The August 1945 surrender of the Japanese in World War II came days after the United States dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and brought six years of bloodshed to a close.
The conclusion of the war — formally announced on August 14, 71 years ago — sparked celebrations across the world, while nations, cities and families began dealing with the task of rebuilding in the war's wake. The surrender was made official weeks later at a ceremony on September 2, 1945.
Here's a look at the jubilation and devastation that accompanied Japan's surrender and the end of what remains the deadliest conflict in human history.
London servicemen carrying Old Glory as they parade towards Piccadilly Circus in London, Aug. 10, 1945, on hearing of the Japanese surrender offer.
Two Londoners, part of the gigantic crowd which assembled at Piccadilly Circus after the announcement of the Japanese surrender offer, give a version of the Lambeth walk as they celebrate.
In this image provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, the August 19, 1945 headline of a newspaper lying against the cross marking the grave of an unknown Marine who died fighting the Japanese on this Pacific island proclaims victory over Japan.
In this photo provided by the U.S. Navy, a Japanese prisoners of war at Guam, Mariana Islands, covers his face as he hears Japanese Emperor Hirohito making the announcement of Japan's unconditional surrender on August 15, 1945.
Upon hearing the news of Japan's peace bid, U.S. Marines on Okinawa Island celebrated by firing their guns into the air, on August 10, 1945.
A sailor and a member of the Women's Army Corp, after trading caps, do a "Victory Jive" on New York's Broadway, Aug. 14, 1945 after the news of the Japanese surrender had been announced.
Thousands of people celebrate VJ Day as they fill New York's Times Square, Aug. 14, 1945 after Japanese radio reported the acceptance of the Potsdam declaration, ending World War II.
A jubilant crowd of American Italians are seen as they wave flags and toss papers in the air in their neighborhood in New York City, on August 14, 1945, while celebrating Japan's unconditional surrender.
Sailors in the disbursing storekeeper's department of the Navy in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on August 17, 1945, listen and cheer as Tokyo radio states Japan accepted Potsdam surrender terms on August 13.
An allied correspondent stands in a sea of rubble before the shell of a building that once was a movie theater in Hiroshima on Sept. 8, 1945, a month after the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare was dropped by the U.S. to hasten Japan's surrender.
Allied officials and military personnel and Japanese representatives are shown aboard the battleship USS Missouri for the formal Japanese surrender signing, marking an end to the War in the Pacific, in Tokyo Bay, Japan, Sept. 2, 1945.
Schoolgirls weep in sorrow and shame in the Imperial Plaza before Emperor Hirohito's palace in Tokyo after they were informed of Japan's surrender, Aug. 15, 1945. Some officers of the Imperial Army committed harikiri in the plaza to atone for what they felt was a loss of face for themselves and their emperor.
Children celebrate under a hanging effigy of Emperor Hirohito and his white horse following the announcement of Japan's surrender in Brooklyn, New York, Aug. 15, 1945.
Spectators and photographers pick vantage positions on the deck of the USS Missouri, in Tokyo Bay, on September 2, 1945, to watch the formal Japanese surrender ceremonies marking the end of World War II.
A New Zealand sailor, left, and three GIs express their jubilation of the surrender of Japan by chairing a London policeman in Piccadilly Circus in London on August 10, 1945.
Russian, American and British soldiers cheer together after learning that Japan had offered peace offers to America, Britain and Russia, in Berlin, Aug. 22, 1945. They are, left to right: Kocsk, a Russian from Kiev, Corporal Lew Corvett of New York City, and Pvt. Ray Derrick from England.
A Japanese man pushes his loaded bicycle down a path in Sept., 1945 that had been cleared of rubble after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan on Aug. 9, 1945.
Most of the residents of Chinatown turn out amid bursting firecrackers and the sacred dragon dance to celebrate Japan's acceptance of the Allies surrender terms in New York, Aug. 14, 1945.
When G.Is. in Rainbow Corner Red Cross Club on Boulevard des Capucines, Paris, heard the news of end of World War II war on August 23, 1945, they poured out onto sidewalk, formed a double line, and made all comers run the gauntlet to a tree, where they pinned up donation to Red Cross. Hustled victims included officers and French civilians.
Paper litters Seventh Avenue at 35th Street in New York's Garment District as workers began celebrating after it was announced Japan had accepted the Allied surrender terms on Aug. 14, 1945.
In this Tuesday, Aug. 14, 1945 picture, civilians and service personnel wave flags as they celebrate in New York's Times Square after the official announcement that Japan had surrendered, ending World War II.
In this image provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, as the flag is lowered on the evening of the Japanese surrender, a Marine kneels beside the grave of a comrade in the First Marine Division cemetery on Okinawa, Japan on August 14, 1945.
In this Tuesday, Aug. 14, 1945 picture, U.S. President Harry S. Truman stands at his desk during a news conference in the White House in Washington announcing the Japanese surrender, officially signaling the war's end.
Servicemen in Times Square, New York, were happy as they read the newspaper extras announcing the Japanese Domei News Agency's broadcast saying Japan was ready to accept unconditional surrender under the Potsdam conference terms if Emperor Hirohito could retain his prerogatives, Aug. 10, 1945.
Carrying the stars and stripes and waving the Union Jack, jubilant crowds surge through Piccadilly Circus as they begin the final victory march in London, Aug. 15, 1945, at 3 a.m., as jubilant Londoners celebrated in style after hearing of the Japanese’s surrender.
In this Wednesday, Aug. 15, 1945 picture, Japanese prisoners of war at Guam, Mariana Islands, bow their heads as they hear Japanese Emperor Hirohito making the announcement of Japan's unconditional surrender.
In this Wednesday, Aug. 15, 1945 picture, thousands gather in New York's Times Square to celebrate V-J Day, after the official announcement that Japan had accepted the terms of the Potsdam conference and surrendered, ending World War II.
London’s first victory procession took place on VJ Day, when the King and Queen drove from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords for the opening of Parliament. Thousands lined the route, giving their Majesties a tumultuous welcome rarely seen in London. This photo shows a section of the gigantic crowd which assembled in Parliament Square, London on Aug. 15, 1945, to welcome the king and queen.
Secretary of War Henry Stimson, left, observes President Harry Truman holding up the Japanese surrender papers at the White House, Sept. 7, 1945.
The first American flag to fly over Tokyo after the Japanese surrender is raised over the Nippon News building in downtown Tokyo on Sept. 5, 1945 by Lt. Bud Stapleton of Syracuse, N.Y.
Thousands of people throng into Trafalgar Square in London on Aug. 15, 1945, celebrating VJ Day with a gusto which exceeded that of VE day.
Thousands of people crowd into Trafalgar Square, celebrating VJ day in real ernest. A Canadian soldier wades through the pool in Trafalgar Square in London on Aug. 15, 1945, while others who have reached the fountain begin to dance.
In this Tuesday, Aug. 14, 1945 picture, a sailor and a nurse kiss in Manhattan's Times Square during celebrations for the end of World War II. The celebration followed the official announcement that Japan had accepted the terms of Potsdam conference and surrendered.
British and American soldiers cheer the news of Japan negotiating peace with the three great powers on August 22, 1945.
At the news of the Japanese acceptance of the Allied conditions, G.Is. went wild on Paris Boulevard, France, and swarmed over trucks, danced, waved flags of all nations, and cheered, August 23, 1945.
A troupe of happy soldiers and civilians enjoy the old fashioned knees-up as they celebrated VJ Day in the early hours of Aug. 15, 1945, in Piccadilly Circus in London.
At the news of the Japanese acceptance of the Allied conditions, G.I.s went wild on Paris Boulevard in France, swarming over trucks, dancing, waving flags of all nations, and cheering on August 23, 1945.
Thousands of people celebrate VJ Day on New York's Times Square August 14, 1945 after Japanese radio reported acceptance of the Potsdam declaration.
An American sailor and a woman embrace and kiss as they stand on a monument in San Francisco, Calif., early morning on Aug. 14, 1945. U.S. naval troops celebrated after newspaper headlines, based on a Tokyo radio report, informed the world of Japan's unconditional surrender to end World War II.
At the news of the Japanese acceptance of the Allied conditions, G.Is. go wild on Paris Boulevard in France, swarming over trucks, dancing, waving flags of all nations, and cheering, on August 23, 1945.
Civilians and demobilized Japanese soldiers crowd the trains at Hiroshima, on their way home after the end of World War II in September 1945.
Defeated Japanese soldiers file down a road toward a dispersal camp at North Malaya, on November 15, 1945, after World War II ended with Japan's unconditional surrender.
Troops line up before the public buildings in Georgetown, Guyana on Aug. 30, 1945, while His Excellency the Governor of British Guyana, Sir Gordon Lethem, announces the final end of the war from the balcony.
At the news of the Japanese acceptance of the Allied conditions, G.Is. went wild on Paris Boulevard in France, swarming over trucks, dancing, waving flags of all nations, and cheering, on August 23, 1945.
Japanese officers line up to turn over their swords as they surrender to U.S. troops at an unknown location on November 5, 1945, after World War II ended with Japan's unconditional surrender.
The Japanese signatories arrive aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945, to participate in the formal surrender ceremonies to end World War II. Seen from left to right in the front row are : Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, who signed on behalf of the Japanese Emperor, and Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu, who signed on behalf of the Imperial Japanese General Headquarters.
F4U and F6F fighter planes fly in formation over the USS Missouri, while the surrender ceremonies to end World War II take place aboard the U.S. Navy battleship, on September 2, 1945.
London’s first victory procession took place on VJ Day, when the King and Queen drove from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords for the opening of Parliament. Thousands of jubilant Londoners lined the route to give their majesties a tumultuous welcome. King George VI sits beside his wife Queen Elizabeth, who shelters under an umbrella, as the Royal procession returns after the opening of Parliament, across Horse Guards Parade, in London, on Aug.15, 1945.
The jubilant crowds at Piccadilly Circus in London celebrate on hearing of the Japanese surrender on VJ Day in England, Aug. 10, 1945.
Army nurses who served 19 months with the Japanese forces on Cebu, Philippines, line up during the ceremony on Nov. 6, 1945, marking the surrender of 10,000 Japanese troops to the U.S. American Division nine days before Japan’s official capitulation.
In this Sept. 2, 1945 file photo, Japanese officials, center, stand in a group facing representatives of the Allied armed forces prior to signing the surrender agreement on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, during a ceremony marking the end of World War II.
The Japanese surrender to the Allies aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Sept. 2, 1945. General Douglas MacArthur hands the pen to Lieut. Gen. Arthur E. Percival after signing surrender papers.
Representatives of the Allied nations stand at attention as General Douglas MacArthur speaks prior to the signing of the Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri, Sept. 2, 1945.
A British girl gives an American soldier a victory kiss while his pals look on, Aug. 10, 1945. This was one of many incidents which occurred in Piccadilly Circus when Londoners and Allied servicemen swarmed round Eros celebrating the Japanese surrender offer.
A Londoner plays the bagpipes and an office girl beats time with a steel tray as they parade through Piccadilly Circus in London celebrating the announcement of the Japanese surrender offer, Aug. 10, 1945.
Londoners celebrate the welcome news of peace, at 3 a.m., Aug. 15, 1945. A transport lorry hoping to pass through Piccadilly was stormed by the jubilant crowds, who clambered over it, finally making it stop.
Textile workers in New York had another day’s celebration when the formal surrender of the Japanese government was announced. Torn garments cascade from nearby windows as a worker rides a white carthorse and they parade through 35th Street in New York on Sept. 3, 1945.
A crowd in Times Square in New York celebrate the Japanese surrender, Aug. 15, 1945.
Chinese Americans on Mott and Pell Streets in New York's Chinatown celebrate the Japanese surrender on V-J Day, Aug. 14, 1945.
Two U.S. Marines lift up a girl as crowds in New York's Times Square celebrate the Japanese radio report of their "impending" acceptance of the World War II Potsdam declarations, which called for unconditional surrender, Aug. 14, 1945.
A couple embraces amidst thousands of merrymakers as they celebrate on V-J Day, Aug. 14, 1945, in downtown Euclid Ave. in Cleveland, Ohio. The celebration followed U.S. President Harry Truman's official announcement that the Japanese had surrendered, ending World War II.
Docked at Pier 88 in Manhattan, New York City, these soldiers aboard the U.S.S. General Harry Taylor are celebrating their homecoming after World War II, on August 18, 1945.
Liberated American POWs are seen cheering upon their release in Kawasaki, Aug. 30, 1945.
American airmen at Ofuna prison camp near Yokohama, Japan, cheer the news that they are to be transported directly to the United States by plane, Sept. 12, 1945. The camp was supposedly the worst one run by the Japanese.
Lt. General Kataoka, center, hands over his sword to Major General William M. Arnold, Commander of the Americal Division, upon the surrender of his army of 10,000 soldiers, in August 1945.
War correspondent Mac R. Johnson of the New York Herald Tribune, center, interviews POWs freed from the Narumi Daito Electric Steel Prison Camp after they were brought to the Araie railroad station by the Japanese to be picked up by the Navy, Sept. 14, 1945. From left to right: Sgt. Arthur J. Tantuni, captured at Bataan; Pfc. Vincent J. Jesuele; David O. Patterson captured on Bataan; Johnson; Pfc. William J. Liberia, captured on Bataan; Pvt. Millard A. Orsini, captured on Bataan; and Pfc. Ralph J.Currier, captured at Corregidor. Men in the rear of the photo are unidentified.
This aerial photo shows the destruction to Nagasaki, Japan, after the atomic bomb was dropped during World War II, Aug. 9, 1945. The day after the bombing, the Japanese cabinet decided to make the Allied forces an offer of surrender.
A selection of newspaper headlines from around the country from Aug. 7 to 14, 1945 show the tone of the world in the days following the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The weapon was produced in part in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Actress Rosalind Russell kisses service men with the announcement August 14, 1945 of an end to World War II. Russell embraces Captain E. Paget of England.
After the state opening of parliament, King George VI received ministers and Chiefs of Staff at the Buckingham Palace on August 15, 1945 in London, United Kingdom. From left to right: Sir Andrew Cunningham; King George VI, Sir Charles Portal and Field Marshal Alan Brooke.
Demobilized Japanese soldiers crowd the trains at Hiroshima, taking advantage of free transportation to their homes after the end of World War II, in September 1945.
This image by photographer Oliver "Ollie" Atkins, released by the National Archives on Jan. 11, 2010, shows jubilant crowds of American GIs and French civilians reacting to the news of the Japanese surrender in World War II.
In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, a group of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps prisoners of war of the Japanese crowd atop the white-painted plane used by the Japanese to send surrender envoys to Ie Shima. The members of this group were among the first to be flown out of Japan by the U.S. Naval air transport service at Kisarazu, a Japanese navy field 22 miles from Tokyo, on Sept. 10, 1945.
In this Sept. 1, 1945 file photo, then-U.S. President Harry Truman sits before a microphone at the White House in Washington, where he broadcast a message on the formal surrender of Japan.
Crowds of joyous Chinese make a forest of hands as they wave during Chungking’s victory celebrations, on Aug. 29, 1945. Many of them can be seen making the V- sign after receiving the welcome news, that the Japanese in Chungking wanted to surrender.