Thursday, March 1, 2012

Essay on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Essay

Nuclear energy has been used widely only for fifty years already. Countries all over the world nowadays have nuclear plants that provide them with electricity. Still most people remember the events when nuclear energy was applied for the first time. Serious problem with using nuclear power for producing energy is that the elements used for it can also be used for creating nuclear weapon. After I had a course on world history, I understood that human beings have always been at war with each other, and since prehistoric times they have been inventing more and more accomplished methods of murdering each other. On the present moment nuclear weapon is one of the most effective ones, along with bacteriological weapon. What I knew about nuclear weapons was that it was used only two times in history, on Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. It slaughtered all the dwellers of these cities, and polluted the area so that people could not live there. More than sixty years passed, and still no one lives in these places.

I have always been sure that USA bombed Hiroshima because there was a danger of attack from Japan, at least my parents told me so. It happened before the end of World War Two, and, in fact, it was one of the most influential factors that helped to put an end to the war. I read that there were very few people who could imagine what would really happen to people in Hiroshima after the bomb. 

Most politicians were sure it would just scare Japanese and their allies, and make them surrender, and they did not think about the methods.

 One of my childish memories was a TV program about Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings where they showed a wall with the imprints of people shadows on it. It scared me much, as that time I understood that had been everything left from people who lived in that house. From the early childhood I knew that people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered terribly after the bombs were dropped (at least the ones who managed to survive the blow up), as there was radiation. I always wondered what all these civilians were guilty for, why they had to suffer and die; was it just because their political leaders made wrong choice, or those were our politicians who acted wrong? I thought over this question, and I couldn’t find an answer.   

„The Tale of Two Cities”, an online article about the history of creating and using atomic bombs on Japanese cities, gave a kind of answer to my question. According to the authors’ findings, Hiroshima was selected as one of the primary targets because „it had remained largely untouched by bombing raids, and the bomb’s effects could be clearly measured”. Truman’s advisors hoped for the psychological effect of the bomb. They presumed that using devastating weapon that had never been used before would conquer the will of the enemy, and make Japanese surrender. In addition, Hiroshima was „a major port and a military headquarters, and therefore a strategic target.” Thus American politicians who decided to drop a bomb on Hiroshima followed two primary targets. They wanted to intimidate Japanese people and government, and make them surrender, and, in the same time, by dropping the bomb on Hiroshima they hoped to destroy important military forces of the enemy.     

The authors tell that the final decision about dropping a bomb on Hiroshima was taken after Japan ignored the threat of „prompt and utter destruction“, put by the Potsdam Declaration.

In the same time Bill Dietrich in his article „Pro and Con on Dropping the Bomb” states there were some other goals except for destroying military forces and scaring Japanese government American government chased.     He states that „the bomb’s use impressed the Soviet Union and halted the war quickly enough that the USSR did not demand joint occupation of Japan.” So, according to his findings, dropping nuclear bombs was the way to demonstrate U.S power and dominance on the world political arena to its major antagonist, the USSR. Dietrich adds that „Japanese lives were sacrificed simply for power politics between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.”

Dietrich’s article is quiet a short, but a well-structured one. It free of sentiments and that is why it makes such a great impression on the reader. His arguments for dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are that it made a necessary effect on Japanese, making them surrender, and thus ending the war, preventing possible casualties from both sides, which could have been much greater than the toll of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He adds that the usage of nuclear weapon in Japan became the most important reason to prevent further usage of this type of weapon all over the world, as people saw the devastating consequence of it. In the same time the author states that bombing Japan with nuclear weapon was too cruel, as at those time „more than 60 of its cities had been destroyed by conventional bombing, the home islands were being blockaded by the American Navy, and the Soviet Union entered the war by attacking Japanese troops in Manchuria”, thus there Japanese would probably surrender even if the bombs were not dropped. He adds that there was little point in bombing Nagasaki two days after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, as the effects of one bomb would be enough to end the war.

The United States Strategic Bombing Survey provides some explanation on why the bombs made such a devastating effect on Hiroshima. It states that „of this accuracy and the flat terrain and circular shape of the city, Hiroshima was uniformly and extensively devastated… A „fire-storm,“ … developed in Hiroshima: fires springing up almost simultaneously over the wide flat area around the center of the city drew in air from all directions.”  The authors conclude that the reason of the most damage, occurred in Hiroshima, was a fire-storm that happened as a result of the explosion, which could spread so rapidly because of the specific construction of the city.  According to the data provided in this document, the blow destroyed about seventy thousands of people. Those are the victims that suffered from the explosion itself, from the firestorm, and from short-term effects of radiation. The number of people who died because of long-term radiation effects is unknown.

According to this document one of the factors that made Hiroshima bombing so devastating was that no one knew what happened to the city. At some moment communication with the city was lost, and government did not know what happened there; they had not noticed any massive gathering of bombers in that area, so they could not presume that the city was bombed. Sixteen hours passed before U.S government proclaimed it was nuclear weapon used, and only after that any help could be given to those, who survived the explosion in Hiroshima. Moreover, even after it became clear what type of weapon had been used, there were little people who knew what had to be done with the effects of radiation contamination. The report is written in official language, it is just the actual analysis of what have happened, without any moral or ethical reasoning of the bombing, and that is what makes it so powerful and convincing.

„The Manhattan Project: An Interactive History” provides facts about the bombings. It says that the first bomb, „Little Boy”, was released „at approximately 8:15 a.m. Hiroshima time”, by the B-29 bomber named Enola Gay. It was uranium bomb, which weighted 9,700-pound. At that time approximately three hundred thousand people lived in Hiroshima, and the civilians’ rate exceeded that of the military units more than five times. „The yield of the explosion was later estimated at 15 kilotons (the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT)” – the authors of the article state.

People, who were close to the epicenter of the explosion died instantly, turned to ashes. „Within minutes 9 out of 10 people half a mile or less from ground zero were dead,” – the article states. The explosion and the firestorm afterwards ruined or damaged most of the buildings in the city. It was the firestorm that killed most of people who survived the explosion being more or less near the epicenter. 

Only those, who ran away in the first minutes after the explosion, managed to survive. In several days after the explosion people who managed to survive, and turned up in hospitals, began to die from radiation sickness and doctors did not know what to do with them, as they did not know how to treat it.

The article „I saw both of the bombs and lived” describes the experience of Japanese nurse who worked at hospital when the bombs exploded. Mrs Sadamaru described her experience after the explosions, telling that „.. their clothes were tattered, they were bleeding all over and their skin was burst, swollen or peeled off. Their clothes stuck to the burns, so we used scissors [to cut them off]. They were writhing in agony, especially those who were burnt all over, and some even fell from their beds. I heard helpless voices, crying for water. It was difficult to identify the bodies’ ages and gender because even the name tags were burnt.”

This description makes „I saw both of the bombs and lived” a very powerful piece of writing about the explosions. It is about real people who suffered from the bombs, on the contrary to the other sources that mostly tell about the political influence of using nuclear weapon on people.

Before writing this essay I never knew that one of the reasons to use the bombs was demonstrating political dominance to the USSR. In my opinion this goal was appalling, and it did not cost hundreds thousands of lives of Japanese people. In my opinion, the consequences of using nuclear weapon were so disastrous and cruel that humans finally understood they had to stop. Most countries signed various agreements stating that they would not use and produce nuclear weapons. Nowadays everyone understands that the first bomb dropped will became the end of the world we all live in. 

The country which became the target of the nuclear attack will fight back with nuclear weapon murdering people and making land unfit to live on.   

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