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Published On: Wed, Feb 25th, 2015

This Day in History: 70 years ago US soldiers liberated Manila

What is commonly known as the Battle of Manila, the liberation of Manila during the Second World War occurred on this day in 1945. General Douglas MacArthur declared victory ending almost three years of Japanese military occupation in the Philippines

MacArthur summoned a provisional assembly of prominent Filipinos to Malacañan Palace and in their presence declared the Commonwealth of the Philippines to be permanently reestablished.

Complete demolition of the Legislature Building in Manila, P.I. One of the finest government buildings in the Far East, it was the pride of the Philippine Government. Filipino citizens pass the building and look in abject wonderment at the results of total war.  photo/ Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 1945

Complete demolition of the Legislature Building in Manila, P.I. One of the finest government buildings in the Far East, it was the pride of the Philippine Government. Filipino citizens pass the building and look in abject wonderment at the results of total war. photo/ Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 1945

“My country kept the faith,” he told the gathered assembly. “Your capital city, cruelly punished though it be, has regained its rightful place—citadel of democracy in the East.”

The death toll exceeds 100,000 people to free the city once nicknamed the “Pearl of the Orient,” the second most destroyed allied city in the world.

On Feb. 3, former prisoners of the Japanese internment camp at University of Santo Tomas (UST) came together from the United States and the United Kingdom to begin the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Manila.

They came to remember that unforgettable day in 1945 when they were given their freedom by American troops racing to save their lives.

The battle for Manila was the first and fiercest urban fighting in the entire Pacific War. Few battles in the closing months of World War II exceeded the destruction and the brutality of the massacres and savagery of the fighting in Manila.

American Kathy Elfstrom Cronquist was prisoner of war and visited the location, telling GMA News Online about her life, being age six at the time of internment and the “constant threat of dying either from starvation, illness, or at the hands of the Japanese.”

Their amazing article also notes that “The US had ordered MacArthur to leave the country in 1942 when the Japanese tightened its grip on the country. But he kept his promise to return in October 1944, while the war was still raging.”

In a speech during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the UST prison camp on Tuesday, James Zobel, executive director of the MacArthur Library in Virginia, said the general was determined to save the civilians imprisoned by the occupiers.

Zobel said MacArthur considered the liberation of the American and British civilian prisoners of war at UST his greatest moment during the Second World War.

For MacArthur, Manila was “home” and he personally knew the prisoners of war at the UST camp, Zobel recalled.

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http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/424935/lifestyle/artandculture/survivors-return-to-phl-70-years-after-liberation-from-ust-prison-camp

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