The Dilemmas of Victory
By early 1945 the Allies were winning the war. Germany and Japan were incapable of effective resistance but kept fighting until their leaders finally were forced to surrender. Allied victories in Europe and Asia came in May and August respectively, bringing jubilation to the Allied peoples. Both military and civilian populations had endured much suffering and heavy losses which, by 1945, had finally brought the long-held dream of victory over the Axis.
Yet the end of the war also brought terribly sobering and troubling developments. With the victory in Europe, the Allies first learned the full extent of German persecution of European Jews. The discovery of the death camps and the realization that millions had been killed in a program of mass extermination led to outrage and intensified hatred of the Nazi regime. This shock eventually led to questions of whether the Allies could have used their powers to stop, or at least limit, the cruelties of the Holocaust. And in the final days of the war against Japan, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, questions were