by Dr. John Ryan
It is now 75 years since the USA used atomic bombs to destroy the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These bombs instantly killed about 200,000 people and thousands more died horrible deaths later from the burns and radiation sickness.
US leaders did not want the world to know the horrific extent of what they had done. General MacArthur headed the US occupation forces in Japan and would not allow anyone to report what actually happened.
However, a year later (1946) John Hersey, through the efforts of the fledgling New Yorker magazine, managed to get permission for two weeks to view the scene in Hiroshima. In addition to viewing the incredible damage, he did comprehensive interviews with six of the Hiroshima survivors.
On his return to the US he wrote an alarming account based on these interviews. His entire story appeared in the New Yorker on August 31, 1946. It was a shock to read–finally the truth came out as to what happened on August 6, 1945. This was reported the world over, and later this story came out as a book, entitled “Hiroshima”.
What the book does not make clear is that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not responsible for ending the war. It was actually the shock of the Soviet invasion two days later and the total collapse of Japanese forces in Manchuria that caused Japan’s surrender on August 15. After all, the US had fire-bombed and destroyed about 100 cities; two more destroyed cities were not overly alarming.
What has not been widely reported is that all the major US generals, including Eisenhower and MacArthur, opposed the use of atomic bombs on Japan. It was Truman and his government advisors who decided to use these bombs. And why? It was not to end the Japanese war; Japan had been fully prepared to surrender. The use of these horrific bombs was totally unnecessary and that is what the generals pointed out.
The atomic bombs were used on Japan, not to end the war, but for the purpose of showing the Soviet Union that this is what would happen to them if they did not go along with US policies. In fact, the US almost immediately after World War II, started a campaign to build at least 200 atomic bombs for use on the USSR. Official documents are available on this matter, going into full detail that they would need 6 bombs for Moscow, 6 for Leningrad, etc.
What stopped them from doing this was that the USSR in 1949 developed nuclear weapons of their own. A fairly recent article deals with the US plans to annihilate the USSR and its people.
This of course is not revealed in Hersey’s book since all he wanted to do was to show what actually happened to Hiroshima that resulted in the death of 140,000 people. As it says in its sub-title, “Everyone able to read should read it.”
The bombing of Hiroshima was a war crime of the greatest magnitude.