World War II | KUOW News and Information

World War II

Stephen Bannon, center left, back, campaign CEO for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, looks on as Trump speaks during a campaign rally on Election Day.
AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

In journalism, we avoid wonk.

Which is why we at KUOW discussed whether to use the term “alt-right.” Mainstream news sites have plugged it into headlines, but our readers and listeners were confused. What does that label even mean?

Online editor Isolde Raftery reads an old residential ledger at the Puget Sound Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives in Bellevue.
KUOW Photo/Amina Al-Sadi

First, an admission.

We were clueless when we started researching the house at 1643 South King Street in Seattle's International District.

As the U.S. Army Air Corps prepared to unleash the world's first attack by an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, Japanese schoolgirl Kikue Takagi, age 12, woke up feeling sick and stayed home that day.

Her classmates were sent to Hiroshima's city center to clean up debris, doing their part in the war effort as Japan struggled to hold off the rapidly approaching U.S. military. Those students were near ground zero when the American bomb obliterated the city.

At home on the outskirts of Hiroshima, Takagi was spared.

Nicholas Winton is often referred to as "Britain's Schindler."

He was a young British stockbroker when, in December 1938, he canceled a trip to go skiing in Switzerland, and instead went to visit a friend in Prague who was helping refugees fleeing from the Nazis.

A reprint of Adolf Hitler's notorious autobiography, Mein Kampf, or "My Struggle," is for sale in German bookstores today for the first time in 70 years.

The annotated edition is being published by the Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History, and its editors say the new version points out Hitler's lies and errors and includes critical commentary on how the original version, published in the 1920s, influenced Nazi atrocities.

Siblings David Ko and Karen Ko
Courtesy of StoryCorps

When Roy and Alice Ko were released from internment camps after World War II, they ended up in Richland, Washington – home to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Their children David and Karen Ko talked about growing up in Richland in the years after the war.

Army recruits in Seattle being fitted for uniforms after the Pearl Harbor attack, 1941.
Courtesy of MOHAI, Seattle P-I Collection, PI28235

David Hyde speaks with local historian and radio producer Feliks Banel about the reaction of the Pearl Harbor attack in Seattle and the lasting impact it left on the city. 

In January 1945, in a German POW camp, a U.S. soldier named Roddie Edmonds defied the threat of death to protect the Jewish troops under his command.

Seventy years later, he's being recognized for his valor.

It's the first time a U.S. soldier has been named Righteous Among the Nations, an honor from Israel's Holocaust remembrance and research center reserved for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Reporter Ashley Ahearn dug into the Northwest history of the B-17 bomber with her father, Joe Ahearn, Jr.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

There’s an old photograph in my father’s office that I’ve always wondered about. In it my grandfather and nine other young airmen stand in front of their B-17 plane, shoulders squared, staring proudly at the camera. They were probably in England at the time, getting ready to fly bombing raids over Germany in 1943.

Share Your Family Connection To World War II

Sep 27, 2015

In a recent story, KUOW Ashley Ahearn reports on the making of the B-17 bomber in Seattle – and the women who moved here to work on Boeing’s production lines.

We want to hear from you. How was your family affected by World War II? Share your memories and photos with us. Write to pictures@kuow.org. If you send photos, please be sure to describe what's pictured.

Submissions may be published at KUOW.org and our social media accounts.

Henry Chamberlain looks at mementos from World War II. He spent three and a half years as a prisoner of the Japanese.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

In 1945 President Harry Truman declared Sept. 2 as Victory Over Japan Day. Japan surrendered aboard the USS Missouri. It was the official end of World War II.

But the suffering wasn't over for Henry Chamberlain, who had been captured on the Philippines' Bataan Peninsula more than three years before.

Georgie, age 35, wearing her favorite Christmas earrings.
Courtesy Georgie Bright Kunkel

When World War II came, millions of women joined the fight – not on the front lines but doing the vital work of building weapons to defeat the Axis powers. Georgie Bright Kunkel was one of them.

“It was a life-changing event,” she told KUOW’s Jeannie Yandel about the experiences that American women had by the time the war formally ended Sept. 2, 1945.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle; All Rights Reserved

As World War II came to a dramatic end 70 years ago on Aug. 14, the role that the Northwest played in the conflict was fully revealed in the aftermath of the atomic bombing in Japan.

In a much-anticipated speech, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his "profound grief" and "sincere condolences" for his country's role in World War II.

But the leader stopped short of renewing apologies extended by his predecessors, and he said he doesn't want future generations to be "predestined to apologize" for the war.

The name Hiroshima is so tied to the atomic bomb that it's hard to imagine there were other possible targets.

But in early 1945, the U.S. was still months away from building its first bomb and certainly didn't know what to hit.

"Should it be a city? Should it be a military installation? Should you be just displaying the bomb, without killing anybody?" These are questions that were yet to be decided, says Alex Wellerstein, a historian at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

Pages