Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Our Atomic Bomb Timeline

The Nuclear Secrecy Blog has a great post about a theory that Truman was unclear about the Atomic Bomb targets in Japan in August 1945, and of the bomb's capabilities.  Please go read it and let me know if you agree with the criticisms of Truman.

Truman.  Say what you will.  Apparently he was the last Democrat president who knew how to end a war with an unconditional surrender....  In America's favor....

The purpose of my post here:  I wanted to highlight the target selection and timeline. 

Above, Truman's target list with handwriting from the first target meeting on April 27th.

Below, the timeline and evolving target list leading up to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.  Read the post to understand the changes, preferences, etc.

April 27, 1945
The targets should be “large urban areas of not less than 3 miles in diameter existing in the larger populated areas… between the Japanese cities of Tokyo and Nagasaki… [and] should have high strategic value.” A list of possible targets that met this criteria was given…
May 10-11 1945
#1 Kyoto
#2 Hiroshima
#3 Yokohama
#4 Kokura, and
#5 Niigata
May 15, 1945
Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Niigata were put on a list of “Reserved Areas” not to be bombed.
May 30, 1945

Henry Stimson, Secretary of War, ruled out Kyoto as target for two official reasons...
1) Incendiary bombing was so successful and so destructive that he worried the US could get a worse reputation for destruction than the Nazis, and
2) The power of the new weapon would be diluted as some damage would be attributed to the previous incendiary bomb runs.
...and two unofficial reasons:
1) The Secretary had visited Kyoto in the 20’s and apparently “loved” it, and
2) He saw Kyoto as the cultural center of Japan
July 24, 2945
Final target list:

Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata, and Nagasaki
July 25, 1945:
From Truman's Diary:
It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler’s crowd or Stalin’s did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful.
August 6, 1945
The US bombs Hiroshima.

August 9, 1945
The US bombs Nagasaki.
August 15, 1945
Emperor Hirohito announces Japan's surrender.
September 2, 1945
VJ Day - End of World War II

Surrender signing ceremony above the USS Missouri

I took the two Hiroshima photos below in 2000.   There were no other bomb damage sites to photograph, as Hiroshima is now a bustling city within one of America's strongest allies. 

But don't expect hugs and warm greetings there if you visit.

Behind the Hiroshima Bomb Dome is the museum.  The theme throughout the Museum is "Why?"  

Why did the Americans do this to us? 

The museum visitor is not presented any answer to this question.   Nothing is mentioned about that whole "taking over the world" schtick.  Nothing about chopping the heads off of captured Americans.  Nothing about bringing a horrible war to the fastest possible conclusion.  No cost-benefit analysis of a one-million-strong American invasion force or continued incendiary bombings.  Nah.   Instead, gruesome photos and stopped-clock exhibits reinforce the visitor's view of Americans as bullies. 

The museum, at that time, was a structure constructed of several attached trailers.  My American friend and I were escorted by security to deter any high fives or spontaneous "MERICA!" outbursts.  Yes, we behaved like gentlemen.  No, we didn't need an escort in order to behave.

You will find many plaques at the base of the Bomb Dome building - plaques dedicated to the dead by numerous organizations.  One caught my eye.  It was from a Japanese organization and it was dedicated many years after the bombing. 

The date: December 7th.  


Bonus Links:  

Atomic Bombings - Wikipedia

The single most destructive bombing raid in history.  (Hint: not atomic...)

More photos of the Hiroshima Bomb Dome.

Truman's radio broadcast after Hiroshima.

Same Nuclear Secrecy blog, post:  The Luck of Kokura.  Fascinating.  A map for reference:

U/T: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog

1 comment:

Robert What? said...

Was the atomic bomb necessary? That can be argued from here to eternity. Truman thought it would save tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of US military casualties. Who can argue that is not a sufficient reason? However, I still don't see the destruction of hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians as a cause for celebration.