- President Roosevelt dies; Vice President Harry Truman takes his place.
- Germany surrenders in May. Germany is divided among Allied occupation troops.
- The first nuclear device of the Manhattan Project is detonated in New Mexico. In August, the US launches two atomic explosions over Japan: that country surrenders. (The General and the Genius, James Kunetka, 2015.)
- The US joins many other nations in newly created United Nations organization.
- GI Bill of Rights passed by Congress, giving veterans benefits including tuition for education, low-cost mortgages and one year of unemployment insurance .
- Nazi atrocities made public when The Red Army liberates inmates of Auschwitz and Birkenau: Nuremberg war trials follow.
- French are expelled from Viet Nam: Viet Minh (north) and Viet Cong (south) compete for control. American troops intervene in south, Soviet Union in the north, 38th parallel being dividing line.
- Cordell Hull is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for (in part) “his efforts to create a peace block of states on the American continents and his work for the United Nations”.
- Japanese balloon bomb kills six picnickers in Lakeview, Oregon, the only known civilian deaths in continental U.S. during WW II.
- Academy Award: “Lost Weekend”. Prize-winning book: A Bell for Adano, John Hersey.
In an essay for Salemhistory, Sue Bell described Salem’s greeting of V-J day:
“Then, and only then, did Salem celebrate: “shrieking, horn blowing, gun shooting, singing, and praying” through the two days’ holiday proclaimed by President Truman for Wednesday and Thursday. Banks and all government agencies (aside for essential services) were closed; retail stores closed on Wednesday; liquor stores and taverns closed for both days; playgrounds and swimming pools closed on Wednesday; and all scheduled meetings were canceled so Salem residents could enjoy the blessings of peace at last. (Only the canneries worked overtime to process the perishable harvest of fruits and vegetables.)
“Along with all the joy and elation, there was deep sadness, too, for many families in the city had lost loved ones in the 4 years of war: 142 men dead, not counting those Missing In Action or still hospitalized with serious injuries. The war was over, the young men who survived could return home, industry could shift back to production of civilian goods, peacetime mobilization could begin; a new era of prosperity was on the horizon. The atomic age had begun, but a plethora of benefits to humankind had been introduced, including the development of radar and streptomycin this year. Art treasures stolen by the Nazis were returned to their various countries, and the war criminals who had instigated such horrendous acts could be rounded up to be tried by International courts of justice.”
When you visit
This Ben Maxwell photograph has the following caption: “Salem celebrates the end of World War II on August 14, 1945. Teenager and college students sit on a car, covered with flags and drive along State and High Street. The street is covered with confetti. The gas rationing ended that day, too. On the right side is the Warner Bros Capitol theater.”
The street scene to the right is much the same today, with the exception of the loss of the Capitol movie theater. The post to the left, at the old Courthouse, is also no longer there.
- James Brand of Salem serves as a justice in the Nuremberg Trials. Brand had been appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court on May 14, 1941, replacing Henry J. Bean, who had died in office on May 8, 1941. Then, in 1942, Justice Brand received a full six-year term after winning the election. In 1947 Justice Brand was appointed by the War Department to the War Crimes Tribunal to be convened in Germany after World War II. There he was one of four judges of Nazi War Crimes at the Judges Trial, the third in a set of twelve trials. The trial began in March 1947 with Brand as a member of a three-person Military Tribunal, but on June 19, 1947 he became the Presiding Judge. After returning from Germany, he resumed his position on Oregon’s highest court James Brand won re-election in both 1948 and 1954. In between elections he was chosen by his fellow justices to serve as chief justice from 1951 to 1953. Justice Brand resigned his position on the bench on June 30, 1958.
- An adjudication of water rights from the North Santiam River gave three parties, Oregon Pulp and Paper Company, the City of Salem and Thomas Kay Woolen Mills, each an undivided share of power and water rights.
- Consolidated Grocers is located on Front Street at the present Truitt Brothers location. There are 15 very busy canning and freezing plants in Salem this year. Blue Lake Packers were among these, using local produce for their many popular processed foods.
- A new ferry opens for autos traveling between Salem and Independence. A bridge will be completed in 1950.
- Wartime housing in Salem appears to have included the Gay Marie, a boat moored at our riverfront that advertised “apts” on its hull.
- Waters Field at 25th and Turner Streets was crowded for local baseball games. (The stadium was destroyed by fire in 1961.)
- Sally’s at Court and Liberty, originally the Steusloff Building, was a popular shop for women’s clothing through the 1940’s and 50s: it is now a Starbucks coffee shop.
- From the capitol Journal: Soldiers on leave from Camp Adair arrived in Salem in unprecedented numbers. The USO was flooded with demands for sleeping rooms, cots, or places where men could sit up overnight in chairs. Local hotels had all rooms booked, all available davenports and chairs occupied and some men accepted a place to sleep on rugs in the lobby. (Ben Maxwell’s Salem, Oregon, edited by Scott McArthur, 2006.)