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The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Topics: Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, World War II, Nuclear weapon / Pages: 8 (1817 words) / Published: May 31st, 2001
The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945.
The world would never be the same. This paper will discuss the significance of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and how they led to the success of the Allied forces. It will also discuss how the
United States developed the atomic bomb, the decision to drop the bomb, the weakening of Japan, the actual bombing an destruction of both cities, the surrender of Japan and the impact the atomic bomb would have in the future. During World War II, the United States was afraid that Germany would develop the atomic bomb first. Germany had taken over Norway, which was a heavy water supply and Czechoslovakia, which was a uranium supply.
Both of these, water and uranium, were needed to make the atomic bomb.
Therefore, the United States initiated a top secret program called the
Manhattan Project. Even the Vice President didn't know about this project.
The Manhattan Project cost over 2 billion dollars. Yet, Congress never voted to fund this program (Hoare, 1987, 10-14). Roosevelt authorized scientists to find out if an atomic bomb could be built. On December 2,
1942, scientists working in a secret laboratory under the bleachers of a football field in Chicago achieved the first man-made nuclear reaction. An atomic bomb could now be developed. Many scientists and other skilled workers participated in the making of the first atomic bomb. However, only few knew what they were making. In 1944, after D-Day, the Alsos (a troop sent to find how far the Germans had come in the building of the atomic bomb) radioed back that they had given up in their attempt to make it.
Still, despite scientists' pleas with the President to discontinue it, the
U.S. maintained the work on their atomic bomb (Conrad, 1982, 12-16). In
Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was detonated in the desert. The bomb was much more explosive than scientists thought it would be. The 100 foot tower which housed the bomb was totally destroyed by the blast. ("World War II", 1997, 1-2). After the bomb exploded, Robert Oppenheimer, the head of the Manhattan Project, said,
"Behold. I have become death, destroyer of worlds." (Hoare, 1987, 18) When Harry Truman became President after Franklin D. Roosevelt's death, he appointed a committee to advise him about the atomic bomb. The committee was headed by Secretary of War, Henry Stimson. The committee argued about whether to drop the bomb on a Japanese city or to have a demonstration explosion in an isolated part of Japan. However, some committee members thought that the plane may be shot down or the bomb may not explode. Therefore, they decided not to have a demonstration bomb.
The committee decided that the bomb needed to be dropped directly on a city. Stimson wrote the President, "We can propose no technical demonstration likely to bring an end to the war; we see no acceptable alternative to direct military use." Soon after that a group of scientists wrote Harry
Truman asking not to drop the bomb on any city. They knew that the atomic bomb could cause too much destruction to be dropped on a populated area.
Yet, the decision was made by the President. In order to save thousands of
American's lives, the bomb would be dropped (Feinberg, 1995, 26-27). The primary target in the bombing was Hiroshima. The day Hiroshima would be bombed was August 6, 1945 and it would be the first time ever that an atomic bomb would be dropped from a plane. Before the primary plane took off, four weather planes flew over Hiroshima, Niigata, Kokura, and
Nagasaki. The weather over Hiroshima was perfect. The B-29 bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb was named the Enola Gay. It was named after the maiden name of the pilot's mother. With the atomic bomb in the plane, as well as many extra devices, the bomber was 15,000 pounds over weight.
Only a few days before, four B-29 bombers that were over weight crashed during takeoff. The Enola Gay took off from the island of Tinian, which the U.S. had conquered from Japan. The exact time it took off was 2:45 a.m.; it's destination was 1,500 miles away. The bomber's crew was the 509th composite group. The atomic bomb which the plane carried was named Little
Boy. Little Boy wasn't actually so little. It was ten feet long, two feet wide and weighed nine thousand pounds. At exactly 8:16 the first atomic bomb used in war, detonated over Hiroshima. Three days after the first bombing, on August 9, 1945, a second bomb named Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki. After the bombing of Nagasaki,
Harry Truman wrote a letter defending his decision to drop the bomb.
"Nobody is more disturbed over the use of the Atomic bomb than I am but I was greatly disturbed over the unwarranted attack by the Japanese on Pearl
Harbor and their murder of our prisoners of war." It goes on to say,"The only language they seem to understand is the one we have been using to bombard them." The majority of the people in the U.S. agreed with Harry
Truman's decision to drop the atomic bombs (Hoare, 1987, 3-8). The destruction caused by each of the bombs was inhumane. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed at least seventy thousand people the first day. More died in the following days from wounds and burns. Yet, there are still more deaths now because of radiation sickness. Scientists never knew it would cause this much damage or kill as many people. Most of
Hiroshima was reduced to ashes after the bomb ripped through it. No buildings stood except for those made to withstand earthquakes. The bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki was not a uranium bomb (like that of
Hiroshima) but a plutonium bomb. It killed at least forty thousand people on the first day. However, just like in Hiroshima, many more people died after the initial day (Hoare, 1987, 32-33). Through the years, the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki faced even more problems because of the atomic bombs. Up to the present time, they have been discriminated against because they are believed by other
Japanese people to be sick. People fear that if they get married to a citizen of one of these cities, their children will develop birth defects.
Even though this is not a direct cause of the atomic bombs, it is still related. These people have survived the effects of the bombs and the death. The people who were considered lucky to survive are now victims of their own peoples' uncertainties. People affected by the atomic bomb are called hibakusha. Many hibakusha felt guilty about surviving when most of the people they knew and their families perished. In 1955, many of the hibkusha came to the United States for plastic surgery. They were nicknamed the Hiroshima Maidens. These were the women who were severely disfigured by the atomic bomb. One lady wrote after she got home that the surgery "has made me an entirely new life." (Feinberg, 1995, 27-28) Japan was already weak as a military strength before the atomic bombs were dropped. After they were dropped, Japan knew it was only going to be a matter of time that more atomic bombs were dropped if they did not surrender. So, on August 14, 1945, the Japanese government accepted
American terms for surrender. On September 2, 1945, formal surrender ceremonies took place aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay. On behalf of the Emperor of Japan, Mamoru Shigemitsu signed and the Supreme Allied
Commander, General Douglas MacArthur, signed for the Allies. The treaty that was signed that day was called the Potsdam Declaration. The treaty said, "From the moment of surrender, the authority of the Emperor and the
Japanese Government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme
Commander of the Allied Powers." Later, the Japanese Emperor announced over the radio, "The enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable." (Wallace, 1993,
After the U.S. made the atomic bomb a reality, other countries were soon engaged in developing their own atomic bombs. Therefore, the United
States indirectly was a cause of the Cold War. When other countries found out how to make the atomic bomb, they used their knowledge to enhance their power amongst other countries. Many small countries could now cause destruction to the whole world. The United States' bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the immediate beginning to the atomic age. This was the beginning of an era where destruction was an easy task. The significance of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was that these were two important events that helped the Allies ultimately win the war. Showing the world that the U.S. had attained the scientific know-how to make the atomic bomb made Japan fearful. In order to save more Japanese people's lives, Japan was forced into surrendering. Japan was already a weak nation military wise. They had very few war planes and not a large army or navy. Hiroshima was one of Japan's military centers and its destruction further weakened it. Two days after the first bombing, Russia declared war on Japan. With the United States and the atomic bomb and
Russia declaring war on them, Japan was not in a good position (Feinberg,
1995, 26-27). The United States, as well as the Allied forces, saved many lives by dropping the atomic bomb. The dropping of the atomic bomb, even though it killed hundreds of thousands Japanese people, saved more Americans and other Allied soldiers that would have been killed in battle. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki may not have been exciting battles, but they may have been the most important weapons used in World
War II. If Japan had not surrendered, more atomic bombs may have been dropped and it would be very significant that the United States had made them. Even though only two were dropped, they killed many Japanese, making the government fearful that more would be dropped if they did not surrender
(Conrad, 1982, 20-22). When looking back upon the six years of World War II, the three days surrounding the dropping of the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki had far greater impact than all of the battles preceding them. The destruction they wrought far surpassed anything ever seen before. As cited in this paper, the atomic bombs, Fat Man and Little Boy, were pivotal to the success of the Allied forces.

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