Why US dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan

(ORDO NEWS) — On August 6 and 9, 1945, the United States bombed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The total number of victims of the tragedy is over 450 thousand people. And the survivors still suffer from diseases caused by radiation exposure. According to the latest data, their number is 183.519 people.

Causes of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

In the summer of 1945, despite the surrender of Germany, the Japanese army continued to fight hard. The final decision on the atomic bombing of Japanese cities was made after in July 1945 Japan rejected the demands of the Potsdam Declaration (on behalf of Great Britain, the United States and China) for unconditional surrender. The new American president, Harry Truman, ordered the bombing of one of the cities – Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata or Nagasaki at the first opportunity, and the next target as the bombs arrived.

On July 26, the cruiser Indianapolis delivered the atomic bomb “Kid” to the American base on the island of Tinian. On July 28, the Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, George Marshall, signed the order for the combat use of nuclear weapons. This order, drafted by the military leader of the Manhattan Project, Leslie Groves, ordered a nuclear strike “on any day after the third of August, as soon as weather conditions permit.” In the following days, components of the Fat Man atomic bomb were delivered to Tinian by plane.

Great Destroyer of Worlds

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

“I am death, the great destroyer of worlds,” according to legend, it was this phrase from the Bhagavad Gita that Oppenheimer, the head of the Manhattan project, said while watching the explosion of the first atomic bomb near Alamogordo.

45 seconds after the release, the “great destroyer of worlds” exploded at an altitude of 500 meters. A blinding flash followed. From 70 to 80 thousand people who were at the epicenter of the explosion and the surrounding area died in the next few seconds. Within a radius of two kilometers, a fiery whirlwind raged, instantly destroying all life. Most of the buildings in the city were wooden, and the fire quickly spread to other areas. Only a few lucky ones, who were not far from the epicenter, managed to survive. The closest to the epicenter of the explosion of all the survivors was the Japanese Nomura, he was only 170 meters from him. But he survived thanks to the fact that at that moment he was in the basement of an earthquake-resistant building. About 70% of all buildings in the city were destroyed. At the same time, people who were at a distance of several kilometers from the explosion were practically not injured.

But real hell began in the first hours after the impact. Most of the hospitals in the city were located in the center, and almost all the doctors died in the first seconds. There was simply no one to help a large number of the wounded. In addition, the Japanese had no idea what they were facing, so there was no evacuation from the zone of radiation damage. On the contrary, a significant part of the survivors (2/3 of the city’s population survived after the strike) were mobilized to help the wounded. Communication with the city was interrupted, from the surrounding settlements the General Staff received reports of an unprecedented explosion, but they were considered rumors, since the headquarters knew that there was no massive bomber raid. Only a few hours later it was possible to establish the scale of the destruction and send help from other cities. But the Japanese still did not understand what had happened.

The American president issued a special statement warning that it would only get worse if the Japanese did not immediately accept the terms of surrender. On August 7, the ruined city was visited by specialists working on the Japanese atomic project (which was very far from building a bomb). They confirmed that an atomic weapon had been used and that the Americans probably had at least one other bomb.

For the military at that time, the situation looked acceptable. The victims of radiation had not yet begun to die, so the losses were large, but not catastrophic. Even fewer people died than in a conventional bombing (in June 1945, after a massive raid on Tokyo, about 100 thousand people died), so the losses were acceptable for the Japanese military doctrine even in the event of a repetition of the bombing.

Why Hiroshima and Nagasaki

It is no coincidence that Hiroshima was the main target of the bombings. In 1945, it was an important port, industrial and military center. It produced components for Japanese aircraft and ships, bombs, rifles and pistols. The city housed the headquarters of the 59th Army, the 5th and 224th divisions and, most importantly, the headquarters of the Second Command – a grouping of troops that was supposed to meet the Allied forces if they landed in southern Japan. The headquarters of the head of the Second Command, Marshal Shunroku Hata, was located in Hiroshima Castle, that is, with the success of the bombing, the allies could decapitate the main striking force of the enemy. In addition, Hiroshima was the supply base and logistics center of the Japanese army.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

At the same time, Hiroshima was not immediately chosen as the main direction of attack. At first, the city of Kyoto, whose population was three times larger – about a million people, was discussed as the number one goal. But, as former US ambassador to Japan Edwin Reischauer recalled, US Secretary of War Henry Stimson once honeymooned in Kyoto and crossed the ancient Japanese capital off the list as a sentimental gesture. The main goal was Hiroshima, and the place of Kyoto was taken by the city of Nagasaki.

The fate of Hiroshima was also decided by the fact that the city met all the criteria for achieving the maximum number of victims and destruction: a flat location surrounded by hills, low buildings and flammable wooden buildings.

Bombing of Hiroshima

Until August 6, 1945, Hiroshima had never been seriously bombed – only a few random bombs fell on the city without causing much damage. The worst thing that could happen to the city and its inhabitants happened at 08:15 in the morning. A minute earlier, the pilot of the American B-29 bomber, Paul Tibbets, dropped an atomic bomb on the center of Hiroshima. According to the survivors, “hell on earth has come.”

The weight of the bomb was 4.4 tons, the size was 3 meters in length, 71 centimeters in diameter. Unlike most modern bombs, made according to the implosive principle, the “Baby” was a cannon-type bomb – that is, easy to calculate and manufacture and practically trouble-free. The bomb contained 64 kilograms of extremely expensive highly enriched uranium, of which about 700 grams, or just over 1%, directly participated in the nuclear chain reaction. The nuclei of the remaining uranium atoms remained intact, since the rest of the uranium charge was dispersed by the explosion and did not have time to participate in the reaction.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

“Giant Pillar of Purple Fire”

Surviving eyewitnesses recalled that they first saw a flash of bright light, followed by a wave that burned everything around. In the area of ​​​​the epicenter of the explosion, everything instantly turned into ashes.

Birds flying past burned up in the air, and dry combustible materials (such as paper) ignited at a distance of up to two kilometers from the epicenter. Light radiation burned the dark pattern of clothes into the skin and left the silhouettes of human bodies on the walls. Immediately killed at least 80 thousand people.

Numerous small fires that simultaneously broke out in the city soon merged into one large fire tornado, which created a strong wind directed towards the epicenter. The fiery tornado captured over eleven square kilometers of the city, killing everyone who did not have time to get out during the first few minutes after the explosion.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Survivors poured in from Hiroshima in a continuous stream. As the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun wrote, “those who fled from the place of fires resembled crowds of the dead who came from the next world.”

“They had badly burned faces and hair, their skin hung down. They didn’t say anything, they just moaned and asked for water,” recalled Keiko Ogura, who was eight years old at the time of the bombing.

Reiko Yamada was three years older, her memories of the disaster are no less eerie:

“When the bomb went off, I was in the school garden. Two and a half kilometers separated me from the explosion. The area on the other side of the river was completely destroyed. From there, from the center of the city, people were running towards us, the whole road was clogged with them. Without receiving any medical care, they died one by one under the scorching rays of the sun right on the road. Freeing the road, piles of dead bodies were raked up like garbage and burned right in the courtyard of our school, digging several ditches. They also burned corpses in the yards of other schools and just in wastelands, the smell of burning flesh was over the whole city.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

“Giant Pillar of Purple Fire”

Do you think this atomic bomb will end the war?

“There is a good chance that it will. But if not, then one or two more, no doubt. No nation can resist such a force for long.

Such a dialogue took place aboard an American Boeing B-29 strategic bomber early in the morning of August 9, 1945. The question was asked by one of the sergeants, and the answer was given by The New York Times science columnist and official historiographer of the US nuclear programs, William Lawrence, the only journalist who covered the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As he wrote, the view he voiced was not his personal opinion – so thought many who saw the world’s first test of nuclear weapons.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Soldiers clearing rubble in Nagasaki

Lawrence was aboard an observation B-29 – the Fat Man was carried by another bomber, The Great Artiste – and saw what was happening with his own eyes. “Does anyone feel pity or compassion for the poor who will die? Not when thinking about Pearl Harbor and the Bataan death march,” he wrote.

“The winds of fate seemed to favor certain Japanese cities, which must remain unnamed. We circled them over and over again and found no break in the dense umbrella of clouds covering them. Fate chose Nagasaki as its target. (…) Here we circled again until we found a break in the clouds. Our mission goal has been achieved. (…) From the womb of The Great Artiste a certain black object flew out, ”the journalist recalled.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Residents of the town of Oak Ridge in the US state of Tennessee celebrate the victory over Japan. This city was used to develop US nuclear weapons.

According to Lawrence’s description, even with welding goggles on, daylight, and the fact that their side had already turned in the opposite direction from the explosion, everyone noticed the brightest light flooding the cockpit. “We took off our dark glasses after the first flash, but the glow continued: a bluish-green light lit up the sky around. The strongest blast wave hit the plane, it shook from nose to tail. Then, one after another, four explosions occurred, each of which looked like a shot from a cannon, ”the journalist wrote.

“Those at the tail saw a giant fireball rise, as if from the bowels of the Earth, spewing huge white rings of smoke. Then they saw a gigantic column of purple fire 10,000 feet (about 3 kilometers) high, rushing into the sky at great speed. (…) Astounded, we watched it take off – like a meteor coming from the earth, not from space – becoming more and more alive, rising higher through the white clouds. It was no longer smoke, dust, or a cloud of fire. It was a living creature, a new kind of creature, born right before our incredulous eyes, ”recalled Lawrence.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

The moment of the bombing in Nagasaki

After the two bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States rejoiced: newspapers were full of headlines about “bomb-torn Japs” and “rain of destruction”, people rejoiced at the revenge for Pearl Harbor. “I never doubted that it [bombs] use is my duty,” US President Harry Truman later declared. The head of state also noted that “this is the greatest case in history,” and asked the military involved in the bombing not to feel guilty about his decision.

However, many already considered it obligatory to fulfill even such an order. Pilot Charles Sweeney, in particular, spoke about this, from whose plane a bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. “I considered it my duty. I just wanted the war to end so we could go home to our loved ones,” he explained. This position was shared by co-pilot Fred Olivy: “Although thousands died, I am sure that the bomb should have been dropped, because if the Americans were forced to invade Japan, this would lead to a terrible massacre.”

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Cemetery in Hiroshima in August 1955. The city itself is actually rebuilt

“Suffering for Life”

Those who were on earth had no time for jubilation – and without a ground invasion, Hiroshima and Nagasaki turned into a burning hell. As the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun wrote, “those who fled from the place of fires resembled crowds of the dead who came from the next world.” Despite the help, people were dying, and many of them were conscious and even asked to end their lives as soon as possible. Some were “lucky” to avoid suffering: closer to the epicenter of the explosion, due to the release of heat from people on the ground, only black traces remained – most likely, they did not even realize that they had died.

Thousands of survivors of the atomic bombings became known as hibakusha, “exposure-affected people.” However, instead of support, they received only new difficulties: the Japanese authorities could not help them for many years, and those around them simply tried not to deal with hibakusha. In fact, this was due to the fear of radiation – people knew that the bomb brings disease, but did not know why. As a result, survivors were preferred not to be hired, they were avoided to marry, fearing the risk of having children with disabilities. And even now, two generations later, this stigma still hangs over the hibakusha. However, the fewer people who remember the tragedy remain alive, the more often many of them try to share their stories.

92-year-old Korean Lee Jong Geun has been hiding from others for almost 70 years that he is one of the hibakusha. He was 16 when The Kid exploded over Hiroshima and suffered severe neck burns. After the incident, colleagues did not even approach him at work because of the “a-bomb disease” (A-bomb disease), and the girls were worried about possible diseases. As a result, Keun, who was also bullied at school because of his Korean origin, began to live like the Japanese Masaichi Egawa, and only at the age of 85 told his wife about the past. Now he believes that “the ban on nuclear weapons is the starting point for peace” on the planet.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Burnt hands of one of the survivors of the bombing

Some of the hibakusha were babies at the time of the bombing, but even the absence of memories of the destruction did not make their lives better. Nobuaki Hanaoka, 75, says he was only eight months old when “Fat Man” fell on Nagasaki, but has lived his whole life with guilt about having survived. The fact is that his mother and older sister died of leukemia when he was in first grade. “For as long as I can remember, they were both in bed, very pale and very weak. I don’t remember a case where my mother did something, she was always in bed, ”recalls Nanoka.

He himself lived much longer than doctors predicted: they said that the boy would live only up to 10 years if he was exposed to the same radiation effects as his sister and mother. “And then my tenth birthday passed without incident. In a way, I felt relieved, but at the same time, I felt guilty – why such good people as my mother and sister had to die, and I – good for nothing – is still alive. I almost always apologized for being alive… I learned that this feeling was common enough. It’s called survivor’s fault,” Nanoka said.

According to the man, he could not get rid of the guilt: “This [feeling] never left me, even after all these years. I would say that nuclear bombs don’t just kill you, they make you suffer for the rest of your life.”

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

American Major Charles Sweeney commanded the B-29 aircraft that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki and also piloted an observation aircraft during the raid on Hiroshima.

Seiko Fujimoto survived the Hiroshima bombing when she was three years old. According to her, just at the beginning of August she moved to the city with her younger brother, uncle, aunt and their son. Her parents, however, lived elsewhere.

Fujimoto was playing outside with her dog when the US dropped the bomb. “I watched something descend from the sky – as I remember, something like a balloon,” the woman shared. After that, she remembers only the strongest wind. As it turned out, she and her younger brother survived, were hospitalized and then reunited with their parents, but they could not find the bodies of their relatives, and nothing was left of their house.

Then the family moved to Tokyo, while Fujimoto was forbidden to tell anyone that she survived the bombing – others were afraid that the girl would not be able to marry. The woman’s brother died at the age of four. She still remembers how he wanted a watermelon, but he could not fulfill his dream and enjoy life. Since his death, Fujimoto has not eaten watermelons.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Nagasaki nuclear attack survivor

“Several times a year, the sky at sunset is bright red – so much so that red shadows fall on people’s faces. Then I remember the sunset on the day of the bombing. The city burned for three days. I hate sunsets,” says Emiko Okada.

She was eight years old at the time of the bombing of Hiroshima. She survived with her parents, but her older sister Mieko disappeared. “She was 12 years old and she was always so cheerful! She did not return, no one knows what became of her. Her parents were desperately looking for her. The body was never found, and they believed Mieko was alive,” says Okada.

According to her story, after the bombing, there were problems with food in the city, and people, not knowing about the radiation, ate everything they could find.

Water has become a treat! From hunger, people began to steal. That’s how we lived in the early days, but it’s forgotten now

Emiko Okada

“Suddenly, my hair began to fall out, my gums began to bleed. I felt tired all the time, I just thought where to lie down, ”she said. Nobody knew what radiation was. Only 12 years later I was diagnosed with aplastic anemia.”

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Nuclear bomb “Fat Man” near the hangar at the Tinian base

Keiko Ogura was eight years old when she was playing outside her house in Hiroshima and saw a burning bright flash. “It was dark, absolute silence. I didn’t know what to do other than sit down. All I could hear was the cry of my younger brother, ”she shares her memories.

Later, burnt people began to gather at the temple not far from her destroyed house: “They had badly burned faces and hair, their skin hung down. They didn’t say anything, they just moaned and asked for water.” Ogura brought water from the well to the victims, and they drank it and died. “I didn’t know that it was dangerous to water people in such a state. For 10 years I blamed myself for their deaths,” she says.

After the incident, her family advised her to hide her status as a hibakusha, and she did so for a long time. Relatives still do not want her to mention them in her stories.

“People like me wondered why they continued to live when so many other people died. I could never forget two people who died in front of me, – says the Japanese woman. “But I will talk about what happened until my last breath, so that their deaths, like the deaths of others, will not be in vain.”

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

U.S. President Harry Truman reads a report on the results of airstrikes aboard the cruiser Augusta after attending the Potsdam Conference

The death of Hiroshima

At first, the Americans were inclined towards a rather humane idea – to drop a bomb on almost deserted rice fields. But Truman felt that such a demonstration would not effectively affect either the Japanese or the Russians. A great resonance in society is needed – so that all of Japan shudders with horror and the whole world understands “who is the boss in the house.” The target for the atomic bomb began to be chosen among populous industrial cities. Truman thought: if atomic weapons are to be used, then with maximum effect, in order to turn large factories into ashes, so that cities lie in ruins, so that tens of thousands of people die – as a warning to others. Perhaps he was not a bloodthirsty man. But, having a unique weapon, he felt his own permissiveness and wanted to seriously shake the world.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

American bomber B-29 “Enola Gay” at the US Air Force base on the island of Tinian

In the regime of extreme secrecy, atomic bombs were delivered to the island of Tinian, where a large American military base was located. There were two of them – “Baby” and “Fat Man” – 16-18 kilotons and 21 kilotons of TNT. Never before has any state possessed such weighty destructive power. Needless to say, the Soviet Union, which at that time was an ally of the United States, received no information about these maneuvers. But the Red Army fought the Japanese at the urgent request of the American side, which was heard at all three conferences of the Big Three. Our soldiers and officers performed their allied duty by openly informing the Americans about their operations. And the “brothers in arms” kept the stone in their bosoms.

The American pilots who performed this mission, of course, believed that they were doing a good deed for all mankind. They put an end to the long-term Second World War – no more and no less. Therefore, before the flight, they visited the temple and received ampoules of poison from the command – in case of a disaster, so as not to be captured.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr. in the cockpit of the Enola Gay bomber

On August 6, at 8:15 a.m., hundreds of thousands of Hiroshima residents stopped their clocks. An American B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb on the city from a height of 9 km. The plane was piloted by Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr., a 30-year-old pilot who was considered the best ace of the US Air Force. The plane was called “Enola Gay” – in honor of the mother of the pilot. As scientists predicted, the “Kid” fell exactly 45 seconds and exploded about 500 m from the ground, spreading powerful energy of destruction around him.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

The explosion wiped out 90% of city blocks and about 100 thousand people from the face of the earth. Tens of thousands more died later, from radiation and starvation. After all, the city turned into a dead space in which there was not enough food, water, in which everything was infected. Hundreds of apocalyptic memories of the surviving residents of Hiroshima remained with terrible details: thousands of people died in terrible agony. It was in those days that mankind first encountered the problem of the mysterious radiation sickness.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Hiroshima after the atomic bombing

Nuclear mushroom was visible at a distance of 600 km! The world has never seen such spectacles. Unless I read it in the most brutal science fiction novels. And Tibbets and navigator Theodore Van Kirk, as they recalled, involuntarily let out an enthusiastic exclamation.

“Fat Man” in Nagasaki

After the Hiroshima horror, the Americans did not achieve their goal: Japan cringed in horror, but did not capitulate. And exactly three days later, on August 9, US Air Force pilot Charles Sweeney lifted another bomber into the sky. His target was the city of Kokura. But… He was saved by the clouds, which made this outpost of the samurai invisible to the pilots. “Lucky like Kokura” – such a saying appeared in Japan a few weeks later. Sweeney received new orders to move to Nagasaki. The Americans were not even stopped by the fact that prisoners of war, including US citizens, worked on the docks there.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Sweeney carried out the order flawlessly. At 11:20, atomic bomb number three was dropped on one of Japan’s most famous ports, Nagasaki. The Fat Man’s explosion was more powerful. But if the whole of Hiroshima turned into a pile of ruins, then the damage done to Nagasaki was not so total: the hilly terrain helped the city. But several tens of thousands of people died immediately. Fires started in the city. By the end of the year, the death toll from injuries and illnesses in Nagasaki exceeded 140,000.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Only after this blow did the Japanese begin to prepare for surrender. Emperor Hirohito’s statement stated that the enemy possessed a cruel weapon capable of destroying all the inhabitants of the country. Well, the Americans got their way.

A month after the tragedy, the crew that bombed Nagasaki walked through the ruins of the city. They saw human skulls and animal skeletons among the ruins, they saw burned, dying people on the streets, they felt a “disgusting stench.” But these pictures did not change their attitude to what was done. All of them remained supporters of a nuclear strike on Japan.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Injured in the atomic bombing of Nagasaki

In the late 1940s, the Japanese managed to calculate: two bombs claimed the lives of 200 thousand people. In the 21st century, new calculations were made, adding to the victims of an atomic strike those who died from burns and radiation sickness. The death toll has more than doubled to 450,000.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Ruins of Nagasaki

For the Japanese, the memory of the national tragedy has become sacred. And more important than all the monuments and museums was the story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who survived the tragedy of Hiroshima at the age of two. Survived. But nine years later, she showed signs of radiation sickness. She knew an old legend: whoever folds a thousand cranes out of paper will recover from any illness. For a whole year – until her death – she made cranes. In Hiroshima, in the Peace Park, there is a statue of a girl with a paper bird in her hand – a symbol of Japanese misfortune and hope. The girl with cranes was well known in the USSR, although our countries were not allies during the Cold War.

Memories of Hiroshima

In our time, there are few lawyers for President Truman’s fatal decision. It is difficult to sympathize with the massacre of civilians. History has delivered a clear verdict: barbarism. And in the fact that this epilogue of the Second World War was recognized as a crime against humanity, the role of our compatriots – writers, journalists, who, starting from the 1950s, spoke to the whole world about the Japanese tragedy, is great. The very name of the city of Hiroshima has become for several generations of Soviet people a synonym for misfortune, a catastrophe that cannot be allowed. Nowadays, August 6 is celebrated as Hiroshima Day – the World Day for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – and this is also largely the merit of our fathers and grandfathers, those who spoke openly about the criminality of atomic bombings in the middle of the last century.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Peace Memorial in Hiroshima – the so-called “Atomic Dome”

Pictures, posters, songs, poems dedicated to the tragedy of Hiroshima appeared in our country until the 1980s. For example, at the Moscow Festival of Youth and Students in 1985, the 40th anniversary of the “massacre of Hiroshima” was celebrated very violently. Compiled angry petitions to the latest American warmongers, expressed condolences to the Japanese. In the same year, Alexander Yakovlev – the future “architect of perestroika” – published the book “From Truman to Reagan”, in which he denounced Americans for both the “war crime” of 1945 and the hawkish “Truman” spirit in 1985 politics.

It is hard to forget the lines of Robert Rozhdestvensky, which were set to music and sung by the famous Muslim Magomayev:

“The navigator exclaimed: “Oh, how beautiful! ..” At that moment, all ideas of evil collapsed in the molten darkness. People learned that there is Hiroshima on Earth. And there is no Hiroshima.

Show of force and revenge for Pearl Harbor

Why did the Americans even need to launch a nuclear strike on Japan? There may be several answers. First, the US wanted to force the Japanese to capitulate as soon as possible in order to minimize their own losses. The fact is that even at the very end of the war, when the victory of the anti-Hitler coalition seemed obvious, Japan continued to be America’s main headache. Recall that of all the countries of the “axis”, she was the last to capitulate, which on September 2, 1945 put an end to the Second World War.

The Japanese resisted desperately, making it clear that they would fight to the last drop of blood. After a series of stubborn battles by June 1945, the Americans still managed to capture the island of Okinawa, but at what cost! During the operation, which began in April, more than 12,000 American soldiers were killed and 39,000 wounded. The Japanese lost many times more (from 93 to 110 thousand soldiers and over 100 thousand civilians), but they were not going to surrender. According to the most optimistic forecasts of the Americans, in the event of an invasion of the island of Kyushu and further military operations on the territory of Japan, their losses would amount to about 100 thousand people, in the worst case, twice as much. All this made the US authorities think about other options for solving the “Japanese problem”.

Various ideas were put forward, including the use of chemical weapons. This plan even began to be put into practice: poisonous substances were transferred to the US bases in the Philippines. But later this idea was abandoned.

There were several other reasons to strike at Japan. One of them is the irrepressible desire of the United States to demonstrate its military power to the Soviet Union. At the same time, the States wanted to force the USSR to enter the war with Japan as soon as possible. And, finally, revenge for Pearl Harbor and the bestial cruelty of the Japanese soldiers, which they showed in battle. In a word, the Americans have long been waiting for a chance to get “revenge”.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Kyoto saved minister’s honeymoon

Finally, by the summer of 1945, the government of Harry Truman decided to launch a nuclear attack on Japan. In fact, preparations for this in conditions of the strictest secrecy have been carried out since the autumn of 1944. A special detachment of pilots was formed at Wendover Air Force Base, who regularly performed training flights, exercising in aimed bombing. But the final decision on the atomic bombing was made after Japan officially refused to comply with the terms of the Potsdam Declaration on unconditional surrender on July 28, 1945.

Preparations for the bombardment began with the selection of targets. For this, a special committee was created, whose task was to choose among the Japanese cities the most suitable for striking. Several requirements were put forward for the goal: it had to be large so as not to waste shells in vain, be of great strategic importance (the city should have large military depots and factories, or it should be a major seaport or a location for a large number of troops) and, finally , a blow to it was supposed to be a blow to the image of all of Japan, so cities that had not previously been subjected to massive bombing were considered – it was necessary to wipe out a place almost untouched by the war from the face of the earth.

After a series of discussions, five cities were chosen: Kyoto, Niigata, Yokohama, Kokura and Hiroshima. Initially, Kyoto seemed to be the most attractive target for the Americans. It was one of the largest industrial centers in the country, with about 1 million people living in it – just what you need for a frightening attack. But the sentimentality of US Secretary of War Henry Stimson saved Kyoto from destruction. As the American historian Edwin Reischauer writes, once Stimson and his newly-made wife spent a wonderful honeymoon in Kyoto. The minister admired the beauty of this city and greatly appreciated the memories of the days spent there. So Kyoto was crossed off the fatal list, and Nagasaki took its place.

Why was Hiroshima chosen for the first strike? There are several reasons. Firstly, in 1945 it was a major port, as well as an industrial and military center. It produced parts for ships and aircraft, as well as rifles, pistols and air shells. In addition, the headquarters of the Second Command was based in Hiroshima – the very group of troops that was supposed to fight the Allied forces if they landed on the Japanese islands. Thus, during the bombing of Hiroshima, the Americans could decapitate the main striking force of the enemy with one blow.

Secondly, by the end of the war, Hiroshima, like Kyoto, had not yet suffered from enemy bombing, which made it an excellent target in terms of psychological pressure. Finally, the appearance of the city itself was a decisive factor: low, mostly wooden houses that could be ignited by a single spark, and the hills surrounding the city, which were supposed to enhance the effect of the explosion – the damage caused was colossal. Hiroshima was doomed.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Nagasaki: accidental victim

Preparations for the second strike followed the same scenario. A bomb called “Fat Man” was transferred to Tinian, the date of the bombing was set for August 9th. At 2:47 a.m., an American B-29 bomber under the command of Major Charles Sweeney took off from Tinian Island. The Enola Gay aircraft that bombed Hiroshima also took part in the mission, this time as a reconnaissance aircraft. Initially, the Americans’ target was the city of Kokura, but because of the high clouds it was difficult to aim, so Sweeney headed for Nagasaki. This city appeared on the list of targets almost by accident and never had a priority, but everything was decided by chance. The clouds over Nagasaki were not so dense, and this decided the matter. At 11:01 the bomb was dropped.

And yet Nagasaki was a little more fortunate than Hiroshima. Still, the visibility was not ideal, and Sweeney missed a little. Because of this, “Fat Man”, whose goal was the city center, exploded over one of the industrial areas. It was fenced off from the center by high hills – this saved many lives. It is still not known exactly how many people died as a result of the explosion in Nagasaki: historians agree on a figure of 20-25 thousand people. This is almost three times less than in Hiroshima.

On the same day, August 9, 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. From that moment on, the Japanese finally lost hope of success. Emperor Hirohito, who had long been inclined to surrender, recognized the defeat of the country in the war.

In total, about 140 thousand people died in Hiroshima within a few months after the explosion – almost half of all residents of the city. Of these, about half died from radiation sickness and various complications. The explosion in Nagasaki claimed about 70 thousand inhabitants (a third of the city’s population), of which most survived the bombardment, but died from its consequences.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki will forever go down in history as symbols of the struggle against weapons of mass destruction. August 6 is celebrated by the international community as the World Day for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Memorial ceremonies are held annually in Hiroshima on this day. And in the center of the city, as an eternal reminder of those events, the “Atomic Dome” (Genbaku dome) still rises. Perhaps this is the most famous building in Hiroshima. Once there was the Exhibition Center of the Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The building was built very strong in case of an earthquake, so even after a nuclear attack, it partially survived, although it was only 160 meters from the epicenter of the explosion. The Japanese decided to leave it untouched. In 1996, these ruins received UNESCO World Heritage status.

Influence of nuclear radiation

The peak of human deaths occurred in the third and fourth weeks after the explosion. People who were just recovering from wounds and psychological shock began to suffer from a new disease. So medicine learned about the effects of radiation on humans.

By 1950, the number of victims of the bombing of Hiroshima had more than doubled – 200 thousand people, 140 thousand were injured in Nagasaki, reports the BBC.

Why they dropped the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and who is to blame

Consequences of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

After the explosion of the atomic bomb, all living things within a radius of 2 km died. Then mass fires began, which became even larger due to the wind.

Today you can see many photographs taken immediately after the tragedy. Only ruins and completely scorched earth are visible on them.

After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, humanity first encountered such a phenomenon as radiation sickness. It seemed that the surviving people were initially on the mend, but then soon died. This was also observed after the Chernobyl accident.

Symptoms of an unknown disease resembled diarrhea. The people who survived all their lives suffered from various diseases, and were also incapable of reproducing full-fledged children.

Justification for action

The goals and ways to achieve them are ambiguously assessed by many experts, RIA Novosti emphasizes.

Harry Truman himself, the 33rd President of the United States, who was in power at the time of the bombing, said that this step was decisive in forcing Japan to agree to surrender. In his opinion, the bombing made it possible to avoid heavy casualties if Japan refused to admit defeat.

However, many historians believe that Japan agreed to surrender even before the attack.


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