On May 8, 1945, Germany officially surrendered to the Allied powers. Four months later, on September 2, 1945, Japan ceded on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean. That autumn, as supplies became available, rationing came to an end; Americans could once again buy meat, cheese, tires and cars (although sugar rationing continued until 1947). 1 Between October 1945 and February 1946, 750,000 soldiers came home every month. 2 A few years earlier, these soldiers had left an America still reeling from the Great Depression (in 1941 unemployment had finally slipped below 10 percent). 3 World War II ended the depression and established the basis for the industrial economy. 4 Soldiers returned to a country responsible for more than half the world’s industrial production. 5