09 September 2008

On a clear day…

63 years ago, on a clear day, history was created. On that day, 6 August 1945, at 7:42 a.m., an atom bomb was dropped on a city called Hiroshima in Japan, killing more than 150,000 people – half of them on that day itself. All civilians. Thousands more died from injuries and radiation illnesses over the years.

The next day, US military officials had confirmed publicly that Hiroshima was devastated: at least 60% of the city was wiped off the map. An eyewitness account on Tokyo Radio had described the victim’s bodies as bloated and scorched, burned with huge blisters.

At least four Japanese cities were targeted by the United States: Kokura, Niigata, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The one chosen as target – ‘bomb primary’ – depended on weather conditions, as the pilot on the plane carrying the bomb needed clear visibility to drop its load. As Hiroshima was experiencing clear sunshine that morning, the luck of the draw went against its people. And, history was created.

On hearing the news of the attack on Hiroshima, US President Harry S Truman, returning home from Europe on board USS Augusta, had apparently announced that, “The experiment was an overwhelming success.” It is rumoured that President Truman had also said, “It is the greatest thing in history!” But this comment seems to have been deleted from most US records.

Japan had challenged that the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima was inhuman, an atrocity, a crime against God and man, a violation of international law, specifically Article 22 of the Hague Convention which outlawed attacks on defenseless civilians. President Truman, of course, defended himself, announcing on national radio that the bomb had been dropped on a “military base, not a large city.”

And then, on 9 August 1945, at 11:02 a.m., the United States dropped the second atom bomb on Nagasaki, killing another 80,000 people – with, possibly, an equal number succumbing to injuries from “blistering blast winds, heat rays and radiation” over the years. On 9 August 1945, Nagasaki, too, was experiencing a clear day with sunshine and, therefore, became ‘bomb primary’ (apparently, Kokura was primary target, but a moderate cloud had covered and obscured the city).

[Citation: The Hinge Factor: How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History by Erik Durschmied; 63 Years Ago: Media Distortions Set Tone for Nuclear Age by Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher, 6 August 2008; and various sources from the internet.]

NOTE: On further research I find that the bomb on Hiroshima was dropped at 8:15 a.m. Hiroshima time (not at 7:42 a.m. as indicated in Erik Durschmied's book The Hinge Factor. There is photographic evidence to show that several clocks in Hiroshima had stopped at 8:15 a.m. - presumably when the bomb was activated on ground.


Anonymous said...

Irony how a clear sunlit day can do to people.

I am now afraid of such days.

runawaysun said...

Yes, there is reason to be afraid. Apparently, one of the recommendations of 'The Interim Committee' (chosen to decide on the dropping of the atom bomb) was that "the bomb should be used without prior warning of the nature of the weapon."