75 years ago, a US warplane dropped a nuclear bomb on August 6, 1945, during World War II on Hiroshima and destroyed the city and killed 350,000 living there and around 80000 people died. Three days later, a B-29 bomb was dropped on August 9, on Nagasaki and killed around 50000 people. The Nagasaki explosion unleashed the equivalent force of 22k tons of TNT, even more than what was witnessed in the Hiroshima bombing.
After the explosion, only ashes and human silhouettes were on the walls. Shadows appeared due to the heat that stood out during the explosion; it changed the colour of the surfaces, so there were contours of bodies and objects that swallowed some of the explosive waves. There were only a few survivors. The cities remained mutilated and still doomed to death from radiation disease.
Given the current atmosphere, there is a certain appeal to the Manhattan Project: a time when STEM was trusted enough to have written a blank cheque with the mandate to use the newfound power of the atom to stomp out fascism for good and save the world. Two cities were instantaneously destroyed in atomic fire, to force an end to the most destructive conflict in human history.
Soviet forces entered Warsaw in January and Budapest in February, the same month that Dresden is needlessly flattened by Allied bombers, probably killing 1000,000, payback I suppose. The full horror of the concentration camps is revealed in Poland and Germany. Some 7 million have entered them, mostly Jews, only 500,000 survived. Germany surrendered on May 7th. On the 6th and 9th, August atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, which withdrew on August 14th. Roosevelt died on 12th April to be succeeded as US president by Harry Truman. In the British General Election, a big labor victory means Clement Atlee replaced Winston Churchill as Prime minister.
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki undoubtedly affected World War II and the years following it. As one of the most prominent events in World War II, many controversies are surrounding the bombing. This leads me to my question, did the benefits outweigh the costs for the US to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Before diving into this topic, we need to first understand some background information about the event. The first atomic bomb (nicknamed “Little Boy”) was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. 3 days later on August 9, another atomic bomb (nicknamed “Fat Man”) was dropped on the city of Nagasaki.
To start things off, there were many benefits to dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Just days after the bombs were dropped, the Japanese Emperor Hirohito surrendered on August 15, and cited “a new and most cruel bomb”. President Truman also said that the bombs were used to “shorten the agony of war to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.” In other words, the bombing forced the Japanese to surrender while minimizing the loss of American soldiers since there was no need for the scheduled invasion. Moreover, it is said that the atomic bombs kept the Soviets in place, as it demonstrated US dominance post-World War II, even though it did not prevent the Cold War.
Even though there were benefits to dropping the atomic bombs, there were also costs that came with this decision. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima wiped out almost the entire city and killed an estimated 80,000 people on the spot. On the other hand, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki killed around 50,000 people instantly.
Those that did survive the initial blast; however, did not survive for long due to the radiation poisoning that left some wishing they had been killed instantly. In the end, tens of thousands more would die later from wounds and/or from the radioactive fallout. Altogether, around 210,000 people died from the atomic bombs by the end of the year. In addition, the survivors of the atomic bombs had a relatively greater risk of cancer, which affected them even long after the blast.
Although many benefits resulted from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, like the surrender of the Japanese with minimal casualties of American soldiers, the price that came with it was just too much. In other words, the benefits did not outweigh the costs for the US to drop the atomic bombs. This opinion is not only based on the innocent Japanese civilians that lost their lives, but more importantly, the high possibility that these deaths were unnecessary for the Japanese to surrender.
As I noted, the opinion that the benefits did not outweigh the costs for the atomic bombs to be dropped is most important, because of the possibility that the deaths of Japanese civilians were unnecessary for the eventual surrender of Japan. It was highly probable that Japan would have surrendered either way. Even the US Secretary of War (Henry L. Stimson) did not know if the bombs were really necessary since Japan had no allies, was under naval blockade, and had an almost destroyed navy.
In addition, the Soviet Union entering the war against Japan would very likely have been enough to get Japan to surrender in August or September at the latest, long before the scheduled invasion in November. Moreover, almost half of the Chicago scientists, the very men who invented the bombs, suggested demonstration to the Japanese and a chance for them to surrender before full military use. Another likely way for the Japanese to surrender while avoiding the atomic bombs and invasion was to simply change the demands for unconditional surrender.
If the US would allow the Japanese to keep the emperor system, they may have very likely surrendered. This proposal was declined mainly due to the fear that the public would be outraged over since people wanted revenge. In other words, people’s anger and rage may have possibly been a factor that affected the decision that sealed the fate of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.
Have you ever heard of Sadako Sasaki? A little girl fell victim to the atomic bomb attack in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the age of 2. After the attack, which happened roughly 1.6 miles from her home, Sadako was blown out of the window by the force. Her mother found her, and she appeared to have survived unscathed. She was a bright little girl who lived a relatively normal childhood for the next 10 years until her health began to deteriorate. She was said to have been affected by "bomb disease" (Leukaemia).
Her family was poor and could not afford the medication, so following an old Japanese legend, Sadako decided to fold 1000 cranes to be granted one wish. Her schoolfellows would regularly visit her at the hospital and bring her paper, and when she did not have access to this, she would use medical wrapping and any other material she could find. It is said that she folded 644 cranes before her death and her friend completed the remaining few, then buried the 1000 cranes with her. However, an exhibit in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum stated that she had completed the 1000 cranes and had gone on to make 300 more. Sadako Sasaki to this day remains a symbol of the innocent victims of nuclear warfare.
Due to this thousands of people lost their lives, their loved ones. The pain of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is still unforgettable. Even after 75 years, people remember this day with tears because innocent people lost their precious lives because of war.
Before the blast, this city was the center of colonial Portuguese and Dutch. In the 16th and 19th centuries, many churches were there. After the bomb blast churches were destroyed and they have made an atomic bomb museum and have kept remnants that were destroyed in the blast.
In the museum there’s one clock that stopped at 11:02 am the moment a bomb was dropped at Nagasaki at the height of 1650 feet. This clock was found in a house near Sanno Shinto shrine in Sakamoto-machi, about 800 meters from the hypocentre.
One of the interesting facts is that Nagasaki was not the original target for the bomb but on the morning of 9 August 1945, the weather was too cloudy for the pilots to have a good visual hence they redirected the target to Nagasaki. When the bomb was dropped it caused a fire that reached 6000 Celsius and huge amounts of radiation. 30,000 people died instantly and a total of 226,000 died from the effects of the bomb in the coming months. Around $2 billion was spent to develop the bombs for Hiroshima and Nagasaki in unbelievable numbers for the cost of war.
These attacks on Japanese cities became the only cases in human history when nuclear weapons were used not for test purposes, but combat purposes. But, as a huge proponent of clean and reliable nuclear energy, 6 and 9 August 1945 is something we must remember, along with the rest of humanity.
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