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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  • Sid says:

    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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