TIME World War II

Swiss Museum to Accept German Collector’s ‘Nazi Art’ Trove

File picture showing the facade of the Kunsmuseum Bern art museum in Bern
The facade of the Kunsmuseum Bern art museum is seen in the Swiss capital of Bern, on May 7, 2014. Arnd Wiegmann—Reuters

The museum will work with German officials to return pieces looted by the Nazis from Jewish owners

BERLIN — A Swiss museum agreed on Monday to accept a priceless collection of long-hidden art bequeathed to it by German collector Cornelius Gurlitt, but said it will work with German officials to ensure any pieces looted by the Nazis from Jewish owners are returned.

German authorities in 2012 seized 1,280 pieces from Gurlitt’s apartment while investigating a tax case, including works by Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall. Gurlitt died in May, designating Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum Bern as his sole heir.

The museum’s president, Christoph Schaeublin, told reporters in Berlin that the Kunstmuseum Bern had decided to accept the collection after long, difficult deliberations.

“The ultimate aim was to clarify how the Kunstmuseum Bern could meet the responsibilities imposed upon them by the bequest,” Schaeublin said.

Shortly before he died, Gurlitt reached a deal with the German government to check whether hundreds of the works were looted from Jewish owners by the Nazis. Authorities have said that deal is binding on any heirs, and Schaeublin said the museum would undertake extensive research to determine the provenance of the works.

According to an agreement the museum worked out with German authorities, a task force set up by the government will also continue to investigate the background of the art to determine if it was looted, and whom it was looted from.

If no owner can be found for a looted piece, the agreement calls for the work to be exhibited in Germany with an explanation of its origins so the “rightful owners will have the opportunity to submit their claims.”

German officials said all works will remain in Germany until the task force finishes its work. An update on the research is expected “in the course of 2015.”

One of Gurlitt’s cousins has also filed claim, which a Munich court said Monday would have to be sorted out before the collection goes anywhere.

TIME photography

The Best of LIFE: 37 Years in Pictures

A selection of photos from LIFE magazine's storied archives: a photo a year from four decades of unparalleled excellence

Over several decades spanning the heart of the 20th century, one American magazine ― calling itself, plainly and boldly, LIFE ― published an astonishing number of the most memorable photographs ever made. Driven by the certainty that the art of photojournalism could tell stories and move people in ways that traditional reporting simply could not, LIFE pursued a grand vision, articulated by the magazine’s co-founder, Henry Luce, that not only acknowledged the primacy of the picture, but enshrined it.

“To see life,” Luce wrote in a now-famous 1936 mission statement, delineating both his new venture’s workmanlike method and its lofty aims. “To see the world; to eyewitness great events . . . to see and be amazed.”

The roster of talent, meanwhile, associated with Luce’s audacious publishing gamble is, in a word, staggering: W. Eugene Smith, Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Carl Mydans, Andreas Feininger, John Loengard, Gordon Parks, John Dominis, Hansel Mieth, Grey Villet, David Douglas Duncan, Paul Schutzer, Ralph Morse, Michael Rougier, Eliot Elisofon, Nina Leen, Larry Burrows, Gjon Mili and dozens of other groundbreaking photojournalists not only shot for LIFE, but were on staff at the magazine.

“In the course of a week,” Luce noted in 1936, “the U.S. citizen sees many pictures. He may see travel pictures in travel magazines, art pictures in art digests, cinema pictures in cinemagazines, scientific pictures in scientific journals. But nowhere can he see the cream of all the world’s pictures brought together for him to enjoy and study in one sitting.”

The cream of all the world’s pictures. A nervy assertion ― but an assertion repeatedly affirmed by LIFE’s tireless, innovative photographers and the work they produced, issue by issue, week after week, year upon year. World war and peaceful revolutions; Hollywood icons and history-shaping villains; the Space Race and civil rights; Ernest Hemingway’s novel, The Old Man and the Sea published ― in its entirety ― in one issue, and a breathless cover story on a now-long-forgotten Hollywood ingénue in the next: however momentous the event, however legendary, notorious or simply of-the-moment the person, LIFE was there.

Today, the breathtaking pictures they took live here, on LIFE.com. Resurrected through trailblazing photo essays, lighthearted features, and previously unpublished photographs of the century’s leading figures and most pivotal, meaningful moments, Henry Luce’s vision (to see life, to eyewitness great events, to see and be amazed) remains as relevant and thrilling today as it was 75 years ago.

This gallery ― featuring one magnificent image a year from 1936, when the magazine premiered, to 1972, when LIFE ceased publishing as a weekly ― serves as an introduction to, and a celebration of, the treasures of a storied archive: a tightly focused glimpse into the breadth and excellence of one publication’s iconic photography.

TIME movies

See Why Benedict Cumberbatch Is So Photogenic

Behind the scenes of TIME's latest cover shoot with Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch’s face doesn’t have a good side or a bad side — he’s very symmetrical, says photographer Dan Winters, who shot him for this week’s TIME cover.

“I’m not as concerned as I would normally have to be about where I’m positioning him, where I’m lighting from,” says Winters. “A lot of actors are pretty asymmetrical, and you have to work around that.”

In the cover image, Cumberbatch is seated behind a table, framed by both real and recreated World War II items: a rare vintage Enigma machine, a bomb wheel made by Winters, and more. The setup was meant to capture Cumberbatch as an actor with a nod to his upcoming film, The Imitation Game, says Winters.

“He showed up with a cool and modern retro version of what he wore in the film — something, he told me, he thought Turing would have worn if alive today,” Winters told TIME LightBox. “He had done his work and we used that in the shoot.”

The resulting mood of the photo was “quiet, a little pensive, sort of contemplative.” And yes, Cumberbatch looks great in it.

Click here to read more about the shoot.

Read next: Go Behind TIME’s Benedict Cumberbatch Cover With Photographer Dan Winters

TIME World War II

Remembering ‘The Few’: Photos of the Young Pilots Who Saved England

Portraits of the young fliers, from many nations, who helped save England during the Battle of Britain.

“The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” — Winston Churchill addressing the House of Commons, Aug. 20, 1940

Of the countless memorable phrases uttered by the indomitable British Prime Minister during the war years, Winston Churchill’s tribute to and celebration of “The Few,” as the airmen of the Royal Air Force have ever since been affectionately known, endures as among his most moving and most heartfelt. (That not all of the pilots were, in fact, British—there were Poles, Czechs, Americans, Canadians, Irish, New Zealanders and others, as well—that fact hardly dilutes the power of the sentiment, or the intensity of Churchill’s and England’s gratitude to those fliers.)

In 1940′s pivotal, four-month Battle of Britain, thousands of these (mostly young) pilots held off fighters from the mighty German Luftwaffe, quite literally saving the Sceptered Isle from defeat at the hands of the Third Reich and proving to a skeptical world that the Nazi military juggernaut was neither inevitable nor invincible.

Here, LIFE.com offers charming, revealing portraits of The Few by photographer William Vandivert. (Most of these photos did not originally appear in LIFE magazine.)

[See all of LIFE's galleries]

As LIFE put it to its readers the following spring, when the magazine ran some of Vandivert’s pictures in the March 21, 1941, issue:

England’s most important young men today are the several thousand youth who fly the Hurricane and Spitfire fighters in the Battle of Britain. They undoubtedly saved England last fall from Nazi invasion. Hitler must knock them all out of the air over Britain before he dares to invade England this spring.

[In these pictures] LIFE takes you to an actual airfield of the RAF’s Fighter Command during the airblitz last fall. Here you see new kind of battle action — what goes on on the ground at a fighter station while the fate of a nation is being fought out in the clouds.

These young British fliers, unlike their German opponents, are elaborately modest. There is little or no brag and swagger about them and they fight the Germans with a sort of casual perfection that is the envy of every other air force in the world. Their job calls for a fit young man of great calm and great optimism, preferably not in love. Very few of these young fighter pilots are married. Their ages range around 23. It takes moral self-confidence and concentration to kill early, often and quickly, without a sense of guilt.

Close to 3,000 RAF fliers took to the skies in the Battle of Britain. More than 500 were killed; around 80 percent of those lost were Britons. The chances of The Few ever being forgotten by the nation they helped save? Zero.

TIME Behind the Picture

LIFE With MacArthur: The Landing at Luzon, the Philippines, 1945

Carl Mydans' photograph of Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Luzon distills something elemental about MacArthur's larger-than-life persona

With the possible exception of Gen. George S. Patton, no American who rose to prominence during the Second World War could compete with Gen. Douglas MacArthur when it came to either influence or controversy. A titanic personality who was keenly aware of the power of the image to help craft a narrative about a battle, a campaign or a hugely symbolic moment, MacArthur had a prickly relationship with the press.

The story, meanwhile, behind what is arguably the single most famous picture of the general, and certainly one of the most recognizable pictures to emerge from WWII, ably illustrates the Arkansas native’s grasp of a photograph’s ability to lionize—or demonize—a public figure.

The picture in question, made by LIFE’s Carl Mydans on Jan. 9, 1945, shows MacArthur striding ashore onto “Blue Beach,” Dagupan, on the island of Luzon, Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines. That Mydans’ photograph does not capture the return to the Philippines—the return that MacArthur promised in his single most famous utterance—hardly detracts from its significance. In fact, even more so than the pictures of MacArthur at Leyte in October 1944, when the general first returned to the Philippines after escaping from Corregidor two years before, Mydans’ photograph of the general and his comrades in the surf at Luzon seems to capture and perfectly distill something elemental about MacArthur’s magnetism and his larger-than-life persona.

Years later, in a 1992 interview with John Loengard, Mydans remembered making that picture, and other photos both onboard the USS Boise and at Luzon after the landing, as if it had all happened just days before.

Quoted in Loengard’s book, LIFE Photographers: What They Saw (Bulfinch, 1998), Mydans recalls how he came to be with MacArthur on the ship before the landing, and on the shore in time to capture the general walking through the waves to the beach:

I was in France when I got a coded message from my office: MacArthur was returning to the Philippines. By the time I got to Leyte, though, the landing was over. . . . While the last of the battle for Leyte was still being fought MacArthur’s public information officer called us together and said, “MacArthur will go to the Luzon assault on the USS Boise. Six of you will go in with him. You’ll draw lots out of a helmet.” A captain tore up paper, and everybody put his hand in and took out a piece. . . . [T]he slip of paper I found in my hand had the one word, “Stills.” I was the only still photographer, except for the military, on the Boise. I was loaded into the same landing craft with MacArthur, and I went ashore with him.

The story of what happened there has been told and retold many times, incorrectly. [People always ask me] “How many times did he do that for you, Mr. Mydans?” And the answer is always the same: “He did it once.” I now realize that the question will go on forever.

In 1961, both MacArthur and Mydans returned to Luzon, where each had made history 16 years before. In the July 14, 1961, issue of LIFE, Mydans wrote movingly of that trip, and of MacArthur’s difficulty keeping his emotions in check when he was back in the place and among the people that had shaped so much of his career and his life.

“This,” said General MacArthur to Mrs. MacArthur standing close beside him on the sands above the beach at Lingayen [wrote Mydans], “is what I wanted you to see,” and he ran his hand gently over the plaque which now marks the place where his forces returned to Luzon on the morning of Jan. 9, 1945.

The general spotted me in the crowd, and he tapped the plaque again. “This one’s for you, Carl,” he called out. Then, coming over, he said, “This is the highlight of it all, isn’t it? For you and for me.”

TIME Photographer Spotlight

Photographer Spotlight: J.R. Eyerman

A tribute to J.R. Eyerman's long career with a series of pictures that display the man's dizzying versatility, talent and technical prowess

The notion of a celebrated, groundbreaking photographer being born in a photo studio owned and operated by his parents sounds like something out of an absurdist novel. But that’s exactly how and where LIFE’s J.R. Eyerman (“J” to friends and colleagues), who made some of the most recognizable and most frequently reproduced pictures of the 20th century, came into the world.

In an informal biography that he sent to LIFE magazine in 1940, before he was made a staff photographer, Eyerman wrote revealingly and self-deprecatingly of himself:

Full name is J.R. Wharton Eyerman. I was born in what was “the oldest and largest photographic studio in [Montana]“. . . . My parents took advantage of the town’s leading citizen to the extent of giving me his full name. The initials didn’t stand for anything. . . .

I learned photography from my mother, a beautiful photographer. My father let me follow him on out-of-door work and as a lad I helped him make thousands of negatives in Yellowstone and Glacier Park. I left Butte and photography at the age of 15 for the University of Washington at Seattle. Four years later I was a civil engineer doing structural design. . . .

My biggest assignment to date is for 300 8×10 Kodachromes of the Northwest — it has me worried, because there is so little good light in the summer. My favorite kind of work is photographing these N.W. natives the way they are — Indians, loggers, small-town newspaper men, mill hunkies, fishermen. They’re swell people.

In 1943, at the heigh of the Second World War, Eyerman was accredited to the Atlantic fleet. He covered naval operations during the North African and Sicilian campaigns — and, according to notes in LIFE’s archives, “had his watch, two cameras and foot broken during a near-miss during the landing at Gela.” A year later, he was in the Pacific for a long assignment during the Marianas campaign, and in 1944 covered the first aircraft carrier strike on Manila.

That Eyerman had a gift for getting along with people, like his “swell” subjects in the American Northwest, is evident in another note in the LIFE archives: a 1945 office memorandum discussing his reputation among the sailors with whom he spent so much time. “Eyerman is a very wonderful person,” the memo reads, quoting an acquaintance who knew him in the Pacific. “People out forward, from the admirals on down, appear to have more real respect for J. than for almost any other correspondent, and I think TIME Inc. is fortunate to have him on our side.”

Throughout his career, meanwhile, Eyerman’s engineering skills, and his passion for finding a way to take the “untakeable” picture, kept him busy not only behind the camera, but inside it, as well.

In the 1957 book, LIFE Photographers: Their Careers and Favorite Pictures, author Stanley Rayfield notes that “Eyerman’s technical innovations have helped push back the frontiers of photography. He perfected an electric eye mechanism to trip the shutters of nine cameras to make pictures of an atomic blast; devised a special camera for taking pictures 3600 feet beneath the surface of the ocean; successfully ‘speeded up’ color film to make previously impossible color pictures of the shimmering, changing forms and patterns of the aurora borealis.”

In other words, when a new device or technique was called for, Eyerman frequently came up with a solution using his own head and hands. Like so many of LIFE’s photographers, he was by nature a tinkerer: he liked figuring out how things worked and, if possible, making them work a little better.

Here, LIFE.com pays tribute to Eyerman’s long career with pictures that, we hope, at least hint at the man’s dizzying versatility, talent and technical prowess.

TIME World War II

The Woman in Hitler’s Bathtub: Lee Miller, Munich, 1945

Former LIFE photographer David E. Scherman talks about taking his famous picture of Lee Miller in Adolf Hitler's bathtub in 1945 Munich.

In May 1993, former LIFE photographer (and, later in his career, a senior editor at the magazine) David E. Scherman told John Loengard about making this famous portrait of Lee Miller in Adolf Hitler’s bathtub. Miller, a fashion model-turned-war correspondent and photographer, was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and died in England as Lady Penrose, having married the British artist and poet, Sir Roland Penrose, a few years after the war.

According to Scherman (as quoted in John Loengard’s LIFE Photographers: What They Saw), the bathtub picture came about like this:

During the war, Lee and I were mostly inseparable. We were together at the linkup with the Russians, and we were together at Dachau. We moved into Hitler’s headquarters in Munich. Lee and I found an elderly gent who barely spoke English, and we gave him a carton of cigarettes and said, “Show us around Munich.” He showed us Hitler’s house and I photographed Lee taking a bath in Hitler’s bathtub. . . . We found Eva Braun’s house, and we moved in there and lived there for four or five days before the Americans discovered it. We got quite a few amusing souvenirs of Eva’s and Adolf’s. . . . [At Hitler’s mountain retreat in Berchtesdgaden] I looted everything I could get my hands on, including a complete set of Shakespeare with Hitler’s initials, in gold, on the binding, which I sold a few months ago for 10,000 bucks.


TIME World War II

Before and After D-Day: Color Photos From England and France

Masterfully restored color photos from England and France in 1944 that feel at-once familiar and utterly new

It’s no mystery why images of unremitting violence spring to mind when one hears the deceptively simple term, “D-Day.” We’ve all seen — in photos, movies, old news reels, and usually in grim black-and-white — what happened on the beaches of Normandy (codenamed Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword) as the Allies unleashed their historic assault against German defenses on June 6, 1944.

But in color photos taken before and after the invasion, LIFE magazine’s Frank Scherschel captured countless other, lesser-known scenes from the run-up to the onslaught and the heady weeks after: American troops training in small English towns; the French countryside, implausibly lush after the spectral landscape of the beachheads; the reception GIs enjoyed en route to the capital; the jubilant liberation of Paris itself.

As presented here, in masterfully restored color, Scherschel’s pictures — most of which were never published in LIFE — feel at-once profoundly familiar and somehow utterly, vividly new.

[See all of LIFE's galleries]

[Buy the LIFE book, D-Day: Remembering the Battle that Won the War — 70 Years Later]

A note on the photographer: Frank Scherschel (1907-1981) was an award-winning staff photographer for LIFE well into the 1950s. His younger brother Joe was a LIFE photographer, as well.

In addition to the Normandy invasion, Frank Scherschel photographed the war in the Pacific, the 1947 wedding of Princess Elizabeth, the 1956 Democratic National Convention, collective farming in Czechoslovakia, Sir Winston Churchill (many times), art collector Peggy Guggenheim, road racing at Le Mans, baseball, football, boxing, a beard-growing contest in Michigan and countless other people and events, both epic and forgotten.

Finally: Information on the specific locations or people who appear in these photographs is not always available; Scherschel and his colleagues simply did not have the means to provide that sort of data for every single one of the countless photographs they made throughout the war. When the locale or person depicted in an image in this gallery is known, it is noted in the caption.

TIME World War II

The POW Who Lived: Joe Demler, WWII’s ‘Human Skeleton’

Joe Demler was 19 years old and weighed just 70 pounds when LIFE's John Florea took his picture in a notorious German POW camp in 1945

Few pictures published during the Second World War remain as striking, all these years later, as John Florea’s 1945 portrait of an American prisoner of war named Joe Demler. Photographed at a Nazi prison camp in Limburg, Germany, the figure in the photo is so emaciated that Demler was quickly dubbed “the human skeleton” when the photo ran in LIFE and other publications in the spring of that year.

For his part, in a 1993 interview with John Loengard, Florea said of the photographs he made of Demler and other prisoners during the liberation of the notorious Stalag 12-A camp: “You don’t know how many times I see those pictures in my mind. I wanted to show how the Nazi bastards—what they did to our guys. It was terrible.”

When Florea and troops from the First Army’s Ninth Armored Division came upon Stalag12-A in late March 1945, 19-year-old Pvt. Joseph Demler weighed about 70 pounds. “Skin and bones” is a generous way of describing his physique. His chances of surviving, everyone agreed, were far from good. (An indication of how close to death Demler and the other POWs in the camp’s makeshift hospital were: a soldier in a bunk next to Demler’s was alive when 12-A was liberated—but died before he could get a bite to eat.)

Against steep odds, Joe Demler did survive. Today, he lives in a small town in Wisconsin, north of Milwaukee, on the western shore of Lake Michigan. He’s retired now, of course, but for 37 years he worked for the United States Post Office. He’s been married to his wife, Loretta, for 63 years. They have two sons and a daughter, and three grandchildren. He’s 88 years old, and will turn 89 on Dec. 7: Pearl Harbor Day.

In the years since the war, he’s led a quiet life. A peaceful life. Which is far more than the 19-year-old Joe Demler, who saw action and was captured during the Battle of the Bulge, could have dreamed of.

“When I left Kennedy General Hospital in Memphis, where I went for treatment after leaving Germany,” Demler recently told LIFE.com, “one doctor said to me, ‘Son, you can go home now. You were born again. You can go back and live a normal life.’ And you know, that’s what I’ve tried to do, for all these years.”

It hasn’t been easy—”You can never completely forget something that awful,” Demler says of his time in the war—but the fact that he came through when so many of his buddies, and countless others he never even knew, perished left him with a certainty that he had to give something back. And he has.

For a while now, Demler has been involved with a nonprofit called Honor Flight, which was created (according to its website) “solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans—World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.”

Discussing an Honor Flight event from just a few weeks ago, Demler says that “when you have 80- and 90-year-old men crying as they tell you that this was one of the greatest days of their life, taking part in Honor Flight—well, it makes all the effort that you put into something like this worth it, and then some.”

One regret that he does have: never seeing John Florea again after their one brief, fateful encounter in 1945. “I wish I could have shaken his hand,” Demler says, “and thanked him.”

[Honor Flight, a documentary film by Dan Hayes, in which Joe Demler plays a central role, was released in 2012.]

TIME World War II

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Photos From the Ruins

LIFE photographs -- resembling every war-battered panorama from Verdun to Vietnam -- made in September, 1945, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

One scene shared by all of the 20th century’s bloodiest conflicts might have been lifted straight from The Road Warrior, or a Beckett play: spectral landscape; buildings obliterated; blasted trees; lifeless wasteland. The photographs in this gallery, for instance—pictures that starkly reference every bleak, war-battered panorama from Gettysburg to Verdun to Stalingrad to Chosin Reservoir to Pork Chop Hill—were made in September, 1945, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

But far from chronicling the aftermath of a sustained, slogging campaign, these pictures—none of which were published in LIFE magazine—depict the devastation produced in a few unspeakably violent seconds. Here, LIFE.com presents pictures from both cities taken in the weeks and months following the bombings—bombings that killed a combined 120,000 people outright, and tens of thousands more through injury and radiation sickness. Included, as well, are scans of typed memos from photographer Bernard Hoffman—quietly revelatory notes like the one he wrote on September 3, 1945, to LIFE’s long-time picture editor, Wilson Hicks:

We saw Hiroshima today—or what little is left of it. We were so shocked with what we saw that most of us felt like weeping; not out of sympathy for the Japs but because we were revolted by this new and terrible form of destruction. Compared to Hiroshima, Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne are practically untouched . . . The sickly sweet smell of death is everywhere.

The reasons most of these and many more pictures by LIFE photographers on the ground in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were never published have largely been lost or simply forgotten over the intervening seven decades. Perhaps a family album (see slide #4) too-readily humanized an enemy that had been so effectively demonized and dehumanized for four long, brutal years. (Of that image, photographer Bernard Hoffman wrote to LIFE’s long-time photo editor, Wilson Hicks, on September 9, 1945: “Assume this had been a private dwelling. The album was water soaked and some of the pix stuck together. . . . However, since this album came through the blast intact, and remains the only evidence of what once had been a home and family, I’m sending the pictures on for what they’re worth to you.”)

Or maybe a specific picture didn’t make it into LIFE because it too-closely resembled another image that had run in an issue of the magazine a week, or a month, before.

The fact of the matter is, as with almost all of the photographs from the vast LIFE archives that never made it into the pages of the magazine, we’ll likely never know why the remarkable pictures here went unpublished for so long.

Finally, below are excerpts from various issues of LIFE published after the war that convey the powerful, discordant reactions—relief, horror, pride, fear—that the bombings, and the long-sought victory over Japan, unleashed. Today, when America and Japan are, for the most part, staunch allies, trading partners and avid fans of one another’s goods, foods and popular culture, the words and sentiments below are a vivid reminder that the Second World War is history—bloody, complicated, indelible history.

“In the following waves [after the initial blast] people’s bodies were terribly squeezed, then their internal organs ruptured. Then the blast blew the broken bodies at 500 to 1,000 miles per hour through the flaming, rubble-filled air. Practically everybody within a radius of 6,500 feet was killed or seriously injured and all buildings crushed or disemboweled.” — From the article “Atom Bomb Effects,” LIFE magazine, 3/11/1946

“Japan’s premier, Prince Higashi-Kuni . . . on September 5 paid despairing tribute to the atomic bomb: ‘This terrific weapon was likely to result in the obliteration of the Japanese people.’ The atomic bomb, he indicated, was the immediate inducement to surrender. . . .” — From “What Ended the War,” LIFE magazine, 9/17/1945

“A crewman met us at the door, a big smile on his face. ‘The strike report is in,’ he said. ‘They dropped it on Nagasaki.’ The colonel was surprised. ‘That was the third target,’ he said. Inside the hut everybody was cheerful. The men felt Sweeney [Major Charles W. Sweeney, who commanded the B-29 bomber, Bockscar] would reach Okinawa from Nagasaki, or at least ditch in the sea near there and get picked up by a Navy rescue plane. We heard later that Sweeney reached Okinawa with ‘enough gas to fill a cigarette lighter.’” — From “The Week the War Ended,” LIFE magazine, 7/17/1950, by reporter Robert Schwartz

“Japanese doctors said that those who had been killed by the blast itself died instantly. But presently, according to these doctors, those who had suffered only small burns found their appetite failing, their hair falling out, their gums bleeding. They developed temperatures of 104, vomited blood, and died. It was discovered that they had lost 86 percent of their white blood corpuscles. Last week the Japanese announced that the count of Hiroshima’s dead had risen to 125,000.” — From the article “What Ended the War,” LIFE magazine, 9/17/1945

“I never heard an enlisted man in the 509th use the words ‘atom bomb’ or ‘atomic bomb’ or ‘A-bomb.’ Everyone in the squadron called it ‘The Gimmick.’ During the months of their secret work they had to have a name for the vague something that they were supposed to be working on, and when somebody referred to it as ‘The Gimmick’ that name stuck.” — From the article, “The Week the War Ended,” LIFE magazine, 7/17/1950

“When the [Nagasaki] bomb went off, a flier on another mission 250 miles away saw a huge ball of fiery yellow erupt. Others, nearer at hand, saw a big mushroom of dust and smoke billow darkly up to 20,000 feet, and then the same detached floating head as at Hiroshima. Twelve hours later Nagasaki was a mass of flame, palled by acrid smoke, its pyre still visible to pilots 200 miles away. The bombers reported that black smoke had shot up like a tremendous, ugly waterspout. With grim satisfaction, [physicists] declared that the ‘improved’ second atomic bomb had already made the first one obsolete.” — From the article, “War’s Ending,” LIFE magazine, 8/20/1945

 

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