Mudd Library exhibition commemorates 1945
The year 1945 found Secretary of the Navy and Princeton alumnus James Forrestal (wearing bowtie) in Adolf Hitler’s office in Berlin. Forrestal, who played an instrumental role in helping the Allies win World War II, was touring Europe in July after the end of hostilities there. At the far left is future U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who was working as a journalist at the time.
Princeton NJ — As World War II came to a close, the victors sought to establish a peaceful and just world in order to overcome the divisions that had led to the most destructive conflict in human history. A new exhibition at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, “1945: A World United and Divided,” highlights this epochal year, including the war’s end and the efforts to win peace through the establishment of the United Nations.
Running through Jan. 31, the exhibition includes documents, letters, diaries, photographs and other items drawn from the Mudd Library’s public policy collections and the University archives. It showcases memorabilia from people and organizations with significant roles in either World War II or the beginning of the United Nations, or both.
The exhibition features materials from numerous Princeton alumni, illuminating their endeavors during this historic period: James Forrestal ’15, who served as secretary of the Navy from 1944 to 1947 and earned great respect for his instrumental role in helping to win World War II; John Foster Dulles ’08, Adlai Stevenson ’22 and Hamilton Fish Armstrong ’16, who played a role in the organization of the United Nations; Jacob Beam ’29, who served as third secretary to the embassy in Berlin and collected the embassy’s first data on the Nazi movement; and Robert Chaplin ’16, who served as the first group commander for the 116th Antiaircraft Artillery Group.
Documents, photographs and pamphlets also illustrate the efforts of groups formed during World War II. While the war divided the world, many Americans united in response to the President’s War Relief Control Board request for assistance. Groups formed a coalition called the National War Fund to solicit money for the benefit of war victims across the world, both during and after the war. They believed “the American principle that in union there is strength.”
That belief carried over to an organization called Americans United for World Organization. Before the war ended, groups such as the United Nations Association, Citizens for Victory, the American Free World Association, Catholic Association for International Peace and Committee for National Morale joined forces to convince leaders of the necessity for a world organization to promote peace, security and freedom throughout the world.
The work of such groups supported political leaders in creating the United Nations. In 1942, Franklin Roosevelt first used the phrase “United Nations” to denote the Allied countries of World War II. On April 25, 1945, a conference held in San Francisco brought together representatives from 50 countries to elaborate on the Dumbarton Oaks proposals, resulting in the creation of the charter of the United Nations. The final charter was ratified and approved on Oct. 24, 1945, with 51 nations as original member states. Records from these early meetings are on display.
“1945: A World United and Divided” is open to the public without charge from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday and until 8 p.m. Wednesday.