1945 – The Bomb is dropped on Hiroshima

The Enola Gay left its base on Tinian with two companion aircraft on the morning of AUhust 6, 1945. It flew for the Japanese mainland, aiming for the city of Hiroshima. Its payload was the nuclear bomb codenamed ‘Little Boy’, which was dropped and detonated over the target at approximately 8:15 local time.

Of the 340-350 thousand people who lived in Hiroshima, about 20% were killed in the blast itself. Another 20% died of injuries sustained in the blast or its aftermath, or from radiation sickness. Still more died later of related medical issues such as a cancer. All in all, about 200,000 human lives were ended by the first use of a nuclear bomb as a weapon of war. Hiroshima itself was devastated – the few structures that survived the inital blast were damaged or destroyed in the resulting fires.

Along with the detonation of another nuclear bomb, ‘Fat Man’, over Nagasaki three days later, and similar destruction and death there, the attack on Hiroshima was the proximate cause of Japan’s surrender to the Allies, thus ending World War Two.

Referenced in:

Mrs. O — The Dresden Dolls
Short Memory — Midnight Oil
Enola Gay — Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

1945 – Adolf Hitler marries Eva Braun

Eva Braun first met Adolf Hitler in 1929, when she was only 17 years old. At the time, she was employed by Hitler’s personal photographer in Munich. Two years later, they began dating, and in 1936, she moved in to his house at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden.

The two were rarely seen publically – not until 1944 did she appear with him at a public event, and of course, the two were eventually married. The marriage ceremony – and the forty hours of wedlock that followed it – all took place in the Berlin bunker to which Hitler had retreated as the war drew to a close. Two days after the wedding, the pair committed suicide together, and a week later, Germany surrendered to the Allies.

Referenced in:

Defecate On My Face — This Is Serious Mum
To Be Or Not To Be (The Hitler Rap) — Mel Brooks

1945 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies in office

Consistently one of the highest ranked Presidents in United States history, far and away the longest serving President, and despite the long years since his death, one of the most controversial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was only 63 years old when he died. It was his thirteenth consecutive year as President, and the last year of World War Two.

Roosevelt had long suffered from polio and his health had become increasingly fragile in the last years of his life, with the stress of leading his nation through World War Two taking its toll on him. In the last months of his life, he was diagnosed as suffering from hardening of the arteries, and his death was the the result of a cerebral hemorrage. His death shocked and dismayed America and her allies, as the details of Roosevelt’s health had been a closely held secret. The nation mourned his lost, and on V-E Day, less than a month later, President Harry S. Truman, who had succeeded Roosevelt, dedicated the victory to the fallen man.

Referenced in:

They Don’t Care About Us — Michael Jackson

1945 – The Bombing of Dresden ends

One of the more pointless and vindictive acts on the part of the Allies, the bombing of the German city of Dresden from February 13 to 15 in 1945 was a massive operation consisting of four separate air raids. A total of 3600 planes took place in the raids, which dropped more than 3900 tonnes of incendiaries and high explosives on the city.

The resulting firestorm covered 15 square miles and killed thousands of people – the lowest estimate is 22,000, and the high end runs up to 250,000 – all for a target of little military value. Although Dresden did house industrial facilities, as well as communications and railway infrastructure, none of these were targetted in the raids. Instead, residential and historical landmark areas were bombed.

For these reasons and others – not least the spotlight shone on this event by author Kurt Vonnegut in his book Slaugterhouse Five – the incident remains a controversial one.

Referenced in:

Dresden — Cold Chisel
The Hero’s Return — Pink Floyd

1945 – Iva Toguri D’Aquino is arrested under suspicion of being “Tokyo Rose”

During the Second World War, Japanese propagandist and DJ Tokyo Rose broadcasted to American and Allied soldiers from somewhere behind enemy lines. Her broadcasts were intended to disrupt morale, although it is questionable how much of a real effect thay had. Still, it was rumoured that she named individual GIs, and that she accurately predicted attacks.

In fact, “Tokyo Rose” seems to have been was not one woman but a group of women, possibly as many as a dozen. The identity or identities of Tokyo Rose hasve never been conclusively established, but the best known suspect is Iva Toguri D’Aquino, who was charged with various crimes related to Tokyo Rose on September 5, 1945 (two days after the official Japanese surrender).

She was tried for treason and other crimes, convicted despite somewhat dubious evidence against her, and sentenced to ten years imprisonment, plus a fine of US $10,000. She was later paroled after serving a little over six years of her sentence. In 1976, an FBI investigation found that several witnesses had lied on the stand to damage her chances. On his last day in office, President Gerald Ford granted Toguri a full and unconditional pardon, and restored her US citizenship.

Referenced in:
Tokyo Rose – Idle Eyes
Tokyo Rose – Van Dyke Parks