Hiroshima and nagasaki -why did the u.s. use the a
tomic bomb?Why did the U.S. use the atomic bomb?
The years leading up to World War II and the dropping of the atomic bombs were hectic and disordered, from the rise of Hitler in 1933, U.S. isolationism in 1934, to the death of U.S. President Roosevelt. The war showed no signs of ending and the security and freedom of nations around the world were in danger. Order was nowhere to be found, and the decision to even consider using the atomic bomb was unpreventable. The U.S. used the atomic bomb because it was the only way Japan would surrender, the world wanted to end the war as soon as possible with as little casualties as possible, and because of resentful feelings toward Japan.
Japan often fought until the last man standing the atomic bomb was the only thing that would force them to surrender. “Japanese were scornful of men who surrendered, and killed many of the sick or wounded along the way” (Collier, 69). This makes one ask themselves how the emperor could surrender if their troops were trained to kill off weaklings. Japanese leaders appeared determined to fight to their deaths.
In the spring of 1945 as the bomb neared completion, Leo Szilard, the main creator of the bomb, was becoming a worried man. Although America felt no pressure from Germany because we knew they were not far enough along in their research to build an atomic bomb before the war ended, “Szilard now began of think about the effect that the use of the bomb might have on international relations” (Isserman, 168). He tried to set up a meeting with Roosevelt to discuss his concern, but the President died before Szilard had a chance to go meet with him. Now, with a new President, Harry Truman, the pressure to use the bomb was too great to be denied.
On August 6th, 1945 an American bomber, the Enola Gay, dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. More than 80,000 people died on impact, and tens and thousands later on. Two days later Russia entered the war against Japan and invaded Manchuria, but still Japan did not ask for peace. That is why three days after the first bomb was dropped; another was aimed at Nagasaki killing thousands more. The very next day Japan offered to surrender with one condition, that their “sacred” emperor remained unharmed and on the throne. Normally the Allies insisted on unconditional surrender but were willing to make an exception to save hundred of thousands of lives (Collier, 80). Agreements were finalized on August 15th, 1945. The bombing did exactly what the Air Force generals said it would; make Japan surrender without a single American soldier having to die on its beaches.
It is debated however whether Japan would have surrendered without the catastrophic aid of the bombs. There were numerous attacks that would have eventually prompted Japan to give in. Any sane government would have surrendered after Iwo Jima, a deadly battle where 27,000 Japanese fought against 70,000 U.S marinesan inevitable loss for Japan.
Nonetheless, the power of the bomb had convinced the world of its horror it even amazed its inventors. The surrender of Japan was not the only thing that compelled the use of the bombs. President Truman knew that they would have eventually given in, but he had them dropped anyway “as a way of scaring the Communist Soviet Union into peaceful post-war behavior” (Collier, 81). The bomb impressed them and stopped them from asking for joint occupation of Japan. This was a major feat because that is the major reason why Russia joined the war hastily in 1945 in the first place. They sensed a victory for the U.S and perhaps the spoils of war for themselves.
The Allies agreed to conditional surrender in order to save the lives of thousands of Japanese and Americans. More people would have died if Japan were invaded than dropping the bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Government and military officials knew that attacking on the Japanese mainland would be gruesome because of relentless willpower to win. Kamikaze planes, planes meant to be suicide attacks on American ships setting off on a mission without enough fuel to make the trip back home proved to Americans that fighting in battle with the Japanese would be bloody (Collier, 81). Looking at the death tolls at Iwo Jima and Okinawa more than a hundred thousand, maybe even millions of people would be killed in an invasion, much more than from both atomic bombs. Another question comes up with this fact. Is it more immoral to kill a multitude of people with one bomb than with hundred? (Sherrow, 9) Bottom line, the atomic bomb saved lives instead of taking them. Fear of a new weapon of mass destruction coupled with the killing of masses of people at one time greatened the buzz of the bomb.
The final reason the U.S. dropped the bombs was because of resentful feelings toward Japan. They are as ruthless in their aspiration to succeed as they are in combat. Most Americans were angry, even enraged at the Japanese for their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, where thousands of Americans died (Linenthal, 158). “While all hostile nations eventually engaged in the mass bombing of civilians, the Japanese had been first in their attack on Shanghai in 1937 (Collier, 81). Not only did the Japanese have a bad reputation with the American people they also had a problem with the government. Japan and America were actually still negotiating peace when the attacks on Pearl Harbor and all over the world were being made. While President Roosevelt was making demands for peace the Japanese emperor was already sending out his troops for attack. So, moral or immoral Americans felt no pity for the Japanese.
The decision to produce the atomic weapon was made during a tumultuous and bloody time. Military aggression was coming from all over the world, from Germany, to Japan, to Italy. The war showed no signs of ending any time soon, so the United States decided to take the security and freedom of nations around the world into their own hands. The United States used the atomic bomb for a quick end to World War II, knowing the power of the weapon would bring the Japanese to their knees resulting in their surrender, as well as heated feelings toward the Japanese, whom many believed got what they deserved.
o Collier, Christopher, and James Lincoln, Collier. The United States in World War II (1941-1945). New York: Benchmark Books, 2002.
o Sherrow, Victoria. The Making of the Atomic Bomb. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2000.
o Isserman, Maurice. America at War World War II. New York: Facts on File Inc, 1991.
o Byets, Nina. Physicists and the 1945 Decision to Drop the Bomb. 12 March 2005. http://arxiv.org/html/physics/0210058