Behind The Scenes

Japan Surrenders! The Documents of V-J Day

On September 2, 1945, the Japanese formally surrendered to the Allies, in a “twenty-minute ceremony which ended just as the sun burst through low-hanging clouds as a shining symbol to a ravaged world now done with war,” according to the New York Times.  “It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past,” said Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who accepted the surrender on behalf of the United Nations. At this moment, World War II was over.

That November, both the original Japanese and German surrender documents went on view at Grand Central Terminal, in their own train on Track 30! The exhibition was a hit; the Times wrote “Filing in line through the Victory Loan train at the rate of more than 1,000 an hour from 8 A.M. to 9 P.M., nearly 15,000 persons, a large proportion of them service men, viewed the original Japanese and German surrender documents yesterday in the Grand Central Terminal.”

The United States and Japan each retained one of two original copies of the document, but the State Department directed Douglas MacArthur to print facsimile versions for the nine signatories from the U.S., China, the United Kingdom, the U.S.S.R., Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. MacArthur then requested eleven more copies for members of his staff, including his chief engineer, Brooklyn-born Major General Hugh J. Casey. Casey’s copy will be on view at the New-York Historical Society, from September 21 through October 21.

 

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