Fascinating Kodachrome Footage of “Victory over Japan Day” in Honolulu, 1945

When Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signed Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945 in Berlin (footage here), the Second World War may have been over for Europe, but the war on the Pacific front waged on as Japan refused to surrender. Only after the fateful decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and after the Soviets invaded Japanese-held Manchuria, did Emperor Hirohito accept the hopelessness of the situation and agree to surrender on August 15. When the official radio announcement (recording here) was broadcast – due to time zone differences on August 14 in the U.S. – the news spread like wildfire and the day became known as “Victory over Japan Day”, or simply as “VJ Day.” Spontaneous celebrations erupted all over the United States, but especially on Hawaii, where the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 leading the US to officially enter World War II.

One of these spontaneous celebrations in Honolulu was captured on Kodachrome 16mm film and has been digitally restored. One commenter on Vimeo has identified all of the exact locations here.

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.


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  1. Sid says . . . | April 11, 2013 / 7:47 am

    I always find it ironic how back then the population of the island was around 75% Asian, almost 50% of that Japanese Americans, and yet when I see footage like this I can’t ever seem to spot a Japanese American, let alone any Asian. I also find it ironic how the Japanese attack caused so much suffering to overseas Japanese when they immigrated away from Japan precisely to get away from that sort of crap. (Explanation: Hawaiian Japanese Americans Are mostly Okinawan so that means they wouldn’t even be considered Japanese in mainland Japan, they finally make a new living in Hawaii and then get discriminated as possible Japanese agents, when the whole reason why they immigrated was because their island was taken over by Japan and yet wouldn’t be accepted as Japanese.) My heart reaches out to you guys for having suffering and few ever bother remembering their circumstances.

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