Anniversary of Hiroshima

On August 6th, 1945 at around 8.15 Japan Standard Time, the first A-Bomb was detonated a few hundred metres above the town of Hiroshima. I’ve just finished watching this BBC documentary which was broadcast on French TV tonight, and I have been strongly affected by it. The day after tomorrow, it will be 60 years ago that this dramatic event happened. A few days later, it will be my 30th birthday, making me half as old as the fateful event.

The documentary’s message seemed to be that the bombing of Hiroshima and the subsequent bombing of Nagasaki were inevitable and that they saved American lives. Some people don’t hold that view and have reacted strongly to the BBC documentary’s light treatment of the justification for the bombing. However the documentary wasn’t about the justification for the bombings but a historical account of what happened with real footage mixed with special effects and comments from survivors. Viewed in that light, the piece works well and cannot fail to touch viewers. On the other hand the debate as to whether it was necessary to use the A-Bomb will rage in history classes (and on the web) ad infinitum. Even from records at the time, you can find a collection of quotes from people directly and indirectly involved at the time that suggest they weren’t sure.

I’m not sure either, but I know that from that day on, the world became a different place. The war would have ended at some time with or without the atomic bomb detonations; what is most important is that the 100,000 lives lost (estimation) in the explosion and fallout aftermath of Hiroshima must never be forgotten. A possible answer to why it was ordered at all – and why it doesn’t really matter whether the war would have ended without the bombing or not – comes courtesy of Kristien’s weblog: “Mankind’s cruel or megalomaniac tendencies”.


  1. The decision to drop the bomb on Japan was made to stop an implacable enemy with “cruel and meglomaniac” tendencies. One mustn’t forget Imperial Japan’s total disregard for human life. (The rape of Nanjing?) Japan’s short surrender after the bombing saved the many more lives that would have been lost if we had been forced to invade the island.

  2. Simon

    5/8/2005 at 7:49 pm

    I don’t think we’re in disagreement there Graham. Notice I used “mankind” and not “the American” in the final phrase. The Japanese soldier ethos of training young men specifically for kamikaze bombing raids and their terrible POW camps leave no room for doubt about how terrible an enemy they were. However, the debate about just how necessary the atomic bombings is rather more centred around rumours that the Japanese were close to capitulation anyway. Just how close, we will never know. The key question in my mind being that the fullscale invasion of Japan by American forces may not have been executed, with or without the bomb.

    Thanks for posting !