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Erin Bleibaum Mr. Deakins Ac. U.S. History 6* 5 November 2011 The Dropping of the Atomic Bombs !

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The dropping of the atomic bombs was a very controversial topic in the United

States, after the fact. Even in their construction, some scientists were unsure of the destructive power of their creation. They knew they had created a weapon of mass destruction, but they had no idea how much destruction their little developments could demolish. Radioactivity was brand-new, until they were used, such a thing was a scary, nerdy, ghost story. The cost of the bombs, many believe, may have contributed to governments nal decision on detonation. Even so, they brought an end to World War II and the War in the Pacic. The world changed dramatically when Fat Man and Little Boy singed the earth in Japan. Many a-nightmare became true for two large, seaside, cities. Because the bombs were dropped, the United States became not only feared by the world, but also viewed as barbaric and hasty; yes it brought an end to the war, but by harming incredible amounts of people, including civilians, and the more than a billion dollar price-tag was, what some people believe to be, a major deciding factor. ! Scientists grew alarmed about what would happen if Germany got atomic bombs

rst, and led [them] to take political action: writing a letter to the President of the United States of America. In October 1939, Alexander Sachs, a friend and adviser to President Roosevelt, brought him a letter signed by the world-famous physicist Albert Einstein (Sherrow, 43). After reading the letter, Roosevelt did not express much concern

Bleibaum 2 (Sherrow, 44). However, earlier that year, in March, Germany invaded Czechoslovakia, which held the worlds richest supply of uranium (Sherrow, 46-47). If Germany got their hands on Czechoslovakias stash of uranium, the Allies would not stand a chance against Hitler. This worried the scientists into writing the letter to Mr. Roosevelt. Eventually Roosevelt gave in and supplied Columbia University with $6,000 to begin research on controlling a chain reaction involving uranium (Sherrow, 48). United States did not know that some members of the [Japanese] government suggested that Japan look for a way to negotiate an end to the war, but they were outvoted (Sherrow, 62). This could have changed the mind of the President; negotiations could have taken place and the War in the Pacic could have ended even faster, and as a better solution rather than the bombs. However, the few that wanted to negotiate were outvoted and unfortunately most militant ofcials insisted that if Japan were to surrender, the United States would remove the emperor and put him on trial as a war criminal (Sherrow, 62). This was not the case at all. During the United States occupation in Japan, the soldiers were given strict instructions to courteous, even to the point of giving up their streetcar seats to elderly women (Sherrow, 99). In Japan at that time, the Emperor was looked upon as a gurehead, and was not involved in politics or war. He, therefore, had no inuence on the military. However, when he offered to accept the end of imperial rule, if the Allies insisted, and even to take full responsibility for the war, in order to stop the suffering, no one complained (Sherrow, 95). Also, after Franklin Delano Roosevelts death peer-pressure was denitely something Truman had to deal with. It was now his political decision whether or not to deploy the Atomic bombs. Right from

Bleibaum 3 the get-go, Truman was thrown into confusion. He was supposed to be the head of the senate, not the President of the one of the most powerful countries in the world in the middle of a world war! Roosevelt did not well inform his Vice President of his foreign policy, which did not improve matters. As a result, when Truman came up to bat, he did not have a policy of his own. President Truman knew [Roosevelt] was certain that the weapon would bring the war to a rapid conclusion, thereby justifying the years of effort, the vast expenditures, and the judgement of the ofcials responsible for the project (Sherwin, 145). Truman did not account for the change in time. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had died before Germany surrendered. He, therefore, would not have been able to express his thoughts and ideas for Fat Man and Little Boys futures. However, at this point, 1944, when ...the Manhattan Project moved steadily toward its goal, ...Germany [was] the original target of the bomb(Sherrow, 54). Truman [also] felt bound by Roosevelts former policy to use the atomic bomb in the war and not to open up negotiations with the Soviet Union because he had not been elected president; Roosevelt had won [the Presidency] (Sherrow, 146). Truman was aware that Winston Churchill wanted to be able to use the bombs and a bargaining chip with the Soviet Union (Roosevelt was also aware of this) (Sherwin, 68) and he had to contemplate the idea of using the [atomic bomb] as a bargaining counter in postwar negotiations with the Soviet Union (Sherwin, 166). After all, a major consideration must [have been] that of national security and postwar strategic signicance (Sherwin, 80). This power being why Roosevelt was unwilling to negotiate with Stalin. Truman had only two choices. Option one was to hold a non military demonstration of the bomb that would persuade

Bleibaum 4 Japan to surrender. ... [However,] the bomb might not work during the demonstration, which might encourage the Japanese to keep ghting. Or, if forewarned, the Japanese might shoot down the plane holding the bomb [wasting the bomb and American lives]. They might also think it was a trick, not a real test (Sherrow, 67). Option two was much clearer: drop the bomb. Once it was decided, the only questions were where ? and when?. Truman had authorized the bomb to be dropped after August 3 [, 1945,] unless Japan changed its mind before that day (Sherrow, 75). The bomb was only tested and ready by July 17, just two and a half weeks before they were deployed. The decision on where? became a list of cities that were either military installations or housed a war plant near many buildings and had been undamaged by bombs so far(Sherrow, 74). Five cities were eligible: Kokura, Niigata, Hiroshima, Kyoto and Nagasaki. However, Stimson had visited and admired Kyoto for its cultural and religious signicance and warned that Japan would never forgive the United States for bombing it; Kyoto was removed from the list (Sherrow, 74-75). ! After the events of August 6 and 9, 1945, (Dannen) citizens in America were

excited, overjoyed, lled with relief that the war was nally over. ...There was great rejoicing in the Allied nations [too] (Sherrow, 96). Crowds gathered in cities for public celebrations (Sherrow, 96). In a way the public had asked the United States government to drop the bombs. On December 7, 1941, when about 350 bombers and their pilots from the Japanese First Air Fleet took to the skies and submarines snuck their way across the Pacic and ended up in Hawaiis Pearl Harbor just before eight oclock in the morning to deliver torpedos straight into the hulls of American military

Bleibaum 5 ships (Sherrow, 30). The destruction of more than 2,400 American lives was not only unacceptable for the U.S. government, but the citizens too. Even Japanese-Americans took our side: We the American citizens of Japanese descent in New York City and vicinity join all Americans in condemning Japans aggressions against our country and support all measures taken for the defense of our nation (Toland, 283). Some Japanese-Americans even offered to serve as interpreters and translators when war broke out (Sherrow, 37). Even so, many people of Japanese decent were put into internment camps organized by Roosevelt. Then on May 6, 1942, the American public was shocked again after hearing about the events of that day in Japan. Between 7,000 and 10,000 soldiers died or were executed during what became known as the Bataan Death March. Stories about the death march increased American animosity toward Japan (Sherrow, 53). The Bataan Death March (May 6, 1942), and other Japanese actions, were used to arouse fury in the United States (Jansen, 655). However, it was not until January 27, 1944, that the U.S. government informed the American public about the march, when it released sworn statements of military ofcers who had escaped from the march (Friedland & Mohr, 197). By that time, physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer predicted that they might have a bomb sometime in the next year (Sherrow, 54). This gave Truman an out from the war, an easy win. However, once the bombs were employed world reactions to the bombings were mixed, with some world leaders condemning them as barbarous and unnecessary (Sherrow, 94). Truman heard this and used the events of December 7, 1941, or Pearl Harbor, and May 6, 1942, the Bataan Death March. The President said, I realize the tragic signicance

Bleibaum 6 of the atomic bomb. Having found the bomb, we have used it...against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of young Americans (Feis, 130). ! Truman was pushed in many directions, but perhaps one of the biggest

inuences on him was the sheer cost. Not only did the project take two billion dollars (Sherwin, 138) out of taxpayers pockets, but nearly 200,000 lives, of which most were civilians. He knew that if he did not use this weapon, the price tag would fall on him; if he chose to use it, the lives lost would be pinned on him too. The Japanese public had no idea they were loosing so profoundly. They thought Japan was winning the war. There was, therefore, no public opinion pressing for peace - until the savage bombing of the homeland (Brooks, 116). With the devastation of Berlin on May 4, 1945, followed by Germanys unconditional surrender and Italys surrender back in 1943, Japan was the only country left of the Axis powers. This meant that the Allies could now put all their effort into the Pacic front (Sherrow, 62). Japans military embodied strong cultural principles, including the idea that death was more honorable than surrender or defeat, which meant disgrace (Sherrow, 57). The Japanese citizens were weak, ...[they spent] most of the 300 yen that was a typical months pay on food. Dinner might [have been] boiled soybeans, a bit of rice mixed with barley or wheat, a sweet potato, or just potato stems made into soup. Some people survived by eating acorns they found growing wild (Sherrow, 61). While the entire world suffered greatly from the Global Depression,

Bleibaum 7 Americans were not suffering nearly as badly as the Japanese. Many Americans penny-pinched there way through, some even homeless due to inability to pay their mortgage, while the Japanese had nearly 13 million people homeless (Sherrow, 62) due to bombings landing in their hometowns. Yet no matter how difcult their situation got, the Japanese refused to believe that their country, blessed by the Gods. Japan had never in 2,600 years [been defeated] (Sherrow, 96). One suicide pilot even said, I didnt want Japan to surrender, even though I knew that it would save my life. I suppose that was just the way I had been educated - I believed that we had to ght and never admit defeat, but I thought also that this would be the end of Japan as a nation. The government made a lot of propaganda in those last few months about what would happen if the Americans came (Morris-Suzuki, 140). However, once the bombs were dropped, the war ended, and there was peace. ! Dropping Fat Man and Little Boy was a major decision for the United States. The

war in the Pacic could not have come at a worse time: a President dead and an inexperienced and uninformed replacement. The new President had to come into an unknown realm of difcult decisions and war. The American public saw Truman not only as a hero for ending the war, but also as a savage for taking the lives of so many. Society was thrilled that the war was over, but never again could deny the existence of nuclear energy, atomic power, and radiation. The worlds nuclear and atomic innocence had been take away on August 6, 1945. Mixed emotions raged and rejoiced in hometowns everywhere. The two billion dollar Manhattan project was now spent; for better or for worse. Two billion dollars the U.S. would never have again. Two hundred-

Bleibaum 8 thousand lives that will never again live. Some say it was money well spent, others say a shameful waste. Dropping the Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a huge decision that changed the way people view the world and humanity. It can never be taken back and will forever haunt many United States citizens.

Bleibaum 9 Works Cited Brooks, Lester. Behind Japan's Surrender. Connecticut: Ed Gustibus, 1968. Print. Dannen, Gene. "ATOMIC BOMB: DECISION (Hiroshima-Nagasaki)." Atomic Bomb: ! ! ! Decision (Hiroshima-Nagasaki). 29 May 1995. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. <http://>.Most documents can be found in the National Archives, but are more easily compiled here.

Feis, Herbert. The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II. New Jersey: Princeton ! UP, 1966. Print.

Friedland, Roger, and John Mohr. Matters of Culture: Cultural Sociology in Practice. ! Cambridge [England: Cambridge UP, 2004. Print.

Jansen, Marius B. The Making of Modern Japan. Cambridge, MA: Belknap of Harvard ! UP, 2000. Print.

Morris-Suzuki, Tessa. Shwa: an inside History of Hirohito's Japan. New York: ! Schocken, 1985. Print.

Sherrow, Victoria. Hiroshima. New York: New Discovery, 1994. Print. Sherwin, Martin J. A World Destroyed: the Atomic Bomb and the Grand Alliance. New ! York: Random House, 1975. Print.

Toland, John. The Rising Sun; the Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945. ! New York: Random House, 1970. Print.