posts 16 - 25 of 25
Posts: 13

Dropping the Atomic Bomb: Reflecting on How to End War

I disagree with my ancestor's attitude because I don't think the atomic bomb should have even been considered as a war tactic during WW2, if it can really be called that, nor should it be used again, tested, or developed further. I would evaluate my ancestor's attitude as an unfortunate product of the time: a time in which both nuclear scientists and (especially) the public knew very little about the long-lasting effects and the harm it would do, as well as the repercussions, not just for Japan as the first nation victimized, but for the entire world.

I don't think dropping the bomb should even be considered today. I understand why the bomb was dropped, but I don't think it was reasonable, even with what we know about Japan's war crimes. If the United States really cared about the human rights violations being committed by the Japanese government, it wouldn't have recruited Unit 731 scientists rather than prosecuting them. It wouldn't have withheld and continue to withhold the research from Unit 731 that continues to allow the Japanese government to deny the existence of such experiments. It wouldn't be hiding, or have condoned in the first place, the sex trade in Korea that was built for American soldiers which permitted the use of Korean women as sexual slaves: a crime we condemn the Japanese for. It was a rash decision in the midst of a horrible war, but that does not excuse it in the slightest, and labeling it as such might take away from the seriousness of it as a deliberate action. We should absolutely be second guessing a decision that left tens of thousands of people dead, or dying from diseases caused by radiation. And the context of the situation, should not and does not protect the United States and Harry Truman from criticism about resorting to an unforgivable and inexcuseable crime.

If the bomb had been available in April 1945, I am quite sure the bomb would not have been used against Germany because compared to Japan, Germany was a lot closer to innocent nations: those which had been forcibly occupied by the Nazis. Furthermore, the decision to drop the bomb in Europe would be significantly more unpopular in the United States because Americans would fear for the safety of the innocent Europeans or maybe even deem the treatment too harsh for the Germans, whereas anti-Japanese propaganda and racism made it not a problem when it came to dropping it on Japan. Moreover, by April 1945, the allies were planning to and already starting to invade Germany so dropping an atomic bomb would likely harm their military forces or make it near impossible to invade after, though I am unsure whether the U.S. even realized this. Japan was the perfect guinea pig for the United States to test out this horrific weapon on and to make into an example for the rest of the world (especially the USSR).

Using the Marshall Islands as nuclear test sites was not worth doing nor justifiable. The atomic bomb had already killed more than a hundred thousand people, which should have been the end of its use and development. If there was the need for continued research, using an island on which people lived shouldn't have even been a consideration since there would be the risk, even if not taken seriously at the time, of displacing the island's residents and making the islands uninhabitable for an extended time, if not permanently. Moreoever, it becomes even more unjustifiable when it's made clear that the United States government was unwilling to ethically test atomic bombs, if such a thing is possible, which can be seen in how the government disregarded the long-term health of the some 4000 American troops who were tasked with cleaning up the now radioactive islands; many of whom would go on to develop medical conditions including brittle bones, various cancers, and birth defects in their children. If there was any "importance for the future of mankind" for testing nuclear weapons, it shouldn't have meant sacrificing the lives of people already living and forcing people to endure the consequences with no guarantee of a future benefit.

I would say that the atomic bomb was never necessary for ending the war (as Admiral William D. Leary said), nor that it has brought about progress that couldn't have been achieved through better, more peaceful methods. Furthermore, if the bomb has really proven itself impossible to use again, then why haven't we agreed globally to cease the storage and development of nuclear weapons? It is far from impossible for the bomb to be used again, and if it ever happens, there will be little hope for the future of humanity.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

I think that I can see how my hypothetical ancestors would think that their decision to drop the bomb was justified. War is awful and the development of a weapon to stop the war would just be too tempting to use. Perhaps the power of the weapon was just too corrupting. As Truman wrote, “it may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley era, after Noah and his fabulous ark”. This, combined with the famous quote from Oppenhiemer that says “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”, just makes me think that the people in charge of this bomb thought of their power as godlike and this made them unable to see the consequences of what the atomic bomb would do. We also discussed in class how the dropping of this bomb would show other countries their power and advancement, and thus I can see how my ancestors would be willing to look past all the bad things that the atomic bomb would create in order to prove how powerful they were.

But knowing what I know now, I really don’t think that dropping the atomic bomb was justified. I think that the people who were responsible for the dropping of the atomic bomb absolutely knew the consequences of doing so. For example, as said by Admiral Leary: “Bomb is the wrong word to use for this new weapon. It is not a bomb. It is not an explosive. It is a poisonous thing that kills people by its deadly radioactive reaction, more than by the explosive force it develops”. This just makes me think that everyone was aware that the damage caused by the bomb didn’t just stop at the explosion, and yet they were still willing to drop the bomb. And because this caused veterans to develop cancer and other serious health conditions, the displacement of many people due to their homes becoming uninhabitable with the amount of radiation, and generations being born with serious birth defects, I don’t think that dropping the atomic bomb was reasonable.

Even with everything that the Japanese did, I still don’t think that it was justified. So many more people suffered from the atomic bomb than those who actually committed the atrocities. For example, in Unit 731, I don’t think any of the people involved were actually punished for their crimes. Instead, the atomic bomb hurt people that weren’t directly and many many generations after them. I just think that there was a different agenda (ex: show of power) than just ending the war / punishing Japan. The fact that they specifically chose Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the cities to drop the atomic bomb because these cities were untouched by prior bombing and thus they could study how the effects of the atomic bomb really just shows how they weren’t just looking to end the war.

I don’t think that the atomic bomb would have been used in Germany if it was available. I think that at the time, Americans would have been more against Japanese people rather than Germans, simply due to race. Thus, I think that the public would be more upset if the dropping of the atomic bomb was on Germany than Japan. I also think that the bombing of Pearl Harbor further solidified anti-Japanese sentiment into Americans while there wasn’t a similarly devastating attack on America caused by Germany. In a weird way, I think that would just make the American public less likely to accept an atomic bomb dropping on Germany.

I would also just like to say that the development and usage of the atomic bomb has brought along so many more consequences than what could have initially been thought. Living in a world where many countries could have nuclear powers is honestly terrifying. It almost seems like at any moment, the world could just destroy itself since there are definitely means of doing so. It doesn’t feel like progress, what good would any developments be if a couple people in charge of countries with nuclear powers could just destroy us all at any moment?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

Dropping the Atomic Bomb: Ending War

I think that my ancestor definitely felt as though they were advancing warfare to the future. However I would hope they would feel conflicted about the actual impact that they were making. They were driven to be a part of history, but if they were causing all of this destruction I would think they would feel any type of guilt or remorse. I think it is impossible, no matter how you feel towards the war, to not have any remorse for those who fell victim to it.

I think it was stupid to drop the bombs. Especially now, knowing that the places that these bombs were dropped were mainly civilian inhabited areas, where the only people that would be severely impacted were common people. If the war was really between governments, America should have left regular people out of it. Even though Japan did awful things during the war as well, it is not a reason to justify the malicious intent behind the American’s atomic bombings. And because the Americans decided to target civilians instead of the “real enemy” this would be considered a war crime due to the laws of war which separate those who can be targeted. I think it should be judged, however I’m not sure what could be done at this point. I just feel like there needs to be some sort of justice for the victims of the bombings.

I think had it been available, the atomic bomb would have been used against Germany. Germany at this point was under a lot of pressure from countries around the world, trying to take their power, so it would have been easier to end the war faster, had they used this weapon. The use of the bomb would completely destroy Germany's chances of any prolonged destruction or any more casualties.

The tests done at Bikini Atoll were absolutely not worth doing. Yes, I believe they should have been tested, however to destroy the homes of a small population, and give them lasting effects from radiation was inexcusable. I suppose they could be justified in the case that the bombs needed to be tested, and the population agreed to it, but that begs the question, could they not have found a more secluded area? Either way I personally believe it is unjustifiable.

Overall I think that the use of the atomic bomb shaped some of today’s scientific progression, but it also had lasting negative effects on the communities it was used on, some of which are too far for recovery. Therefore I believe that the atomic bomb should never be used again because and despite its impact on the world.

South Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 15

Dropping the Atomic Bomb: Reflecting on How to End War

My ancestors probably had a set of mixed emotions with the creation of the atomic bomb as they would only partially understand the level of destruction it is capable of bringing. However, their scientific prowess and desire for military security persisted in accelerating the creation of the atomic bomb. Many countries believed that if they were in control of a bomb of such devastating capabilities, it would bring a quick end to war. Yet, I don't think that my ancestors foresaw the fact that will justwouldate a furthera different unstoppable military power. The decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima was the last hope to shock Japan with immediate and immense destruction of one of their major cities in hopes Japan would surrender, and it would bring an end to the war. If we look back upon the bombing of Hiroshima, it led to the war's end. Still, the event is now seen as a horrible act that devastated the lives of thousands of innocent civilians, killing over 100,000 and leaving the few survivors and nearby cities exposed to radiation which has led to horrific long-term health problems. I can see how dropping the atomic bombs were seen as a way to swiftyl end the war without further casualties, but as we did not yet not the true destruction the use of atomic weapons bring, it can be argued that the dropping of the atomic bomb amongst Hiroshima and Nagasaki was unnecessary and more destructive then stopping the war with other tactics.

Knowing that Japan committed many atrocious inhumane crimes during the war, such as the Nanjing Massacre and the use of comfort women, it can be argued that the bombing was a necessary and immediate "solution" to the war, yet it required we remember the targets of the bombing. The bombs were dropped on major cities, targeting civilians in the hope to shock Japan into retreat. This was was already horrific enough and in my opinion, the dropping upon Hiroshima is not easily justified. Personally, I also believe the targets of the bombing to be the reason it is unjustified. This was a targeted attack against innocent civilians, mothers, fathers, children, pets, and the economy of Japan. If this was an attack against a major military base, it could be more easily justified, but over a hundred thousand citizens, who may not be US citizens but they are still equally important innocent people. The attack on innocent civilians and not war combatants break a developed principle of war. As it can be argued as a unnecessary act of violence, it can definitely be argued to be a war crime.

If the atomic bomb had been available in April 1945 I would most definitely hope it was used; under such extreme and specific circumstances the use of an Atomic bomb during WWII, even that late in the war, could have been helpful in immediately bringing a stop to the holocaust and stopping the war. The only problem is that if the atomic bomb was available previous to Hitler's suicide, it gives possibility to be utilized by Germany themselves, which could have led to further destruction as they were. But if it comes down to the question of if it should/would have been used against Germany during the events of April 1945, I believe if needed and could be as strategically and properly used as possible for an atomic bomb, it could have been extremely useful.

The utilization of Bikini Atoll and the other Marshall Island sites used as nuclear test sites were arguably not worth the risk and destruction as scientists didn't learn much from them other than some sort of developmental and understanding improvement. They already understood the possible destruction and the tests, actually seeing that destruction did not do much to the production of these weapons but rather brough unecessary environmental and health consequences to the area and its surroundings. Taking these detrimental results into factor, I conclude that the testing upon the Bikini Atoll and the Marshall Islands was not important or productive to the future of mankind but rather the opposite. The environmental destruction it brought is still prevalent today, and the negative health effects upon affected populations continue to destroy lives.

Regarding the argument that the bomb ended the war, I don't completely agree with it as there were many other factors, but it most definitely helped push the decision over the top. The progress in the past 75 years "due to the bomb" is not progress whatsoever. We have now discovered and made it very possible to end the world in a matter of minutes. The world today is much more advanced than in 1945, and the power of atomic weapons has increased astronomically, as well as the abundance of them. Nine countries at the moment have access to nuclear weapons, one of which is amidst a war, and another a complete dictatorship. The possibility of mutual mass destruction in a matter of minutes instills a constant fear in governments and civilians. Although throughout the past bombing of Hiroshima can be said to be why nations limited the use of threatening nuclear weapons, it has now become due to the understanding that the dropping of one nuclear bomb will immediately lead to global destruction.

Posts: 22

Dropping the Atomic Bomb

1. My ancestor might have felt a couple of different ways while creating the atomic bomb. I would think that above all else they were thinking about empowering the United States. They were probably eager to both advance United States weaponry and also to end the war as "cleanly" as possible.That being said, I don't think that even after testing, the American people and scientists understood the damage and destruction that the bombs were capable of. Though scientists had tested it in New Mexico, it was in a barren plain. They never tested it on a city before dropping the bomb on Hiroshima(why would they?), and wasted no time after the Trinity experiment to drop it. The States dropped the bomb just a month after the Trinity bomb exploded, not waiting to see the aftereffects of using nuclear energy. They didn't know about the long term effects of the atomic bomb, such as radiation poisoning.I would also like to think that they would have at the very least some misgivings about dropping the first bomb, and even more so towards the second bomb after seeing the devastation and horror brought on by the first one.

2. Today, I see the dropping of the atomic bombs over Japan as a horrible, and unreasonable decision. Of course, back then people believed that it was the quickest and easiest way to end the Japanese's attacks and destroy any chances they had of reorganizing after their defeat. However, the Japanese army had suffered too much to keep going. It would not have been able to do nearly as much damage as the Americans thought it would. Also, the situation was not as desperate as some claimed it to be. Germany had surrendered, ending WWII, and the U.S was able to turn its attention to Japan. It wasn't as if we made a split second, panicked decision to drop these bombs. It was a spectacle for the public to reinforce patriotism. We didn't have to do it, but chose to end things quickly and strongly. What gets me is that it would have been bad enough if we had stopped at Hiroshima. Dropping the second bomb on Nagasaki- just three days later- was completely unnecessary and cruel. Based on everything we know from class and the readings, they are still recovering. There is nothing the Japanese could have done in those three days to pose any sort of threat to anyone. The only things that came from the use of the bombs was the destruction of two great cities, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, mostly civilians.

No matter what the Japanese were doing to their people, we still had no excuse to obliterate their population or their cities. The bombs killed several times more people than the Japanese killed in Unit 731. Japanese soldiers were left with permanent disfigurements and ailments after being subjected to horrific science experiments, and comfort women often lost the ability to reproduce altogether. Yet our bomb also disfigured people. It gave them radiation poisoning, caused other illnesses, and left them homeless. I think that this was a very rash decision in the midst of a horrible war. Not hasty, but rash. I think that as a country, we let our pride get in the way, and justified to ourselves that dropping these bombs was for the greater good. In the sheet of quotes coming from Truman, we often see his justifications for dropping them. He says, "When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast."

To me, these bombings are war crimes, as they are atrocities against civilian property and lives. Henry Truman claimed that, "[he had] told the secretary of war, Mr. Stimson, to use it so that military objectives and soldiers are the target and not women and children[....]The target will be purely military one and we will issue a warning statement asking the Japs to surrender and save lives." This could not be further from the truth. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed instantly, men, women, and children included. Those who survived suffered irreparable injuries and side effects of the nuclear bombs. Their home layed in pieces before them. It was like Guernica, but several times larger and deadlier. For this, the bombings need to be judged. We can't accept them and move on. We need to learn, or better yet, disarm ourselves. Imagine a bomb was dropped here in Boston today. It would be catastrophic. We, the world, are unprepared for nuclear warfare. It's not something you can prepare for really, because its effects are so damaging that there is not a ton that can fix it, if there's anything at all.

3. No, even if the atomic bomb had been in our possession before Germany surrendered, it would not have been dropped. Nazi Germany was very weak in April of 1945. Surrender could be seen in the distance. But the same could be said for Japan. So what is the difference? I think that that is because the world had a better understanding of the Holocaust. We understood what was happening and who was the enemy and who needed to be saved. We understood that going in there and blowing the place up would not solve anything, and would kill innocent people who had already suffered enough. With Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan in general, details were obscured from the media. The biggest occurrences in Japan were hidden away from the public eye, and so the public was far less informed. It was unclear who was the enemy and who was "safe." Everyone sort of got grouped into the enemy category by default. So overall, I think that we knew a lot less about Japan, and as a result, the situation there seemed more dire, and so there was a great outpouring of support for them to be taken down in some way or another. Another contributing factor to the fear, I think, was unfortunately race. The Germans, while committing absolutely heinous acts, were still while they still looked like people from the States. The Japanese however, were noy viewed in the same light by the Americans. This "unfamiliarity" pushed American patriotism to its boiling point in a way that Germany didn't.

4. I don't think that having multiple test sites is justifiable. I think that if a country does need to test weapons, it should have one designated testing ground. The fact that after using these bombs, a place becomes dangerous to be in - even years later- shows that these weapons are not something that we should be using. What I find especially appalling about the different testing locations is the fact that they used places where people were native to, like Bikini Atoll. To ask the natives to move with them, and not properly relocate them, and instead have them sleeping on military runways, is dishonest and wrong. Even more so after the natives started experiencing birth defects from staying so close to the blast. The U.S should after that have changed their weapons testing policies. I don't think the tests were worth it. The only time we've ever used nuclear weaponry was in WWII. The Bikini Atoll test happened over the next 10 years. Even if our technology has advanced and our weapons have been changed and strengthened over time, we have since never used them. So, I don't think that these tests or these weapons are advancing the future of mankind.

5. I agree that the bomb ended the war quickly and concisely. But I also think that it would have ended soon anyway. So I don't think that is a valid argument in favor of the bombs. I also disagree that it was the bomb that brought about unprecedented progress by not being able to be used again. We still have bombs. Several countries have bombs. Just because we haven't used them yet - and hopefully never will- doesn't mean that we can't. We're lucky enough to not have needed to use them, but what is stopping a country from doing so should conflict mount too high? That being said however, a huge outcry against the bombs did come about as well. There are now activists and huge groups of people advocating for the prevention of nuclear war and the complete disarmament of countries in regards to nuclear weapons. The bombs, if anything, did a good job of making people more aware of the destruction we are capable of, and reminded us of the need to keep our humanity.

coffee and pie
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

If I were the descendent of someone who decided to drop the bomb:

I think their attitudes were very unfortunately common at the time, but still very inconsiderate, selfish, and immoral. I understand the need to protect one’s country and oneself. However, a nuclear arms race and the development of those weapons never solved anything. It was not really about the safety of the people, it was who had more power, and a game of chicken between immature leaders. I’d assume my ancestor, if he were white, had nativist feelings which contributed to their choice of the Marshall Islands as a testing site. He was probably thinking he was protecting the country, and like most men at the time, felt that he could do that by being more macho (having more powerful weapons). Also, in general, there was a lot of concern over winning - not protection or peace or ending the war, specifically winning the war.

Today, I am very against the dropping of the bombs. The environmental and human damage it caused is completely disproportionate to the bomb’s intentions, which were in itself immature and frankly a stupid move. It was a horrible war, but the acceptance of great violence and commitment to victory made it worse. Those attitudes pushed for all the death and nuclear testing. It was compeltely unnecessary - which can be said about many many wars - and cost far too many lives. War, as we have thoroughly discussed already, brings out the absolute worst in people, on whatever side of the war you’re on. Yes, Japan committed unfathomable things and treated populations horribly. However, responding to wrong with more wrong does not reverse anything - it only adds to how much wrong there is. It contributed to ending the war, but it was a horrible way to do so, and was unnecessary. A war does not change how bad an action is. Murder is still murder, war or not. Bombs are still bombs, war or not. What we did was wrong, what Japan did was wrong, and there is no denying either, war or not.

I am not sure if the bomb would have been used on Germany, but I think they’d be more reluctant than with Japan. However, to discuss some factors, the Japanese population looks different than the German population - that is, one looks like the ‘typical’ white American and the other does not. I would say that the US would be reluctant to kill thousands of civilians and other victims of the holocaust (those who were left), but that clearly did not stop them in Japan.

Using the Marshall islands as nuclear testing sites was wrong. There is no however, it was simply wrong. There was a thriving population, and they were just kicked out. Even the US compared them to mice used in laboratories - how is that any way to treat a human? The island, which has deep cultural ties to the population, was destroyed. In that way, their culture was destroyed. The nuclear test was meant to develop protection against the enemy, but in doing so the US acted similar to the enemy - unnecessarily destroying the lives of thousands. So no, it is not justifiable, nor is it important to the future of mankind. If a nuclear war happened, it would destroy the globe.

I think that most assume because we have seen the impacts of the bomb, it would never be used again. However, I think there is far too much corruption in governments around the world for that to be true. If that were true, why would there still be nuclear development? Additionally, the ‘progress’ it brought was even MORE nuclear development, and even though the size went down, the power went up. The bomb might have ended the war, it might have brought some sense of progress. However, it does not justify the bombing at all. Additionally, I think the more important discussion is how to prevent wars altogether, eliminating the source of why nuclear weapons are being developed at all.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

Dropping the Atomic Bomb

If my ancestor was someone that made the decision to drop or build the atomic bomb, I think they are completely in the wrong. I can’t understand how anyone could ever be okay with dropping a bomb on hundreds of thousands of innocent people. I say that about almost everything we learn in Facing, but it’s true. I never cease to be shocked by how cruel and inhumane some humans manage to be. I understand that ending a war was necessary, especially as a Chinese person, when I think about all the horrors that the Japanese committed during WWII. However, bombing civilians is not the answer. It is WILD that I even have to say that. There must have been a better way to end the war that doesn’t involve the loss of so many lives. I understand that my ancestor might have thought it would have been the best way to end the war quickly without losing more American lives, but I think as a society we don’t put enough value on the lives of people outside of our country. Everyone is still human at the end of the day, and if this isn’t something we would do to our own people, it’s not a valid decision to do it to other people, even for the sake of a war.

The bombings were not justifiable in any way. The Americans did not do it to save anyone. The Nanjing massacre ended almost a decade before the bombings happened. The Korean comfort women had existed for around 13 years, and America knew about all this yet decided to do nothing. Clearly, the bombings were not about these horrific events. It was about American pride. It was an incredibly rash decision; I don’t understand how murdering civilians would be in any way part of a well thought out plan. Of course it should be judged. It definitely should be considered a war crime. I’ve heard people try to argue that the bombings were justifiable because otherwise Japan wouldn’t have stopped the war. But there’s no way to know for sure and there probably had to have been a better alternative to ending the war.

If the bomb was available in April 1945, I don’t think it would’ve been used against Germany. Germany did not bomb or directly attack the U.S. the way Japan did. There was no real incentive for the U.S. to bomb Germany. The U.S. refused to enter and help in the war despite knowing about the Holocaust. Also, Germany is still a country made up of a majority of white people. When Americans look at Japan, it’s easier to otherize them and remove themselves from the humanity of the situation because Japanese people look different.

I don’t think we should have created atomic bombs at all. There is not a single situation in the entire world where I see atomic bombs being necessary or useful because of the widespread damage. I don’t think testing in Bikini Atoll and the other Marshall Islands was important for the future of mankind. Unless an entire continent somehow goes through a zombie apocalypse. There is no situation where the benefits of using an atomic bomb outweighs the cons.

I don’t think it was necessary for the bombing to happen to prove that it shouldn’t be used again. Based on the testing they conducted, it should’ve been immediately clear of the damage it would’ve brought. The immediate damage wouldn’t have been worth it.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 26

How do you evaluate your ancestor’s attitude toward the atomic bomb? Why did he/she feel and think in the way in which he/she did?

  • The atomic bomb was a newly created invention, and a weapon of war. With patriotism at an all time high, and a lack of knowledge of what atomic bombs actually did, many people saw the bomb as something that would end the war through terror. They saw the atomic bomb as just another bomb that soldiers used anyways, and so when it was used, they didn’t really look into it.

And how do you see the decision to drop the bomb(s) and the bomb dropping itself today? Was it a reasonable decision in the midst of a horrible war? Was it justifiable, given what we know of Japan’s horrific treatment of its subjugated populations (think Nanjing, Unit 731, the comfort women to just name a few examples)? Was it a rash decision in midst of a horrible war? Was it a war crime in the midst of a horrible war? Should it be judged at all? Is this just second guessing? Should no judgments be offered?

  • I think if the bomb were to be dropped today, it would be the end of humanity for sure. Dropping it would give the “ok” signal for other people to have it dropped, and so it would cause a lot of places to be full of radiation and a lot of adverse effects on the future population of people in the next generation. In the video made by Kurzgesagt, nuclear war would cover a huge amount of land, and affect the people in it horrendously. Thousands of deaths and millions of injuries would be caused by just one atomic bomb. I don't think the bombing was justified, even despite the horrific treatment of Japan's subjugated populations, because the targets of the atomic bomb were civilians.
  • I don’t think it was a reasonable decision to have it happen in WWII because even Admiral William D. Leary said that Japan was ready to surrender before the bomb was used, and the Allied powers had a clear advantage after Germany surrendered on May 1945. I think dropping the atomic bomb was a war crime made in the midst of war in order to show what the United States was capable of, which was not necessary since the war was already ending anyways, and the bomb was thrown at civilians rather than military bases (but even then, Japan seemed like it was going to surrender, and wouldn't dropping the bomb on them still unintentionally hurt other innocent people like the comfort women and civilians because of the amount of land the bomb would destroy? It's just a weapon that is too destructive overall). The point of the US dropping the atomic bomb was to save the lives of their American comrades and end the war quicker-- but I feel like the same amount of lives they tried to save, they ended up taking away, just from a different group of people rather than their own.

Another question: if the bomb had been available in April 1945, do you think it would have been used against Germany? Why or why not?

  • I think it would have been used against Germany because it might've been used to clear out military bunkers that protected military personnel. Bunkers are very hard to destroy, along with some military buildings, so they might've used an atomic bomb to help with the process of destroying those and secure the surrender of German troops (Hitler would have probably died from the bombing too).

Then there’s Bikini Atoll and the other sites in the Marshall Islands that were used as nuclear test sites in the years following 1945. Worth doing? Justifiable? Important for the future of mankind?

  • It is definitely not worth doing or is justifiable. If nuclear warfare were to happen, then an unfathomable amount of civilians, doctors, and soldiers would die, be injured, or pass down birth defects, stop people from being able to give birth, and cause a ton of land to be put out of use due to radioactivity for years. Troops that tried cleaning Bikini Atoll were used as propaganda and were not even given proper treatment after helping to clean up something that happened 20 years ago (when they decided to clean Bikini Atoll).
  • The destruction of lives that resulted from nuclear testing is too much, and I mean… they used the nuclear bomb before already to see what the impacts of it were. By testing on those islands, were they trying to see if they could make better and safer nuclear bombs? Or what were they trying to accomplish? Either way, it couldn’t be good for nuclear bombs to be used period. Even thinking of using the bomb is immoral and in no way justified. I feel that what makes using bombs the most immoral thing in warfare is the fact that it kills the lives of a lot of civilians that only wish for the war to end and for the fighting to stop.

Finally, what do you say to the argument that the bomb not only ended the war but has brought about more than 75 years of unprecedented progress because the bomb itself, having been used in 1945, has (at least so far) proven that it is impossible to use again?

  • Like someone else said in another post, the creation of the atomic bomb led to the arms race rapidly developing and has been used as a scare tactic by a lot of countries nowadays. I think calling the non-usage of nuclear bombs is certainly progress, but again, all it takes is one person with power to cause the destruction of a million people. I think true progress would be the destruction of such weapons, and vowing to never create them again— but some countries are not fond of the idea of giving such an item of fear up.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24


How do you evaluate your ancestor’s attitude toward the atomic bomb? Why did he/she feel and think in the way in which he/she did? And how do you see the decision to drop the bomb(s) and the bomb dropping itself today?

Honestly, their opinions were the popular belief of the time. Of course, now, most people are heavily against nuclear weapons, but at the time, the use of nuclear weapons was practically encouraged. Due to the arms race, there was excitement around the weapon and it was a way for each country to try to gain power. As mentioned in Dan Zak's "A Ground Zero Forgotten", he describes how the Navy commodore were told they were a chosen people to “deliver mankind from future wars.” Later, it was revealed that the civilians of Bikini Atoll had already relocated. From their belief to be chosen for this, the entire generation believed they were in the right to test on the island. Additionally, they likely thought the way they did because dropping the bomb was seen as the ‘right thing to do’. There was most definitely a sense of patriotism in regards to this, being against dropping the bomb would make you seem like an outlier. I find it shocking that they would be okay with many people dying just to beat another country to it. On top of that, actually using the bomb against another country was completely inhumane. The bomb shouldn’t be used today, just like how it shouldn’t have been used years ago. I get that it was a popular belief that it was tested and justified, but it will never truly be justified given the effects of it on people. Those on the islands had severe health effects, the radiation after was too high to live near, and even those who tried to help clean up the island were affected and cannot get proper health care. The effects during and after are inexcusable, outlier or not.

Was it a reasonable decision in the midst of a horrible war? Was it justifiable, given what we know of Japan’s horrific treatment of its subjugated populations (think Nanjing, Unit 731, the comfort women to just name a few examples)? Was it a rash decision in the midst of a horrible war?

No, absolutely not. The war was bad as it was and a giant bomb that could kill those within range and those outside of it was not needed. Innocent people throughout the war were being hurt regardless and without the bomb. No, it was not justifiable. Yes, comfort women and other terrible treatment shouldn’t have happened but fighting fire with fire never solved anything. The destruction on the people through the comfort women was bad enough without dropping the bomb. As mentioned, innocent people had died and were affected from the bombs and the destruction was irreparable. I think it was a terrible and random decision. I think if the US truly thought this through with the scientists behind it, they may have realized the dangers of dropping the atomic bomb versus any other bomb. Yes, the a-bomb would cause more damage to the country and to the people but AT WHAT COST and how far were they willing to go? The scientists behind this should have advised against it even if it was seen as an unpopular opinion. Speaking up at least once or twice to get leaders to at least CONSIDER the dangers that would happen.

Was it a war crime in the midst of a horrible war? Should it be judged at all? Is this just second guessing? Should no judgments be offered?

Half of the acts of retaliation that occurred during the war should be considered as war crimes but of course most countries won’t acknowledge this. It was an impromptu destruction and there were several alternatives. Harry Tuman even stated that he felt as though “machines are ahead of morals by some centuries.” The decision should be heavily judged as simply a way to end a war in a quick fashion rather than actually coming to a surrender without dropping a bomb that affects the whole world. My english teacher has talked about the atom bomb in class and described that whether or not the bomb was dropped wouldn’t matter, the idea of creating it was already out there. In fact, with the idea being out there, someone would have beat the US to it and used it in the end. All in all, we have hindsight and know more about the effects of the bomb.

Another question: if the bomb had been available in April 1945, do you think it would have been used against Germany? Why or why not?

I think it would be used against Germany just like it was used in Japan. People would have used it as a way to end the war just as they did in Japan as if that’s the only opinion. I just feel like it’s crazy that the bomb was used momentarily after it was created. The bomb would have been a way to end the war much faster and even though it would cause much more destruction. Then again, it would kill half of the war effort and none of the soldiers would go to trial and we wouldn’t have so much evidence nor the Nuremberg Trials.

Then there’s Bikini Atoll and the other sites in the Marshall Islands that were used as nuclear test sites in the years following 1945. Worth doing? Justifiable? Important for the future of mankind?

People could justify the testing, fine. But over 50 bombs dropped? If the bomb tests were minimal and used to know more about them and why they shouldn’t be used but I couldn’t think of an honest reason for the testing otherwise. Additionally, the government officials who tested them and later made sure they were safe completely risked the inhabitants of the island to tell them it was safe just for them to take it back a few years later. The Dave Philipps article even explained how “Radiation exposure during the work fell well below recommended thresholds, it says, and safety precautions were top notch. So the government refuses to pay for the veterans’ medical care.” and how “Four islands were entirely vaporized;”. The nuclear testing made the islands inhabitable and unsafe for life even after.

Finally, what do you say to the argument that the bomb not only ended the war but has brought about more than 75 years of unprecedented progress because the bomb itself, having been used in 1945, has (at least so far) proven that it is impossible to use again?

The bomb was definitely a method to ending the war but it did bring progress. Many countries have their own version of the bomb and it’s become a threat. Superpowers that have one are like poking bears since everyone is afraid to call them out in the fear that they may use it again even though it would bring much more unprecedented damage. However, it’s also shown that people are much more educated about the bomb and therefore are urging countries against it. The climate effects, the effects on humanity and other consequences would hopefully stop future leaders from using it.

West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 23

I believe my ancestor had a difficult choice to make. A common argument for the use of the bomb was that it would save American lives, as soldiers wouldn’t have to die to end the war. The war, at this point, had gone on for over five years, and millions had died. Many Americans probably were just searching for the quickest way to end things. Propaganda was also rampant, and Japanese lives were probably seen as worthy to be sacrificed in order to end the war. However, even after these attempts to put myself in their shoes, I still don’t think the decision to drop the bomb can be justified. Even in war, there needs to be a distinction between government, soldiers, etc and citizens. The murder of citizens is a war crime, and that is that. We ridicule Germany for the bombings of English cities, so America needs to live up to this standard and acknowledge its own crimes.

Yes, while Japan’s treatment of its controlled populations is certainly a good argument, I still don’t think it justifies the use of atomic bombs because America had the means to end the war through other methods. Although it may not have been as easy and may have resulted in the deaths of American soldiers, killing civilians for leverage shouldn’t even be seen as an option. Soldiers go into war with the acknowledgement that they may die; civilians should never be brought into the equation

I don’t think America would have used the atomic bomb on Germany for a few reasons. First, other Allied forces had the situation mostly under control by April 1945. I believe the Soviets were rapidly advancing into the country shortly before Germany surrendered in May. Second, a major reason for the bombing of Japan was the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It was probably a pride thing, and America felt it had to do something to get revenge for these acts. Germany, on the other hand, never did anything directly to America. Lastly, and sort of a personal opinion, I just don’t think the same kind of racism existed towards German citizens. While America may have been able to play off the killing of hundreds of thousands of Japanese people, I don’t know if they could’ve pulled it off with Europeans.

Nuclear bomb tests are justifiable, but not if they displace hundreds of people who are never allowed to return. I’m not arguing against tests, since it would be unreasonable to just assume they work exactly as predicted, but I don’t understand why they can’t just use the same deserted location every time. They already had sites in barren areas of New Mexico, so why did they have to destroy the most beautiful places on earth? Lastly, I think the argument that the bombings of Japan proved against the use of atomic bombs is sort of pointless. Atomic bomb tests do just that, and without the slow and painful deaths of thousands.

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