It is 11:56 am……09 August 1945…..”Bock’s Car” is making its way through the skies of East Asia on its way to its date with destiny.
The “Fat Man” destroys Nagasaki
The devastation wrought at Hiroshima was not sufficient to convince the Japanese War Council to accept the Potsdam Conference’s demand for unconditional surrender. The United States had already planned to drop their second atom bomb, nicknamed “Fat Man,” on August 11 in the event of such recalcitrance, but bad weather expected for that day pushed the date up to August 9th. So at 1:56 a.m., a specially adapted B-29 bomber, called “Bock’s Car,” after its usual commander, Frederick Bock, took off from Tinian Island under the command of Maj. Charles W. Sweeney. Nagasaki was a shipbuilding center, the very industry intended for destruction. The bomb was dropped at 11:02 a.m., 1,650 feet above the city. The explosion unleashed the equivalent force of 22,000 tons of TNT. The hills that surrounded the city did a better job of containing the destructive force, but the number killed is estimated at anywhere between 60,000 and 80,000 (exact figures are impossible, the blast having obliterated bodies and disintegrated records).
History and explanation of the bombs will help my readers grasp this event…..https://theconversation.com/world-politics-explainer-the-atomic-bombings-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki-100452
But why Nagasaki?
By May of 1945 an exhausted and overrun Germany had surrendered. The war in Europe was over. The United States, aided by Great Britain, moved closer and closer to Japan. Massive suicide attacks by the Japanese caused great losses to the Pacific Fleet, but did not deter its drive.
Japan, thinking the Soviet Union was a friendly neutral in the war in the Pacific, submitted unofficial peace feelers to the United States through them. The Soviet Union, secretly wanting to join the war against Japan, suppressed the feelers. Ironically, the Japanese military made it impossible to pursue peace directly, as they arrested or killed anybody who tried to extend official peace offerings. As it was, these unofficial feelers were completely unacceptable to the U.S. as they merely made vague offering to return conquered territories in exchange for peace.
The big strategic question was how to force Japan’s surrender.
Japan’s major cities had been fire-bombed almost nightly. The islands were blockaded and the Japanese Navy had been destroyed. Planning for a massive invasion by Allied forces was underway. But was that the best answer? The cost in lives for both Allied forces and Japanese civilians would be heavy.
Harry S. Truman had just become the U.S. Presidency following Franklin Roosevelt’s death. The United States wanted the Soviet Union to enter the war, but was concerned that it would dominate too much of East Asia if the war dragged on. There were two atomic bombs available. Truman made a quick decision: drop both bombs as soon as possible, allowing a short time between missions for Japanese surrender.
We have been having a small debate here on IST on whether the bombs were necessary…..my thought is they were not necessary…
Here is an argument against dropping the bombs…..
Few issues in American history – perhaps only slavery itself – are as charged as the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. Was it necessary? Merely posing the question provokes indignation, even rage. Witness the hysterical shouting down of the 1995 Smithsonian exhibit that simply dared discuss the question fifty years after the act. Today, another eleven years on, Americans still have trouble coming to terms with the truth about the bombs.
But anger is not argument. Hysteria is not history. The decision to drop the bomb has been laundered through the American myth-making machine into everything from self-preservation by the Americans to concern for the Japanese themselves-as if incinerating two hundred thousand human beings in a second was somehow an act of moral largesse.
The thought is that the bombs were necessary to end the war that had taken so much of society….but did it?
Arguments against the bombings usually take a moral tack. That whatever the ends, it’s never right to intentionally vaporize women and children. But in recent years an entire new argument has emerged: Bomb or no bomb, the war would have ended anyway.
Below, some things you may not have known about the momentous events of August 1945.
As I have written we here on IST have been having a small debate…so I need to include this debate from the BBC….
For years debate has raged over whether the US was right to drop two atomic bombs on Japan during the final weeks of the Second World War. The first bomb, dropped on the city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, resulted in a death toll of around 135,000. The second, which hit Nagasaki on 9 August, killed at least 50,000 people (and according to some estimates, as many as 74,000 died). But was the US justified? We put the question to two History Extra readers…
And that is the way it was…09Aug1945
Stay tuned for the post on the Nuremberg Trials.
“Lego Ergo Scribo”