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Hiroshima Day

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby mifflander » Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:29 pm

From a military standpoint I imagine there is quite a difference. The Tokyo bombing required hundreds of plans dropping thousands of tons of bombs over a 2 day period. Hiroshima/Nagasaki required one plan and one bomb per city.
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:30 pm

johnfajardohenry wrote:Hard to see much to choose between a night of conventional bombing and an atomic bomb.

John Henry


How many people would die from conventional bombs years after the bombing?

There also seems to be a concerted effort to ignore the most obvious solution. Japan was beat. The only thing it still held was it's home island. Without the resource of it's former conquests it wasn't threatening anything. An embargo would have been as effective as an invasion with far less life lost.

Henry's point is pretty solid. Fatman and Littleboy may have been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki but they were targetting Stalin.
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby green union terrace chair » Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:24 pm

What I recall of the rationale was that the fear was a U.S. invasion and occupation was projected to incur a huge death toll on both sides. Japanese citizens were prepared to fight to the death as they had been heavily propagandized to believe that the Americans would take no prisoners and commit great atrocities.

An embargo / blockade would probably have resulted in massive starvation before the government ever capitulated.

But then like most WWII second-guessing, who knows?

I remember reading an account of the only (known) man to survive TWO atomic bombs. He died in the last five years or so. He had been working in a factory on the outskirts of Hiroshima when the first bomb detonated. He then traveled to his company's other factory ... in Nagasaki. When he told the superintendent there what had happened, he didn't believe him (how could one bomb cause that much damage?). And then later that day the superintendent got a first-hand demonstration.
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Besides 'what the other person says...'

Postby Marvell » Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:29 pm

green union terrace chair wrote:Japanese citizens were prepared to fight to the death as they had been heavily propagandized to believe that the Americans would take no prisoners and commit great atrocities.


Which they did.

Which is why we have a 'Hiroshima Day.'

Remind me again what 'propaganda' means?
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby snoqueen » Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:57 pm

My parents were both on the Manhattan Project and met at the Oak Ridge Tenn. facility, marrying (and conceiving me) shortly after the end of the war. I grew up hearing lots of Oak Ridge stories and inherited a few Oak Ridge souvenirs when they passed away.

Security was very tight, and the personnel at the facility had no idea what they were building and were even forbidden to discuss their own work among themselves. It seems, given the times, people followed this rule even in private. Only when the bombs were dropped did the civilian and military personnel find out what they'd been working on. I think only General Groves, the top physicists, and a few others really knew what was going on and everyone else was on a need-to-know basis and nothing more.

My parents went back and forth for years about whether the bombing prevented even more loss of life, or was plain wrong. My father believed the former, my mother the latter. They never argued bitterly (they were sensible and realistic people) but never came to any agreement in the over 50 years they were married. So to read the rehash on these pages kind of makes me sigh and roll my eyes, because I grew up with the same endless questioning and what-ifs beginning with my earliest memories.

I wish the US would follow through with occasionally-heard plans to declare Oak Ridge a national park (it's very beautiful land) or a national monument so people could visit, remember the war and its victims, and consider the moral implications of the bombs in a more public way. The nation really has not faced up to this part of its history (but then, we aren't even finished with the War Between the States). In a way Germany is going through a similar historical review as the WWII generation dies off and younger people are more willing to look at and discuss their country's history.

These are very slow, multi-generational processes and the end state is not to declare right or wrong so much as to somehow put the issue to rest -- a hard-to-define but recognizable condition that can't be willed but instead has to be allowed when the time is right.
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:42 pm

WWII lasted about 7 years and close to 420,000 US troops died. After 2 bombs and a couple months, about 240,000 people died in Japan.
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby DCB » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:28 pm

snoqueen wrote:My parents were both on the Manhattan Project and met at the Oak Ridge Tenn. facility, marrying (and conceiving me) shortly after the end of the war. I grew up hearing lots of Oak Ridge stories and inherited a few Oak Ridge souvenirs when they passed away.

Wow. Have you read this book?
http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2 ... story.html
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby green union terrace chair » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:55 pm

Marvell wrote:
green union terrace chair wrote:Japanese citizens were prepared to fight to the death as they had been heavily propagandized to believe that the Americans would take no prisoners and commit great atrocities.


Which they did.

Which is why we have a 'Hiroshima Day.'

Remind me again what 'propaganda' means?

I just gave myself a headache from rolling my eyes so hard.

snoqueen wrote:So to read the rehash on these pages kind of makes me sigh and roll my eyes, because I grew up with the same endless questioning and what-ifs beginning with my earliest memories.

That's the thing about arguing over historical events and "what-ifs:" it only ever happened one way and we'll never know the outcome of a different choice.

By the way, for the sake of this thread, I used to be gung-ho in my earlier years that the two bombs were absolutely the right course. Now I think they were probably the right course, though a terrible choice to have to make that may have resulted in less net deaths (and certainly less American deaths) but who knows? What if we waited a little longer after Hiroshima and a surrender came before Nagasaki? There are tons of alternate courses of action.
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby snoqueen » Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:01 pm

DCB wrote:
snoqueen wrote:My parents were both on the Manhattan Project and met at the Oak Ridge Tenn. facility, marrying (and conceiving me) shortly after the end of the war. I grew up hearing lots of Oak Ridge stories and inherited a few Oak Ridge souvenirs when they passed away.

Wow. Have you read this book?
http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2 ... story.html


It's on the way! My sister read it and liked it, and now I've got it on hold here at the library. She said the book is pretty much the way we heard the stories. We both agree the women pictured in the photos look just like our mom in those times, which is weird because she didn't work in the enrichment facility (which is what is shown on the Boston Globe link) but instead was a secretary, taking dictation in shorthand and typing up correspondence on those big old manual typewriters. Fastest typist I ever met. I wish she was still here so I could read the book to her.

My favorite Oak Ridge story came from my dad. He said all the bigs -- the generals, etc -- had chunks of uranium ore on their desks like trophies. The bigger the general, the bigger the chunk. Nobody seemed to have a clue it was dangerous.

Somehow that puts the way the military routinely exposed soldiers to radiation in those days in a different light. The generals were treating their own selves the same way.

With regard to alternatives to dropping the bomb, one that came up occasionally was why didn't they drop it at sea? It would have made a big impression and might still have ended the war, but would have caused many fewer human deaths.

Personally, I think once the government committed to building the thing, they were almost bound to detonate it somewhere. So much money, ego, and drama wasn't going to end in a fizzle. Similarly, I think the way we continue to keep a very built-up military (compared with the rest of the entire world) almost guarantees we'll keep on starting wars and keep on dragging them out. Kind of an inverse version of the "if you build it, they'll come" principle, only wrapped up with a huge knot of American exceptionalism which it not only embodies but perpetuates.
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Detritus » Fri Aug 09, 2013 7:50 pm

snoqueen wrote:Personally, I think once the government committed to building the thing, they were almost bound to detonate it somewhere. So much money, ego, and drama wasn't going to end in a fizzle.

It had to be tested. That's why Hiroshima and Nagasaki were left out of the firebombing rota. The generals wanted to see what the bomb would do to a real city with real people.
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Ttusker » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:14 pm

For those interested and not afraid of some science, Richard Rhodes' book "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" is really first-rate. Beautifully written, though difficult in places to read (and not just because of the physics), it tells the whole story, and I've yet to read a more detailed AND balanced account. Rhodes also wrote an equally fascinating sort-of-sequel, "Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb."
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Igor » Sun Aug 11, 2013 10:49 pm

green union terrace chair wrote:By the way, for the sake of this thread, I used to be gung-ho in my earlier years that the two bombs were absolutely the right course. Now I think they were probably the right course, though a terrible choice to have to make that may have resulted in less net deaths (and certainly less American deaths) but who knows?


What I struggle with are the people that single out Hiroshima and Nagasaki as "atrocities", but don't have any knowledge of the Tokyo fire bombing, rape of Nanking, the Blitz, Dresden, Bataan death march, Polish exterminations, or the myriad of stuff that went on during the Russian campaigns. Obviously most everyone here seems to be educated on those events, but I am not sure that is the case among everyone with an opinion.

I don't think it can be questioned that dropping the bombs saved Japanese lives if you assume that the Japanese would have fought until Honshu and Kyushu fell. (I think they were slated for invasion first). Of course, it saved American lives as well. The real question is "was there another option that would have saved lives and still resulted in surrender in the short term?"
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby pjbogart » Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:36 am

Actually, I think the real question is: "Even if we are to assume that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the 'right' things to do, is it necessary for you to dance on their graves 70 years later?"
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Igor » Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:46 am

pjbogart wrote:Actually, I think the real question is: "Even if we are to assume that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the 'right' things to do, is it necessary for you to dance on their graves 70 years later?"


Agreed.
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby earlfoss » Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:35 am

I find it interesting that Japan formally launched the Izumo on August 6. They are currently circumventing their own constitution through building their naval fleet. I wouldn't blame them however given the naval fleet increase made recently by China and the history of conflict between them.
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