surrender ceremony --

"A new era is upon us. Even the lesson of victory itself brings with it profound concern, both for our future security and the survival of civilization. The destructiveness of the war potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery, has in fact now reached a point which revises the traditional concept of war. Men since the beginning of time have sought peace. Various methods through the ages have been attempted to devise an international process to prevent or settle disputes between nations. From the very start, workable methods were found in so far as individual citizens were concerned, but the mechanics of an instrumentality of larger international scope have never been successful. Military alliance, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blots out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we do not devise some greater and more equitable system Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advance in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the last 2,000 years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh."

Let us all work and pray to "save the flesh," in the challenging years ahead.

posted by Michael 8:20:00 AM
. . .
Sunday, September 2, 1945

THE DAY OF SURRENDER. The official signing onboard the U.S.S. Missouri was certainly the grandest ceremony held anywhere in the world since this war began six years ago yesterday. But how pathetic -- and how appropriately so -- were the last duties of a statesman on behalf of the once-haughty Axis. Japanese Foreign Minister Shigemitsu signed on behalf of Hirohito, and Homer Bigart writes eloquently in today’s New York Herald Tribune of what this small, gnarled man was called upon to do --

"If the memories of the bestialities of the Japanese prison camps were not so fresh in mind one might have felt sorry for Shigemitsu as he hobbled on his wooden leg toward the green baize covered table where the papers lay waiting. He leaned heavily on his cane and had difficulty seating himself. The cane, which he rested against the table, dropped to the deck of the battleship as he signed."

The whole thing proceeded in a calm and orderly manner -- the signatures by represenatives of the nine allies at hand, the signatures from our former enemy, the opening and concluding addresses by General MacArthur in his capacity as Supreme Commander. It was actually pretty anti-climactic. Though President Truman took pains to proclaim that this was the "real" V-J Day, it sure didn’t feel like the "real" anything. The New York Times noted this morning that the Times Square crowds during the ceremony were "no larger than an average Saturday night," and nobody seemed to seize upon this as a chance to do another round of wild celebrating. I think for most people V-J Day came in the unbelievable burst of pent-up joy on that day when the news was first flashed to the world. Strangely enough, it’s kind of old hat by now.

The Times also says today that automobile traffic for the Labor Day weekend is close to the 1941 level, and that gas is "plentiful." Now there’s some real news.

posted by Michael 11:01:00 AM
. . .
"IT WAS THE SPIRIT OF LIBERTY..." It was interesting how President Truman’s radio speech last night seemed to frame World War II as an ideological war between democracy and dictatorship. It’s something we heard plenty from the Roosevelt administration when the war was still a European conflict, but much less so after Soviet Russia became an ally. It sounds refreshing hearing it again. The best of the President’s words --

"This was a victory of more than arms alone. This is a victory of liberty over tyranny. . . . It was the spirit of liberty which gave us our armed strength and which made our men invincible in battle. We now know that that spirit of liberty, the freedom of the individual, and the personal dignity of man, are the strongest and toughest and most enduring forces in all the world. And so on V-J Day we take renewed faith and pride in our own way of life. We have had our day of rejoicing over this victory. We have had our day of prayer and devotion. Now let us set aside V-J Day as one of renewed consecration to the principles which have made us the strongest nation on earth and which, in this war, we have striven so mightily to preserve. . . . Liberty does not make all men perfect nor all society secure. But it has provided more solid progress and happiness and decency for more people than any other philosophy of government in history. And this day has shown again that it provides the greatest strength and the greatest power which man has ever reached. We know that under it we can meet the hard problems of peace which have come upon us. A free people with free allies, who can develop an atomic bomb, can use the same skill and determination to overcome all the difficulties ahead. . . . God’s help has brought us to this day of victory. With His help we will attain that peace and prosperity for ourselves and all the world in the years ahead."

posted by Michael 10:56:00 AM
. . .
A QUICK-DRAW DUCK. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Houston, duck-hungry Stanley J. Bonner was shot in the knee, by a duck which collided with his pistol hand."

posted by Michael 10:52:00 AM
. . .
Tuesday, August 28, 1945

THE YANKS ARE IN JAPAN. Only 132 of them right at the moment, but plenty more are coming. The radio flashes came about eight o’clock last night that the first vanguard of American troops had occupied Atsugi airfield, about 18 miles from the center of Tokyo, and began preparing the airfield for numerous U.S. landings to come. (The first U.S. flag to be raised in occupied Japan went up about midnight, Eastern War Time.) Meanwhile, more than 10,000 Marines are getting reading to land of Yokosuka, in infinitely more peaceful circumstances than we could have hoped a few weeks ago. Norman Paige of A.B.C. radio says the Marine landings will begin Wednesday night about 9 p.m., E.W.T. The latest bulletins say that Admiral Halsey is now poised to sail into Tokyo Bay, and General MacArthur will not be far behind.

They will find a grim environment. An A.P. reporter who flew over Tokyo in a Helldiver the other day wrote that the city was "a wilderness of ruined factories and homes . . . no section has escaped the ravages of the bombs." The Japanese say they have over nine million homeless as a result of the air war -- almost one-sixth of the population. And what’s left of the Japanese government can’t even manage to start cleaning up the debris -- another A.P. story says MacArthur will need to bring his own wrecking crew. It’ll be our mess from now on, and the General will face a tougher challenge in getting Japan back into liveable shape than anything he’s had to deal with on the battlefield.

posted by Michael 8:09:00 AM
. . .
"GOD BLESSED AMERICA." That’s the lead sentence by Washington Post reporter James E. Chinn in his story yesterday on what the Germans were up to when we brought the Hitler regime crashing down. And Mr. Chinn isn’t saying that lightly. He writes --

"The Germans, according to OWI, had reached the experimental stage with the devastating atomic bomb, devices to destroy the sight of the all seeing eyes of radar, and new war gases they hoped would prove more deadly than any chemical agent yet developed. And that’s not all. The now conquered 'master race' had: (1) Specifications and construction details for naval vessels of advanced design, including submarines with high underwater speeds and apparatus for sustained underwater operations. (2) Found new uses for many staples such as coal from which the Nazis were making synthetic butter, soap, gasoline, aviation lubricants and alcohol of both beverage and industrial types. (3) Designed a highly advanced jet engine, rocket-assisted take-offs and vastly-improved aerodynamics. (4) Perfected designs for various secret types of guns and gun sights, novel gear and transmission construction and air cooled diesel engines. (5) Plans for V-type weapons much more advanced than those which were hurled last year against the British Isles."

What could the Nazis have thrown at us if they’d had another year? Let’s be glad we’ll never know the answer to that question. What could a revived Nazi regime throw at us if the Big Three don’t work together to insure a successful occupation? We must not find out.

posted by Michael 8:04:00 AM
. . .
COALITION GOVERNMENT IN CHINA? It looks like a partnership between Chiang Kai-shek’s Chungking government and the Chinese Reds led by Mao Tse-tung could conceivably be shaping up, with U.S. help. America’s ambassador to China, Major Hurley, has brought Mao and other Communist leaders to Chungking for talks with Chiang to avert a Chinese civil war, which the Communists were threatening to launch just the other week. All one can say is thank heaven for the Russians in this instance, whose 30-year treaty of friendship with Chiang seems to have completely taking the air out of Chinese Communist blustering. The details of the treaty were announced this week, and it’s a good agreement -- China and Russia share responsibilities in northern China, and the Chinese get Soviet-controlled Manchuria returned to them within 90 days, ending so many years of Japanese occupation. Moscow has already made it clear it will not support demands by the Chinese Reds to rule the areas their armies occupy, and, according to the A.P., the Russians have endorsed the principle of a "liberal, democratic China."

This is not to say getting to such a happy place is going to be easy. As Sidney Shalett writes in the New York Times, the smart money says China is going to be problematic for a long time --

"Despite some signs of the easing of tension between the Chinese Communists and the Central Government this week, observers in Washington were far from being glowingly optimistic over the prospects for any easy settlement of the difference. Some of these observers, who have followed Chinese affairs for many years, also suggested that a similar state of uneasiness existed on the part of their opposite numbers in London and Moscow. It was feared by some that, despite any possible firm suggestions from the Big Three, the Chinese question eventually might require a typically Chinese solution -- i.e., the passing of a long period of time during which there will be slow progress and possibly considerable strife."

Mr. Shalett also notes that some observers maintain the Chinese Communists are "not Communists in the strict Soviet sense but actually are agrarian reformists," which could account for why Stalin doesn’t seem to feel much ideological affinity for them, and has instead buddied up to their arch-rival, Chiang.

posted by Michael 8:01:00 AM
. . .
JUST ANOTHER CHANGE IN CAREERS. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Baltimore, 49 charges of burglary, attempted burglary and in addition, carrying a deadly weapon were filed against Paul H. Maenhoudt, only four months off the police force."

posted by Michael 7:57:00 AM
. . .
Sunday, August 26, 1945

PEACETIME ODDS AND ENDS. Surrender envoys in Rangoon have signed a formal surrender agreement for all Japanese troops in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, an Allied fleet of 170 U.S. warships has moved into the outer range of Tokyo Bay, including the U.S.S. Missouri, on which Japan’s full surrender is to be signed one week from today. Meanwhile, President Truman and French President de Gaulle have reached a "fundamental agreement" on postwar cooperation between America and France. And no one knows yet whether the British or the Chinese will occupy Hongkong.

Best of all for those of us on the home front, the War Production Board has granted auto manufacturers the green light to produce civilian automobiles as fast as they can, meaning that a half a million shiny new cars will roll off assembly lines by Christmas. The WPB has also removed all restrictions on use of paper by civilian industry, meaning more magazines, books, greeting cards, toilet paper, drinking straws, you name it. And the OPA has authorized tire dealers to build up their stocks of new tires, which will help get any number of crippled autos back on the road.

It might be nearly September, but it sure feels like spring.

posted by Michael 8:33:00 AM
. . .
WESTERN LOBBYING ON EASTERN EUROPE GETS RESULTS. London and Washington have been speaking with one voice this past month, lobbying the Russians to open up the countries they occupy -- Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Yugoslavia -- to Western influence and democratic values. In other words, we want Stalin to do what he agreed at Yalta to do. According to C.L. Sulzberger in today’s New York Times, this tougher Anglo-American approach is starting to pay dividends --

"For a long time now the western Allies have feared that exuberant movements dominated by Communists in Eastern Europe have been trying to insure their power by autocratic methods which directly violate the agreed formula for a free and unfettered popular choice. . . . Apparently Potsdam was the first scene of discussions of this Allied discontent in what may be guessed was a coordinated form. Since then both Britain and America have clearly voiced their policies and desires for Eastern Europe, and it is evident that they are working in truly close harmony. The first gun was President Truman’s speech on Aug. 9. The second was Foreign Secretary Bevin’s speech on Aug. 20. The third was the press conference of Secretary Byrnes a few days ago. They are beginning to get results. The Bulgarian election, to which they objected, has been postponed. King Michael of Rumania -- one might suspect with prior knowledge of Anglo-American representatives -- has openly appealed for aid from the big powers in ousting the Groza Government, installed by Russian Vice Commissar Vyshinsky, and so getting a broader democratic base. . . . Finally, the Western Allies made plans to get on with Greece’s long awaited plebiscite despite Left wing opposition, almost certainly inspired by fear of defeat and Soviet refusal to participate."

As Mr. Sulzberger points out, the Anglo-American demands regarding Eastern Europe are anything but extravagant --

"Basically, the Western Powers want free expression in Eastern Europe and free access by their correspondents and diplomats to see what is going on and report it to the world. First steps to remove barriers against the press are reported this week from Poland and Bulgaria. One might further add that the Western Powers want come recompense for their huge investments in the area -- French and British mines in Yugoslavia, British, French, American and Dutch oil in Rumania -- from which they have been largely ousted. Finally, they want the old principle of freedom of the seas re-established which also includes the Dardanelles and the Danube. The Russians are not enthusiastic about any of this, but it is well to get your cards openly on the table."

All too true. It was the incoherence of U.S. and British policy in this regard a year ago that created a power vacuum -- that Stalin cheerfully stepped into and exploited all the way. If what Mr. Sulzberger writes is borne out, a tougher and consistent Anglo-American policy will pay off with grudging cooperation from Moscow in carrying out the promises the Reds made at Yalta. Grudging cooperation with the Russians looks to be about the best we can get in Eastern Europe, and it’s certainly better than no cooperation at all.

posted by Michael 8:27:00 AM
. . .
NO HARM DONE. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Providence, State Labor Director William L. Connally reached for an aspirin, swallowed a pill for his wife’s petunia plant instead, grew panicky, was calmed by an agricultural expert who informed him that he had merely taken the equivalent of 18 bushels of horse manure and had nothing to worry about."

posted by Michael 8:24:00 AM
. . .
Tuesday, August 21, 1945

MACARTHUR WILL BE IN JAPAN WITHIN 10 DAYS. The Manila conference is over, and the "Japanese emissaries of capitulation" have flown back to Tokyo. The upshot of the talks -- General MacArthur will "quickly" go to Japan, at the head of a powerful contingent of U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Forces, to dictate the formal articles of surrender to the Japanese government. The Japanese are telling us that they’re keeping troops under arms on the home islands "for the maintenance of order," but apparently the emissaries were cooperative enough. And according to the United Press, MacArthur has given Tokyo just a smidgeon of additional incentive to help with a smooth transition to military occupation -- "some" American planes accompanying MacArthur will be carrying atomic bombs, according to the U.P.

The Tokyo radio is still trying to cause trouble, warning yesterday that "hot-headed" military men might fight the U.S. occupation, and producing its own, unsolicited interpretation of the Potsdam declaration -- American troops are entitled to occupy only "militarily or politically important points." On the other hand, the Japanese in Manchuria are finally getting the message that the war is over, but only after the Reds got good and tired of Japanese stalling and delivered a surrender ultimatum, effective noon yesterday. The Russians now have effective control throughout Manchuria and on Sakhalin Island, and are proceeding to liberate Korea.

It’s not going as fast as some of us would like, but it’s going. The war is ending piece by piece. It’s the opposite of what happened in Germany. There, battlefield surrenders took place well ahead of the government’s surrender, meaning that V-E Day pretty much ended the war. In the Pacific, the battlefield surrenders are coming one by one in the wake of the government’s surrender, making it a messier, drawn-out process.

posted by Michael 8:19:00 AM
. . .
THE WAR IS OVER -- EXCEPT WHERE IT ISN’T (II). From an A.P. dispatch dated yesterday --

"The Japanese are continuing to fight like cornered animals along the 300-mile Burma front on the apparent pretext that they do not know the war is over."

But as the A.P. notes, "In some sectors they could not have missed seeing some of the millions of leaflets sent them by various means."

Find another excuse, guys. Or better yet, just shut up and give up.

posted by Michael 8:16:00 AM
. . .
RUSSO-CHINESE PACT WILL PREVENT A CHINESE CIVIL WAR. From the moment Japan’s surrender was announced, the Chinese Communist armies, from their headquarters in Yenan, have been making threatening noises about a civil war with the national government of Chiang-Kai-shek in Chungking, unless Chiang grants them something close to co-sovereignty. But it appears that Chiang, and his premier, T.V. Soong, have effectively checkmated the Communists by negotiating a treaty of alliance and friendship with Moscow. And, as Barnet Nover writes in today’s column, the Communist Chinese have well overplayed their hand --

"[The Communists] had hoped that because of Chungking’s weakness, the imperative need of internal unity during the long war with Japan and pressures from China’s allies, Chungking would cave in to their demands. But every time Chiang Kai-shek offered them an inch they insisted on a yard. When he agreed to give them a yard they insisted on a mile. . . . [but] Dr. Soong’s mission to Moscow has destroyed the hopes entertained in Yenan that the Soviet government would come to the aid of these Chinese Communists in their struggle with Chungking. The Soong-Molotoff treaty of alliance . . . suggests clearly that Moscow will do nothing of the sort. Being realists, the Russians understand that clearly that intervention by them on behalf of the Yenan regime would not only mean civil war in China but would tend to shatter that fabric of five-power unity upon which the hope of continued peace rests. It is to Russia’s interest at this time, at least, to strengthen rather than weaken the Chungking government. . . . The Russo-Chinese treaty was a body blow to Yenan. It is also a harbinger of peace in the Far East."

posted by Michael 8:13:00 AM
. . .
CRIME PAYS, BUT NOT WELL. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Boston, Michale Kostecki lost his piano to ambitious burglars who lowered it three flights, moved it to a secondhand store, sold it for $10."

posted by Michael 8:11:00 AM
. . .
Sunday, August 19, 1945

"THERE IS NOT A DAY TO BE LOST." Winston Churchill, now the leader of the Conservative opposition in Britain, spoke to the House of Commons on V-J Day and laid it on the line about the atomic bomb -- "The bomb brought peace." Its sole possession by the United States, he rightly notes, gives America unprecedented power over world affairs for some time to come, and offers our nation a unique and solemn opportunity --

"The United States at this minute stand at the summit of the world. I rejoice that this is so. Let them set up to the jewel of their power and responsibility, not for themselves but for all men in all lands, and then a brighter day may dawn on human history. So far as we know, there are perhaps three to four years before the great progress of the United States can be overtaken. In these three years, we must remold the relationships of all men of all nations in such a way that these men do not wish, or dare, to fall upon each other for the sake of vulgar, outdated ambition or for passionate differences in ideologies and that international bodies by supreme authority may give peace on earth and justice among men. Our pilgrimage has brought us to a sublime moment in this history of the world. From the least to the greatest, all must strive to be worthy of these supreme opportunities. There is not an hour to be wasted; there is not a day to be lost."

Yes, the bomb is a terrible weapon, but it is not "evil," as scores of clergymen claimed from their pulpits a week ago . . . unless it is used by evil men for evil purposes.

posted by Michael 8:08:00 AM
. . .
THE WAR IS OVER -- EXCEPT WHERE IT ISN’T. More than a day after Japan’s surrender, Japanese kamikaze planes attacked U.S. troops in the Ryukyus, wounding two of our men. Admiral Halsey’s Third Fleet has been fired on by a number of Japanese planes since the Admiral gave his "cease fire" order, and so far 16 have been brought down. To top it off, Soviet troops are still battling with Japanese troops in Manchuria, "meeting as before with Japanese resistance," according to a Red communique. Not that this has slowed the Russians down any -- their latest drive has brought them within 125 miles of the ancient Chinese capital of Peiping. Moscow estimates that 45,000 Japanese troops have surrendered this week-end in Manchuria, but thousands more fight on. Remember that the Japanese had an estimated million men facing the Soviets two weeks ago.

It’s almost infuriating how lackadaisical the Japanese have been in sending out cease-fire orders to their troops -- when they haven’t been actively encouraging them to fight on. General MacArthur has agreed to postpone the Manila surrender conference, in what the A.P. calls a "surprisingly lenient" move, and it doesn’t look like the formal signing ceremonies are going to take place this week, as originally thought. The Japanese, says the A.P., estimate it could take 12 days or so to put the cease-fire in effect throughout the far-flung Pacific battlefronts.

That might be understandable on its own. But it doesn’t explain Tokyo radio putting out a statement like this one for Japanese troops in the Orient, quoting the resigning cabinet --

"We, the cabinet, here repress our tears of grief and dare to request our comrades to seek this revenge."

Another broadcaster on Tokyo radio told the Japanese people last week --

"In spiritual power we have not lost yet. We do not think the way we have thought has been wrong."

Yes, it is wrong, you dope. Get it through your heads, guys. You’ve lost the war. You’ve L*O*S*T. It’ll be easier on all of us as soon as you start to get that through your heads.

posted by Michael 8:04:00 AM
. . .
THE UNIQUE CHALLENGE OF REFORMING JAPAN. Sidney Shallet points out in today’s New York Times that we will be continuing a war of sorts when we occupy Japan -- a psychological war. And we must score a victory in that respect as well if we are to keep the Japanese from making trouble in the future --

"There are great differences between the jobs in Germany and Japan. In the shattered ruins of the Reich, we took over from a thoroughly beaten Army; in the land of the Rising Sun, we will take over from an Army that we never met in force. Although the Japanese Army laid down its arms because its leaders knew their cause was thoroughly hopeless, there is a great psychological difference. Experts here are firmly convinced we shall have to impress upon the Japanese that they were beaten, else there will be the makings for a renaissance of military spirit such as activated Germany in the years between her two defeats. [But] authorities on Japan are not too discouraged on the prospects of ultimate cooperation with the Japanese people. Though they feel there is ground for treachery in the beginning unless we stamp out militaristic and subversive influences, they also feel that the proper sort of educational and administrative program, carried out over a reasonably lengthy period, will produce results. Japan will never become an American-style democracy, but her trouble-making proclivities at least can be curbed."

posted by Michael 8:01:00 AM
. . .
PUPS (OR SOMETHING) FOR SALE. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In the Seattle Times appeared a candid ad: 'Our pet terrier slipped her chain and so we’re peddling pups again. Cockers? Bulldogs? German shepherds? For all we know they may be leopards.'"

posted by Michael 7:56:00 AM
. . .
Wednesday, August 15, 1945

SOME ODDS AND ENDS. (1) General MacArthur has been announced by President Truman as Supreme Allied Commander. The General will be in charge of the occupation of Japan, and "Emperor" Hirohito will henceforth take orders from him. (2) Peacetime Japan will lose about 80 per cent of her territory. (3) About 1,000 Superforts took place in the last firebombing of Japan, the day before Tokyo’s surrender was received. (4) Today and tomorrow have been designated as federal public holidays, and in most states and cities as well. Most of the big-city stores and banks will be closed, so I’m hearing. (5) Post office service today and tomorrow will be about like holiday service. (6) I’m taking a day off.

posted by Michael 8:02:00 AM
. . .
A WHALE OF A PARTY. Alexander Feinberg recounts last night’s scene in Manhattan in this morning’s New York Times --

"Five days of waiting, or rumor, intimation, fact, distortion -- five agonizing days following the first indication of a Japanese surrender, days of alternately raising hopes and fears -- came to an end for New York, as for the nation and the world, a moment or two after seven o’clock last night. And the metropolis exploded its emotions, harnessed for the most part during the day, with atomic force. . . . Restraint was thrown to the winds. Those in the crowds in the streets tossed hats, boxes and flags into the air. From those leaning perilously out of the windows of office buildings and hotels came a shower of paper, confetti, streamers. Men and women embraced -- there were no strangers in New York yesterday. Some were hilarious, others cried softly."

According to the Herald Tribune, the Times Square crowd swelled from half a million to over two million in the two hours following the announcement -- an all time record.

posted by Michael 7:57:00 AM
. . .
THAT FRIENDLY SPIRIT. According to today’s New York Herald Tribune, the war’s end prompted this message from Admiral Halsey, commander of Third Fleet, to his men -- "Cease firing, but if you see enemy planes in the air, shoot them down in friendly fashion."

posted by Michael 7:54:00 AM
. . .
Tuesday, August 14, 1945

YES, VICTORY!! IT’S ALL OVER! AND IT’S OFFICIAL! President Truman made the announcement at 7 p.m., as follows --

"I have received this afternoon a message from the Japanese government in reply to the message forwarded to that government on Aug. 11. I deem this reply a full acceptance of the Potsdam declaration, which specifies the unconditional surrender of Japan. In the reply there is no qualification."

The war has ended. We've won. Thank God.

posted by Michael 7:27:00 PM
. . .
BEFORE THE CELEBRATIONS...ONE SOMBER THOUGHT. The war is over. But at such a terrific cost, one that would have been scarcely fathomable in 1939 -- a cost that has touched with grief so many, many homes in America and among our allies, and which surely tempers in those homes the celebrations just now getting started. Let us celebrate -- heck, let us go hog-wild with joy that the killing and dying is over. But also, let’s take a moment to remember and clasp hands with those whose loved ones will never return to march in the victory parades. Let’s vow to never forget the millions -- God help us, tens of millions -- of innocents whose lives were taken, and let’s resolve to restore the blessings of a stable and prosperous life to their survivors. And let’s reflect on the desperate need in the years ahead to make sure that history’s worst war is also history’s last war.

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
. . . .
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

-- Walt Whitman

posted by Michael 7:25:00 PM
. . .
VICTORY! (BUT NOT OFFICIALLY...YET). After a long and fruitless day of waiting Monday, the news everybody hoped to hear finally broke after most folks had given up and gone to bed -- at 1:49 a.m. this morning, Eastern War Time. According to the New York Herald Tribune’s morning extra, the Japanese themselves have announced acceptance of the Potsdam terms through a brief English language statement language wireless from their news agency, Domei. The statement from Domei, as broadcast on Tokyo radio, was as follows --

"Flash -- Tokyo -- 14/8 learned Imperial message accepting Potsdam proclamation forthcoming soon."

And that’s it. The message was repeated a few minutes later.

So it’s not exactly an announcement that Japan has surrendered, it’s an announcement that Japan is about to surrender. But it sounds like the real deal. As the New York Times morning extra says,

"Although the dispatch did not flatly say that Japan had surrendered and that the action was final, the fact that Domei put out such a statement indicated that that was in fact the case. Domei is controlled by the Japanese government."

So, we’re still waiting for the official announcement from President Truman. But the waiting is joyous now.

The Washington Post says that the President could make a surrender announcement to the press anytime after 9 a.m. Stay close to that radio.

posted by Michael 8:16:00 AM
. . .
Monday, August 13, 1945

A LITTLE TOO QUIET. As of 7:30 p.m. Eastern War Time, it’s been close to 60 hours since the Allies laid down the terms of surrender to Japan. It’s been 40 hours since the Japanese confirmed to Swiss authorities their receipt of the Allied note. And still no word of the enemy's reply.

If Tokyo’s stalling continues into tomorrow, it seems reasonable that we would see an ultimatum from the Allies, with a firm time limit. And failing a satisfactory Japanese response to that, a return to all-out war.

And more atomic bombings.

The International News Service reported today that, incredibly, a Japanese propaganda broadcast to North America has belittled the effects of the atom bombs, saying the damage to Hiroshima and Nagasaki was "much lighter" than the devastation caused by the B-29 raids on Tokyo last March. Meanwhile, the Japanese commander in Singapore has vowed his troops will "fight a sacred war to the bitter end." Let’s hope these are just stray comments by fanatics, and not an indication that the Tokyo government has decided to try and continue the war, Russian invasion and atomic bombings be damned.

[UPDATE at 11:52 p.m.] Maybe there won’t even be an ultimatum. The late radio news broadcast says that over 400 Superforts have resumed their firebomb assault, hitting southern Honshu in three major attacks. The B-29s had been sitting still since Friday -- waiting, like everybody else. But they are waiting no longer.

posted by Michael 7:41:00 PM
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STILL NO RESPONSE FROM TOKYO. It’s been about thirty-seven hours since the Allies told Japan that she could surrender and still keep her Emperor -- as long as he followed Allied orders.

Still no word. The Japanese press and radio haven’t given any hint of surrender. In Washington, thousands of Americans are holding a vigil across the street from the White House, waiting for news. No doubt other cities are full of civilians and military men who keep waiting, hoping to hear the great good news.

All we know for sure right now is this --

1) The White House says a cease fire has not been issued. We’re still at war.

2) If the Japanese accept the surrender terms, President Truman will give the news to reporters in his office. He will not announce the surrender personally over the radio.

3) According to the A.P., "the President [will] not proclaim V-J Day until the Japanese actually sign the surrender document, which might be 3 or 4 days after the first announcement. It is expected that this ceremony will take place aboard a United States battleship in Tokyo harbor."

If that last point really is true, I think we can count on lots of "premature" V-J Day celebrations among the thousands gathered in front of the White House, and in every great city and small town, people who have worked and prayed for the great day to come and are right now doing nothing much, except...waiting.

posted by Michael 8:52:00 AM
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Sunday, August 12, 1945

THE U.P. BULLETIN IS A FAKE. The United Press "Japan surrenders" news flash which was broadcast on the radio about a half-hour ago is a fake. If you’re hearing church bells and cheering crowds where you live, they’re reacting to the U.P. bulletin. And it’s wrong. All the networks now say there is no word yet of Japan’s reply to the Big Four surrender terms.

Weirdly, the U.P. says their Washington bureau did not send the flash, and they have no idea who did.

posted by Michael 9:59:00 PM
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"THIS MAY BE VICTORY DAY." So says one newspaper headline. It isn’t yet, though the prospects look much, much brighter than they did Saturday morning. To wit -- Russia and China have agreed to accept Japan’s surrender with Hirohito remaining as Emperor, as long as he agrees to take orders from the Allied supreme commander (which will probably be General MacArthur). Thus the Big Four have given a united answer to Tokyo’s offer, and now the ball is back in the Emperor’s court. As Edward T. Folliard writes in this morning’s Washington Post --

"The word from Japan that will silence the guns and start fighting men on their way home was expected today or tomorrow. . . . Nobody in authority here expected anything but acceptance from Japan, barring some kind of upheaval in the government at Tokyo. There seemed to be no alternative to acceptance, however much it may gall the Japanese to have their God-Emperor taking orders from an enemy mortal."

We’re told it will "officially" be V-J Day when President Truman announces that the Japanese have accepted the Big Four terms. Since that could come at any time, today would be a good day to stay close to your radio.

posted by Michael 8:02:00 AM
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