Seventy-five years after the dropping of two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, there is still a fierce debate, especially in the United States, about whether their use was “necessary and justified.”
Hiroshima was razed to the ground in a single moment by a flash of light that divided the sky and a thunderbolt that shook the foundations of the earth. Where once an entire city had stood, a huge column of fire rose straight to the sky. A thick cloud of smoke piled up and darkened the sky. Underneath, the earth sank into deep darkness. Everywhere, the dead and wounded lay on the ground, piled on top of each other. This carnage resembled a scene of hell. All around, fires broke out, soon there was a single huge blaze, which became more violent from moment to moment. As the storm was strong, half-naked and shattered bodies began to move, darkly spotted and covered in blood. Combined into groups, like the spirits of the deceased, they waved away from it, in order to escape the inferno in a confused escape. (…) They resembled ghosts. Struggling to keep their feet, they waved in long rows to escape the death of fire.
These apocalyptic scenes became a cruel reality in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when us Air Force aircraft detonated two devastating bombs on August 6 and 9, 1945. In a statement released in Washington on August 6, U.S. President Harry S. Truman described the bomb that exploded in Hiroshima and explained the “necessity” of its deployment in the following words:
The explosive power of this bomb was more than 20,000 tons of TNT. Its explosive pressure was two thousand times that of the British “Grand Slam” (‘Earthquake Bomb’' – RW), the largest bomb ever used in the history of warfare. (…) Now we are ready to destroy every japanese above-ground production company in every city faster and more completely. (…) If it (the Japanese government – RW) does not accept our conditions now, it can expect a rain of aerial destruction that Earth has not experienced before.
This “rain of destruction” has so far claimed the lives of well over 400,000 people due to the late effects of the nuclear inferno. The fact that about 20 percent of the atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were Koreans, and that the Imperial Japanese Army had resorted to a large number of forced recruits, euphemistically so-called “comfort women” (i.e., girls and women forcibly abducted to Japanese military brothels) and soldiers from Korea in the course of their warfare in Southeast and East Asia as well as in the Pacific, refers to Korea’s painful war history.
The work on this dark chapter only began more than two decades after the end of the war, and a “mastering of the past” is still pending. At the annual commemoration of the first atomic bomb victims, the fate of the Koreans is largely ignored. While Japan’s role as a victim in the commemorations is at the center of global attention, Japan’s historic role as a perpetrator in its neighboring countries, China and Korea, is being deliberately supplanted. And in the US itself, the way of remembrance and remembrance moves between the two extreme poles of advocacy of the use of atomic bombs and its outspoken rejection.
Five years ago– at the end of July 2015– the book “Nagasaki: The Myth of the Decisive Bomb” was published in Germany, and shortly thereafter, on August 3, 2015, the First German Television (ARD) broadcast the documentary “Nagasaki – Why the Second Bomb?”. In both cases, the author and then special correspondent of the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), Klaus Scherer, was concerned with the central question of why a second atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese port city of Nagasaki after Hiroshima on 9 August 1945. Scherer explained this in an interview with Deutschlandfunk:
At least the Nagasaki bomb was a field test, a human test, so to speak, if not both bombs were unnecessary. (…) There were two because there were two raw materials for it, uranium and plutonium, so both were supposed to fall – but they werenot necessary.
“Gigantic Crime Against Humanity”
In his television documentary, Scherer emphasized: “There are historians – those we have interviewed, especially – who also publish in America and are very much at the thesis.” The thesis we are talking about here concerns the claim, which has been repeated for years tremolo-like, that the dropping of both bombs was justified for two reasons: in this way, the lives of thousands of American soldiers were saved and, finally, the war and the war was shortened.
It was always laudable that at least seven decades after the end of the Second World War, such a thesis was publicly shaken in the German-speaking world as well. What may have appeared to the local public since then is in the USA itself a topic that has been highly controversial for several years, which is, of course, initially concealed in the so-called mainstream or leading media there and is now rather shunned, trivialized or bent (see above all Mitchell).
As recently as five years ago, the prestigious Pew Research Center found that 56 percent of Americans thought the use of the bombs was right for the above reasons. It is worth the intensive study of the writings of such well-known publicists, historians, and physicians, such as – to name but a few – Greg Mitchell, Barton J. Bernstein, Anthony Gregory, Ralph Raico, Dennis D. Wainstock, Sheldon Richman, David R. Henderson, Gar Alperovitz, Charles W. Johnson, Howard Zinn, and Gary G. Kohls. What united these authors is the realization that the use of both bombs in Japan was ethically and morally deeply reprehensible, militarily completely nonsensical, and ultimately a gigantic crime against humanity, even an act of state terrorism.
Hollywoodization of Politics - Politicization of Hollywood
Leo Szilard, one of the physicists and molecular biologists involved in the Manhattan project,[*] wrote in 1960, four years before his death: “If Germans had dropped atomic bombs over cities instead of Americans, we would have classified this as a war crime and sentenced the culprits to death by the strand, as happened in Nuremberg.” to stop President Truman’s march to use the atomic bomb against Japanese cities! In it, he called atomic bombs “a means of ruthless destruction of cities” and asked the president to “order that the United States should not use atomic bombs in the current phase of the war.” Dozens of his colleagues signed from the Manhattan Project.
Before Szilard wanted to make this petition available to a wider audience a day later (July 4, 1945), General Leslie Groves, military chief and overall director of the Manhattan Project, unleashed a campaign to fight Szilard – including strict FBI surveillance – and to remove him from the bomb project. Groves also made sure the petition never landed on Truman’s desk. In any case, nothing was ever done about it. For being involved in the production of the bomb and then failing to stop its use against people, the agitated Szilard later thought of himself as a “war criminal”.
Greg Mitchell, author of numerous books on the subject and one of the most renowned critics of the official US version on the use of atomic bombs, noted about the principled Szilard in his recent publication, which was also and just badly played in the 1947 MGM film The Beginning or the End. Originally, this film was intended to be a critical reflection and documentation of the effects of the atomic bombing missions. The result was exactly the opposite! One scandal followed the next, and in the end, according to the latest research by Mitchell, General Groves, and President Truman (with the active support of his then press secretary Charlie Griffith Ross), the producers and directors were able to “pacify” the producers and directors to such an extent that the strip, which was originally warning of the construction of more and larger bombs, became a propaganda show in a bomb-making mood.
The filmmakers initially managed to get permission from Szilard to appear in the film. But they failed to even mention his petition or his opposition to Truman’s use of the bombs! (see Mitchell 2020b) What led the nuclear scientist to the harsh remark after the film’s release in the US in the spring of 1947: “If we committed a sin with the development of the bomb, watching this film was a great punishment.”
“The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” the historian Ralph Raico observed, “was a war crime – worse than those for which Japanese generals were executed in Tokyo and Manila. If (US President – RW) Harry S. Truman was not a war criminal, then there has never been one.” Moreover, Truman had lied unabashedly when he described the first target of Hiroshima as a “military base”, but the bomb detonated during the morning rush just above the city center. This view was held by Admiral William D. Leahy, a man who was Truman’s chief of staff and held a position within the military, which was only later created with the post of Chief of the United General Staff. Leahy saw Truman not only as a war criminal, but as a mass murderer and liar.
Even high-ranking Us military officials such as Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and Carl Spaatz, as well as Admirals Chester W. Nimitz and William Halsey Jr., complained that the use of the bombs was neither necessary, nor morally justified, either militarily and strategically. They pointed out that Japan was already on the ground, its air force was off, and was on the verge of surrendering anyway. Admiral Halsey cynically spoke of “a mistake … (The scientists) had this toy and wanted to test it, so they dropped it.”
Even Major General Curtis LeMay, head of the 21st Bomber Command, who later became known as the “superfalcon” during the Vietnam War, publicly declared a month after the bombingthat that the atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war. What was decisive was Stalin’s renunciation of the neutrality pact negotiated between Moscow and Tokyo in the spring of 1941 and his declaration of war on Japan on August 8, 1945. The American intelligence services had previously cracked Japanese codes and knew very well that Japan had asked the USSR for diplomatic-political assistance to bring about an end to the war, and the imperial house was to remain untouched.
Arguably the most counted justification for dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the fabricated argument that they had played a decisive role in saving the lives of 500,000 to a million Americans. So many deaths of one’s own were expected in Washington, had it been necessary to invade the southern island of Kyushu in December 1945 and then the following year on the main island of Honshu. (This abstruse life and death arithmetic was steeped in overt racism, which was to be expressed even more in the following two wars in Korea and Vietnam, where the Asians were perceived only as – as much as insidious slit-eyes) !) But these immensely bloated numbers (at worst, the number of 46,000 dead GIs circulated among military strategists) had to be used time and again to justify the use of atomic bombs. Such numbers are as common in high school and college textbooks as they are among unteachable commentators. As recently as 1991, US President George H. W. Bush publicly said that the atomic bombs had spared “millions of American lives.”
While then-US Secretary of State James Byrnes saw the use of the bombs as a political-diplomatic and at the same time military “rod” to “chastise” the Soviet Union in the post-war era, white house censors did not shy away from remodeling the aforementioned Hollywood film The Beginning or the End according to their gusto. Just as Argusaugen in the media and in the customs authorities watched to ensure that they were not liked posts and books were sunk in time and literally.
The Australian Wilfred G. Burchett, one of the most outstanding investigative journalists of the second half of the last century, was able to sing a song about this. He was the first Western reporter to make the trip to Hiroshima, where he reported on the previously unknown radiation contamination. He could not publish this in the US mainstream media. When the U.S. military used napalm nationwide in the Korean War (1950-53), bursting dams and bombarding the civilian population with constant bombardment, he published his book “This Monstrous War” in Melbourne. The us-owned book quota (500 copies) was confiscated by the local customs subito and sunk in the sea.
Gar Alperovitz (1995): The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth. New York
Barton J. Bernstein (1986): A Post-War Myth: 500,000 U.S. Lives Saved, in: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 42, no. 6 (June–July): S. 38–40
Ders. (1995): Understanding the Atomic Bomb and the Japanese Surrender: Missed Opportunities, Little-Known Near Disasters, and Modern Memory, in: Diplomatic History 19, Nr. 2 (Spring)
Wilfred G. Burchett (1953): This Monstrous War. Melbourne
J.F.C. Fuller (1948): The Second World War, 1939–45: A Strategical and Tactical History. London
William D. Leahy (1950): I Was There. New York
Ders. (2020b): The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood – and America – Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. New York
Ralph Raico (2001): Harry S. Truman: Advancing the Revolution, in: John V. Denson (ed.): Reassessing the Presidency: The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom. Auburn
Ronald Schaffer (1985): Wings of Judgment: American Bombing in World War II. New York
Martin J. Sherwin (1977): A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and the Grand Alliance. New York
Dennis D. Wainstock (1996): The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb. Westport
Howard Zinn (2010): Hiroshima: Breaking the Silence. With an introduction by Yuki Tanaka. Tokyo