Hiroshima

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
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Morgoth
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Hiroshima

Post by Morgoth » 10 Apr 2003 18:33

I'm searching for some reference material about Hiroshima and its political and military background. Any recommendations are welcome.

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Dan W.
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Post by Dan W. » 11 Apr 2003 04:08

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You might wish to look into this book by Richard Frank. It is a very academic look at the circumstances that led up to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

It examines both the dynamics of the American and Japansese leadership and the book begins in March of 1945 and concludes with the Japanese surrender.

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Morgoth
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Post by Morgoth » 11 Apr 2003 09:10

Thanks Dan, i will give it a try.

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Morgoth
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Post by Morgoth » 13 Apr 2003 09:46

Did somebody read the following book?

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Caldric
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Post by Caldric » 14 Apr 2003 17:20

Morgoth wrote:Did somebody read the following book?

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Yes I have read this book, along with "Nagasaki: The necessary bomb?", "Hiroshima: The day of the Bomb by Dan Kurzman".

Of the books I think Kurzman does the best job at being non-biased. Lifton appears to have made his mind up before ever sitting down to write. Kurzman also thinks the bomb was not needed, but he works as an historian and not on a crusade, which makes his work more believable. Even so Kurzman sealed my belief in the fact that the bomb was needed, which was a surprise to me because up until 1995 I was under the impression that the bomb was just a show of force. After reading his book I could understand the decision to drop the bombs. There was by far not just one single reason for dropping or not dropping the bomb, it is such a complicated issue that reading just one source on the subject would not give you much insight, I suggest reading both sides of the issue thoroughly before drawing conclusions. Most people allow their belief that it was "just wrong" cloud their judgement abilities.

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Post by James McBride » 15 Apr 2003 03:50

I probably won't get a chance to read it any time soon, so I just want to ask a quick question. Did he show reasons for both bombs being dropped? My history teacher brought up an interesting point about the bombs. American leaders probably could have dropped the bomb in a less populated area, with the promise that there were more at home, and that might have been enough to force the Japanese to surrender. Or, after dropping the first, we could have given the Japanese more time to look over what happened, and maybe the would have surrendered then, instead of using two bombs.

Both situations seem valid ways of ending the war, avoiding at least some of the destruction and deaths. The Soviets and Stalin probably also would have gotten the point after one bomb. So were both bombs necessary, and did they need to be dropped in huge population centers?

Thanks,
James

JLEES
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Japan and the alternatives in 1945

Post by JLEES » 20 Apr 2003 17:55

James, you made the comment, “My history teacher brought up an interesting point about the bombs. American leaders probably could have dropped the bomb in a less populated area, with the promise that there were more at home, and that might have been enough to force the Japanese to surrender. Or, after dropping the first, we could have given the Japanese more time to look over what happened, and maybe the would have surrendered then, instead of using two bombs.” In both sentences you used the word “might” and “maybe” to describe what the Japanese might and maybe would have done. It’s easy for him sit back and criticize if the US should have dropped the bomb or not in the security of a classroom fifty or sixty years later. Planning an amphibious landing with an enemy stating they would not surrender and only have a few workable bombs to begin with is another situation. Dropping the bomb on a non-populated target when there is only one or two more is another situation, especially when dealing with an enemy claiming they would never surrender. No one in 1945 knew for sure what the Japanese were going to do and no one really wanted to waist the weapon on a non-populated target then. It’s easy for him to make those criticisms on Monday, knowing how the Sunday night game turned out. Was he trying to imply there was some type of poor judgment on the US planner’s part for dropping the bombs?

Dropping both bombs was not primarily about impressing Stalin about the power of the USA, it was about beating Japan and avoiding a ground invasion of the island. Making an impression on the Soviet Union was part of the objective, but not its primary goal. When the Manhattan Project was begun in 1941, it had nothing to do with the USSR. It was to beat the Germans in developing such a weapon; then it was finished for use on the Japanese. Maybe I’m wrong here, but it seems your teacher is oversimplifying the issue and leaving out selected important facts, to make a modern day anti-American point.

Meanwhile, your history teacher should have also pointed out that fire bombing killed more people in a single air raid over Tokyo than both atomic bombs attacks together and a number of US military planners were against using Fat Man and Little Boy, because they strongly believed Japan would have been brought to their knees through massive fire bombing attacks. The US Navy was against using the bomb(s) because they believed they could starve Japan into submission (and there is evidence more than 100,000 Japanese starved to death by 1945), while the Army wanted the ground invasion of the island that would have probably killed a million Japanese. In both of the later situations there would have been more Japanese killed than the atomic bomb attacks. Therefore, your teacher should have also pointed out that the atomic bomb attacks on Japan, when looking at the alternatives that WOULD have been unleashed, were the more human ways of bringing them to the peace table. By August of 1945, General Lemay had perfected the art of fire bombing with B-29s over Japan, there was going to be nothing stopping his bombers except the Japanese unconditional surrender, and this didn’t happen until after both bombs were dropped. If I was living in Japan today, I would thank God the US dropped only two bombs on Japan and not allowed thousands of B-29s to fire bomb all the cities throughout the island, while they maintained the naval blockade and then unleashed a massive ground campaign killing an estimated one million plus people. Japan paid a terrible price for the Rape on Nanking and Pearl Harbor.
James

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Post by James McBride » 22 Apr 2003 02:08

I have always thought of the atomic bomb as being the more humane way of ending the war. I realize that the bombs were supposed to impress the Japanese into surrendering, but I was really only asking if both were necessary. One bomb might have been all that was needed to finish the job. I can see that bombing a less populated area would be wasteful if the Japanese weren't impressed, but I still don't see why both bombs needed to be dropped.

I am sorry if I made implications in my statement that led to you wasting your time answering a different question. I did not mean to suggest that atomic bombs were developed to scare the USSR, or that my teacher was criticizing war planners' judgement. Again, I will say that my only real question was why were both atomic bombs necessary?

Thanks,
James

JLEES
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Fat Man & Little Boy

Post by JLEES » 22 Apr 2003 10:30

James,
I think you’re maybe correct in hindsight questioning the necessity of dropping both bombs. Unfortunately, the Allied planners at the time were not positively sure of Japan’s reaction when making the decision to use Fat Man and Little Boy. Although aware of Tokyo’s peace feeling inquires via Moscow and Switzerland, there were still some doubts about whether they would accept Unconditional Surrender. The irony of the whole situation is that Japan was concerned about the maintenance of their Monarchy and even with their eventual acceptance of Unconditional Surrender, they were allowed to keep him on the thrown anyway. Nevertheless, for political reasons the USA couldn’t allow the Japanese to negotiate anything beyond unconditional surrender. This was the official stated war aim of the Allies and negotiation could have been later inferred Japan was not beat in the war. So essentially there is two ways of looking at the situation: one it could be considered criminal to delay surrender on the Japanese part in an attempt to negotiate for maintenance of the monarchy, or secondly bad to use the second bomb to maintain the demand of Unconditional Surrender if you’re going to allow the Emperor to remain on the thrown anyway. Since the Japanese were the enemy of the USA and America spent two billion developing this weapon; while the Japanese people were the subjects of the Emperor in a war he now believed was lost, maybe Hirohito should have abdicated on their behalf instead of chancing that the USA would not drop a second bomb? Even Winston Churchill when asked strongly supported its use on Japan at the time. Realistically, with the knowledge of hindsight the finger of blame here can point in both directions, but one should remember both nations were still at war and the strong negative feelings against the “Wonder Weapon” did not come about until a few years after VJ Day.
James

James McBride
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Post by James McBride » 23 Apr 2003 17:20

That is a good point about the strong negative feelings not yet having developed. I guess they probably didn't completely understand what the longterm effects would be for sure. And the immediate welfare of the Japanese was not the first thing on the Americans' minds, as I was already aware. Thank you for your thorough response.

James

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