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Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

From Academic Kids

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Citizens of Hiroshima walk by the A-Bomb Dome, the closest building to have survived the city's atomic bombing. This photograph was taken on August 6, 2004, when a memorial service was held in Hiroshima.

During World War II, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, were destroyed by atomic bombs dropped by the United States military on August 6 and August 9, 1945, respectively, killing at least 100,000 civilians outright and many more over time. One of the primary reasons given for the use of the bomb was that it would force Japan to surrender unconditionally. Japan presented its formal document of surrender to the Allied powers on August 15. The survivors of the bombings are called hibakusha (被爆者), a Japanese word that translates literally to "bomb affected people."

Contents

Prelude to the bombings

The bombs, secretly developed by the United States (with assistance from the United Kingdom and Canada) under the codename Manhattan Project, were the second and third atomic devices to be detonated, and are the only ones ever used as weapons, rather than for testing purposes. The first nuclear test explosion, designated "Trinity" (and nicknamed "The Gadget" in part since it was not a deliverable weapon) was conducted in a desert in New Mexico on July 16, 1945. The decision to drop the bombs was made by US President Harry S. Truman, and followed over 3½ years of direct involvement of the US in World War II, during which time the United States had suffered about a million casualties. Truman's officially stated intention in ordering the bombings was to bring about a quick resolution of the war by inflicting destruction, and instilling fear of further destruction, that was sufficient to cause Japan to surrender.

After the Hiroshima atomic attack (and before the Nagasaki atomic attack), President Truman issued the following statement:

It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the likes of which has never been seen on this earth. [1] (http://history1900s.about.com/library/prm/blbombthatended2.htm)

As detailed near the end of this article, whether or not the bombings were justified has long been a contentious issue.

Choice of targets

The Target Committee at Los Alamos on May 10-11, 1945, selected in order the following targets: [2] (http://www.dannen.com/decision/targets.html)
Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yokohama, Kokura arsenal, Niigata, and possibly the Emperor's Palace. According to Robert Jungk, page 178, (which needs a confirming reference):

On the short list of targets for the atom bomb, in addition to Hiroshima, Kokura and Niigata, was the Japanese city of temples, Kyoto. When the expert on Japan, Professor Edwin O. Reischauer, heard this terrible news, he rushed into the office of his chief, Major Alfred MacCormack, in a department of the Army Intelligence Service. The shock caused him to burst into tears. MacCormack, a cultivated and humane New York lawyer, thereupon managed to persuade Secretary of War Stimson to reprieve Kyoto and have it crossed off the black list.

This account is partially confirmed by Rhodes, page 640, where he describes Stimson's refusal to bomb Kyoto, against the preference of General Groves.

Hiroshima

Hiroshima during World War II

At the time of its bombing, Hiroshima was a city of considerable military significance. It contained the headquarters of the Fifth Division and Field Marshal Hata's 2nd General Army Headquarters, which commanded the defense of all of southern Japan. The city was a communications center, a storage point, and an assembly area for troops. It was chosen as a target because it had not suffered damage from previous bombing raids, allowing an ideal environment to measure the damage caused by the atomic bomb. The city was mobilized for "all-out" war, with thousands of conscripted women, children and Koreans working in military offices, military factories and building demolition and with women and children training to resist any invading force.[3] (http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/virtual/VirtualMuseum_e/exhibit_e/exh0407_e/exh04072_e.html) [4] (http://www.hiroshima-is.ac.jp/Hiroshima/historic.htm)[5] (http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/virtual/VirtualMuseum_e/tour_e/ireihi/tour_12_e.html) [6] (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/abomb/foreword.htm)

The center of the city contained a number of reinforced concrete buildings as well as lighter structures. Outside the center, the area was congested by a dense collection of small wooden workshops set among Japanese houses; a few larger industrial plants lay near the outskirts of the city. The houses were of wooden construction with tile roofs. Many of the industrial buildings also were of wood frame construction. The city as a whole was highly susceptible to fire damage.

The population of Hiroshima had reached a peak of over 380,000 earlier in the war but prior to the atomic bombing the population had steadily decreased because of a systematic evacuation ordered by the Japanese government. At the time of the attack the population was approximately 255,000. This figure is based on the registered population, used by the Japanese in computing ration quantities, and the estimates of additional workers and troops who were brought into the city may not be highly accurate.

The bombing

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A watch from Hiroshima that was stopped by the detonation of the bomb.

Hiroshima was the primary target of the first U.S. nuclear attack mission, on August 6, 1945. The weather was good, and the crew and equipment functioned properly. Navy Captain William Parsons armed the bomb during the flight. (It had been left unarmed to minimize the risks during takeoff.) In every detail, the attack was carried out exactly as planned, and the bomb, with a 60 kg core of uranium-235, performed precisely as expected.

About an hour before the bombing, the Japanese early warning radar net detected the approach of some American aircraft headed for the southern part of Japan. The alert had been given and radio broadcasting stopped in many cities, among them Hiroshima. The planes approached the coast at a very high altitude. At nearly 08:00, the radar operator in Hiroshima determined that the number of planes coming in was very small—probably not more than three—and the air raid alert was lifted. The normal radio broadcast warning was given to the people that it might be advisable to go to shelter if B-29s were actually sighted, but no raid was expected beyond some sort of reconnaissance. At 08:15, the B-29 Enola Gay, piloted and commanded by Colonel Paul Tibbets, dropped the nuclear bomb called "Little Boy" over the central part of the city. It exploded about 600 meters (2,000 feet) above the city with a blast equivalent to 13 kilotons of TNT, killing an estimated 80,000 civilians outright.

Japanese realization of the bombing

Hiroshima, in the aftermath of the bombing.
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Hiroshima, in the aftermath of the bombing.

The Tokyo control operator of the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation noticed that the Hiroshima station had gone off the air. He tried to re-establish his program by using another telephone line, but it too had failed. About twenty minutes later the Tokyo railroad telegraph center realized that the main line telegraph had stopped working just north of Hiroshima. From some small railway stops within ten miles (16 km) of the city came unofficial and confused reports of a terrible explosion in Hiroshima. All these reports were transmitted to the Headquarters of the Japanese General Staff.

Military headquarters repeatedly tried to call the Army Control Station in Hiroshima. The complete silence from that city puzzled the men at Headquarters; they knew that no large enemy raid could have occurred, and they knew that no sizeable store of explosives was in Hiroshima at that time. A young officer of the Japanese General Staff was instructed to fly immediately to Hiroshima, to land, survey the damage, and return to Tokyo with reliable information for the staff. It was generally felt at Headquarters that nothing serious had taken place, that it was all a terrible rumor starting from a few sparks of truth.

The staff officer went to the airport and took off for the southwest. After flying for about three hours, while still nearly 100 miles (160 km) from Hiroshima, he and his pilot saw a great cloud of smoke from the bomb. In the bright afternoon, the remains of Hiroshima were burning.

Their plane soon reached the city, around which they circled in disbelief. A great scar on the land, still burning, and covered by a heavy cloud of smoke, was all that was left. They landed south of the city, and the staff officer immediately began to organize relief measures, after reporting to Tokyo.

Tokyo's first knowledge of what had really caused the disaster came from the White House public announcement in Washington, sixteen hours after the nuclear attack on Hiroshima.

By the end of 1945, it is estimated that 60,000 more people died due to radiation poisoning, bringing the total killed in Hiroshima in 1945 to 140,000. Since then several thousand more people have died of radiation-related causes.[7] (http://www.rerf.or.jp/eigo/faqs/faqse.htm) (According to the city of Hiroshima, as of August 6, 2004, the cumulative death toll of atomic-bomb victims was 237,062, [8] (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/08/06/world/main634348.shtml) but it remains uncertain how many of them exactly died of the effects of the bombing. There are about 270,000 hibakusha, "A-bomb victims," still living in Japan.)

"Survival" of some structures

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Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, the closest building to have withstood the bomb blast.

Some of the reinforced concrete buildings in Hiroshima were of a far stronger construction than is required by normal standards in America, because of the earthquake danger in Japan. This exceptionally strong construction undoubtedly accounted for the fact that the framework of some of the buildings that were fairly close to the center of damage in the city did not collapse. Another is that the blast was more downward than sideways; this has much to do with the "survival" of the Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall (pictured), designed and built by the Czech architect Jan Letzel, which was only a few meters from ground zero. (The ruin was named Hiroshima Peace Memorial and made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996 over the objections of the US and China.[9] (http://whc.unesco.org/archive/repco96x.htm#annex5))


Nagasaki

Nagasaki during World War II

The city of Nagasaki had been one of the largest sea ports in southern Japan and was of great wartime importance because of its wide-ranging industrial activity, including the production of ordnance, ships, military equipment, and other war materials.

In contrast to many modern aspects of Nagasaki, the residences almost without exception were of old-fashioned Japanese construction, consisting of wood or wood-frame buildings, with wood walls (with or without plaster), and tile roofs. Many of the smaller industries and business establishments were also housed in buildings of wood or other materials not strong enough to withstand explosions. Nagasaki had been permitted to grow for many years without conforming to any definite city zoning plan; residences were erected adjacent to factory buildings and to each other almost as closely as possible throughout the entire industrial valley.

Nagasaki had never been subjected to large-scale bombing prior to the explosion of a nuclear weapon there. On August 1, 1945, however, a number of high-explosive bombs were dropped on the city. A few of these bombs hit in the shipyards and dock areas in the southwest portion of the city. Several of the bombs hit the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works and six bombs landed at the Nagasaki Medical School and Hospital, with three direct hits on buildings there. While the damage from these few bombs were relatively small, it created considerable concern in Nagasaki and a number of people - principally school children - were evacuated to rural areas for safety, thus reducing the population in the city at the time of the nuclear attack.

The bombing

The mushroom cloud resulting from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rises 18 km (60,000 ft) into the air.
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The mushroom cloud resulting from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rises 18 km (60,000 ft) into the air.

On the morning of August 9, 1945, the crew of the American B-29 Superfortress "Bockscar," flown by Major Charles W. Sweeney and carrying the nuclear bomb nicknamed "Fat Man," found their primary target, Kokura, to be obscured by cloud. After three runs over the city and having fuel running low due to a fuel-transfer problem, they headed for their secondary target, Nagasaki. At about 07:50 Japanese time, an air raid alert was sounded in Nagasaki, but the "all clear" signal was given at 08:30. When only two B-29 superfortresses were sighted at 10:53 the Japanese apparently assumed that the planes were only on reconnaissance and no further alarm was given.

A few minutes later, at 11:00, the observation B-29 ("The Great Artiste" flown by Capt. Frederick C. Bock) dropped instruments attached to three parachutes. These instruments also contained messages to Prof. Ryukochi Sagane, a nuclear physicist who studied with three of the scientists responsible for the atomic bomb at the University of California, urging him to tell the public about the danger involved with these weapons of mass destruction. The letter was not found until after the end of World War II.

At 11:02, a last minute break in the clouds over Nagasaki allowed Bockscar's bombardier, Capt. Kermit Beahan, to visually sight the target as ordered. The weapon, containing a core of 8 kg of plutonium-239, was dropped over the city's industrial valley. It exploded 1,540 feet (469 m) above the ground almost midway between the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works, in the south, and the Mitsubishi-Urakami Ordnance Works (Torpedo Works), in the north, the two principal targets of the city. Some 75,000 of Nagasaki's 240,000 residents were killed, followed by the death of at least as many from resulting sickness and injury. However another report issues a different residential number, speaking of Nagasaki's population which dropped in one split-second from 422,000 to 383,000, thus 39,000 were killed, over 25,000 were injured. If taken into account those who died from radioactive materials causing cancer, the total number of residents killed is believed to be at least 100,000.

Debate over the decision to drop the bombs

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The black marker indicates "ground zero" of the Nagasaki atomic bomb explosion.
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A statue in Nagasaki Peace Park.

Support for use of atomic bombs

The  at the Hiroshima Peace Park is inscribed with a subjectless sentence: "Rest in peace, for...will not repeat the mistake." This construction, natural in the , was intended to memorialize the victims of Hiroshima without politicizing the issue. Even before the event, the dropping of atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was controversial.
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The cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Park is inscribed with a subjectless sentence: "Rest in peace, for...will not repeat the mistake." This construction, natural in the Japanese language, was intended to memorialize the victims of Hiroshima without politicizing the issue. Even before the event, the dropping of atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was controversial.
  • Supporters of the bombing concede that although the civilian leadership in Japan was cautiously and discreetly sending out diplomatic communiqués as far back as January of 1945, following the Allied invasion of Luzon in the Philippines, Japanese military officials were unanimously opposed to any negotiations before the use of the atomic bomb.
  • While some members of the civilian leadership did use covert diplomatic channels to begin negotiation for peace, on their own it could not negotiate surrender or even a cease-fire. Japan, as a Constitutional Monarchy, could only enter into a peace agreement with the unanimous support of the Japanese cabinet, and this cabinet was dominated by militarists from the Japanese Imperial Army and the Japanese Imperial Navy, all of whom were initially opposed to any peace deal. A political stalemate developed between the military and civilian leaders of Japan with the military increasingly determined to fight despite the costs and odds.
  • Historian Victor Davis Hanson points to the increased Japanese resistance, futile as it was in retrospect, as the war came to its inevitable conclusion. The Battle of Okinawa showed this determination to fight on at all costs. More than 110,000 Japanese and 12,000 American troops were killed in the bloodiest battle of the Pacific theater, just 8 weeks before Japan's final surrender. When the Soviet Union declared war on Japan on August 8 1945 and carried out Operation August Storm, the Japanese Imperial Army ordered its ill-supplied and weakened forces in Manchuria to fight to the last man, an order which it carried out. Major General Masakazu Amanu, chief of the operations section at Japanese Imperial Headquarters, stated that he was absolutely convinced his defensive preparations, begun in early 1944, could repel any Allied invasion of the home islands with minimum losses. The Japanese would not give up easily because of their strong tradition of pride and honor: many followed the Samurai code and would fight until the very last man was dead.
  • After the realization that the destruction of Hiroshima was from a nuclear weapon, the civilian leadership gained more and more traction in its argument that Japan had to concede defeat and accept the terms of the Yalta Proclamation.
  • According to some Japanese historians, Japanese civilian leaders who favored surrender saw their salvation in the atomic bombing. The Japanese military was steadfastly refusing to give up, so the peace faction seized on the bombing as a new argument to force surrender. Koichi Kido, one of emperor Hirohito's closest advisors stated that "We of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavor to end the war." Hisatsune Sakomizu the chief Cabinet secretary in 1945 called the bombing "a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war." According to these historians and others the pro-peace civilian leadership was able to use the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to convince the military that no amount of courage, skill and fearless combat could help Japan against the power of atomic weapons. Akio Morita, founder of Sony and Japanese Naval officer during the war, also concludes that it was the atomic bomb and not conventional bombings from B-29s that convinced the Japanese military to agree to peace.
  • Supporters of the bombing also point out that waiting for the Japanese to surrender was not a cost-free option. The conventional bombardment was killing tens of thousands each week in Japan, directly and indirectly. The submarine blockade and the U.S. Army Air Force's mining operation, Operation Starvation, had effectively cut off Japan's imports. A complementary operation against Japan's railways was about to begin, isolating the cities of southern Honshu from the food grown elsewhere in the Home Islands. This, combined with the delay in relief supplies from the Allies, could have resulted in a far greater death toll, due to famine and malnutrition, than actually occurred. "Immediately after the defeat, some estimated that 10 million people were likely to starve to death", noted historian Daikichi Irokawa. Meanwhile, in addition to the Soviet attacks, offensives were scheduled in southern China, and Malaysia. As a result of the war, noncombatants were dying throughout Asia at a rate of about 200,000 per month.
  • The Americans anticipated losing many soldiers in the invasion of Japan, although the actual number of expected fatalities and wounded is subject to some debate and depends on the persistence and reliability of Japanese resistance and whether the Americans would have invaded only Kyushu in November 1945 or if a follow up landing near Tokyo, projected for March of 1946, would have been needed. Years after the war, Secretary of State James Byrnes claimed that 500,000 American lives would have been lost - and that number has since been repeated "authoritatively", but in the summer of 1945 US military planners projected 20,000-110,000 combat deaths from the initial November 1945 invasion, with about three to four times that number wounded.
  • In addition to that, the atomic bomb hastened the end of the Second World War in Asia liberating hundreds of thousands of Western citizens (including about 200,000 Dutch) and 400,000 Indonesians ("Romushas") from Japanese concentration camps. In addition, Japanese atrocities against millions of Chinese were ended.
  • Supporters also point to an order given by the Japanese War Ministry on August 1, 1944. The order dealt with the disposal and execution of all Allied POW's, numbering over 100,000, if an invasion of the Japanese mainland took place.
  • In response to the argument that the large-scale killing of civilians was immoral and a war crime, supporters of the bombings have argued that the Japanese government waged total war, ordering many civilians (including women and children) to work in factories and military offices and to fight against any invading force. Father John A. Siemes, professor of modern philosophy at Tokyo's Catholic University, and an eyewitness to the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima wrote:
We have discussed among ourselves the ethics of the use of the bomb. Some consider it in the same category as poison gas and were against its use on a civil population. Others were of the view that in total war, as carried on in Japan, there was no difference between civilians and soldiers, and that the bomb itself was an effective force tending to end the bloodshed, warning Japan to surrender and thus to avoid total destruction. It seems logical to me that he who supports total war in principle cannot complain of war against civilians. [10] (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/abomb/mp25.htm)

Opposition to use of atomic bombs

  • The Manhattan Project had originally been conceived as a counter to Nazi Germany's atomic bomb program, and with the defeat of Germany, several scientists working on the project felt that the United States should not be the first to use such weapons. One of the prominent critics of the bombings was Albert Einstein. Leo Szilard, a scientist who played a major role in the development of the atomic bomb, argued "If the Germans had dropped atomic bombs on cities instead of us, we would have defined the dropping of atomic bombs on cities as a war crime, and we would have sentenced the Germans who were guilty of this crime to death at Nuremberg and hanged them."
  • Their use has been called barbaric as several hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed, and the choice of areas heavily populated by civilians. In the days just before their use, many scientists (including Edward Teller) argued that the destructive power of the bomb could have been demonstrated without the taking of lives.
  • It has been argued that the use of atomic weapons against civilian populations on a large scale is a crime against humanity and a war crime. The use of poisonous weapons (due to the effects of the radiation) were defined as war crimes by international law of the time. Some have argued that Americans should have done more research into the effects of the bomb, including radiation sickness and the terrible burns that followed the explosion.
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Sadako Sasaki, a young victim of the bombing, became a well-known symbol of nuclear war and is now commemorated by a statue in Hiroshima, carrying a paper crane (a symbol of peace).
  • Some have claimed that the Japanese were already essentially defeated, and therefore use of the bombs was unnecessary. General Dwight D. Eisenhower so advised the Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, in July of 1945. [11] (http://www.doug-long.com/quotes.htm) The highest-ranking officer in the Pacific Theater, General Douglas MacArthur, was not consulted beforehand, but said afterward that there was no military justification for the bombings. The same opinion was expressed by Fleet Admiral William Leahy (the Chief of Staff to the President), General Carl Spaatz (commander of the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific), and Brigadier General Carter Clarke (the military intelligence officer who prepared intercepted Japanese cables for U.S. officials) (all also from [12] (http://www.doug-long.com/quotes.htm)); Major General Curtis LeMay ([13] (http://www.learner.org/biographyofamerica/prog23/feature/)); and Admiral Ernest King, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, and Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet (both from [14] (http://www.doug-long.com/ga1.htm)).
  • Others contend that Japan had been trying to surrender for at least two months, but the US refused by insisting on an unconditional surrender. In fact, while several diplomats favored surrender, the leaders of the Japanese military were committed to fighting a 'Decisive Battle' on Kyushu, hoping that they could negotiate better terms for an armistice afterward—all of which the Americans knew from reading decrypted Japanese communications. The Japanese government never did decide what terms, beyond preservation of an imperial system, they would have accepted to end the war; as late as August 9, the Supreme Council was still split, with the hardliners insisting Japan should demobilize its own forces, no war crimes trials, and no occupation. Only the direct intervention of the Emperor ended the dispute, and even after that a military coup was attempted to prevent the surrender (although it was easily suppressed).
  • Some have argued that the Soviet Union's switch from wary neutral to enemy on August 8, 1945 might have been enough to convince the Japanese military of the need to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration (plus some provision for the emperor). As it happened, the decision to surrender was made before the scale of the Soviet attack on Manchuria, Sakhalin Island, and the Kuril Islands was known, but had the war continued, the Soviets would have been able to invade Hokkaido well before the Allied invasion of Kyushu.
  • Other Japanese sources have stated that the atomic bombings themselves weren't the principal reason for capitulation. Instead, they contend, it was not the American atomic attacks on August 6 and August 9, but the swift and devastating Soviet victories on the mainland in the week following Stalin's August 8 declaration of war that forced the Japanese message of surrender on August 15, 1945. Certainly the fact of both enemies weighed into the decision, but it was more the fear of Soviet occupation that hastened imperialistic Japan's acceptance of defeat.
  • Many critics believe that the U.S. had ulterior motives in dropping the bombs, including justifying the $2 billion investment in the Manhattan Project, testing the effects of nuclear weapons, exacting revenge for the attacks on Pearl Harbor, and demonstrating U.S. capabilities to the Soviet Union. Scientists who had worked on the project later noted that they were pressured to finish the bomb by a set schedule, one which was timed to coincide with the Russian entrance into the Pacific theater, and one which additionally implied that the war would be potentially over very soon.
  • Some believe more effort to reduce casualties should have been made. Further, some claim this could have been done without affecting the stated purposes of the bombing. "No evidence has ever been uncovered that leaflets warning of atomic attack were dropped on Hiroshima. Indeed, the decision of the Interim Committee was that we could not give the Japanese any warning." [15] (http://www.doug-long.com/letter.htm) However, after the Hiroshima bombing, Truman announced "If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the likes of which has never been seen on this earth." On August 8, 1945 leaflets were dropped and warnings were given to Japan by Radio Saipan. (Nagasaki did not receive warning leaflets until August 10). On August 9, 1945 at 11:02 (Nagasaki time) Fat Man exploded at 1950 feet near the perimeter of the city, scoring a direct hit on the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works with a yield of 19-23 kt. [16] (http://vikingphoenix.com/public/JapanIncorporated/1895-1945/abombchr.htm) (An English translation of that leaflet is available at PBS (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/truman/psources/ps_leaflets.html) and below.)
  • The decision to bomb Nagasaki only a few days after Hiroshima raises separate issues. Some people hold that most of the arguments for the use of the atomic bomb do not justify dropping the second one on Nagasaki. In his semi-autobiographical novel Timequake, Kurt Vonnegut said that while the Hiroshima bomb may have saved the lives of his friends in the U.S. armed forces, Nagasaki still proved that the United States was capable of senseless cruelty.

Leaflets

On August 8, 1945 leaflets were dropped saying [17] (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/truman/psources/ps_leaflets.html):

TO THE JAPANESE PEOPLE:
America asks that you take immediate heed of what we say on this leaflet.
We are in possession of the most destructive explosive ever devised by man. A single one of our newly developed atomic bombs is actually the equivalent in explosive power to what 2000 of our giant B-29s can carry on a single mission. This awful fact is one for you to ponder and we solemnly assure you it is grimly accurate.
We have just begun to use this weapon against your homeland. If you still have any doubt, make inquiry as to what happened to Hiroshima when just one atomic bomb fell on that city.
Before using this bomb to destroy every resource of the military by which they are prolonging this useless war, we ask that you now petition the Emperor to end the war. Our president has outlined for you the thirteen consequences of an honorable surrender. We urge that you accept these consequences and begin the work of building a new, better and peace-loving Japan.
You should take steps now to cease military resistance. Otherwise, we shall resolutely employ this bomb and all our other superior weapons to promptly and forcefully end the war.
EVACUATE YOUR CITIES.

Cultural notes

  • The musical piece "Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima" by Krzysztof Penderecki (Sometimes also called Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima for 52 Strings, and originally 8'37" as a nod to John Cage) was written in 1960 as a reaction to what the composer believed to be a senseless act. On the 12th of October, 1964, Penderecki wrote: "Let the Threnody express my firm belief that the sacrifice of Hiroshima will never be forgotten and lost."

Further reading

The literature about the bombings, the making of the decision to use the bombs, the surrender of Japan, and the inter-relation of the latter two, is extremely extensive. The following volumes include many of the best ones. It should be noted that some (especially among the ones that debate whether the bombings were justified) were written from a particular point of view, and may contain claims that are disputed.

Descriptions of the actual bombings

  • Michihiko Hachiya, Hiroshima Diary (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1955), ISBN 0807845477. A daily diary covering the months after the bombing, written by a doctor who was in the city when the bomb was dropped.
  • John Hersey, Hiroshima (New York: Vintage, 1946, 1985 new chapter), ISBN 0679721037. An account of the bombing by an American journalist who visited the city shortly after the Occupation began, and interviewed survivors.
  • Ibuse Masuji, Black Rain (Japan: Kodansha International Ltd., 1969), ISBN 087011364X.
  • Toyofumi Ogura, Letters from the End of the World: A Firsthand Account of the Bombing of Hiroshima (Japan: Kodansha International Ltd., 1948), ISBN 4770027761.
  • Gaynor Sekimori, Hibakusha: Survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Japan: Kosei Publishing Company, 1986), ISBN 433301204X.
  • Charles Sweeney, et al, War's End: An Eyewitness Account of America's Last Atomic Mission ISBN 0380973499.
  • Kyoko Selden, et al, The Atomic Bomb: Voices from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Japan in the Modern World) ISBN 087332773X.
  • Nagai Takashi, The Bells of Nagasaki (Japan: Kodansha International Ltd., 1949), ISBN 4770018452.

Histories of the events

  • Pacific War Research Society, Japan's Longest Day (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1980) A detailed recounting of the Japanese government's decision making, covering the days of the surrender decision, by a group of scholars in Japan.
  • William Craig, The Fall of Japan (New York: Dial, 1967) A history of the governmental decision making on both sides, the bombings, and the opening of the Occupation.
  • Michael J. Hogan, Hiroshima in History and Memory
  • Fletcher Knebel, Charles W. Bailey, No High Ground (New York: Harper and Row, 1960) A history of the bombings, and the decision-making to use them.
  • Robert Jungk, Brighter Than a Thousand Suns: A Personal History of the Atomic Scientists, (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1956, 1958)
  • Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986.)
  • Gordon Thomas, Max Morgan Witts, Enola Gay (New York: Stein and Day, 1977) A history of the preparations to drop the bombs, and of the actual missions.
  • J. Samuel Walker, Prompt and Utter Destruction: President Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs Against Japan
  • Stanley Weintraub, The Last, Great Victory: The End of World War II, July/August 1945, (New York, Truman Talley Books/Dutton, 1995) Recounts the events day by day.

Debates over the bombings, and their portrayal

  • Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb (New York: Vintage Books, 1995) A history of the decision-making, by a historian who opposes the use of the atomic bomb.
  • Thomas B. Allen, Norman Polmar. Code-Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan- And Why Truman Dropped the Bomb, (New York: Simon & Schuster, July 1, 1995), ISBN 0684804069. Concludes the bombings were the better course.
  • Barton J. Bernstein, (ed) The Atomic Bomb: The Critical Issues, (Boston: Little, Brown, 1976) Most of this volume is devoted to discussing whether the bombings were justified or necessary.
  • Richard B. Frank, Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire, (Penguin, 2001), ISBN 0141001461. Uses newly declassified US military intelligence records and other primary sources to make the case that bombing had a net saving of lives, Japanese and American, over an invasion.
  • Paul Fussell, Thank God for the Atom Bomb (Ballantine, Reprint 1990), ISBN 0345361350.
  • Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America: A Half Century of Denial
  • Robert James Maddox, Weapons for Victory: The Hiroshima Decision, (University of Missouri Press, 2004) A history of the development and wartime use of the atomic bomb and the postwar controversy, by a diplomatic historian who supports Truman's decision.
  • Robert P. Newman, Truman and the Hiroshima Cult, (Michigan State University Press, 1995) A critical analysis of postwar opposition to the use of the bomb.
  • Philip Nobile, (ed) Judgement at the Smithsonian (New York: Marlowe and Company, 1995) ISBN 1569248419. Covers the controversy over the content of the 1995 Smithsonian Institution exhibition associated with the display of the Enola Gay; includes the complete text of the planned (and cancelled) exhibition.
  • Ronald Takaki, Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb, Little Brown, ISBN 0-316-83124-7, LoC D769.2.T35 1995

See also

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