** war and social upheaval: World War II -- Axis surrenders

Axis surrender
Figure 1.--Japan was the last of the three Axis partners to surrender. Incredibly even after the country's wood and paper cities were reduced to cinders, the military still wanted to continue the War. Utltimarely only the American atmoic bombs and the stunning Soviet invasion of Japanese held Manchuko convinced Emperor Hirohito that the time had come tom surreber. Much of the country's militay still wanted to continue the War. This photograph appeared on the front page of the Muskegon Chronicle in Michigan, the day after the Emperor announced the Japanese surrender (August 15). The photo shows a boy reading the previous day's newspaper and holding his homemade military rifle and wearing a World War I Doughboy helmet.

War and Social Upheaval: World War II Axis Surrenders

As a result of President Roosevelt's World War I experiences and the failure of the Versailles Peace Treaty, the Presidenr demanded the Axis' Unconditional Surrender in World War II. When he announced the policy at the Casablanca Coibference, he said "We are figting this war, because we did not have an unconditional surrender at the end to the last one." (January 1943) He added a year later, "... practically all Germans deny the fact that they surrendered during the last war, but this time they are going to know it, and so are the Japs." (July 1944)

-- Franklin Roosevelt

The War ended dufferently in the three main Axis countries (Italy, Germany, and Japan). The first Axis country to surrender was Benito Mussolini's Fascist Italy. After the fall of Sicily. the Fascist Grand Council arrested Mussolini (July). The country's leadership began to plan a exit from the War. This was complicated by the fact that Hitler would intervene to prevent this. And Germany despite reverses in the Easdt still had the capability to do this. Italian leaders pledged that they wold continue the War while at the same time they began secreat negotiations with the Allies. The Italian surrender when in finally came was conducted more like a country joining the Allies than surrndering. This was in part because Germany immediately moved to seize control of Italy. There were no ambiguities about the surrender of Germany and Japan. Hitler could have saved Germany from devestation. Most of the danage to the Reich occurred after D-Day. He of course was not about to do that. He knew that surrender meant not only the end of NAZI Germany, but his own trial as a war criminal. Thus Germany fought to the end until Allied armies met in Germany and the Soviets felt an apopcalyic battle in Berlin. After Hitler committed suiside, Admiral Dönitz, the second Führer ordered Keitel and Jodl to surender (May 1945). Japan had joined the Axis so that the more powerful Germans could prevent America from fousing on them. After the German surrender, this was precisely what occurred. The Japanese strategy was to make it so costly in blood and material for the United States pursue the War to a Japanese unconditional surrender. Okinawa so horrified the Americans that to avoid a bloody invasion became a virtual necesity. Thed Japanese were still undecided, but the combined impact of two atomic bombs and the Soviet declaration of war finaly convinced Empero Hirhito to surrender (August 1945).

Unconditional Surrender

It was President Roosevelt who insisted on Unconditional Surrnder. He unexpectedly made the announcement at Casablanca (January 1943). Prime-Minister Churchill was surprised and even though he had reservations, acceeded to the Presiden't wishes. Marshall Stalin had some difficulty with the concept, thinking it might cuse the Germns to fight harder. President Rooevelt felt it had been a serious mistake not to occupy Germany after World War I and was determined not to make that mistake again. Critics charge that the insistence on unconditional surrender prolonged the War. Goebbels propaganda certainly made use of the unconditional demand in his propaganda, but it is unclear that it really prolonged the War. Hitler was not about to surrender, what ever the conditions offered. And the Allies were not prepared to treat with him. And in any case, it is the Soviets pressing upon the Reich from the east that the German people most fered. In fact the Wehrmmacht's principal effort in the last weeks of the war was to get as many men as far west as possible so they would not fall into Soviet hands. After Hitler committed suiside in Berlin (April 30, 1945), his successor Admiral Dönitz, a faithful NAZI, had but one task, arranging for Germany's surrender. Keitel and Jodhl surrendered to the Allies (May 7, 1945). Some important decessions had been made at Tehran and Yalta by the Allies, including the occupation zomes. None of the allies, however, had made firm decessions about the furure of German at the time of the NAZI surrender.

Axis Surrenders

Italy was the first Axis country to surrender, but t wa more kike liberation. Utaly's hgeart was never in the War and by the time the Allies invaded the Gernans had occupoied Italy arnd were coimmitting the same atricities that they committed where ever the Germnan soldier set foot. Geramny and Japan were very different. The populkation was not all that orimed foir war, but ince the Goovernent laubched the War, suoooted it full hearedky. Hitler cintunued the War untilk Soviet troops approached his Berlin bunker, although by that time resistance in the West was collapsing. German troops ere still resisting the Red Army in the East. Japan was different., Japan had not yet been invaded and there were still sizeable armies in the field. Emperor Hirihito, fearing a third atomic bomb and hoping that he might survive the War dediced to surrender.In contrast to the German surrebder, much of Japan was shocked.

Italian Armistice (September 1944)

The Badoglio Government after assuring the NAZIs that they would continue the War, but secretly surrendered to the Allies at Fairfield Camp on Sicily (September 3). It is commonly called an Armistics, in part because the Italians continued the War, but on the Allied side. The United States was preparind to land the 82nd Airborn in Rome to protect the Italian Government from the Germans. Both King Victor Emanuel III and Marsal Pietro Bodaligo were for good reason affraid of the German reaction when the Italian surrender was announced. The 82nd Airborn commander, General Maxwell Taylor secretly entered Rome at night to meet with Badoglio (September 7). The Italian government kept him waiting while he managed to avoid capture by the Gestapo. Taylor helped the new Italian Government conclude the armistice/surrender. Taylor's Division was on the runway ready to go for the drop on Rome. Badoglio understanding the situation demanded a larger force. Taylor ordered the drop canceled and unformed Eisenhower. Eisenhower then communicated to Bodaloigo that if he did not announce the surrender that the Allies would. Eisenhower speaking from Algeirs announced the surrender at 6:00 pm (September 8). He told the Italians, "All Italians who now help eject the German aggressor from Italian soilwill have the assistance and support of the United Nations." Marshal Badoglio did not go on the radio until 8:30 pm. [Katz] He confirmed what he called an armistice and hinted in veiled terms that Italians should trun against the Germans. It was in fact an unconditional surrender. Badoglio called it an armistace. Badoglio and the King fled to Bari in the far south of Italy and formed a government there. The Germans occupied Rome (October 10). Taylor stayed with Badoglio and the King who formed a government in Bari. The new Government declared war on Germany (October 13).

NAZI Surrender (May 1945)

The Wehrmacht by April 1945 was shatered and no longer able to offer effective resistance to the Allies. The Western Allies raced through Germany from the west during April 1945 as the Soviet Red Army surrounded Berlin. American and Soviet forces made the long anticipated link-up at the Elbe River on April 25. The Red Army fought a massive engagement to take Berlin. Hitler insisted that the SS and Wehrmacht forces in the city, reinforced by the Volkstrum (Hitler Youth boys and older men) fight so that he might live a few more days. As Red Army soldiers approached his bunker, Hitler shot himself and named Admiral Karl Doenietz as the new F�hrer. The last raid of the strategic vombing campaign took place on April 25 when the Skoda armament plant at Pilsen, Czechoslovakia were bombed. The American Air Corps began shifting to mercy missions. Flights were dispatched to feed civilians in northern Italy and the Netherlands who were near starvation. Priority was also given to evacuting prisonors of war (POWs). Doenitz ordered General Alfred Jodl to General Eisenhower' Headquarters--Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) detachment in Rheims to seek terms to end the fighting. Jodl signed the unconditional surrender of German forces on all fronts At 2:41 a.m. on May 7, which was to take effect on May 8 at 11:01 p.m. Thus NAZI Germany surrendered unconditionally, as President Roosevelt had insisted. Celebrations ensued throught Europe--except Germany. Here the major effirt was to move west to surrender to the Western Allies.

Japanese Surrender (August 1945)

Most Americans believe that the Japanese surrendered because of the American development and use of the atmonic bomb. The bomb was certainly a factor, but not the only factor. The decesion to surender is far more complex and impossible to know with any surity. The American Pacific Island invasions, naval power, and in particular the Soviet declareation of war and starteling sucess of the their invasion of Manchuria all played major roles. The Allies at in the Potsdam Declaration demanded that Japan surrender (July 27, 1945). The Japanese military despite the fact that the Allied bombing had destroyed major cities, were determined to resist, hoping that the cost of invading Japan would deter the Allies. The United States dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (August 6 and 9). The Soviet Union declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria (August 8). There is reason to believe that the Soviet declaration of war and rapid seizure of Manchuria was more important in forcing Japan to surrender than the atomic bombs. Emperor Hirohito finally decided to surrender unconditionally (August 14). The success of the Soviet Army convinced even Imperial Army officers and the Ministry of war that defeat was inevitable. Emperor Hirohito on August 14 decided to surrender unconditionally. Even after the atomic bombs and the debacle in Manchuria, there were hardliners that were opposed to surrender. A group calling themselves the Young Tigers seized the Imperial Palace grounds and tried to prevent the Emperor's surrender broadcast. The attempted coup almost succeded. On what has become called "Japan's Longest Day" the attempted coup, bombing raid blackout, intrigues, killings, and sepukus determined fate of millions of Japanese people. It iwas a complicated series of events involving both great heroism and treason by officers convinced that they were behaving honorably. The Commander of the Eastern Army, however, remained loyal to the Emperor, dooming the coup. [PWRS] The formal surrender was held underneath the big guns of the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Not knowing just what the Japanese were planning, the American carriers were standing on station at sea just off Japan.

Other Axis Countries and Co-beigerants (1944-45)

Italy, Germany, and Japan were the major Axis nations. There were, however, other Axis countries in both Europe and Asia. Some were puppet states. Other were countries forced into the Axis for a variety of reasons, primarily to avoid a German or Japanese invasion. On country, Finland, did not join the Axis, but was co-beligerent against the Soviet Union. The Finns would have been neutral in the War, but wanted to refian territory seized by Stalin in the 1939-40 Winter War. In several casses, the pupet countries simply disappeared ad there were no formal surrenders. Some countries like Spain were sympethetic to the Axis, but wisely did not enter the War. The Allies gave some thought to entering Spain to renove Frano, but in the end decided not to do so.


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Created: 7:13 AM 6/28/2010
Last updated: 10:08 PM 8/21/2021