The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and NagasakiThe first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945.The world would never be the same. This paper will discuss thesignificance of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and howthey led to the success of the Allied forces. It will also discuss how theUnited States developed the atomic bomb, the decision to drop the bomb, theweakening of Japan, the actual bombing an destruction of both cities, thesurrender of Japan and the impact the atomic bomb would have in the future.During World War II, the United States was afraid that Germanywould develop the atomic bomb first.
Germany had taken over Norway, whichwas 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 theManhattan Project. Even the Vice President didn’t know about this project.
The Manhattan Project cost over 2 billion dollars. Yet, Congress nevervoted to fund this program (Hoare, 1987, 10-14). Roosevelt authorizedscientists to find out if an atomic bomb could be built. On December 2,1942, scientists working in a secret laboratory under the bleachers of afootball field in Chicago achieved the first man-made nuclear reaction.
Anatomic bomb could now be developed. Many scientists and other skilledworkers participated in the making of the first atomic bomb. However, onlyfew knew what they were making. In 1944, after D-Day, the Alsos (a troopsent to find how far the Germans had come in the building of the atomicbomb) radioed back that they had given up in their attempt to make it.Still, despite scientists’ pleas with the President to discontinue it, theU.S.
maintained the work on their atomic bomb (Conrad, 1982, 12-16). InAlamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb wasdetonated in the desert. The bomb was much more explosive than scientiststhought it would be. The 100 foot tower which housed the bomb was totallydestroyed by the blast. (“World War II”, 1997, 1-2). After the bombexploded, 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’sdeath, he appointed a committee to advise him about the atomic bomb. Thecommittee was headed by Secretary of War, Henry Stimson. The committeeargued about whether to drop the bomb on a Japanese city or to have ademonstration explosion in an isolated part of Japan. However, somecommittee members thought that the plane may be shot down or the bomb maynot 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 demonstrationlikely to bring an end to the war; we see no acceptable alternative todirect military use.” Soon after that a group of scientists wrote HarryTruman asking not to drop the bomb on any city. They knew that the atomicbomb 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 ofAmerican’s lives, the bomb would be dropped (Feinberg, 1995, 26-27).
The primary target in the bombing was Hiroshima. The day Hiroshimawould be bombed was August 6, 1945 and it would be the first time ever thatan atomic bomb would be dropped from a plane. Before the primary planetook off, four weather planes flew over Hiroshima, Niigata, Kokura, andNagasaki. The weather over Hiroshima was perfect. The B-29 bomber thatdropped the first atomic bomb was named the Enola Gay.
It was named afterthe 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 crashedduring 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’sdestination was 1,500 miles away.
The bomber’s crew was the 509thcomposite group. The atomic bomb which the plane carried was named LittleBoy. Little Boy wasn’t actually so little. It was ten feet long, two feetwide and weighed nine thousand pounds.
At exactly 8:16 the first atomicbomb used in war, detonated over Hiroshima.Three days after the first bombing, on August 9, 1945, a secondbomb 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 Iwas greatly disturbed over the unwarranted attack by the Japanese on PearlHarbor and their murder of our prisoners of war.” It goes on to say,”Theonly language they seem to understand is the one we have been using tobombard them.
” The majority of the people in the U.S. agreed with HarryTruman’s decision to drop the atomic bombs (Hoare, 1987, 3-8).The destruction caused by each of the bombs was inhumane.
Theatomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed at least seventy thousand peoplethe first day. More died in the following days from wounds and burns. Yet,there are still more deaths now because of radiation sickness.
Scientistsnever knew it would cause this much damage or kill as many people. Most ofHiroshima was reduced to ashes after the bomb ripped through it. Nobuildings stood except for those made to withstand earthquakes. The bombthat was dropped on Nagasaki was not a uranium bomb (like that ofHiroshima) but a plutonium bomb.
It killed at least forty thousand peopleon the first day. However, just like in Hiroshima, many more people diedafter the initial day (Hoare, 1987, 32-33).Through the years, the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki facedeven more problems because of the atomic bombs. Up to the present time,they have been discriminated against because they are believed by otherJapanese people to be sick. People fear that if they get married to acitizen 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 stillrelated. These people have survived the effects of the bombs and the death.The people who were considered lucky to survive are now victims of theirown peoples’ uncertainties.
People affected by the atomic bomb are calledhibakusha. Many hibakusha felt guilty about surviving when most of thepeople they knew and their families perished. In 1955, many of thehibkusha came to the United States for plastic surgery. They werenicknamed the Hiroshima Maidens. These were the women who were severelydisfigured by the atomic bomb. One lady wrote after she got home that thesurgery “has made me an entirely new life.
” (Feinberg, 1995, 27-28)Japan was already weak as a military strength before the atomicbombs were dropped. After they were dropped, Japan knew it was only goingto be a matter of time that more atomic bombs were dropped if they did notsurrender. So, on August 14, 1945, the Japanese government acceptedAmerican terms for surrender. On September 2, 1945, formal surrenderceremonies took place aboard the U.S.S.
Missouri in Tokyo Bay. On behalfof the Emperor of Japan, Mamoru Shigemitsu signed and the Supreme AlliedCommander, General Douglas MacArthur, signed for the Allies. The treatythat was signed that day was called the Potsdam Declaration. The treatysaid, “From the moment of surrender, the authority of the Emperor and theJapanese Government to rule the state shall be subject to the SupremeCommander of the Allied Powers.” Later, the Japanese Emperor announcedover 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, 1993,18-20)After the U.S.
made the atomic bomb a reality, other countries weresoon engaged in developing their own atomic bombs. Therefore, the UnitedStates indirectly was a cause of the Cold War. When other countries foundout how to make the atomic bomb, they used their knowledge to enhance theirpower amongst other countries.
Many small countries could now causedestruction to the whole world. The United States’ bombing of Hiroshimaand Nagasaki was the immediate beginning to the atomic age. This was thebeginning of an era where destruction was an easy task.The significance of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was thatthese were two important events that helped the Allies ultimately win thewar.
Showing the world that the U.S. had attained the scientific know-howto make the atomic bomb made Japan fearful. In order to save more Japanesepeople’s lives, Japan was forced into surrendering. Japan was already aweak nation military wise. They had very few war planes and not a largearmy or navy.
Hiroshima was one of Japan’s military centers and itsdestruction further weakened it. Two days after the first bombing, Russiadeclared war on Japan. With the United States and the atomic bomb andRussia 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 livesby dropping the atomic bomb. The dropping of the atomic bomb, even thoughit killed hundreds of thousands Japanese people, saved more Americans andother Allied soldiers that would have been killed in battle.The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki may not have been excitingbattles, but they may have been the most important weapons used in WorldWar II. If Japan had not surrendered, more atomic bombs may have beendropped and it would be very significant that the United States had madethem.
Even though only two were dropped, they killed many Japanese, makingthe 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 threedays surrounding the dropping of the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki hadfar greater impact than all of the battles preceding them. The destructionthey wrought far surpassed anything ever seen before. As cited in thispaper, the atomic bombs, Fat Man and Little Boy, were pivotal to thesuccess of the Allied forces.