Yesterday was the anniversary of one the most horrible atrocities in recorded human history: the dropping of the atomic bombs on
Hiroshima and . I first came to know the truth about Nagasaki Hiroshima and Nagasaki when I returned to school and discovered the Maidens… Hiroshima
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The Tree of the Knowledge of good and Evil/ Hiroshima Maidens
60"x80" Oil on Canvass/ Wood, 2003
The central image of this painting is a representation of the tree of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The side panels are taken from displays in the Hiroshima Peace Museum showing the aftermath of the nuclear bombing of that city.
Maidens ]=- Hiroshima
The Hiroshima Maidens is a group of twenty-five Japanese women who were seriously disfigured as young women as a result of the atom bomb dropped on
on the morning of August 6, 1945. They have dedicated their lives to telling the story of the Hiroshima bombings and the horror of nuclear war. Hiroshima
My curiosity piqued after listening to their talk, I investigated further and what I discovered wasn’t pretty, to say the least.
The accepted rationale for
Hiroshima and is that if the atomic bomb had not been dropped, the war would have continued and more lives would have been lost. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nagasaki
Many nations have tested nuclear weapons, but only one has ever used them. That nation, of course, is the
United States; the bombs it dropped on Hiroshima and on August 1945 incinerated more than 100,000 residents and left perhaps twice that number dying slowly from radiation poisoning. However, politicians at the time and conventional historians still maintain that those acts were justified. Short of a full-scale invasion of Nagasaki , its leaders would not have been convinced to surrender, and that, the reasoning goes, would have resulted in an even higher death toll. Japan
How many lives would have been lost in such an invasion is not clear. While President Truman threw around figures from 500,000 -- one million dead, at least one historian wrote that the figures the military planners projected put the number at between 20,000-46,000. However, the disturbing issue here is not the discrepancy in numbers, but the fact that neither an invasion nor a nuclear attack was necessary to make
By June 1945, whole-scale bombing of
Japan’s six largest cities had substantially wiped out ’s infrastructure and countless lives. In March of that year, as many as 1 million Japan residents were left homeless from the bombing raids. No oil shipments were getting into the country, which was utterly dependent on foreign oil, and by late July 90% of Japanese merchant shipping had been destroyed. Tokyo
While it is true that some Japanese factions were resisting the notion of surrender, the leaders in charge were on the verge of calling it quits. The only point deterring surrender was the Japanese concern that the emperor would be allowed to maintain his title. The
forces, of course, eventually accepted this condition. US
US government report issued in 1946 concluded that the Hiroshima and bombs did cause a Japanese surrender. The report cited documentation that as early as May 1945, Japanese leaders had decided that the war be ended even if it meant complete acceptance of Allied terms. The document cites the conclusion that Nagasaki would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped and even if no invasion had been planned or completed. Japan
Another 1946 document, a recently discovered secret intelligence study by the army’s top planning and operations group, came to the same conclusion: an invasion “would not have been necessary” and the A-bomb was not decisive in ending the war.
This view wasn’t some radical lefty bullshit; key military leaders echoed it. “The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender… In being the first to use [the atomic bomb] we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages,” said William D. Leahy, who was the president’s Chief of Staff and the nation’s senior military officer. The same opinion was offered by Dwight D. Eisenhower and Winston Churchill.
This isn’t hindsight, these assessments were known by US policy makers before they chose to drop the bombs. In fact, in July, American intelligence had intercepted a cable from Japanese foreign Minister Shigenori
Togo to his ambassador in that referred to “His Majesty’s strong desire to secure a termination of the war… ” Moscow
There was no attempt on behalf of the Truman administration to demand surrender. No show of power by, say, dropping the bomb on an unpopulated island. There was no careful consideration. This wasn’t the act of last resort.
So, if there was no true imperative to drop the bombs then why?
There are several theories, but the one I adhere to is that the
was about enter an unprecedented position of leadership in most of the post-war world and the bombs were intended more for the Soviets than anything else. It was a show of power to the Soviets, a nation the military feared. In fact, that the second bomb was made from plutonium, and not uranium as the first one, suggests that the Japanese people were the subject of a gruesome scientific experiment. US
The bombs were more of an opening shot in a Cold War that would last for decades.
I write all this because we should never forget... We all should know all those innocent men, women, and children didn’t need to die, as those in power would have us believe.
Alperovitz, G. (1995) The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth. (
: Knopf) New York
Zinn, H. (1991). A people's history of the United States: 1492-present.
: Perennial Classics. New York
Loewen, J. W. (1995). Lies my teacher told me: Everything your American history textbook got wrong New York: Touchstone Books.