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Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Atom Bomb Hits

August 10, 2015
Plain English Version
Nagasaki, After the bomb dropped, August 9, 1945

Nagasaki, After the bomb dropped, August 9, 1945

Seventy years ago the United States dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities. It quickly led to the end of World War II.

No one is certain how many people died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many died immediately when the bombs exploded. Many others died from injuries. Many died later because of radiation from the bombs.

 Most of those who died were civilians.

Estimates of Casualties:

  •                                               Hiroshima                   Nagasaki
  • Pre-raid population           255,000                       195,000
  • Dead                                      66,000                         39,000
  • Injured                                  69,000                         25,000
  • Total Casualties                 135,000                         64,000

Harry Truman was president. President Franklin Roosevelt had just died. The bomb was a product of the Manhattan Project in New Mexico. President Truman did not know about it when he took office.

For years, the debate has been whether the U.S. should have dropped the bombs. One view is that it was immoral to drop the bombs. Another view is that the number of Japanese who died had to be balanced against the number of Americans who would have died in the invasion of Japan that was coming.

World War II was cruel. The Germans ran concentration camps. Millions of Jews, gays, Romas (Gypsies) and others were gassed to death. The Japanese army was known for its harshness to prisoners and civilians.

In short, does it matter if an immoral event ended a war filled with immoral events?

What is not in dispute is that the world saw what an atom (nuclear) bomb could do. The damage was devastating. No nuclear weapon has been used in conflict since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Russia, China, Great Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea currently have nuclear weapons. The cold war was between the Soviet Union and the West. During the cold war many people thought the bomb might be used. This led to the idea of “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD). The idea is that any country using a nuclear bomb against another nuclear power would be destroyed in response. So far this belief has worked as a deterrent.

The Japanese people remember the attacks. It marks a time for the world to reflect on the destruction a nuclear weapon can cause.

Source: The New York Times August 5, 2015

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