The Bombing of Hiroshima (August 6, 1945)
The United States was the first and only country that used an atomic bomb during the Second World War. On August 6, 1945, an American warplane dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima in Japan. The bombing had devastating repercussions on the Japanese. The bomb annihilated at least 90 percent of the city (Hixson 45). Additionally, over 80,000 Japanese lost their lives on that fateful day. Thousands of people were exposed to nuclear radiation. Many of them died later as a result of exposure to emissions. Others developed various deformities. Japan experienced the impacts of the bombing for many years. Numerous factors led to the bombing of Hiroshima. They included the determination of President Truman to defeat the Japanese. The United States had been at war with Japan for four years, and there were no signs that the Japanese would give up soon. Besides, the United States had the intention of testing the nuclear bomb after the success of the Manhattan Project (Hixson 48). The bombing of Hiroshima had, and still has significant impacts on the contemporary world. The attack brought to an end the Second World War. It saved the lives of millions of civilians and soldiers from Japan and the United States. Besides, the bombing prevented the cold war from evolving into a full-blown war. The long-term impacts of the attack included the development of nuclear energy. This paper will discuss the factors that led to the bombing of Hiroshima and its significances.
Factors that Led to Bombing of Hiroshima
By the time of the explosion, the United States had ruined major cities in Japan. Hiroshima was the only city left standing. Critics claim that the United States chose Hiroshima due to its topography. The United States required a sizable town that would demonstrate the vicious clout of the atomic bomb (Hixson 53). Since the previous air strikes had not affected Hiroshima, it was easy to test the power of the nuclear bomb in the city. Most Japanese military facilities were located in Hiroshima. Besides, the city had many troops and military factories. Therefore, the United States bombed the city to incapacitate the Japanese soldiers.
Some critics claim that the United States bombed Hiroshima to send a warning to the Soviet Union. The soldiers allied to the Soviet Union had invaded Japan. Hence, the United States used the atomic bomb to intimidate them and avoid possible confrontation with the American forces (Hixson 55). Truman alleged that the resolution to bomb Hiroshima was entirely military. He claimed that other forms of attack like amphibious landing would have resulted in massive death. According to Truman, the attack on Hiroshima prevented massive casualties (Hogan 123). President Truman did not want to prolong the war as many Americans had suffered at the hands of the Japanese forces. Until today, the United States has never come up with justifiable reasons as to why it had to use the atomic bomb. The bombing marked the end of the Second World War. Besides, the success of the Manhattan project served as a lesson on how countries can marshal their resources.
Events Surrounding the Bombing
In 1941, Albert Einstein convinced President Roosevelt to finance a project that sought to develop an atomic bomb. However, the president died in April 1945 before the project was completed. The scientists behind the project were eager to know the effects of the bomb (Alperovitz and Sanho 74). President Harry Truman, who was renowned for his resolve, took over after the death of Roosevelt. President Truman was not sure of his capability to help the United States to win the Second World War. He was told about the Manhattan Project and the development of an atomic bomb. At that time the United States was under immense pressure from the Japanese. Many Americans had lost their lives. The United States was determined to end the war (Alperovitz and Sanho 75). In spite of the United States launching multiple air strikes, the Japanese soldiers were unwilling to surrender. As a result, President Truman had to look for alternative ways of ending the war. The president and his advisors deliberated on invading Japan. Nevertheless, they feared that the invasion would result in increased casualties on the American side. Eventually, they resolved to use the atomic bomb.
By the time of the attack the Japanese soldiers were already exhausted. They could not repel an American invasion. Thus, they were determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly could in order to force a negotiated peace agreement. Two events which led to the resolution to use an atomic bomb preceded the bombing of Hiroshima(Alperovitz and Sanho 78). The first one was the Potsdam Conference in Berlin. It was attended by President Truman, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill. Further, there was a conference which authorized the testing of the atomic bomb. The United States dropped an atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert. The weapon was found to be powerful prompting President Truman to use it against the Japanese.
The United States intended only to target military facilities in Hiroshima. America did not intend to cause suffering amid women and children. Unfortunately, they did not know about the extensive obliteration that the atomic bomb would cause. At least 70, 000 civilians died as a result of the bombing. The Japanese emperor agreed to surrender after the attack (Walker 98). Nonetheless, the United States dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki three days later. The details of the assault started to emerge later. The United States showed no remorse for its actions. President Truman threatened to use an atomic bomb in the future in case of an assault against the United States (Walker 99). Despite his threats, repercussions of the bombing were so devastating such that no country has ever used atomic bomb again.
Significances of the Bombing
The reason for selecting the bombing of Hiroshima lies in the impacts it had on the Second World War as well as its lasting effects that are felt today. In the short-term prospective the bombing put an end to the prolonged human suffering caused by the war.. Many Americans had died in the hands of the Japanese forces. Conversely, many Japanese soldiers and civilians died as a result of the American airstrikes (Hogan 126). In spite of the many people who died from the bombing, a lot of others were saved. Military analysts claim that the attack saved the life of over 500,000 American soldiers who were about to invade the Japanese islands. Conversely, it saved the lives of at least four million Japanese.
The bombing of Hiroshima signified the turning point of the world history. For many years, the humans had not developed a weapon of mass destruction that could serve as a means to self-destruction. The Bombing of Hiroshima made nations change their perception of the use of power as a way to settle disputes. No country would unreservedly decide to wage war against its enemies (Walker 103). In other words, the attack on Hiroshima made the countries appreciate the significance of diplomacy in conflict resolution. Countries learned the awful impacts of using nuclear bomb. Seventy-one years down the line, no country has ever used the nuclear bomb to attack its enemies. A majority of the people who witnessed the bombing of Hiroshima thought that countries would embark on the development of nuclear weapons for security reasons. There were fears that atomic bombs would dominate subsequent wars (Walker 105). The reality of the Hiroshima attack was so profound that no country attempted to use a nuclear weapon during the cold war. Had the East and the West not learned anything from Hiroshima, they would have used nuclear weapons during the cold war. The fear of a repeat of what happened in Hiroshima made the global population unite in opposition of mass annihilation.
The bombing of Hiroshima signified the importance of having nuclear weapons. In spite of the devastating effects of the nuclear bomb, the present state of warfare requires countries, particularly the superpowers having the nuclear weapons. Individuals opposed to the development of nuclear weapons use the destruction witnessed in Hiroshima to defend their stance. Besides, they ignore the fact that it is hard to prevent developed countries from making nuclear weapons. The presence of atomic bombs in diverse countries serves as a deterrent mechanism (Ward 164). Since the Hiroshima attack no country has ever thought of launching a nuclear feud despite numerous confrontations amid countries. Countries are afraid of counterattacks. The lessons learned from Hiroshima deter countries from using the weapons (Ward 168). The United States and Russia would have engaged in a military confrontation during the cold war. The two nations had atomic bombs. However, they did not want to witness the destruction akin to that of Hiroshima. Countries learned that it was hard to predict the nature of war. A war that appears predictable and controllable can escalate to an entrenched fight. Thus, to avoid such instances, it is imperative to practice restraint.
The current use of atomic energy to drive ships, rockets and power industries can be credited to the Hiroshima attack. The attack resulted in the inception of the nuclear age (Ward 172). The nuclear age helped the world to come up with alternative sources of energy that are not only inexpensive but also environmentally friendly. For decades, scientists had come up with theories concerning the development of nuclear power. The bombing confirmed the relativity theory founded by Albert Einstein (Ward 176).
The bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 is a significant incident in human history. The United States used the atomic bomb in a bid to force the Japanese military to surrender and bring to an end the suffering of the Americans. Albert Einstein started the Manhattan Project that culminated in the development of the atomic bomb. The bombing of Hiroshima had, and still has significant impacts on the contemporary world. In spite of the thousands of the Japanese that died, the attack saved the lives of millions of Americans and Japanese. Additionally, it brought to an end the Second World War. On the other hand, the bombing marked the beginning of the development of nuclear weapons. Moreover, countries started to look for ways to create nuclear energy.
Alperovitz, Gar and Tree Sanho. The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, New York: Vintage, 1996. Print.
Hixson, Walter. The American Experience in World War II: The Atomic Bomb in History and Memory, New York: Routledge, 2002. Print.
Hogan, Michael. Hiroshima in History and Memory, Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Print.
Walker, Samuel. “The Decision to Use the Bomb: A Historiographical Update.” Diplomatic History 14.1 (1990): 97–114. Print.
Ward, Wilson. “The Winning Weapon? Rethinking Nuclear Weapons in Light of Hiroshima.” International Security 31.4 (2007): 162–179. Print.