The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Joseph Ercole
Final Draft – Week 7
October 21, 2012
On August 6, 1945 at 8:16am, the world changed forever. During the final stages of World War II, after the Allies were victorious in Europe, Japan still posed a very serious threat to the world. Not looking to commence a long, drawn-out and bloody ground assault on the island nation of Japan that would have cost many American soldiers their lives, U.S. President Harry S. Truman gave the order to drop the world’s first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Nicknamed “Little Boy”, the bomb destroyed the entire city killing a total of approximately 90,000-160,000 people. It is estimated that half of the victims died during the initial blast. Three days later, on August 9th, another would be dropped on the city of Nagasaki. The way the world’s nations approached future warfare and diplomacy after WWII would now be dictated by the threat of the use of this new atomic weapon and by those who possessed it. We will explore the event itself, the events leading up to the decision to drop the bombs as well as the social, physical, medical and political after-effects using factual documentation and first-hand accounts from actual survivors. It was a hot August morning in Hiroshima, Japan on the day the atomic age would be ushered in. Many Japanese citizens went about their somewhat normal lives in the midst of an already taxing war that had Japan on the brink of defeat and had cost many lives to both sides. The Japanese government would not surrender and vowed to “fight to the death” in order to preserve the pride of their homeland not to mention the pride of the Japanese people as a whole. For many it was the beginning of just another normal business day, for others it would mean attending school or work or church services. All who survived though recall one common thing, a blinding flash of light streaking across the morning sky, seemingly brighter than one-thousand suns. Many times previously, the Japanese people recalled frequently hearing the air-raid warnings and seeing weather planes fly overhead. So frequently in fact that it became a common daily occurrence to the point that it was assumed they were simply enemy aircraft in the area. No one in Japan let alone Hiroshima was aware of impending doom that was to come the morning of August 6th. At 8:16AM the crew of the U.S. B-29 bomber “Enola Gay” released its deadly payload, an atomic bomb nick-named “Little Boy”, over the city of Hiroshima. Witnesses to the event say they saw a parachute open up and slowly drift downward carrying a large object. The bomb exploded at an altitude of 2,000 feet, above the central business district of the city. The 4 and a half ton bomb exploded with the force of 20,000 tons of TNT and the heat from its fireball reached approximately 300,000 degrees centigrade which is a temperature comparable to the surface of the sun. The temperature at ground zero, the point directly below the blast, was approximately 6,000 degrees centigrade (10,832 degrees Fahrenheit). There was a tremendous amount of damage caused by the heat generated from the chain reaction. Anything living at the initial blast site was vaporized. That would mean any living human, animal and all vegetation growing near the center was instantly killed. Stone buildings crumbled, wooden building caught fire, streets were either ripped up or buckled and blown away. While the heat from the blast was bad enough to inflict enough severe damage, the force from the blast was another factor that contributed to the substantial damage inflicted that day. The heated, compressed air expanded at four tons per square yard and at the speed of more than 1,000 feet per second. The incredible forces of the blast could only be withstood by reinforced concrete structures and anything else in the path of the blast was leveled to rubble. Finally, the...