Photography: 98for98 The century in photographs: today 1945

This photograph shows Soviet and US troops enjoying recreation time somewhere in Germany, as we continue with The Independent and The Hulton Getty Picture Collection "98 for '98 - The Century in Photographs" series. Smiles, flags and late-night drinking welcomed the declaration of the war's end, but new power struggles in peace time, and the legacy of the atomic bomb and the concentration and POW camps posed political and personal battles still to be fought.

It was a series of bloody battles in the Pacific that finally brought the Allies to Japan's doorstep in the summer of 1945. By then Germany had been conquered; Hitler had shot himself, blaming not only the Allies but his own comrades for the defeat. Mussolini was caught by Italian partisans while hiding under a pile of coats and was shot and strung up for all to see.

In February 1945, the Big Three, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin, gathered at Yalta in Crimea and agreed to divide Germany into zones. Although Stalin said he would allow free elections in Poland and other countries in eastern Europe, his desire to spread communism was to make this pact worth nothing. Stalin was in a strong position; his troops had absorbed three nations along the Baltic sea, and by the end of the war occupied most of eastern Europe. Soon after occupation, the Soviet Union stopped cooperating with the Western Allies and blocked efforts to reunite Germany. After Germany admitted defeat, Japan carried on fighting, regardless of the warning by the US, China and Britain they would destroy it. At the Potsdam Conference in July, the Allies set forth their occupation policy, and President Truman unveiled the atomic bomb that had taken three years to build and, as Truman predicted, would create "a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth". On 6 August, an American B-29 bomber called Enola Gay dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.

It killed between 70,000 and 100,000 people, with thousands more dying later from injuries and radiation. The second bomb fell three days later on Nagasaki, and prompted the Japanese emperor, who traditionally stayed out of politics, to urge surrender. On 14 August, Japan agreed to end the war.

Photo 98 is a series of high-profile national events and exhibitions: for information call 01484 559888 or refer to

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