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World War II

Virtual Programming

Featured records and programs from the National Archives

In the coming months, the National Archives and National Archives Foundation will host virtual programming centered around World War II. Stay tuned for upcoming dates and details, including special guests, how to register and more.


Past Featured Records

Letter from Luis Alvarez to His Son
August 6, 1945

The Featured Document display is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation, through the generous support of

Featured Records

Imperial Japanese Rescript

Due to the importance of the Imperial role in Japan, Emperor Hirohito issued this imperial rescript to facilitate the surrender of Japanese forces in all parts of the Pacific and mainland Asia on September 2, 1945. The Emperor’s proclamation called upon the Japanese people to comply with the terms of surrender. To ensure military and civilian compliance with the surrender, it was countersigned by the Japanese Prime Minister and the entire Japanese cabinet to emphasize their submission to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers.

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Instrument of Surrender

On September 2, 1945, Japanese representatives signed this official Instrument of Surrender, which set out the complete capitulation of Japan. Signing for Japan was Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu, 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. Eight representatives from other Allied nations also signed, including the Republic of China, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union.


Act of Military Surrender
May 8, 1945

May 8, 1945

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To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the National Archives and National Archives Foundation hosts online featured documents from the war and virtual programming to honor the occasion. The online exhibit and programming is made possible through the generous support of the Ford Motor Company Fund.

V-E Day: End of WWII in Europe

World War II, the deadliest military conflict in history, erupted in Europe on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. For nearly six years it raged in the European Theater resulting in millions of military and civilian deaths and destroying cities, homes, and families. Finally, in the spring of 1945, Allied forces exhausted the will and fighting capacity of the German war machine. Slowly, but completely, the Nazi-led Third Reich collapsed in a series of piecemeal surrenders culminating on V-E (Victory in Europe) Day on May 8, 1945.

Celebrations of Nazi Germany’s defeat in the West were tempered, however, by the ongoing war with Japan in the East. Allied victory over Japan followed just four months after V-E Day, bringing World War II to an end.

Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Luis Alvarez was a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic weapons dropped over Japan. He served as a scientific observer on the Hiroshima mission and drafted this letter to his son describing the bombing during the return flight. In this typed copy of the letter, Alvarez wrote: “What regrets I have about being a party to killing and maiming thousands of Japanese civilians this morning are tempered with the hope that this terrible weapon we have created may bring the countries of the world together to prevent further wars.”

After Pearl Harbor, our civilian economy quickly pivoted to become the great arsenal of democracy. History proves this worked as a mechanism to defeat our enemies in WWII. What is the landscape for today? Our featured guest, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, participated in a special panel discussion.

Program and the Featured Document Presentation commemorating the end of World War II are made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation, through the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund.

Arsenal of Democracy
October 22 at 5:00 p.m. (ET)