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HIST 191
Julia Roberts

HISTORY 191 AUGUST 6, 1945: HIROSHIMA WED. NOV 21 - first atomic bomb dropped in wartime “Little Boy” - killed 90,000 – 160,000 - 3 days later, “Fatman” dropped in Nagasaki - half of deaths occurred on death of attacks - new: so much destruction could be accomplished by a single bomb, gave a new sense of fear, mankind had potential to destroy entire world by single button - Harry Truman, American president at the time WHY DID THE US DROP THE ATOMIC BOMBS? Official interpretation  The only motivation for dropping bombs was to end world quickly and save American lives  Feelings of relief that war was over, led to feelings of guilt over lost Japanese lives John Hersey’s Hiroshima (1946) o article based on interviews conducted with those who survived atomic bombs in Hiroshima o Full of explicit details o Showed horrors that Japanese endured o Widely read by American public o Most people were touched by book, and began to question decision to drop the bombs Henry Stimson o Secretary of war under Roosevelt and briefly Truman while atomic bombs were used o Known as great American statement, a republican o Atomic bombs costs 2 billion o Highly involved in decision to drop the bombs and the Manhattan Project o Tasked with explaining decision to American people in article he writes o First elaborate statement/explanation why the bombs were dropped in 1947  they intended to use bomb b/c of high expenses from beginning of research in Manhattan Project  would’ve used it in Europe if bomb was finished  scientists made recommendation to Truman to drop bombs on Japan in order to end war asap  urged targets needed to surrounded by houses/other buildings vulnerable to damage (dropping it on inhabitant places, intending there to be victims)  scientists wanted to display power of atomic bomb  said scientists were moral men  some scientists argued for peaceful demonstration of bomb, to drop on ocean to impress Japan with power so they’ll surrender Stimson said too many problems with demonstration, impracticable. Japan could move prisoners of war into ocean so they’d be bombing their own men. Demonstration could prolong war incase bomb doesn’t work and US would look weak/be ridiculed.  Japan had, since war in Europe had ended, sent out diplomats to suggest negotiate peace Stimson said America missed opportunity for peace with japan before dropping the bombs. Peace initiatives were vague proposals by Japan.  Japanese were a race that demonstrated ability to fight, so one couldn’t trust peace negotiations  Causality estimates from Japanese invasions would be over 1 million soldiers Japanese and American HISTORY 191 AUGUST 6, 1945: HIROSHIMA WED. NOV 21  By dropping atomic bombs, Stimson said war would end quickly and claimed saved lives on both sides  If one believes Stimson’s claims, atomic bomb dropping was moral thing to do b/c saving lives  Stimson’s account for 2 decades was America’s thought on why they dropped bombs  Most people believed Stimson’s claims b/c Americans were trusting until 1960s Critical interpretation/atomic diplomacy/revisionist challenge  Launched in 1960s in time when people critical of government because of Vietnam war: bombs were dropped to intimidate the soviet union  Hiroshima was seen as first act of cold war  Radical critique  Historians in 1960s focused on challenging Stimson’s narrative and demonstrating 2 ways in which war could’ve ended without dropping bombs, or invading Japan  Clear that Japanese had insisted in keeping Emperor  Great fear in Japan that emperor could be hanged as war criminal  Japan viewed their emperor like god, not political leader  Stimson believ
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