75 years after the Second World War finally came to an end on all fronts, Imperial War Museums is exploring the momentous events that led to the culmination of the most devastating conflict in modern global history.

 

Voices of War: Nagasaki

Voices of War: Nagasaki

On 9 August 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. 

IWM has created a new soundscape to mark the 75th anniversary of the attack on Nagasaki. Hear the voices of some of the witnesses, including a Japanese schoolboy and British and Chinese prisoners of war.

Listen now >

I Saw The World End

A white graphic wave on a black background
Es Devlin & Machiko Weston, Still from I Saw the World End, 2020

I Saw The World End

A new digital artwork by Es Devlin and Machiko Weston.

75 years ago, two nuclear weapons were detonated over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945.  ‘I Saw the World End’ is a response to those precise moments of destruction from both a British and Japanese perspective.

Watch now >

The Atomic Bomb

Atomic bombs were used on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Thousands died and the world was changed forever. 

Okinawa Battle © IWM A 29192
© IWM NYF 70677
Second World War
The Proposed Invasion of Japan
On 8 May 1945, the Allies celebrated VE Day, marking the end of the war in Europe. But the war in the east still raged on and Japanese surrender seemed a long way off. What did the proposed invasion of Japan look like? 
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Second World War
Why were Atomic Bombs Dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 brought an end to the Second World War, but at a terrible cost to the Japanese civilian population, and signalling the dawn of the nuclear age. What had led to the fateful decision to deploy these new weapons of mass destruction?
Photograph depicting the aftermath of the Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima.
© IWM MH 29447
Second World War
Voices of War: Hiroshima
Listen to our soundscape and reflect on what happened when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. 

HMS Belfast and VJ Day

HMS Belfast and VJ Day

Find out how the men on board HMS Belfast reacted to the end of the Second World War - and the important role they played in the months that followed.

Read more >

Second World War

Beyond VE Day: The Events of Summer 1945

Second World War

Beyond VE Day: The Events of Summer 1945

The photographs of smiling faces on VE Day conceal the challenges and struggles that still lay ahead in 1945.
Victory parade in Berlin, July 1945. Mr Churchill about to set off in brake to inspect troops before Victory parade in Charlottenburgerchausee.
Victory parade in Berlin, July 1945. Mr Churchill about to set off in brake to inspect troops before Victory parade in Charlottenburgerchausee. © IWM A 30121

VJ DAY

  • Two women and two men in uniform stand smiling, looking at the camera, in a still from a colour film of VJ Day celebrations in London in 1945.
    Rare Colour Footage of London on VJ DAY

    Watch how people in London celebrated VJ Day in this rare footage from IWM's collections.

  • London VJ day
    11 Photos of VJ Day Celebrations

    See how people in Britain - and servicemen stationed abroad - marked the end of the Second World War.

  • VJ Day on Film

    IWM's film collection includes footage of how the end of the Second World War was marked in London, Hong Kong and Toronto. 

A world changed

King George VI standing with the Labour Prime Minister, Clement Attlee. Black and white photograph Imperial War Museums
Winston Churchill
How Winston Churchill And The Conservative Party Lost The 1945 Election
The 1945 election was the first general election to be held in Britain since November 1935. Churchill had proved himself to be a popular leader during the Second World War, so he was confident that the Conservatives would win this election based on his wartime success.
Indian Independence is celebrated in Malaya shortly before the start of the Malayan Emergency. The Indian flag is raised at Klang, Selangor.
Britain And The Commonwealth Since 1945
The End Of The British Empire After The Second World War
After the Second World War, the disintegration of Britain's empire transformed global politics. Before the war, Britain maintained colonies all over the world, which provided valuable raw materials, manpower and strategic bases. By 1945, however, colonies were an expensive liability for Clement Attlee's newly elected Labour government. 
On the right two benches of the accused leaders stretch away from the foreground to the centre of the painting. Behind the defendants stands a line of white-helmeted military police who guard the benches and separate them from the court beyond. On the left, in front of the defendants, sit two rows of lawyers, largely in black robes. The lawyers and the defendants study sheaves of paper.
© IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 5798)
Second World War
A Short History Of The War Crimes Trials After The Second World War
After the end of the Second World War, the Allies brought the leading civilian and military representatives of wartime Germany and Japan to trial on charges of war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. The principles of the trial of the Nazi leadership were agreed at a meeting of the ‘Big Four’ – Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union and France – in London in the summer of 1945, resulting in the Nuremberg Charter.

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As a charity, now more than ever IWM needs your support to ensure we can continue to tell personal stories and experiences of conflict for current and future generations to come.

A Balloon Site, Coventry
© IWM (ART LD 2750)
Donate Now
Make a donation to IWM and help us to tell the stories of those affected by conflict, launch our ground-breaking exhibitions and deliver our world-class learning programmes. 
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Help tell stories that deserve to be heard by supporting us as a member and uncover a host of benefits including free standard admission to Churchill War Rooms, HMS Belfast and IWM Duxford.
A volunteer talks to young visitors to Imperial War Museums
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Discover the many ways you can support our historically important sites and world-leading collection.
Second World War

Where does 'V for Victory' come from?

Second World War

Where does 'V for Victory' come from?

Winston's Churchill's V for Victory sign is perhaps one the most iconic of the Second World War, but where does it come from?
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VE DAY

  • People dance while a crowd watches on
    © IWM EA 65796
    Voices of War: VE Day

    Reflect on the 75th anniversary of VE Day with our Voices of War soundscape, featuring first-hand accounts of those who witnessed the events of 8 May 1945.

    Then explore contemporary responses to what victory means through six artistic commissions created to mark Victory 75.

  • HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth with Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret joined by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London on VE Day.
    © IWM (MH 21835)
    What you need to know about VE Day

    8 May 1945 – VE (Victory in Europe) Day – was one that remained in the memory of all those who witnessed it. Find out what happened and what it meant to those whose lives had been changed by war.

  • Portrait of Edmund Blunden later in life. © IWM Q 101782
    Edmund Blunden © IWM Q 101782
    VE Day: 'We Have Come Through'

    What did Victory mean in 1945? Read a powerful unpublished poem written by Edmund Blunden, a First World War soldier poet who continued to write and reflect on the consequences of war. 

  • Adventures in History: VE Day: Parties in the Street graphic
    Adventures in History: VE Day - Parties in the Street

    Learn more about VE Day in our new fact-filled family film. 

    Discover lots of fascinating stories about how people celebrated this important day in 1945 - and take on a very special challenge set by IWM curator Vikki. 

  • Poster for IWM Family Mission: VE Day House Party featuring photographs of celebrations on VE Day
    Family Mission: VE Day House Party

    Join CBBC Presenter Ben Shires to find out more about how VE Day was marked by people celebrating the end of the war. 

  • Two British sailors and their girlfriends wading in the fountains in Trafalgar Square on VE Day.
    © IWM (EA 65799).
    Who were the women in the Trafalgar Square fountains on VE Day?

    It's an iconic photograph - one that has been used across the world to highlight the celebrations on VE Day, the end of the Second World War in Europe. But there's always been one big question surrounding this particular image: what was the story behind those two women smiling for the camera in the Trafalgar Square fountains on 8 May 1945.

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    Ground Crew On An RAF Bomber Command Station Print

    This striking image shows a ground crew on a RAF Bomber Command station in Britain celebrating VE day.

  • Prod_25829
    Victory In The Kitchen - Wartime Recipes

    With colour images of wartime posters throughout and an introduction by an IWM historian, it is a fascinating look into what people ate in wartime. 

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    Churchill Victory Mug

    Churchill set out the war aims of his new government in the speech, answering with just one word; Victory. Our exclusive design features on this mug, celebrating one of Churchill's most memorable quotes.

  • Victory 75 keyring
    Victory 75 Keyring

    This enamel keyring is shaped in the official IWM Victory 75 logo.

  • Victory 75 tote bag
    Victory 75 Tote Bag

    A limited edition tote badge with IWM's exclusive design. Featuring an original image taken on 8th May 1945 at Trafalgar square, it has become synonymous with VE Day celebrations and is part of IWM's collections.

  • V75 Pin Badge
    Victory 75 Pin Badge

    This pin badge is shaped in the official IWM Victory 75 logo. 

Reimagining Victory

Text says Reimagining Victory  - photograph of a hand making the V sign

Reimagining Victory

In 1945, the Allied nations marked the end of the Second World War on VE Day and VJ Day. 

But in today’s context, as conflicts descend into protracted crises, what does it really mean to ‘win’ a war and what challenges do we face when it comes to peacebuilding? Journalists, peacebuilders, artists and academics question the concept of victory through a series of debates, discussions and performances.

Explore further with the IWM Institute >