At 8:15 am on August 6, 1945, approximately 300 to 500 feet above the highly populated city of Hiroshima Japan, the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare was detonated. Only minutes later 60,000 to 100,000 people were dead, most were vaporized leaving only an eerie shadow of carbon behind. In the year and months that followed hundreds of thousands of people died of radiation poisoning and radiation provoked disease. Children born in months immediately following the bombing were occasionally born without vital organs or limbs. Was the decision to drop this historical bomb a correct one? Could it have been avoided?
What were the alternatives, were they more moral than drooping this superweapon?
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After the end of the war in Europe, the united states was still faced with the war in the Pacific, which they were eager to end. President Truman was faced with a difficult decision: to drop the United States’ newly developed atomic bomb or risk thousands or even millions of ally lives in an invasion. He chose to use his country’s newly developed weapon. As a direct result of this decision, hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians lost their lives. His monumental decision also forced the Japanese to serener their war efforts in the Pacific without costing any American lives. The real question is, was it right or wrong?
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, brought the United States into World War II. Over the next 4 years, the United States fought the Germans in Europe and the Japanese in the Pacific Ocean. Both parties cost the allies billions of dollars in planes, ships and artillery, not to mention the millions of lives lost in this war. But on ?, the war in Europe was over and the Allies were free to focus all their military efforts on the war that still loomed in the Pacific. Everyone but the Japanese hoped for a quick, easy victory for the allies, with as few ally casualties as possible. The United States started looking for a way to achieve this and found two options.
The first option identified was an invasion of the main islands of Japan. The Joint Chiefs of the United States proposed a two-part invasion, which would involve over five million troops, most of which would be American. The first of the two parts would be an invasion of two smaller Japanese islands, Shikoku and Kyushu, this would be called operation Olympic and was scheduled for November 1945.
The next stage would be an invasion of the largest Japanese island, Honshu. This would involve the United States First Army and Eighth Army. The Eighth Army would move ashore at Sagami Bay and take Yokohama, Kumagaya and Kaga. If this did not convince the Japanese Government to surrender to the allies, the First Army would land at the Kanto Plane and move west to capture Tokyo in hope that the Japanese would finally surrender.
Another option proposed by the United States was to drop their newly developed superweapon, the atomic bomb, on cities that were key in the war efforts of Japan. This plan would bring instant weakening to the point where an invasion would be simple and would have very few casualties or there would be an immediate surrender. This plan would also have little or no ally casualties.
Although both plans would bring an end to World War II, both plans had their downsides. For instance, an invasion, in theory, would cost an estimated half a million to million casualties in the first thirty hays. However, some said that the Japanese were near surrender and there was little more than a few farmers with pitchforks left to fight with the Japanese’s strong sense of loyalty to the emperor, who had ordered his people to die before they surrender, even farmers would fight against an army on the other side of the coin was the consideration of using the Atomic Bomb.
The Atomic Bombs were uncertain though. We understood how destructive an atomic blast would be but still had no idea what it would do to the people or land on a long-term basis. Even though the United States had tested the blast size, power and range with the detonation of “Jumbo”, there were still unanswered questions about the effects of radiation on humans. Even though there were so many unanswered questions, this solution avoided most, if not all, American casualties.
The United States President, Harry Truman, took both proposals with him to the Potsdam Conference, which was a meeting between the leaders of England, China, and the United States on July 16, 1945. It was at this meeting it was decided that an invasion would cost more money and more lives than they could spare.
On July 26, they send a letter to the Government of Japan giving them one more chance to surrender. This was called the Potsdam Declaration, it called for unconditional surrender or they would suffer, “complete and utter destruction”.
The Japanese ignored the warning and the declaration brought and continued to fight as fiercely as ever. Thus bombing of Japanese cities was being called for.
So on August 6, 1945, pilot Col. Paul Tibbets flew his plane, The Enola Gay, across the Pacific Ocean to the unaware city of Hiroshima Japan. In the belly, of his B-29, sat a uranium-cored atomic bomb code-named “Little Boy.” At about 8:15 am, Hiroshima time, Little Boy fell to the earth. Forty-three seconds later, he exploded bring a huge fireball and two shock waves.
Minutes later, Hiroshima lay in ruins or lames. Any wooden structures within six miles of the hypocenter, or ground zero, toppled to the ground trapping the occupants inside. Those lucky few who could use the little bit of energy they had left trying to find water. Many people died from drowning for they were flushed or fell into the water source they sought and had no energy left.
A few hours later, a strange rain fell from the sky. The drops were the size of golf balls and were as black as ash. This was radioactive rain or nuclear fallout. In other words, it was highly radioactive debris falling on Hiroshima and the surrounding area.
For the next couple of weeks, wounded citizens of Hiroshima lay in hospitals, or cleared off sections of the city, on army cots suffering from third-degree burns and manor cuts from debris. Many of these victims died from their painful injuries. Those who were wearing dark cloth had the patterns now burnt into their skin. In the months that followed the bombing, thick rubbery scars covered the burns of victims. These scars were very painful and needed medical treatment until the patient died.
Only a few days after the bombing, some patients started showing strange symptoms that no doctor had ever seen before. They included: hair fall out, fever, skin and internal bleeding, and stomachache. This was later called radiation poisoning.
Later, when a death count proposed, that a hundred thousand people had died as a direct result of the bomb. Out of that, about then percent were Korean. There were also twenty-three American Prisoners that were killed. The rest were innocent, Japanese, civilians.
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