The Horrors of Hiroshima in Context

The dropping of two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 remains the only wartime use of nuclear weapons in history.

No one knows exactly how many Japanese citizens were killed by the two American bombs. A macabre guess is around 140,000. The atomic attacks finally shocked Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese militarists into surrendering.

  • You cannot – or should not – judge yesterday using today’s morality.

    I met Dutch Van Kirk and Thomas Ferebee, the navigator and bombardier on the Enola Gay, and both agreed that they saved lives – American and Japanese.

    • I agree, look at the casualty tolls from the Island hopping campaign.

      Now imagine the toll resulting from an invasion of Japan’s main Island.

      • Clausewitz

        You just have to look at what happened in Okinawa to know that an invasion would have been a bloodbath primarily for Japanese civilians.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      OMD were such geeks like me.

  • canminuteman

    I think there was a raid on Tokyo that was more destructive than the nuclear raids. The only difference was that it took 500 odd planes to level Tokyo and one to level Hiroshima. When you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind.

    • The firebombings did result in greater casualties. The US invested a great deal in determining what type of firebomb would be best suited to destroying Japanese buildings.

      • Exile1981

        Look into the bat bombs

  • Brett_McS

    Even after the second bomb was dropped there was a large contingent of the Japanese leadership that didn’t want to give up. The bombing showed the rest that the fanatics would take them down the path of total destruction, so they stood up and did the sensible thing.

    • Even at that there was still a mutiny as I recall.

  • Dave In Guelph

    A succinct video explaining the history of the bombings from Prager U.

    • Thanks.

      • Frances

        Sir Laurens van der Post, in his book “The Night of the New Moon”, gave a chilling account of life as a POW in a Japanese prison camp at war’s end. The POW’s knew the war was going badly for the Japanese, and they were convinced they would all be murdered, their bodies burned, and the camp razed so there would be no evidence of their lives as POWs. They were desperately trying to smuggle lists of POWs (present and dead) out to the local populace in the hope that – someday – evidence of their lives there and those of their comrades would be preserved. The dropping of the two bombs was their salvation: the Emperor’s unequivocal surrender and orders to the prison guards meant their preservation.

        • T.C.

          Then there is Bill Whittle’s video:


          Hiroshima was the HQ for the defence of the southern island of Kyushu. This HQ was in charge of around 400,000 Japanese soldiers. The bomb detonated over the HQ parade ground. Over 20,000 Japanese military personal were killed – 30% of the cities population. The city was stockpiled with military arms and supplies in expectation of an allied invasion. These were destroyed and damaged. Hiroshima was a legitimate military target.

        • vimy

          In my little hometown there was at least 15 men captured or killed in the invasion of Hong Kong. My Great Uncle lost his life there and another 3 captured were cousins.

          One of them was used for propaganda in an interview recorded and broadcast by Tokyo Rose. Being an intrepid individual in the interview he managed to let everyone on the outside know who was still alive by saying hello to relatives of theirs back home.

          The was cylinder of the recording still survives today.

  • bullnuke

    A very personal issue for me. Personal that I would very likely not be posting this comment had those weapons not been used. My father was to be in the first part of the invasion, scheduled for October ’45, the invasion of Kyushu – Operation Olympic. The odds of his survival were pretty small had this operation been executed.

  • Dana Garcia

    Obasma cannot wait for his ultimate apology tour to stick it to patriotic citizens — Hiroshima will establish his legacy as the ultimate peacenik and America hater.

    • I hope History is especially harsh to him.

    • John

      He may not get a chance. Were ISIS to strike directly at America, and there’s a good chance they could, the dying days days of his miserable presidency would be dominated by damage control as the inept moron attempted to deal with the crisis. Obama’s time in office may end with America being utterly humiliated. From Hope ‘N Change to disaster.

  • UCSPanther

    Considering what the Japanese did to China in the 1930s, they got paid back in spades…

  • Hard Little Machine

    The Japanese army exterminated upwards of 10 million Chinese civilians one on one, up close.

    The Japanese government abandoned 250,000 of their own civilians on Okinawa and Iwo Jima to be wiped out by both sides in the fighting.

  • John

    It was the right thing to do. The Americans subtly implied that they had many more A- bombs ready ( they didn’t) and that bluff is what brought about Japan’s surrender. Had ground troops been sent in the casualty rates would have been through the roof and the war may have continued well into 1946. Dropping the bombs may have actually saved a couple million lives…including Yoko Ono’s!