Mr. Hanks agreed to write the introduction, in which he explores the legacy of the war. “World War II and its history is something that Tom Hanks is really invested in,” Ms. Katzenberg said, adding, “We were really thrilled to have him on board.”
In order to include “the creative perspective,” Mr. Saltzstein said, he asked Mr. Chee, the Korean-American author, to contribute. In his essay, he wrote that his grandfather had told him that he dreamed in Japanese, and that eventually Mr. Chee learned that this was because the Japanese tried to systematically erase Korea’s culture during its occupation of the country from 1910 to 1945.
Mr. Saltzstein said he also wanted to invite a writer who could offer a distinctly Japanese point of view. Ms. Ogawa, who has written many novels in Japanese — only a few of which have been translated into English — contributed an essay about how literature is essential to retaining memories of the atomic bombings. She writes only in Japanese, so a translator, Stephen Snyder, worked with The Times to translate her correspondence and her essay into English, Mr. Saltzstein said. Versions of her essay were published online in English and in Japanese — and the Japanese version has attracted more readers, he said.
Mixed in with the text in the special section are dozens of archival photographs that readers are unlikely to have seen. Anika Burgess, a Times photo editor, found these photographs by searching The Times’s archives. She also found photographs from Getty Images, The Associated Press, museums and universities, Ms. Katzenberg said.
“We really wanted to talk about the history through a different lens,” she said, “and that also meant finding photography to go with those stories, which was at times really challenging. But Anika was able to track down excellent photography for every single story that we did.”
Working on the project “was often moving,” Mr. Saltzstein said. Having what is probably one of the last chances to hear from eyewitnesses was “a terrific responsibility on our part, and it had a deep effect on me,” he added.
Ms. Katzenberg took satisfaction in including not only unknown acts of bravery but also darker narratives that have been overlooked. “In remembering war,” she said, “we have to recognize those moments, too; only then can we come to terms with a conflict’s true costs.”