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The End of the War
VE and VJ days
On 8 May 1945 General Jodl signed Germany's surrender, and Winston Churchill declared the war in Europe had ended. Many people throughout Europe had street parties, bonfires and held dances and other festivities to celebrate the ending of hostilities. However, not everyone felt like celebrating and many people continued to feel much grief and sorrow at the loss of loved ones during the fighting.
‘She'd lost her only son and all she had left was Rose, the adopted daughter, who I loved dearly and who loved me dearly. VE day, ah didnae know what was goin' to happen. She closed the curtains, she locked the door and that was it. We sat in silence. Ah canny even remember if she made food. We just sat the whole day and now I understand it ‘cos I've got sons of my own but then I thought ‘What's goin' tae happen to us?' Poor woman eh?’
‘About the Holocaust I wis sitting in a matinee performance for children in the Alhambra
Cinema and the news came on and it showed you them from Belsen and that was a heck
of a shock. I can see these images today, I mean to show that at a cinema full of
Things were very difficult in post-war Europe as the world tried to come to terms with what had happened. In Britain, although many wartime restrictions were lifted and those who had joined the forces were demobbed, the economy of the country took many years to recover. The new Labour Government introduced new social and health care systems but things were still hard. Some rationing, particularly of sugar and sweets, continued until 1953 which probably helped our dental health.
Although fighting in Europe had stopped in May, the war was not completely over and hostilities with Japan continued for several months. The United States had been developing the Atomic bomb and decided to use it against Japan. The first A-bomb (‘Little Boy') was dropped on Hiroshima on 6th August 1945. The effects were devastating: 60% of the city was destroyed, 70,000 inhabitants died instantaneously. The second (‘Fat Man') was dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August where 20,000 people died immediately. Thousands more would die later of radiation effects from the bombs.
‘That day, VJ Day, they made a huge big bonfire to celebrate. They got all the trees oot the woods. Ah can remember that. Ah didnae know, I didn't know what the repercussions were, that we wer'nae, if I remember, I do, I'm telling a lie here. I remember the A bomb, the Atom bomb, being dropped on Hiroshima and the Americans threatened to drop another one unless they signed a peace treaty. I think they dropped one on Nagasaki as well. Aye and that's how the war ended.’
The Allies celebrated VJ Day on 15th August and Japan officially surrendered to the USA on 2nd September 1945. The Second World War was over and now the world had to start rebuilding its towns and cities, economies and, most importantly, its families and communities.