Adam Harrison Levy | Essays

Hiroshima Lost and Found

Distorted steel-frame structure of Odamasa Store, Hiroshima

Editor's Note: A version of this article orginally appeared on Design Observer in 2008. After publication, the International Center of Photography aquired the photographs and mounted an exhibition in 2011. They also published a catalogue. In addition, Nancy Knight, Lt. Corsbie’s granddaughter, contacted the author after reading the post on Design Observer. As a result, the story took a different turn.

Although this version contains material from the orginal post, the information about Lt. Corsbie is new. It adds much more detail, and strangeness, to the story of how the Hiroshima photographs ended up on a street corner.

We publish this updated version on the occasion of President Obama's historic visit to Hiroshima on Friday.


What does a suitcase, found on a street corner, tell us about President Obama’s historic visit to Hiroshima on May 27th? Inside the suitcase were over seven hundred photographs of post-bomb Hiroshima: most were never before seen images of the devastation after the United States dropped the first atomic bomb. One hundred and forty thousand people were killed that day, many of them vaporized in the heat of the blast or burnt to death by the fireball that swept through the city. Many thousands more died in the following months and years due to radiation.  An American scientist, who flew over the site thirty-one days after the blast, recalled that Hiroshima looked like “just one enormous, flat, rust-red scar.” 

The importance of these images is that the US Military censored all photography a month after Japan surrendered. These photographs were taken after that ban had been enacted (the US military confiscated most of the images taken by Japanese photographers).

Before these photographs came to light our collective memory of Hiroshima is of the mushroom cloud: a fearsome image of technological power with its towering stem and monstrous head. But it’s an abstract image freed from human agency or consequence.  Other photographs from World War Two, the concentration camps of Auschwitz or the streets of London during the Blitz, capture wars’ destructive effect in a visceral and human way.  But the lack of visual evidence of what happened on the streets and in the buildings of Hiroshima has helped us to forget the bomb’s devastating impact.  Hiroshima is “a kind of hole in human history” wrote the novelist Mary McCarthy in 1946.

Obama’s visit will undoubtedly stir up the vitriolic passions that still surround the question of whether or not the bomb should have been dropped on Japan.  According to advance press releases he will not issue an apology. But as the first US President to visit Hiroshima, and one who has publically called for substantial reductions in nuclear weapons, his presence will draw the world’s attention back to that day in August 1945 when “Little Boy” changed the world forever.


One rainy night in Watertown, Massachusetts, a man was taking his dog for a walk. On the curb, in front of a neighbor’s house, he came across a pile of trash: old mattresses, cardboard boxes, a few broken lamps. In the heap of garbage he spotted a battered suitcase. He bent down and picked it up. He turned the suitcase over and popped open the clasps.

Inside he found a jumble of black-and-white photographs, some bent and broken, of devastated buildings, twisted girders, and blasted bridges — images of a ruined city. He snapped the clasps closed, tucked the suitcase under his arm, and hurried home.

Standing at his kitchen table he opened the suitcase again. He was looking at something he had never seen before: the effects of the first use of the atomic bomb. The man was looking at Hiroshima.

In a dispassionate and scientific style, the 700 photographs he found inside the suitcase that night pictured a city seared by a new form of warfare. And now, seventy-one years after the bombing, their story can be told.

Damaged turbo-generator and electrical panel of Chugoku Electric Company, Minami Sendamachi Substation, Hiroshima

Blast-damaged ruins of Chugoku Coal Distribution Company or Hiroshima Gas Company

Steel stairs warped by intense heat from burned book stacks, Asano Library, Hiroshima

Complete destruction of wooden floor (air-space beneath) and telephone switch and relay racks of Hiroshima Telephone Company, Central District Exchange

The Mystery

In 2003 I was working as a historical researcher for a big budget BBC drama-documentary about Hiroshima. In the course of my research I heard about the unlikely story of a suitcase full of photographs that were found on a street corner in a town in Massachusetts. The man who found them ran a local diner.

I went to investigate.

The Deluxe Town diner is a classic air stream decked out in high 1950s style: ivory and turquoise panels and glass brink trim — a diner as quintessentially American as a Twinkie.

Standing inside was a man wearing brown corduroy trousers, a dark blue sweater and tortoise shell glasses. His grey hair was cut short, with a tuft sticking straight up on top.

Don Levy (no relation) is a connoisseur of found objects. Finding the photographs that night was the peak of his trash diving career. But he didn’t know what do with them. The photographs were in terrible shape — some were stuck together, others had been hole-punched and stuffed into binders. He put them all in archival plastic sleeves, packed them into a cardboard box, and left them in his basement.

I asked Levy if he had ever tried to find out who owned the photographs. He said that it had never occurred to him.

We visited the local Town Hall and looked up the names of all the past owners of the house in front of which he had found the photographs. Back at the diner, we Googled the names on the list and came up with the phone number for the man who sold the house in 2000, about the time that Levy found the photographs.

When we called, the voice on the other end of the line shook with shock.

“The photographs of Hiroshima? You have them? I must have thrown them out by accident when I was moving. Or I left them there and the new owners threw them away. I never would have dumped them. I’ve been carrying them around with me since 1972!”

Marc Levitt, the former owner of the house, still lived in Watertown. Levy invited him to come over to the diner. Over blueberry pie and coffee we learned some more.

In the early 1970s he and a friend had been hired to clear out the basement of a house in Westchester. They were told to haul the contents to the local dump. An old wooden trunk caught his friend’s eye. Inside they found black and white photographs. The friend took the trunk and Levitt took the photographs.

“I was haunted by them”, he said. “Something about them overwhelmed me. They don’t represent the horror exactly because there are no bodies. They’re clinical. But the power of them is really intense.”

A few weeks after the meeting Levitt I received an email saying that he had made contact with his old friend. Unbelievably, Harlan Miller still had the trunk. Miller would send me an email soon wrote Marc.

Five days later, I received the email. There was no message. But attached were eight photographs of the trunk, sitting on a kitchen table, taken from slightly different angles. The trunk looked crude but solid. On the front was a name: Lt. R. L. Corsbie.

Ruins of Nagarekawa Church of the Japan Christian Society interior, Hiroshima

 Ruins of Red Cross Building, Hiroshima 

The Physical Damage Division

The day after Japan surrendered, President Truman commissioned the United States Strategic Bombing Survey for the Pacific Theater of War. The mission of the survey was, to “measure precisely” the impact of the bomb — ”to put calipers on it, instead of describing it in emotive terms”.

As part of the overall report, a special team called the Physical Damage Division was assembled. It was made up of 150 men, including engineers, ordnance experts, interpreters, draftsmen and photographers. Their job was to examine the physical effects of the blast — on the chimneys, walls, and reinforced-concrete structures that survived — and to explain its impact: how metal and concrete and wood reacted to the intense pressure and heat of the atomic bomb.

Soon after receiving the email of the trunk, I read through the War Department’s history of the Strategic Bombing Survey and confirmed that Lt. Corsbie was part of Group Number 1 of the Physical Damage Division. He had arrived in Hiroshima on October 8, 1945 and stayed through the end of November.

During those months members of the Division would fan out across the city to trace blast paths, calibrate bomb damage, and analyze the physical destruction of the city.

It could be grim going. Members of the team stumbled across human skeletons that had not yet been cremated. “The cities of Japan in those dark autumn days were a manifestation of unspeakable gloom,” remembered John Kenneth Galbraith, who was a member of the Survey. “. . . only ashes and gaunt, free-standing chimneys.”[2]

In order to document this damage — to identify, catalogue, and embalm Hiroshima for further analysis — seven members of the Physical Damage Division were tasked with the job of taking photographs of the destroyed city. Trained as an architect, Corsbie was probably one of the draftsmen. But he kept 700 of the work prints of the Physical Damage Divison’s photographs. And those were the images that ended up in Corsbie’s wooden trunk.

Ruins of Chugoku Electric Company, Transformer Repair Station, Hiroshima

Lt. Robert Corsbie

Nancy Knight, Robert Corsbie’s granddaughter, was guarded over the phone. “Well,” she said, “I’ll give you some background about our family but you really have to talk with my mother — she’s the only person who survived the fire. I was only nine at the time.”

“Fire?” I asked. “What fire?”

“You’ll have to talk to my mother. But I will say that I don’t have many memories of my grandfather. I was too young. But I do remember that he used to sit me on his lap and we would listen to Madame Butterfly together. Over the fireplace hung two samurai swords that he had brought back from Japan. He joked that if I didn’t learn one of the arias by the time I was eighteen he would cut my head off.”


Along with the task of documenting the devastation of Hiroshima there was a second goal to the work of the Physical Damage Division — to compile data that could be used to help American cities survive a nuclear attack in the future.

And here lies a crucial paradox: at the moment of America’s total victory there was simultaneously an awareness of the country’s future vulnerability.

The way out of this paradox was in the concrete structures that had survived the blast. In the words of the Survey, “Men arriving at Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been constantly impressed by the shells of reinforced concrete buildings still rising above the rubble of brick and stone or the ashes of wooden buildings.”[3] The Physical Damage Division studied these concrete shells as if they were blueprints for the atomic future.


After the war, Corsbie joined the Atomic Energy Commission as a bomb expert. As the director of the Civil Effects Group, he brought his experience from Hiroshima directly to bear on the testing of the physical infrastructures that the US government was developing in order to survive a nuclear attack. Corsbie helped design the U.S. military’s first atomic bomb shelter.

According to a colleague who worked with him at the AEC, Corsbie was “quite a character. He was a pretty hard, high-living guy. He loved his drinks at night and stuff like this, but he was a very energetic and sincere worker…he did a great job on this thing.”[4]


Corsbie’s daughter, Nancy Mason, was more forthcoming with her memories of her father than her daughter had been.

“I know that he was traumatized by what he had seen” she told me. “He went through a bombed-out school in Hiroshima and that got to him, I know. He brought home two burned school books and a small saki cup that had been blackened by the blast.”

A year after he returned from the war the Corsbie’s had another child, a boy named Robert Jr. He had Downs Syndrome. The parents kept him at home.

I asked Nancy to tell me more about her father’s work with the AEC.

“He went out west to Nevada quite a lot when I was growing up. He was testing houses to see if they could withstand nuclear blasts. It was the time of “duck and cover”. When I was in the sixth or seventh grade, he was on TV. We got out of school early to watch. They dressed him up in something that looked like tin foil and they dropped him by helicopter near one of those test houses that they had blown up in the desert. They called him the “Twenty Four Carat Hero.”

In 1962, Corsbie left government service and joined a private practice as an architect. He specialized in designing structures that could withstand natural and man-made disasters. In other words, he specialized in turning corporate and public buildings into vast bomb shelters.

Blast-damaged trolley and mangled electrical wires, Hiroshima

The Fire

On the night of January 7, 1967, Nancy Mason had a date. Newly divorced, she was planning on dropping her nine-year-old daughter off at her father’s house. But at the last minute her date cancelled, and she decided to just stay at home.

Early the next morning, the phone rang. There had been a fire at her father’s house.

Corsbie’s house was a nine-bedroom Tudor mansion called Homewood in Ossining New York. When Nancy arrived she was confronted by a house that was totally devastated. Almost 200 volunteer firefighters, four pumper trucks, and a hook-and-ladder had been called to fight the blaze but to no avail. Robert Corsbie, his wife Evelyn, and their twenty-year-old son had all died in the blaze.

The First Assistant Fire Chief in 1967 was Richard Apostolico. Forty-four years later, he still remembered the fire. “It was one the worst I have ever seen. Some things you never forget. The house was built like a fortress.”

Homewood had an extra-thick slate roof and the windows that were at least one-quarter of an inch thick. “We had a terrible time doing what we call ventilation. That’s how you let the gasses and burning fumes out of a burning building. It was something unreal — we had pike poles and still we couldn’t break the glass.”

As a result of its unusual construction, the house intensified the heat like a furnace.

Apostolico found Mrs. Corsbie in the foyer about thirty-five feet short of the front door. “When I got in there, I dragged her the rest of the way out.” But it was too late. According to the obituary in The New York Times the following day, she was found fully dressed “in a skirt, sweater and a pair of high heeled shoes beside her.”[5]

Then he tried to find Corsbie. Battling the ferocious heat and smoke, it took Apostolico twenty to thirty minutes until he found him dead “draped over a lounge chair. He was trying to get out of a side door. He was close — about fifteen feet away — but he didn’t make it.”

According to the Times, Corsbie was also was fully dressed, “including a necktie.” Because of the intensity of the heat the firemen then had to suspended their search and rescue. When they resumed they found Robert Jr. in his pajamas in an upstairs bathtub full of water. “He was probably trying to keep away from the flames” said Apostolico. He had died of smoke inhalation.

The Corsbies had thrown a party the night before, during which, according to witnesses, they had candles burning. After everyone had gone home they probably had a nightcap on their living room sofa and dozed off. “The candles in the living room must have tipped over accidentally or burned down in a such way that the drapery in the room caught fire,” Apostolico told me. “The drapery fell to the floor. There was tremendous heat. The fire was so hot that in the kitchen, which was fifty to sixty feet from the living room, we found the telephone trailing onto the floor like it was a piece of licorice.”

Nancy Mason told me that the entire contents of the house were destroyed. But down in the basement, where her father had meticulously boxed, filed and stored all his records, almost everything survived.

A few days later, still reeling from grief and shock, Nancy Mason emptied the contents of the basement. She took them to her house and loaded them into her basement. And she left them there while she struggled to reconstruct her life.

Five years later, she decided to clean out her basement. She hired Harlan Miller and Marc Levitt to get rid of father’s effects and take them to the local dump. And that’s when Miller salvaged the trunk and Levitt grabbed the photographs.

Levitt stuffed them into an old suitcase. When he eventually bought the Watertown house he stored the suitcase in his basement. And when it came time to move house, he either mistakenly threw the suitcase away, or the people who bought the house did.

Either way, there it was, left in a pile of trash, until Don Levy, out taking his dog for a walk that rainy night, bent down and popped open the clasps.

Damaged interior of Hiroshima Railway Station


[1] Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (December 1982), p. 34 (8:15 is local Hiroshima time).

[2] John Kenneth Galbraith, A Life in Our Times: Memoirs (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981), p. 231.

[3] USSBS, The Effects of Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, p. 38.

[4] Nevada Test Site Oral History Project, “Interview with L. Joe Deal, September 27, 2005, Las Vegas, Nevada,” p. 35.
[5] Ibid

Posted in: History, Photography

Comments [242]

What an amazing story. Thank you.

And to think all this happened so close to where I live (Dedham, MA). Wow.

I've eaten at the Deluxe Town Diner many times. The food is outstanding and knowing the story makes the place all that much richer.

Thank you.
Dale Cruse

an eye for an eye
susan velavich

The use of atomic weapons for the first time on Earth by the U.S. against the Japanese Empire and its civilian cities has always been a frustrating horror for me. I am alive because of it.

My father was an 18 year old kid (on a "great adventure") and unaware of the potential fate that would await him as he sailed with thousands of other soldiers in late October on a troop ship steaming across the South Pacific to invade Japan in Operation Olympic for "X-Day", as it was called.

Instead of probably being wounded or more likely killed while landing on the heavily defended mountains and beaches of Ōsumi Province 大�...国 or Satsuma �-�摩国 on the island of Kyūshū 九州 in a massive invasion that was to make D-Day look like a skirmish — he helped rebuild Japan.

Names like Miyazaki, Ariake, and Kushikino, the three main invasion points, would be in our history books. The beaches of D-Day would be remembered with the beaches of X-Day, named after car brands: Austin, Buick, Cadillac, Stutz, Winton, Zephyr.

The Japanese had prepared an all out last stand defense of Japan, Operation Ketsugo, with no reserves.

Had the invasion happened, it is estimated that millions of American soldiers would have been killed or wounded and tens of millions of Japanese soldiers and civilians. The Pentagon ordered 500,000 Purple Hearts in preparation for the invasion of Japan and usually the military does not order enough of anything. Until just a few years ago, these unused invasion of Japan Purple Hearts were the Purple Hearts all recipients of all subsequent U.S. wars were given.

My father and countless other allied soldiers, Marines, and sailors never invaded Japan. He was switched to the Corp of Engineers after the Japanese Empire surrendered and promoted to sergeant so he could coordinate construction work for the Tokyo airport. After this, he went to college under the GI bill, got married, and raised a family. He helped run a number of companies, including a company founded by his brother (who was in the Navy during the war) which invented and sold, and still sells, important technology used in the manufacturing of microchips and later, LCD displays. (Your computer, its screen, your cell phone, ipod, et al could not have been made without it.)

He is alive, my family is alive, I am alive because the U.S. did not invade Japan. Many more U.S. and Japanese citizens and their families are alive too. The technology, medicines, and other inventions since WWII developed during or later by my father’s generation have saved and enriched billions of lives.
But if the U.S. had invaded Japan, would we have lost some crucial figures of that generation and the economic, technological, and creative prosperity of the late 20th Century?
These photos represent a visual legacy for all of us to prevent any war from happening.
A World War I soldier once said ‘War is a complete and total waste of time, money, and life and accomplishes nothing. Not having a war is the way to truly win a war.’
Joseph Coates

Fantastic article. The objective restraint from making a political statement is noticed and appreciated.

Grandpa photographed Nagasaki just after the bomb drop. He was in the 2nd Marines as part of the OpFor with the Pioneer battalion. He was not supposed to leak the images but he would send shoeboxes full of negatives and photographs back to grandma. You can see some of what he took if you go to my flickr site and look in the World War II section. It's pretty difficult to absorb all at once, you need to look at the images for a while before you begin to realize what it is you're looking at.

Oh, that's


or click on my name.

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind"

Mahatma Gandhi

Joseph Coates - I am looking at this article and reading your comment, and making mine while using a flatscreen monitor. Your comment has really made me think. Thanks.
Tom Cosgrave

The photos should have, and still be, shown without reservation. Along with each picture should say:

This is what the USA will do to you if you dare try to invade our country.

Through strength there is peace, but there will always be those that want to destroy others. In '45 nuclear weapons were used to bring peace - and it did.

Now, with crazed Muslims, they will be used as a prelude to their invasion.

Thank god for pacifists like Albert Einstein that helped make 'the' bomb possible.

This is what the USA will do to you if you dare try to invade our country.

Of course, Japan didn't actually invade our country, though they did bomb a military base located in one of our colonies. They did invade (and committed atrocities against civilians in) China and Korea -- had those two countries deliberately killed a 150,000+ Japanese civilians, perhaps the "eye for an eye" argument would have a bit more credence.

Looking at your blog, JustaDog, I'm sure a nuanced argument is lost on you, but one can only try...


Joseph, you nailed it.

It was horrific, and yet necessary. But ultimately only necessary because of mundane trade differences (oil, mainly) and ill-thought alliances. We should be reminded often how such things can spiral out of control.

That anonymous post above was mine, by the way (the lack of identity was not intentional).

Whether Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary or not is debatable. That they were war crimes by any definition (in 1945 or today) is indisputable. In that context, these photographs serve as a reminder that even a high-minded country like the United States will engage in acts of barbarity while prosecuting a war. Which is why war should be avoided at almost all cost.
Jose Nieto

That anonymous post above was mine, by the way (the lack of identity was not intentional).

Whether Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary or not is debatable. That they were war crimes by any definition (in 1945 or today) is indisputable. In that context, these photographs serve as a reminder that even a high-minded country like the United States will engage in acts of barbarity while prosecuting a war. Which is why war should be avoided at almost all cost.
Jose Nieto

Joseph Coates,

I am in complete agreement. I might not be here either; my father had survived being shot down over Europe, but was slated to start training on the B-29s that were being used in the Pacific, when the war ended. We can and will debate the morality of any action, though the ferocity of the combat in the Pacific, should make clear that any invasion would be extremely costly.

Bronislaus Janulis

Wonderful pictures and a great story. Don't for a minute compare US actions in WWII to war crimes. If we did not drop those bombs, Japan was not going to surrender. Millions, and I mean millions, more would have died. It was the right and just decision to drop those bombs.

Also, the fact that the bombs were dropped on a Japanese city which was made of wood (and with homes with no basements) tended to increase the appearance of distruction which led to an increased fear of the bombs potency during the cold war. Therefore, one could say dropping the bombs on Japan helped prevent their use later during the 50's and 60's - thereby saving millions more.

Great Blog - one of my favorite, and design is not my middle name.

Just a small correction

USS Sims (DD-409) is a plain "destroyer" not a "battleship destroyer" (fairly sure there is no such thing as a "battleship destroyer")

actually, it could not of been the Sims - it was destroyed in 1942


It is usual to rationalize the bombing on the lives saved.

Less often do we contemplate the barbarity of killing a hundred thousand unarmed civilians.

Less often still do people ponder that making the unthinkable thinkable led to the endless tragedies of the Cold War (including generations of fear and danger) ... which have not ceased to this date (the Doomsday Clock is five minutes from midnight).

The dropping of the bomb was one of the greatest tragedies in human history. These photos -- and the holocaust photos -- should be mandatory viewing for each human being on Earth. As a teacher, I used to show, every year, a movie about Hiroshima. The reactions seldom varied.

Thanks for sharing this find.

Great post, and an excellent read. My grandparents and other relatives lived (and still do) in Hawaii during all of this over looking Pear Harbor. They remember the build up of troops, trying to make money by selling roasted peanuts and fish to the sailors and learning how to tell the difference between planes in the boy scouts. I still remember their stories of the erie green glow that the tests of nukes in the south pacific gave the sky thousands of miles away.

Since both of my grand fathers were in the service in the Pacific at the time, I can understand why people make the arguement that the bomb was necessary to prevent loss of life. Even if the total loss of lives is greater with a nuclear bomb than without, they weren't American lives and it is a war.

However, now that the USSR has started to open up their intelligence, it is significantly harder to argue that the bombs saved millions of lives. Surely if we had to invade Japan it would have been worse the bombs as you guys pointed out. But did we really have to invade? From the records it shows that the Russians were just about to enter the war with Japan since the front in Europe was closing. Japan knew they were on the ropes against us, adding in the Russians as well would spell doom and even they couldn't hide from that fact.

So it looks like both the Russians, the Americans, and the Japanese all knew the war was over, it was just a matter of the timing. There were meetings scheduled between the Russians and the Americans to work this all out, and the Americans pushed forward the time table to drop the bombs.

Many historians today feel that the drop of the bombs was more a signal to the Russians that we were in control and had won the war in the Pacific on our own, rather than let them have the upper hand and say that they had won in both the east and the west.

We can not go back in time and change history, but if you are going to use the what if scenario of "if we had to invade millions would die" I'll use the what if "we had waited a bit longer for the Russians to officially join ,and we never had to invade nor drop the bombs". Both are hypothetical, but don't think that the only two options were bomb or invade.

i really enjoyed this article, beautifully unnerving photography. if anyone is interested i found an article about an hibakusha (an a-bomb survivor) that is quite interesting.
click here

JustaDog said "Of course, Japan didn't actually invade our country"

But that is incorrect. Japan invaded Attu Island, Alaska in 1942 and sent the locals to internment camps in Japan.

Sorry...i meant the post AFTER justadog....it was apparently posted anonymously.

Excellent post, but please:

Provide larger versions of these images. Link to more images, if possible. Thank you.

An amazing story. An important story. Thanks for sharing.
Hans Schellhas

Thank you for sharing that story, and it shows the importance of an image states a thousand words. Not only did I find the story moving as much interest are the comments and equally moving are the comments.
I believed for many years that the dropping of the bomb was not necessary, but as more and more facts are revealed about experiments (chemical & biological) and atrocities being carried out by the Japanese during the war, I have changed my position, certainly on the Hiroshima bomb.

I recall the stories told by my relations who fought in Burma & have seen the photographs of another captured & survived as POW & his mental state recently & do now believe for what ever other political reasons the bomb was used for, it saved the lives of many hundreds of thousands American & British troops and more Japanese lives.

Again thanks for posting the images & story and for everyone’s comments.

One final comment the photographic images were saved & as importantly seen in the suitcase, how would today’s images stored on CD/DVD’s service all those years

Peter Hartland

When I was in the 6th grade, we had Atomic Bomb exercises
by going under our desks. This was in Knox, Indiana.

pat Taylor

But that is incorrect. Japan invaded Attu Island, Alaska in 1942 and sent the locals to internment camps in Japan.

Alaska did not become a state of the union until 1959. There is no question that Japan attacked American colonies and territories (here you could count the Philippines as well), but they never invaded the United States.
Jose Nieto

The most telling response is the Japanese reaction to the bombing itself at the time it happened. Basically, when Tokyo people heard that a city had been obliterated their reaction was 'so what?' - they'd experienced that already.

Days after the bombing of Nagasaki, the 'big 6' Japanese leaders had a meeting. They were deadlocked at 3 - 3 as to whether they should fight on with the Emperor making the decision to 'do the unthinkable'. i.e. surrender.

If dropping 2 atomic bombs on 2 cities wasn't enough to make the Japanese leadership surrender, you can imagine that they certainly would not have surrendered during a land invasion, and the continual firebombing of what was left of the cities.

By definition, if Hiroshima was a war crime then so was the firebombing of Tokyo that had already happened and killed a comparable number of civilians.

Essentially, it's impossible to remove Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the context in which they occurred.

Hiroshima - debatable
Nagasaki - inexcusable
Happy Tinfoil Cat

Fascinating article and story but to nitpick your reference here:
Since the invention of the camera in 1839, photography has marched in lockstep with death...

Emulsion-based photography was invented in 1839, but the camera obscura design was invented 800 years prior while the lens-based camera was invented in the late 1600s.

As an old history major, I was amazed and pleased to "hear" the story of these photos. I, for one, would buy the book (which I hope is forthcoming), with the hope that a major part of the proceeds would go to an appropriate foundation focused on world peace, and especially control of nuclear weapons--though the means for mass death are available enough without nuclear weapons, as we have clearly seen.

Let me know if a book gets published.

As a Pearl Harbor Survivor, being there on Dec. 7th, 1941. I have no pity on a country that tries to destroy us. At that time, I would have droped one from the top to the bottom. I know ,now we are buddy"s......One has had to be there on Dec,7th,1941.
I know we still have so many bleeding hearts.Larry
Larry Katz

By definition, if Hiroshima was a war crime then so was the firebombing of Tokyo that had already happened and killed a comparable number of civilians.

You'll get no argument from me on that one.

The most telling response is the Japanese reaction to the bombing itself at the time it happened. Basically, when Tokyo people heard that a city had been obliterated their reaction was 'so what?' - they'd experienced that already.

To quote Mark Twain: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

Arguing the historical record in blog postings is very much like playing tennis without a net -- utterly without rigor, and, as such, pretty worthless (not to mention boring). The inescapable fact is that in 1945 the United States attacked two Japanese cities, using weapons of unimaginable power and deliberately causing the death of over a hundred thousand civilians. The effects of these attacks were visited not only upon those who died from the blasts and radiation sickness, but on the children of those who survived. At the same time, the attack served as the opening salvo of global arms race that, to this day, holds the world hostage.

To argue that there was a "greater good" involved is immaterial: our moral code does not accommodate the sacrifice of innocents (cf. Abraham, Isaac, knife). To claim that it was "necessary" is to claim that, in a time of war, we do not have the capacity for moral choice: our country's participation in many a war crime tribunal puts a lie to that notion.

There are acts that should horrify us beyond the point of self-justification. These pictures are a strong reminder that the use of nuclear weapons is one them.
Jose Nieto

Thanks for the story and the images. They should be used as the historical documents they are. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed thousands and probably saved millions of lives in the long run and those losses should never be taken lightly. An interesting footnote concerning the loss of life in war, the fire bombing of Berlin killed more than twice the civilians involved in both Japanese cities. Just as many of us look back in wonder and shake our heads at the tragedy involved, the people who lived those times and lost loved ones may not feel the same way. I doubt the surviving original citizens of Nanking China feel much shame at the loss of two cities of civilians after the brutality they faced at the hands of invading Japanese soildiers, nor do the captured Allied troops who were routinely tortured and beheaded for fun and sport by officers in the Japanese military.

War does surve a purpose. It always take a war for each generation to remember how horrible it is because no one learns from the past. We are not special or somehow enlightened any more than anyone else is, or there wouldn't be wars over religion and land that no one really wants in the end.
Kevin Camp

My father was in China just after WWII. He was a pilot in the Army Air Corps. He saw Japanese soldiers there who were eventually rounded up and put to work cleaning the gutters in the city. He took photos of them. I hope these photos of Hiroshima can be preserved in an archive somewhere, and shared with the world.

Japan was provoked by the US. Had the US not imposed an oil embargo amongst other overtures, Japan would not have attacked the US.

The bomb did not "save lives". Japan was already considering to surrender. It was the Russian declaration of war that had really concerned Japan. To top it off it was also the "unconditional surrender" imposed by the US that had given Japan hesitation. The bomb was not necessary at all.

Pearl Harbor. The first shot was actually fired by the US. A Japanese midget sub was sunk by the US.

So much of the same propaganda. It's really sad to hear people talk about wanting to drop the bomb again not realizing it is YOU that is preventing the eradication of nuclear weapons and world peace. Yes the US is the biggest obstacle to that.

Since both of my grand fathers were in the service in the Pacific at the time, I can understand why people make the arguement that the bomb was necessary to prevent loss of life. Even if the total loss of lives is greater with a nuclear bomb than without, they weren't American lives and it is a war.

However, now that the USSR has started to open up their intelligence, it is significantly harder to argue that the bombs saved millions of lives. Surely if we had to invade Japan it would have been worse the bombs as you guys pointed out. But did we really have to invade? From the records it shows that the Russians were just about to enter the war with Japan since the front in Europe was closing. Japan knew they were on the ropes against us, adding in the Russians as well would spell doom and even they couldn't hide from that fact.

So it looks like both the Russians, the Americans, and the Japanese all knew the war was over, it was just a matter of the timing. There were meetings scheduled between the Russians and the Americans to work this all out, and the Americans pushed forward the time table to drop the bombs.

Many historians today feel that the drop of the bombs was more a signal to the Russians that we were in control and had won the war in the Pacific on our own, rather than let them have the upper hand and say that they had won in both the east and the west.

We can not go back in time and change history, but if you are going to use the what if scenario of "if we had to invade millions would die" I'll use the what if "we had waited a bit longer for the Russians to officially join ,and we never had to invade nor drop the bombs". Both are hypothetical, but don't think that the only two options were bomb or invade.

So what you are saying is that the Russian lives that would be lost do not count? Perhaps, the sum of American, Russian, and Japanese casualties would be less than 110k-130k, but I doubt it. Russia suffered 10-20 million casualties fighting Germany.

Your assertion regarding the Russians is still speculative. Given the intentions and actions demestrated by Japan, they planned to invade our country after destroying our Navy. Let us not be silly here. Any country that maintains a peacetime army believes in the violent resolution of international issues.

I really can't see the moral difference between the atomic bomb and the 1000-plane incendiary bombing raids that led up to it; they were both tools (having exhausted others such as selectively killing & capturing japanese troops on the ocean and surrounding islands) to force unconditional surrender. Perhaps that was wrong? But if so, then how does one define the terms upon which hostilities cease? Yes, the Japanese were making overtures, and yes, the US had complete control over the battlespace surrounding the island - so is that sufficient to stop the persecution of the war? Did we have a responsibility to save the civilian population from its leaders? Is that even possible?

These matters are particularly relevant now as we face a war overseas on two fronts with no clearly defined end (such as unconditional surrender) and an economy heading into the drink, breeding ground for an increase in nationalistic projects. It would be good to define the end to Iraq and Afghanistan in as clearly defined terms as WWII, and proceed to that end as quickly as possible - violence is violence, death is death, killing is killing - are the means really significant compared to the organized will to do so?
Moral Equivalent

"Collateral damage" = murder


“The heart that does not bleed is dead”

Chris Dixon

"Collateral damage" = murder = war

The theatre of war is a vacuum of truth, human rights and the ability to justify decisions made in that theatre as being logical, correct or just in any manner.

Don't think for a second that we can rationalize decisions made in any war based on so called "intelligence" of the time or best laid plans of a country's leaders. The first mistake in any war was walking onto the battlefield in the first place. The most logical decision was stepping off.

Dresden. Hamburg. Cologne. One night, each one outnumbers the casualties of Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
Fire bombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities - again, comparable death tolls.
If 100+ thousand people perish in one night... does it really matter how? White phosphorus, napalm, good old fashioned high explosives - chain reaction... All death. All the same in the end: dead children, dead parents, futures that never are.
Personally I think its comical in a very absurdly dark way to point fingers in this scenario. And the post by Kageki simply takes the cake, especially the mention that the first shot was fired by the USA... was the midget sub in Tokyo harbour? No, it was in a US military facility. But I already diginified that post with more attention than it deserves. And now I have to point out that no, I am not a US citizen, I don't live there, and yes, I have many issues with a great many things the USA does and has done - just as I have with many other nations, and as any questioning observer of worl events and history wold. I am not absolving America. I just don't think it deserves to be villifid in this scenario.
War is hell. It always was, it always will be. There was nothing "nice" about dropping the bombs, but as a leader of a country about to lose what is likely upwards of a million lives, the decision was correct. I have NO doubt Japan would have done the same if it had the chance. It was simply too inept to do anything directly to the American mainland - not that they didn't try, targeting... you guessed it: highly populated civilian areas. With incindiary weapons. Their efforts (and methods) bordered on the ridiculous, but the effort was there.
I think these images should be seen by every child when they are old enough to understand them. These and images of the cities and places I have mentioned as well as many others, lest we forget. But to be singled out? In a time of war two bombs that killed fewer than 300,000 are notable - but by many accounts 100 million perishd in five years around the globe. They are in no way a measuring stick of atrocity. Over its existance, Aushwitz was killing nearly two people a minute, every minute, every day, for years. Relatives of mine and all their neighbours - men, women children - were rounded up in a farm building and burned alive for sheltering a person whose only crime was being Jewish. My grandmother survived the war because the street execution she was supposed to die in piled enough dead bodies on top of her that the bullets didn't reach her... There were so many dead she managed to crawl away through a hole in the wall in front of which they were lined up to be killed. Churchill looked at photos of a bombed out Warsaw and commented "we could have done it better"... Stalingrad. Moscow. Leningrad. Forests of Katyn. Carthage was burned, plowed over and sewn with salt so that nothing ever grew there again (oddly simular to what a nuclear weapon does... you think they would have dropped it if they had it? I have no doubt they would...) I can go on, and on and on ad infinitum. Once the step to go to war is taken, there is no chivalry, there is no honourable way to do something as horrible as making war on your fellow man. There is only shame and regret and a hope that it was done for a good reason.... although can we ever be sure... and who is qualified to be the judge of that?
But there is nothing uniquely barbaric about Hiroshima an Nagasaki. And please, be sure to understand this does not diminish what happened there - just condemns all else that we, human beings, will do to one another with any tools at our disposal.
My generation - and I am in my early thirties right now - holds a unique distinction: we may be the last to have grown up with ready access to people who actually lived through World War II, and even some who lived through the First. We are on the precipe of a dangerous time... a time when history is starting to become just that - history, in its most academic form, old books, inaccurate movies, misconceptions, and eventually irrelevance. I would suggest that we are the custodians of a great lesson paid for by many lives and that we take that charge very seriously. It may be our greatest gift to our children.

Sorry about any typos and missed spellings... its late. I'm tired. And I have rambled on far too long.
Peter Galuszewski

"Images of Extinction"...A picture journal,

Never in my life have I seen potential for and awesome book such as this.

Starting with old (pre bombed), then scorched and current pics of Hiro and its people.

I would love to be involved with a project such as this, please don't hesitate to mail me.
Ross von Ruben

More, please.

(photos, not bombs)
Mark Stagg

Expediency is far too often the prelude to a crime against humanity, and very rarely is it one we tolerate when we're the victims of it.
Cory Gross

He takes a bite of the sandwich.

No doubt someday, someone will use nuclear weapons on the U.S. in order to shorten a war. That'll be all right then, won't it, because of all the lives saved?
Forrest Greene

That Japan as a nation was allowed to continue to exist after WW2 is a testament to the compassion of the American people. To call any of the bombings performed by America during WW2 a war crime is to show a lack of understanding of the laws of war.

Under the law of war we could have layed siege to the entire island and starved the nation to death. No male above the age to grow hair allowed to survive. According the the laws of war and the Geneva Convention (to which the Japanese never adhered) would have allowed the genocide of the Japanese people.

If you want to discuss WW2 war crimes, then a review of the Rape of Nanking, the Bataan death march, and sundry other Japanese war crimes (under its correct definition) would be more appropriate. As a general rule American's are the most honorable and compassionate soldiers in the history of the planet.
W. Anderson

What an important and sad collection of photographs. I'm glad they were found, especially now. We need reminders of the complete devastation that war can create.

Complicating the "conditional" versus "unconditional" surrender decision was the Emperor-as-God religio-politico-philosophy of the Japanese. That philosophy had led the Japanese into WWI and WWII. The unconditional surrender required the Japanese to renounce the Emperor. The Japanese leadership did not wish to do so, hence the conditional surrender.

The US was faced with leaving a leadership structure in place that had led in large part to two massively destructive and deadly wars within barely 20 years, only removing it. What, another world war in another 20 years if the leadership/philosophy remained in place?

That left the US with a choice of invasion to remove that leadership or the atomic bomb. Remember GC Scott's portrayal of Patton and his statement at the beginning of the movie? Paraphrased, he told the soldiers that it wasn't their job to die for their country, it was to make the other son-of-a-bitch die for his.

It was the obligation of the US to protect its troops and citizens, not to protect the Japanese, particularly when they had been offered surrender terms.

Furthermore, as to the firebombing, the US faced a particular problem in Japan. In Germany, there were well established military targets - uniform plants, ordnance plants, industrial plants. Japan, however, had much of the work of manufacturing military supplies spread out in small shops and homes throughout their cities. There was no way to single out a single home for a bomb, even if it had been known exactly where the work was being done. So again, there was a choice to be made. Let them keep supplying their troops for war or bomb the cities.

Finally, it should be noted that in preparation for invasion Japan was training everyone of its citizens, even children as young as 5 and 6 to fight. There are videos available and an excellent PBS show on the subject that was shown. Teaching children to strap bombs to themselves so they could roll under the vehicles of the invaders and blow them up.

That is the mentality that the US faced in making the decision to drop the bomb. And remember, the Japanese didn't surrender after the first one. That should reinforce what their mentality was like at the time.

The loss of life was tragic. But I for one am glad the Emperor was removed. Japan has been peaceful for 50 years. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives on both sides were saved by Turman's decision not to invade but to bomb.


The emperor has never been removed. He died. In 1989.

The US needed to test their new bomb in real life. Because Japanese lifes were not as valuable as American voters they were expandable.

There was no strategic need. The Japanese army was completely out of fuel. Their search for fuel was the main reason to start the war. They couldn't even return on their own.

Face it, my American friends. You are mass murderers who got away. No trial so nothing was learned. You will do it again. And organize a large media event to justify yourself. I just can't wait for all the new beautiful pictures.

history has always been written by the victors, which in this case were the ones who unleashed this atrocity on japan and the world. in these last days of the American Empire, get ready to reap all the rewards of this dubious and pitiful victory, good and bad.
Victor Ree

Kyoto was at the top of the target list because it had a population of over a million. The only reason it was not nuked was that obliterating the nations most holy, ancient city might give Russia political influence. In the final weeks, Nagasaki was chosen as the alternate. Maximizing civilian death was one of the primary criteria used in choosing targets. The estimate of American deaths for an invasion (if needed) was a quarter million with a maximum of one million. The maximum number gets quoted quite a bit to further rationalize the use of the bomb. The use of the bomb may have been strategic and necessary but lets be honest about the reasoning.

Happy Tinfoil Cat

Peace................................. Messege for everyone

Wars are bad.
Nuclear weapons are worse.

I have just this to say about nuclear arms. If wars can cause the creativity to bear such devastation on our fellow human we need to rethink our methods of problem solving and to understand that the government/corporations lust for war is never about righteousness or freedom but is ALWAYS about capitalist greed wrought on us from the ever present military industrial complex.

You can't have a arms market if no one uses your weapons.
Wars are also great research and development opportunities, since when can we get free research subjects to test depleted uranium shells on?

Oh yea thats also another great point to make for all the defenders of Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings. America's military on a regular basis sprays radioactive shells into the villages and fields it fights in and around via 'depleted uranium shells' spreading American freedom and compassion in the form of crippling cancers and mutated infants.

SWEET! America, fuck yea.




Oh wait those are comments...

What a terrible crime against humanity.

And yes historical books should be changed it should be stated that those bombs were first class war crime like it or not.

The combination of the sterile images and the somber tone made for such a passionate read. Thank you so much for writing such a beautiful story.

Some historical notes and a few more comments -

Japan dropped balloon bombs on the U.S. mainland. I think one killed a family camping in the woods out West (they picked it up). That was about it for mainland civilian deaths. These kinds of stories were censored.

More Japanese died in carpet and fire bombing of Tokyo than the atom bombs.

Japan had two, yes, two nuclear bomb research groups. One in Japan and one in Korea. One was Navy and the other, I think, was the Army. (Classic internal competition in the militaristic world of Japan at the time.) It is suspected that they did detonate one off the coast of Korea but, has never been proven. The Nazis also had a nuclear bomb program. Both the Japanese and Nazi programs were months or years from success or applied use. These kinds of stories were censored during and long after the war.

WWII was about oil and resources to grow militaristic empires. (Hmmm... interesting....)

I agree, we could Monday morning quarterback all of this stuff. Two atom bombs was one too many to use on cities. Why not detonate, at least, #1, off the coast?
The war was almost over because of Russia, etc. But at the time, the Japanese, soldiers or civilians, fought to the death in most cases. Would the war actually have ever ended unless the emperor saw the potential for total destruction of the entire country? What if the attempted coup by the Japanese junior officers had succeeded? Would the war have gone on, with more atom bombs on more cities (which was planned)?


As I first said, a frustrating horror. The right answers are ultimately unknowable.
Joseph Coates

These photos should be placed online where easily viewable by the public. I think Flickr's "Commons" is a good example of how this could be done.
Flickr: The Commons
Jason R. Hunter

To all of the people claiming that the atomic bomb was ever necessary and that it wasn't a war crime, know this: the Japanese were wildly short on supplies, the Russians were mounting an attack from the West, and (here's the coup de grace) THE JAPANESE HAD ALREADY SURRENDERED. Indeed, the only reason why the war got to the stage of what some of us are viewing as bomb-or-invade is because the US was not willing to accept any surrender that was not completely unconditional.

Here's the really fun part. The only objectionable condition that the Japanese had was that the Emperor be able to maintain a position as a sort of puppet Emperor - basically, that he maintain his title while losing his power. And we said no. And we dropped two horrific weapons of mass destruction on entire cities, ending countless lives.

And thus, it is easy to ignore it, because the lost lives are so many. After all, at that point it becomes little more than a statistic in our minds. Had one of the families murdered been one of ours, it's be much harder to call such devastation necessary.

Finally, there is one last point that kills the dignity of this nation during those dark days. After dumping off our payload on the Japanese, we accepted their surrender with the condition of the puppet Emperor.

Long story short, the only difference between accepting the initial surrender and the post-bomb surrender is the death of so many innocents.

Also, to Justadog, Einstein claimed that had he truly known the terrifying devastatin that his research and findings would cause, he'd have been a watchmaker.

The bomb was a statement. All those lives lost just to make a fucking statement.

Hallelujah, democracy.
kyler mikulski

Posing the hypothetical: had 1,500 B-29s flown over Hiroshima on Aug 6 1945 and burned the city to the ground using the incindiary bombs that had been deployed for months in Tokyo, would we be having the conversation about war crimes?

If so, at what point did the fire bombing become a war crime? Was it a war crime to be burning industrial & residential areas in April 1945 when Japan was arguably strageically finished but still capable of deploying the Yamato?

If so, was it a war crime to begin the firebombing in Feb of 1945, when Japan was still tactically dangerous, if strategically doomed?

If so, would it have been a war crime to have NOT firebombed the mainland (if we'd had the capability, which we didn't) in 1942 when the strategic question was open, control of the Pacific theater was still Japan's, and they were committing unquestioned atrocities across the eastern world?

I'd hope, for logical consistency, the people here who seem to object so strongly to the atomic weapons feel the same about the firebombing, and hope they see that this objection quickly becomes a quagmire of indecision with respect to the prosecution of warfare. Would it make you feel better if everyone had been killed through disease or starvation? Would it make any difference at all?

Its right and necessary to question actions, and see how things may have been done differently, but here's a fucking statement: those lives lost on August 6 pale, in terms of quantity, to those lost in other theaters of WWII; the entire enterprise was madness - but democracy does have the merit of having won, and the alternatives would have been much less paletable.

I am grateful to have NOT been born in Nazi Germany or Hirohito Japan, and am even more grateful that I and my children have the example of those forces of oppression and evil having been defeated by a people of a representative government (ie a free people - a notion likely to rankle some here); it may not be worth a hallelujah, but its certainly worthy of respect - mock it at one's peril.
Moral Equivalent

Humans have been killing each other for centuries. Wars litter our collective histories. While it is true that most wars begin with lust for power or the resources of other nations, we can not forget that the invaded almost always fight back.

We can debate the question of whether the bombings were necessary forever because we can never know what the alternatives would have have caused. It can only be speculated. I don't have any answers to offer people on both sides of this issue, I do, however, have an observation to make. There were wars of aggression on this planet long before the discovery of the new world. Wars and atrocities are not the invention of the United States. They are the dark creations of mankind. If the United States had never been, wars and war crimes would still be plentiful.

The question isn't whether or not the bombings were the right thing to do. The question is, what makes war happen in the first place. The answer is simple. It is our nature. For all our noble intentions and cultural trappings, we are still just animals and fear and anger are our two most potent emotions.

Perhaps we humans will outgrow this, but I am not optimistic. Our reptilian brain has unobstructed access to our brain stem, and our more evolved logical brain has to thrash its way through the thicket of primitive emotions to be heard. Quite frequently, it is unsuccessful. And, eventually, it will be our undoing.

War will continue until humans cease to be.
Jay Bradley

This ebay item may be of connected interest, the aforementioned Lt. Corsbie

Item No. 350123406666


hi, wow that was amazing. i could't stop reading. i have a couple of kodak brownies from like 1923. there is film in there but have no clue bout them. who knows what i mite find???? do you know if these cameras r of any value? do u know if its possible to get this film processed?
christine schlosser

When you the big dog on the block, there always be some little dog try to bite you. America be the big dog! Whiny blog posters be the little chihuahuas. America wags its tail thinking 'bout peace we brought to the world by beating the tar outta the hateful third Reich and evil Japanese Empire. Nukes be a fact of nature. Deal with it.

Several years ago the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego had an exhibition, "Nagasaki Journey", which featured the photographs of Yosuke Yamahata, taken less than 24 hours after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The prints were huge (some nearly life-size) and moving and difficult to view. The Exploratorium in San Francisco has an on-line version of the exhibition. They are an interesting contrast to the American survey.
Daniel Marlow

those aren't japanese words on the box, those are chinese words which say
'threads' 'brushes'
'number 34692'
the other words are too light to read.

As bad as the atomic bomb effects on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, they pale compared to the devastation inflicted by the firebombings of other Japanese cities (primarily Tokyo). The a-bombs merely allowed one plane with one bomb to accomplish what previously took hundreds of planes each carrying dozens of bombs.

Before anybody condemns the U.S. for dropping the bombs that ultimately convinced Japan to surrender (and there were plenty of Japanese officers and statesmen that still wanted to continue the war), they need to consider what all countries involved had already done to each other using conventional weapons. Of the estimated 50-70 million people, civilian and military, Axis and Allied, who were killed, roughly 250,000 of them died in the atomic bombings. That means more than 99.5% of all fatalities in this war were effected the "old fashioned way".

Additionally, one has to ask what did the Japanese leaders really think prolonging the war as long as they did was going to accomplish? They were being beat back on every front and the tremendous success of Allied campaign on Japanese shipping meant the entire island nation of Japan would soon be completely isolated and starving. The atomic bombings were barely--barely--enough to convince the Japanese to surrender, and it is likely that if the Soviets hadn't also recently declared war on Japan that the U.S. would have needed several more a-bombs, or the planned invasion of Japan, and hundreds of thousands or even several million more casualties to finally end the war.

The real war crimes here are not the atomic bombings. They are: Japan starting the war, and Japan prolonging the war needlessly.


Amazing photos... The chair one makes me think a lot... The thing that surprises me is that mankind still imagines that a war (and we've got a lot) can solve anything...

More photos like this should be put on highlights....

Best regards from Brazil !


I agree with everyone's comments.

Any single murder is unforgiveable. 250,000 murdered is unimaginable, 6 million murdered is unimaginable, and 50-100 million murdered is uncountable. The horror of even one death is earth shaking for someone. Everything should be done to avoid murder. Everything should be done to avoid using fists, knives, pistols,... bombs, and nuclear weapons!

Everything except suicide (or allowing yourself to be killed). Unfortunately there are bad/greedy/power hungry/angry/... people in the world. There always have been. These people can not always be pacified. When they can't be pacified, we have to decide how we want to respond. We can try giving them what they've asked for. But at some point we can't give any more. Do we just lay down and allow them to take our daughters, our lives or do we defend ourselves?

You can't get the cat back in the bag. We can't eliminate weapons. We can get honorable people to stop making them, using them, selling them, but we can't keep the bad guys from getting them.

So what do you do! Do you fight all out, until there is no fighting left (ie WW-II)? Do you run away and abandon your population (ie. the Bronx, NY in the 1970s to the drug dealers/criminals)? Do you try to defend yourself and avoid mass killings (Israel attempting to defend itself against Intifada and related wars)?

Each generation has to make their own decision. I can't judge others on their decision. Hopefully we will never have to make a decision like this.

On a micro level, if Crystal Meth addicts with a lab to manufacture moved in on your block, what would you want to be done? If they brought crime, and weapons. If a neighbor got killed. Would you want to talk to them, would you want police to talk to them (no police guns), or would you leave? What about those who couldn't afford to leave? Or would you want the police to clear them out even if that meant some could be killed (addicts, police and/or innocents). It's not so easy a decision.

What's the name of the American's Hitler that gave the order to drop the bomb? His name should became more famous in world history, just like Hitler's.

@SYSMG: They take your daughters? Your president, that one you choose, already do that. Talking about photos: http://www.serialno3817131.com/

Felipe is the chihuahua yapping down the street.

I don't want to know who gave the command to drop the bomb. It's Nobody's fault, but It's a humam fault that continues in these days, in different ways. What we must do? Look to the americans, japaneses, africans, brasilians and everybody in the same way, with respect. We really are the same thing, so if there is a person in trouble anywhere in this world, it is bad to you, to me and everybody, because we don't live in a fucking country, but in one world. Love the people and their different ways of life.

Fist knife gun nuke.

All weapons.

Try not having the one you need.

If the Japanese and Germans had achieved success with their own Manhattan projects, none of us would be having this conversation, would we?

Good job, Major Tibbets. Duty. Just another archaic word in this world of Hope and Change, I guess.

I don't know where the next one is going to be used. Could be Manhattan, more likely Tel Aviv. The last ones (for a while) will be going off over Mecca and Tehran.

It's a tool to achieve a human ambition. Hook the tech to the crazy, and that's a crime. Since a majority of Americans have bought into cultural suicide, we'll definitely be seeing the 4000 degree sunrise on our shores, too.

Oh, and I'm here, too, because of the missions on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Some of the posters are familiar with history and the context of history. Bravo.

Others speak using emotional words and judge the actions of previous generations through the indoctrination they received instead of an education.

Perhaps some people should educate themselves. It is not difficult to discern when you are being fed revisionist history--or history taken out of context. It just takes some time and effort.

To put is simply: Textbooks, PBS, The History Channel, newspapers, newsreels, and radio programs are not going to be unimpeachable sources. Okay? They will give you directions to follow, but they are e-n-t-e-r-t-a-i-n-m-e-n-t. Books written by officers are generally fictionalized as well--especially books written by General Officers. This is true of any military.

The Hyperwar web-ring is a good place to start. A lot of it is written by grunts and eyewitnesses. After spending time there, you will start to see those who grandstand or make themselves sound wise or heroic; and those who write simply and clearly of the events they experienced. You will also find other reference materials.

The hardest thing about doing research is to make sure that you aren't reading derivative crap repeating the same BS written by others.

Craft your own opinion with care. When you do so, you will respect yourself much more than when you are repeating stuff your professors taught you like a retarded parrot.

However unfortunate these attacks may have been, I can tell you that my father was in an army camp training for the invasion of Japan before they were dropped. Had the atomic bombs not been used, I have little doubt he would have been killed along with many thousands of other Americans and I would never have been born. Do you think the Japanese would have hesitated to use this weapon against us if they had posessed it?

@christine You make the English language cry.

How can you judge them when you were not there?? You don't know the whole story so leave the history alone and observe while being non-judgemental. There is no way we can obtain the world peace without wars. Wars are the reason for the world peace. Wars created because of our sins. Sins destroy everything and bring death to every mankind. It is unavoidable and everyone have to face the truth.

eqwatz: you had me until the ending of your last line "like a retarded parrot." Refuted your previous statements.

Enjoyed reading all of this. However, after reading all these coments, there will never be world peace!

JustaDog wrote:
"Through strength there is peace, but there will always be those that want to destroy others."

I truly wish you could understand the hilarious irony in your own words. But then again, if you could, you probably wouldn't speak them.


war in the name of peace!
Sanjay Basavaraju

I went to Hiroshima to visit the A-Bomb memorial site. Reading this article made me realise that visual gap, despite the enormity of the incident. Back then I assumed that the lack of photographic evidences was in respect for the victims. Nevertheless, the absence of photographs did not in any way soften the impact of what I saw.

The memorial site had only one simple message, and that was to promote peace. It didn't try to argue whose side was to blame, neither did it show any military or political bearings on what had happened.

It focused on the victims, explained what hundreds of thousands of deaths mean. It explained what "instantly vaporized in the heat of the blast or burnt to death by the fireball" means.

The memorial showed memories of the survivors. They were expressed with hand drawn visual recollections and words. It was a lot more real than any photographs.

Imagine walking to work and seeing a brilliant light and the next thing you saw instead was... people severely affected by the blast, giving out faint pleas for water (which became the central theme for the memorial site where water would always be seen in abundance, as an offer to the victims)... My recounts would not do justice to describe in detail what I saw in their drawings or written records, so I won't try.

Hiroshima had happened, rationalising about the incident might make people think or feel better about whose country they are inclined towards. It doesn't really change anything.

It should not be a lesson of how not to use the nuclear weapon, but rather the price of war (which nowadays, in contrast to Hiroshima, is taking casualties in a lot more conspicuous ways)
paper crane

Sorry i meant in my last sentence 'It should not ONLY be a lesson of how not to use the nuclear weapon'

paper crane again

As a marine with the 2nd Marine division, I was one of the early arrivals at Nagasaki where the 2nd bomb was dropped. We were given the mission of fanning out into the country side looking for weapons. There was a deep concern that Japanese citizens might try to use these despite the surrender. We landed at the Mitsibushi steel mill located on the docks and walked through the city...it was a visual nightmare, to say the least.

Nothing was standing...one hospital's smokestack was bent to a 45 degree angle by the heat of the blast....several other manufacturing buildings were at th same angle, only the steel girders remaining. It was estimated that had we had to invade our loses would have been in the 80% range.

I am a firm believer that had we invaded, the losses on both sides would have been in the millions. It was a tragic event for those who lost their lives but it also saved millions of lives. War is hell, no question about it. I know...I lived through it and am grateful to have survived and lived a full life with 8 children and 23 grandchildren. I only regret that many of my friends were not so fortunate.


There are two companies in the US that specialize in the development of old film; one of them is named something like Rocky Mountain Images. But 1923 is a heck of a long time; I doubt you'd get much.

The USS Sims sunk in 1942 was an earlier ship. The Sims discussed was a destroyer that had been converted to a fast transport for landing craft. It's designation after the conversion was APD-50. As far as I know, there is indeed no such thing as a battleship destroyer.

I would not describe Watertown as working class; it's an expensive town, plenty of $500k and up homes there. Even a dozen years ago, a friend of mine was paying around $1300 a month for two bedrooms...

The Deluxe Town Diner is indeed a wonderful establishment.

Did ICP buy the photos?

Dear GeneaNet Editors and Writers......of the News letter

This story of the lost photos of Hiroshima's destruction is one of the most amazing that I remember. It is particularly "potent" to me for three reasons.

1. I taught the horrible results of this first atomic bomb to seventh graders, using the book, A Night to Remember. That book follows the sad day when victims were trying to
escape from the blast and sought protection in the rivers....but they were already suffering from radiation sickness and the miseries of slow and painful and inevitable death. The destiny of these victims of war was excruciatinly hideous. These photos certainly show the total destruction of a one mile circle in the city of Hiroshima.

2. I have a cousin, still living, who rode in one of the US Navy artillery ships that rode offshore of Japan, waiting for results of the atomic bomb and checking some of the damage.

3. My husband was a Marine during four years of WWII, stationed in the Pacific. He was one of hundreds of thousands of men who were scheduled to join the Invasion of Japan, "Operation Olympic" on X Day. He was one of those countless men whose lives were saved by Harry Truman's decision to use the atomic bomb in this gruesome and convincing way.

Sad to say, it put the United States in the position of using a "holocaust" weapon that destroyed several hundred thousand Japanese people. We dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki, in case the first one was not convincing enough.

I am still amazed by the story of these "lost" photographs. These photos are a priceless contribution to the historical records of this period in our recent past. Thanks for making them available to more people.

Ethel Stanton
Ethel Stanton

Wonderful article.

Little to say about some people's war-like mentalities that do not understand domination, colonization and war and justify the racism and also covert warfare going on in the Empire USA. But Japan was an imperial power at that point. But the A-bomb was not used on Germany or Italy. The US and Soviets were allies. Hmmmm.....

My mother experienced 2 years of US bombs in Osaka. Her sister died in the Hiroshima A-bomb. Her understandings of the war are complex, as is all war. It's not as black-and-white as most of the comments are making it. But even she agrees that although people are made to admire their own militaries (as is the case with some commenters above) through brainwashing propaganda, we are all here because of them and violence and genocide.

Hope that we listen to the more creative voices in the world so that future mothers, children, and loved ones are not the butt-end of a more horrific bomb. But I'm afraid it's almost impossible.

Too many people believe in naive ideas of 'understanding' or love war and blood and enjoy being on the dropping end and then cry about it later.

I just pray for my ancestors, and the future of us all. Alwayy naively praying and working to do what I can to build social movements that subvert ideas of 'knowing what is best' for us or others at the cost of bodies, blood, and mostly lost ideas.


We are all in this world together. "The" bomb is our lowest common denominator. Love is our highest common denominator. The choice is ours.
David Rothauser

This article is interesting but the pictures do NOT move me in any special way. Pictures of a fire-bombed Dresden, Germany or a decimated Berlin are just as horrific. Death is death, by whatever means.

I'm of a mixed mind when it comes to morals and the atomic bombs. The bombs spared many American soldiers, including my grandfather, who was set to storm the beaches of Japan. The oral history passed down by my family tells a grateful tale of how the atomic bombs that killed so many made my family possible, as my grandfather came home and started his family, having never actually had to kill anyone during the war in which he served.

Later on, in grade school, I learned about how the firebombings of Tokyo killed more civilians than the atomic blasts and how we only fought the Japanese because they had attacked us first in a cowardly sneak attack designed to cripple our Pacific Naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. In high school, I read about the rape of Nanking and shuddered at the twisted, depraved horrors the Japanese soldiers personally inflicted on the Chinese civilians - horrors that disgusted their Nazi allies.

In college, I studied the morals of conducting a "just war" and came to understand how futile the undertaking can be. The methods of war in World War II - the war in which we learned to kill from great distances huge numbers of people who may have done little wrong but were saddled with the misfortune of being born in the wrong place and in the wrong era. I read accounts of Japanese soldiers who fought in Nanking to serve their country, only to be involved in actions that haunted them every moment of the rest of their lives. I learned from psychological studies conducted over here after the war how hard it is for people to disobey those that they perceive to wield authority even though they feel that the orders given them are deeply wrong.

We tend to see World War II as the last unquestionably moral war over here, but I can't accept that the majority of the people killed by our atomic weapons actually deserved to die. It seems that using these weapons must be justified by a faith that the scales tip in their favor by the lighter cost of an easier victory. The sentiments that I hear shared about how these blasts were expressions of our nation's righteous wrath against a wicked enemy seem myopic - countries are not individuals who make monolithic decisions. Few but the immigrants choose their countries and rarely do the people of a country have much say in the wars their governments enter. Take the war in Iraq as an example. Without our government's lies and propaganda, it never would have gotten support in the first place, and even now it is a desperately unpopular war.

Try as we may, our power to destroy life dwarfs our ability to use that destructive power to preserve life.

Thank you for the pictures. They persist so that we may better understand our weakness; no matter the reason, the lives we take are not very different from the ones we would kill to preserve. These victories are always celebrated with funerals.

The 1959 French film "Hiroshima mon amour " has many images from Hiroshima shot immediately after the bombing. These include horrifying stills and film footage of the survirors of Hiroshima. The film itself was shot there in the late '50s by Alain Resnais with the screenplay by Marguerite Duras. Criterion Collections has the film on DVD.

Link to the IMDb.com listing.

I’d like to personally thank all the commentators who have added their thoughtful, impassioned and personal responses to this posting. I’ve learned a lot by reading through them. I’ll incorporate the comments and corrections about factual matters if the piece ever evolves into a book or catalogue essay for an exhibition. I was particularly moved by those of you who felt strongly enough to write about their personal stories or those of their relatives. These are invaluable memories of a defining historical event and I’m pleased (at the very least) that they can be made public here. Finally, it's clear that these images are powerful enough to continue to ignite a debate about the use of nuclear weapons. I hope that the conversation can continue. It’s too important a subject to ignore.
adam harrison levy

Until a few years ago I felt somewhat ambivalent about Hiroshima but for the most part detatched, unable to emotionally relate to this pivotal event in the human story even though I could intellectually acknowledge the profound significance many have placed on it. Then something unexpected happened.

First let me mention another unexpected development a few years prior. My sister recounted an event from our early childhood about a traumatic experience we had shared. I had no memory of it at all, and I told her so. I couldn't believe that such an event could not be recalled as I was easily old enough at the time of the event to do so, yet I had no reason to think she was not being truthful. Some weeks later I started having flashes of memory, disconnected fragments of the incident my sister had mentioned. But I felt as though I was watching a movie about something that happened to someone else. After some time, all the missing pieces reassembled into a continuous sequence, but still as if a movie. Weeks later, suddenly, I felt myself reliving the event from the first person perspective, along with the full emotional impact that, retrospectively, explained much about my life since that previously had no apparent explanation.

About 5 years later I had a vivid dream in which I became aware of coldly factual information, as if about someone else, that I had died in Hiroshima in my previous life. I knew beyond doubt that it was true (in part because it was later independently confirmed), but the knowledge had no emotional impact. That arrived some weeks later when I became aware that I was a Buddhist Monk who died of radiation sickness about 2 or 3 months after the atomic explosion.

Without going into detail, I can say that the experience was overwhelmingly traumatic to the point where much of the trauma carried over into this life. For example, countless doctors and alternative healers could not explain my widespread and debilitating physical symptoms, all characterised by some variation of inflammation, and none of hundreds of attempted cures worked. Not until I learned how to processes the trauma, which included the mental anguish of not understanding the reason for what was happening to my body. It was a slow-motion replay of radiation sickness and the anguish of having no cure and no understanding of radiation as the cause.

A big part of my healing has come through forgiveness of humanity and the U.S. in particular. I believe I was born in the U.S. specifically to learn the American perspective and mentality. I had the experience as a child of reveling in the triumphant military victory against the Japanese aggressors and admiring the compassionate use of atomic might, as I was taught to in school.

Whether any of this fits in with your belief system or not, at least contemplate this: war is horror and we all are affected by it. Everything that happens to any human being affects us all, directly or indirectly. We all bear a responsibility to find the causes of war and eliminate them before events progress to the point of having to chose the lesser of two evils. As Asimov wrote, violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. We can do better.


Japan was not "innocent". Yes we provoked them by cutting off oil. But if we hadn't gone to War with them we would have happily and contently sat back while Imperial Japan massacred millions across eastern Asia.

The invasion without both detonations was inevitable. The Japanese had weeks of failure being driven back to the island to decide whether to surrender. Their loss was already certain before the first bomb fell. The first bomb fell and they did not surrender. The surrender should have been instantaneous.

If there were a means of selectively killing people with the technology available of the day then sure. But we weren't living in a time of Smart Bombs and UAVs. If you wanted to attack a city you flew above it and opened the bomb bay doors. You could do it slowly or you could do it quickly. Either way those cities would have been leveled. Those people would have died.

It's tragic. Horribly tragic. But even I a bleeding heart liberal see two quick and relatively small acts of war far more desireable than the alternatives.

The challenge is to never be in the situation where a country must decide between killing 100,000 quickly or a million slowly.

And what if Russia had entered into the invasion... would Japan have been split in two as well? If we're going to play purely hypothetical games. Then hypothetically Russia's involvement may have turned the Japanese story into a very sad and very unfortunate chapter in Russian occupation.
Gavin Greenwalt

As several have tried to educate, dropping the atomic bombs were necessary and humane in order to save millions of lives. My one regret is that Germany surrendered before tasting the hot radiation which every German deserved, even more than the Japanese.
Keith Jackson

What horror!

Here is a first hand account of a Japanese who had been ordered to photograph the city 2 days after the bombing.

Click Here

Dave Warwick

I spoke with Paul Tibbetts (Enola Gay pilot/Atomic campaign directror) before a visit to the Reading WWII weekend in Pennsylvania a few years back. The question of morality regarding the use of atomic bombs came up. His reply?
"There's no morality in warfare." I don't know if there is a better explanation than that one. It is brutal and to the point. Neil H.
Neil Hever

It's amazing how confident people are in their opinions when it's clear they are ignorant of basic facts.

If you don't think the casualties of an invasion of Japan would have been immense, do us and yourself a favor by doing a little research.

The invasion of Japan would actually have been 2 invasion, one on the so-called small island, one of the large island. The Japanese had prepared vast defense of both.

They also had a million troops still in China and their backup plan if they actually lost the Japanese homeland was to set up a government in exile in China -- translation, conquering Japan would not have been the end of the war.

Finally, on the oil issue. Again, the the more ignorant, the more confident. Roosevelt cut off the oil to Japan after Japan invaded Indo-China following France defeat by Hitler. His terms at the time and afterwards were that if Japan withdrew from Indo-China, the US would resume trade. Japan refused, because they wanted a easy land route to Indonesia and the oil there.

Haven't heard any of these things, have you, we-weren't-justified-in-dropping-the-bomb mouthpieces?
Doc 45

Why was it necessary to actually bomb Japanese cities?
Might it not have been just as effective to offer a demonstration of the bomb's power, just off the coast of Japan, with the Japanese military leaders looking on as witnesses?
This could have acted as a warning to them to either surrender, or suffer the consequences of a real bomb strike.
Was this option even considered by the American military forces?


Why not do a little research and have an informed opinion?

The military did not intend to surrender even after the two cities were bombed. They were only a few minutes from a coup that would have taken out the Emperor and continued to fight. If the Emperor's recorded tape accepting the surrender had not been smuggled past the military guards, there would have been no surrender.

The conventional bombing of Japan did far more damage than the atomic bombs, but still Japan did not surrender.

More people were killed in taking Iwo Jima and Okinawa than were killed by both bombs -- but still they did not surrender.

After all that, you think a demo drop would have caused a surrender? You've been listening to your leftist professors too long to evidently do any thinking of your own.
Doc 45

Doc 45 asked: "After all that, you think a demo drop would have caused a surrender?"

I don't know. It was never tried. My question still remains.

The atomic bomb was at that time, the most awsome and powerful weapon that had ever devised.
Had the Japanese government gone completely insane by that stage, or would they have capitulated after witnessing one or two spectacular demonstrations?

All I can tell you is that if I had been a Japanese General of the time, the spectacle of an atomic bomb exploding just a few miles offfshore from my country would have caused me to radically re-consider my military options.

DingoDave, I am certain that hundreds of thousands of Japanese, including Generals, were witnessing first-hand horrors hourly that dwarfed anything an off-shore nuke could have impressed upon them.

When you've seen & smelled your cities burn to the ground; sent your sons off on suicide missions; been completely at the mercy of B-29s on one hand and a suicide-cult regime on the other; the list goes on - its unfathomable and dehumanizing and my God its a wonder that now, only 60 years later, we can talk about it and visit Tokyo and have friends from Japan as if it never happened.

We cannot guess what their military mindset could have been, but can be fairly certain that tests and feints, at that stage, and in full consideration of the death they'd already confronted, would have had no impression - not unlike other more current foes.

I have no joy in the atomic weapon, or particular pride in the options of war, but it strikes me as critical that for all its sins the atomic bomb was a huge step in terms of efficiency and the saving of lives at least amongst those who drop it: ie, for a designer, a great example of the killer app, accomplishing the same end with much fewer resources.

And I think its fair to say that spirit of efficiency has led to modern weapon systems based on precision targeting and efforts to reduce damage & death unrelated to the specific target, to the point where specific homes, rather that entire towns, can be successfully targeted from the air.

This observation purposefully avoids questions of militarism, the culture of fear that a defense department-political machine may create, etc. - these are valid concerns.

However, before we vilify the designers and culture of weaponry, I'll remind us all that, for the past three decades, by a huge margin, nationally or globally, the designers of carnage nonpareil are those involved in automotive and highway design, in whose designed systems 40,000 americans are killed each year and hundreds of thousands world-wide.

Or, phrased another way, since 1978, 1.2million American have been killed within the contiguous United Stated by a government subsidized, industrially designed system - admittedly a bit of a non-sequitor, designed to complicate the conversation with respect to the otherwise card-carrying peaceful individuals who still manage to participate in the Interstate Highway System.

Moral Equivalent

It's worth pointing out that while the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused by atomic weapons might be something your eyes are not familiar with, that's not the case in Japan. Many photos have survived in Japan, and they are supplemented by drawings, painting, and other artistic creations, often by people who witnessed the destruction first-hand. It is still well within living memory, after all.

What kept those images out of the American public consciousness all those years wasn't unavailability, but unwillingness on the part of media outlets to show them. The 50s, 60s, and 70s were the heyday of nuclear power, and it was felt that anything that reminded the American people of the negative effects of atomic technology. This was compounded by L. Pauling's research showing the close link between exposure to radiation and fallout and leukemia, something not realized before that time.
A. Harriman

Nukes were not used in Europe because Germany surrendered (unconditionally) in 1945 before the Fat Man and Little Boy bombs were built.

In 1918, Germany surrendered (conditionally). Germany was not crushed. Hitler gained power by, among other things, building on German resentment that they had been cheated of victory by traitors. The lesson learned by the West: If you don't CRUSH your enemies, they will come back to haunt you very quickly.

Wars (politics by other means) are not conducted to benefit one's opponents. Military and political leaders serve (or mis-serve) their own constituents, not their opponents'. The Allies of WW2 may have considered how to deal with the German and Japanese populations post-war - but first, they had to be soundly defeated, CRUSHED. [I'll let readers make their own comparisons with BushCo's performance in Iraq.]

Paul Tibbets was exactly correct: there is no morality in war. Anyone who has studied international relations will have that same lesson driven in: there is no morality in international relations. Any leaders who place 'morality' ahead of their constituents' interests will quickly become an ex-leader. [Again, readers may draw their own conclusions about BushCo's wars-that-aren't.]

IMHO the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings were terrible but necessary; see preceeding comments about the refusal of the Japanese military (which had staged coups and assassinated anti-militarist leaders) to surrender. These very atrocities served as object lessons, which is probably why no cities have been nuked since then.

It is difficult to look back on history and decide what could or should have been done. While I may side more favorably in the opinion that (generally) war, bombs, destruction, etc. should be avoided - I understand that both sides of this argument have valid points.
History is a painted picture; the perspective is limited to the person telling it.
So, instead of reacting to the past, in the past, I think a potentially greater question might be - what can the past teach about how to make decisions for the future?
As designers, thinkers, citizens - how can we Text design Text a better system? (I think one of the posters above had mentioned 'creativity')... instead of criticizing the decisions of the past - how are we actively seeking solutions in the present (again, for the future). Is there an alternative to violence? When new technologies are coming out every day that make life easier (computers, cellphones) or make the imaginary real (flying to the moon / now mars) is it not conceivable that some attention should be paid to this "problem" (war) that has waged since history has been recorded?
Isn't there a more creative way to overcome disputes?

I don't have an answer, just this observation.

Thanks for this wonderful story. I had three uncles who were in WWII. Thankfully they all came home safe. WOW! What a story.
Leota Dunagan

My father was a photographer stationed with the Air Force in the Marianna Islands during WWII. He rarely spoke of the war, and when he did he usually told of the day he was handed a roll of film to develop and was told "process it, but do not look at it." The roll was one of the first taken of the decimated city after one of the atomic bombs was dropped. Of course, at that time it was impossible to make prints without watching the images materialize in the tray. At that point in the story, even 40 years later, he would turn ashen at the memory, tears would come to his eyes, and he would just shake his head unable to finish. I imagine that the images he saw were not as cleaned up as the ones taken by this science team. I wonder if they still exist.

Okanowa was invaded by the military. The people had been lied to by the Japanese government saying the children would be killed and the women rapped. How many times did our soldiers watch families jump off cliffs.
Our soldiers have a few rotten apples but for the most part they do not attack the unarmed.

The casualties of Okanowa sp? was one part of the equation to invaded or bomb Japan.

My father was in the Navy during WWII. He and my uncles all said the bombs shortened the war and saved millions of lives, the Japanese and the soldiers. Th bombs were dropped in two locations. The fighting would have taken place over the entire country.

If Russia had invaded Japan would it not be likly that Japan like the eastern European countries would still be under Russia control.

As for presenting the truth about WWII let us start with the Japanese people. To this day they do not acknowledge their conduct at Nanking, the death march at Bataan, the forced labor camps, the mass graves of people shot in the back of the head; the list goes on and on.

Amazing pictures, my hometown Singapore were invaded by the Japanese. I've had a certain form of animosity for Japanese from that era, but looking at these pictures, i'm feeling the exact opposite.

Oh btw
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photoshopped you can tell

i really enjoyed reading this. Never knew that that incodent didn't have many stills.

I'd love to see the still with the chalk footprints on the bridge!.
Wouldn't mind reading the original article either!


god save ireland! :D

I'm Filipino, raised in the Philippines, deeply rooted in Spanish values. I grew up on American media and I am now working in Osaka.

Call me stupid, idealistic, moralistic - but I want to believe that we have come a long way from WWII. I can not imagine how we can still say in this day and age that war is unavoidable, and, even more, justifiable.

Some of my grandparents lost their lives during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Some of yours died serving your respective countries. I have to believe that we learned something from all of this. We can not - we MUST not - allow Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Auschwitz, Bataan, Nanking, each and every one of them - happen again. I am sorry I am too young to know the political climate at the time, the strategies involved, the economics of it all - but as a casual observer, too naively perhaps, I say that using the assumption of "saving millions of lives" does not justify ending one, or a hundred thousand.

Yeah I know I've got stuff to learn about war. Here's hoping I wouldn't have to.
Jamie Zamodio

To Steve and to Ethel Stanton and all the other veterans,

Thank you so much for your service to our country. I know you have seen things no one should see and done things no one should have to do, but it was in the name of your country, to preserve its freedoms and to keep it safe for those idiots that don't seem to realize just what is involved in keeping it free for them to speak their idiocies.

Freedom is a privilege, not a right and the cost of that is blood.

I thank you for your sacrifices and pray that you will know peace of mind and be able to find rest for your souls. Well done, good and faithful servants!
karen emerson

That was a great article and a great story. It must have been fun to explore the lives of ordinary people involved in such an important historical event.
The questions you raised about the morality and impact of that level of force used are very important. An event like that transcends issues of a just war. Unfortunately the level of distruction in that attack was matched in numerous American bombing raids over Germany and Japan. Reading the comments afterwards sheds light on our collective human perception of violence. For some violence is just an action taken on fellow man and can be justified in the numbers of lives saved vs. lives lost. Utilitarians would smile at that rationale, and though I can sympathize with their logic, I have to disagree. For others their simply is no justification for the taking of innocent human life. Killing is killing and if you kill 100K you will carry a heavy burden going forward, at least I hope so. For those that justify the wartime killings of hundreds of thousands of innocents as alright based on lives saved shouldn't complain when someone else justifies killing you or someone you know based on their judgement. Let us only hope that we don't wind up on the other end of the numbers game. When will we ever learn that killing usually only leads to more killing.
Peter Strom

This was a good article, too bad the comment nazis had to make it remind them of that one stance they have.
Join a fucking debate club or excercise or something losers.

“One day in 2003 I took my two boys down to the river to go fishing. I found a cluster bomb in the water and picked it up because I wanted to use it as an explosive, to blow up in the river so that we could catch more fish. But it went off in my hands and blew off my arms.

Now we are getting poorer because I lost both my arms and I can’t work to support my family.

I’m lucky at least, because they sorted me out with one artificial arm. My right arm was blown right off by the explosion and they had to amputate my left arm twice, because it was infected after the first amputation, so they had to cut it off higher up.

The bomb also blew up right in my face and eyes. I couldn’t see anything. My sight was blurry until I went to hospital again in 2005, when my relatives had saved up enough money again to pay for the operation.

My wife and the family earn all the money to support us now. One of my sons had to leave school so that he could help my wife. He’s only 15. I help as I can. I look after the vegetables and sweep the house. I help my wife in the fields a bit but I am not much use.”

Thomas Nash


B-29 missions against Tokyo
19 February 1945 119 B-29s hit port and urban area
25 February 1945 174 B-29s dropping incendiaries destroy ~28,000 buildings
4 March 1945 159 B-29s hit urban area
10 March 1945 279 B-29s dropping incendiaries destroy ~267,000 buildings; ~25% of city (Operation Meetinghouse) killing some 100,000 civilians
2 April 1945 >100 B-29s bomb the Nakajima aircraft factory
3 April 1945 68 B-29s bomb the Koizumi aircraft factory and urban areas in Tokyo
7 April 1945 101 B-29s bomb the Nakajima aircraft factory.
13 April 1945 <330 B-29s bomb the arsenal area
15 April 1945 109 B-29s hit urban area
24 May 1945 520 B-29s bomb urban-industrial area south of the Imperial Palace
26 April 1945 464 B-29s bomb urban area immediately south of the Imperial Palace
20 July 1945 1 B-29 drops a Pumpkin bomb through overcast aiming at but missing the Imperial Palace[4]
8 August 1945 ~60 B-29s bomb the aircraft factory and arsenal
10 August 1945 70 B-29s bomb the arsenal complex
Additional missions against Tokyo targets were carried out by twin-engine bombers and by fighter-bombers.[5]
30th Bomb

The only mistake was not dropping the bombs on Germany.

Hello, My name is Christine Laubenstein, and I'm a reporter with the Watertown TAB & Press in Watertown, MA. I am trying to get in touch with Adam Levy, and was wondering if he sees this if he could e-mail me at [email protected].

Thank you. Sincerely,
Christine Laubenstein

To Karen Emerson...
Quote:" Freedom is a privilege, not a right and the cost of that is blood."

In the United States of America, "Freedom" is a right...not a privilage as you wrote. It is a right quaranteed by the laws of our land. Our founding forefathers declared it a right. Generations of people, through war overseas and on US soil, paid for that right with their blood to keep Americans free. May God Bless them all!

Psst..A Drivers License is a privilege.

Blissful Gardener


welcome to a world of death


Those are very touching pictures. Having lived here in Japan for several years, I have only visited Hiroshima once. The feeling there is somewhat different than the rest of Japan. Anyone who has a chance should visit and be sure to see the dome and museum.
japanese words

Amazing pictures. I am still shocked at how there is just "nothing". How everything has been completely leveled.

wohnung berlin

i am scientist who study genetics i.e GREGOR MENDEL

hi, how can i bring this exibit to my city? who do i contact?
thank you,
Gina O

Dear Adam Levy,
I hope you get my letter as I would like to bring these pictures to Hawaii for our part in the World March for Peace and Nonviolence in October through january. i am the coordinator here in Hawaii. Can you email me some information please?
My email is
[email protected]
or [email protected]

gina olondriz

IMHO the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings were terrible but necessary; see preceeding comments about the refusal of the Japanese military (which had staged coups and assassinated anti-militarist leaders) to surrender. These very atrocities served as object lessons, which is probably why no cities have been nuked since then.

Why would the Japanese want to surrender if their objective would also be to crush his enemy. Your explanation on why the nukes were drop does not make sense. It was NOT necessary as ALL nuclear arms are NOT necessary, period. Understanding and equality and justice for all, and security is necessary. It is better to befriend your enemy rather than war with them. As ghandi says, "real strength lies in one's power to express his ideals." It takes real courage to look at your neighbor straight in his face and admit that you have work to do to come to compromise and peace. There is coming about now a new culture of peace. Let us work towards it and let us be THE generation who will wipe out poverty and world hunger. We could use the money they use on nuclear arsenals to balance out our world. hank you.
Gina Olondriz
[email protected]

gina olondriz



Gute Arbeit hier! Gute Inhalte.

These are good pictures and good information we are working on this in school thank you this really helped me out.


I do`not understand English!

( * * )

It was religion that caused Japan to be so hesitant to surrender. It was religion that Hitler used to control the German people. It was religion that was at the crux of both sides of the war. We thought that our religious beliefs were superior to those of our enemies. Conversely, Japan thought that their religion justified their terrible actions. I am a WW2 vet who fought in the Pacific and whose ship got destroyed by the Japanese, and I think that religion is at the basis of most (maybe all) wars. And we are now too close to another one for much comfort. If we really cared about humanity, we would abolish religion.
Elsie YesSir

The "Eye for an Eye" HAS made the world blind.
When other areas in the World shrugs the USA still bombs & cause unnecessary death & mayham, especially if oil or monitary gain is to be had. For example, the invasion of Iraq.
Go to Japan & visit the museum (bomb dome) in Hiroshina & you will walk away changed forever.
Please don't suggest that this was necessary, as some of you have. That is an insult to anyone's intelligence, especially to the Japanese people.
I fear for our World with the Eye for an Eye thinking becomming more prevalant . Nobody ever wins...

Did you see Simons arrive on Brtiatn got forte when Susan Boyle stareted to peep? That was a paralysiser for everyone! I v seen it hundred times already! lol

This is without comment or Spin since there are a lot of people putting spin already:

The first bomb was dropped.
Evaluated effective.
Second bomb dropped within days of the first on Nagasaki.

What do you think was going on in the minds of the people who gave the go ahead for the second bomb? What kind of people were they?

Do think
Arun Kumbhat

It was horrible. We are debating whether we had to do this in class right now. Some think we had to do it. Others think we should have waited.
Evans Elementary 2nd period

This was incredible. This appeared scary to live through. It was very disturbing to see the photos. I hope we never see anything like this again. Some think we shouldn't have used it because it killed innocent people but other think if we hadn't used it, more of our people would have died.
Evans Elementary 3rd Period

I think the explosion was coo but the kills, to hard to barePr

I think these pictures are awesome. That is very sad they died, but this is very cool footage. I think we did the right thing by bombing them though. I really like these pictures though!!%Pr
Mackenzie Groves

The atomic bomb was awesome. But I do not really think we should have dropped it on CHINA. Anyway the pictures were awesome. OFF THE CHAIN!!!!!!!!! PEACE OUT PEEPS!%Pr
Ronald Ivan Perez

I think these pictures are awesome. But, It's kind of weird how the bomb vaporized peoplPr
chase lowden

I think that those pictures are so sad. They never saw it coming, but we did warn them that we was going to drop a bomb on them. They should have just gave up because we were going to beat them either way if we didn't drop the bombs on them we would maybe have still won, but then again i don't really knoPr
megan schreij

I think it is very sad that the people that died. I do think we did the right thing by bombing the Japanese. I really liked the picture where their was the foot steps where still there where the person walkPr
Hannah Short

I think we should have dropped the atomic bomb because, if we haven't had done that we could possibly still be fighting today. The Japanese would not surrendePr
Alyssa Angel

I know we had and needed to drop the bomb.It killed many that had no reason to die but we had reasons to drop the bomb. We needed to end the warPr
Cody Massey

i personally agree that we SHOULD have dropped this bomb. If we wouldn't have the war would have never ended as soon as i diPr
Cory V. from AL

i think that those pictures are very sad, but we did warn them that we will drop a bomb on them if they don't give up now. So they saw it coming. I think that if we didn't drop those two bombs on Japan that we might have not won.
megan schreij

Neil Hever - clap clap clap, well said.

The combatants were all trying to develop the bomb. We got there first and prevented it's use by powers that had demonstrated aggression in starting the war.

The oil embargo was a (failed) attempt at a diplomatic solution over Japan's aggression in China. Some people only understand force.

We waited 3 days to bomb Nagasaki, all the time dropping leaflets inviting surrender. The Japanese ignored it.

The Emperor had to overrule the military establishment, who still DID NOT want to surrender!

The bombing were a terrible tragedy; and a decision I would not want to make. However, I would argue that the current world order is better than a nuclear Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan.

Also, consider the fact that Japan has been among the world's most peaceful nations since. Perhaps the terrible price paid for their aggression has been beneficial over the long term.

wow... that was very interesting. thanks for sharing. we need to never forget what happened to thee cities and pray it never happens again...
angela mayfield

it was good except it was BORING! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...!
poo baby

We all know Americans reacted on 9/11......
Imagine How Japanese would have felt...........
just because u have the power u dont have the right to use it.......


At the time the bombs were dropped, Japan was no longer on the offensive. They were all set to defend the mainland. Sure, there were still battles being fought in the Pacific, but there’s enough historical evidence out there to show the war in the South Pacific was pretty much done. All that was left was to protect the homeland. The US could’ve easily surrounded the main islands and continued the standard bombing campaign until the inevitable surrender. I can’t think that those bombs were dropped for any other reason than to send a message.

And, the civilians who paid the horrible price of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not only attacked by the US, but had been completely at the mercy of their own government for years. They were a long-suffering people who suffered one final act of unimaginable cruelty.

Thanks for offering your point of view, Sorry, though; I just can’t accept that those bombings were necessary

who has such power that they could take the souls of people? uninmaginable cruelty. god please help us all. bombs are nothing but tears for the living.i think those bombs could of been dropped as a warning of what could of happend.the ones who starts these wars still has there lives and love ones to see each day .
william mcox

ok, it's all right but i remember the japanese invation in china about 1935-40 years ago. terrible.
i speak a little english. excuse me


Thank you for this. I believe art is nothing if it cannot be conscious of the world in which it is created - both present and past. Art has a different mind of progress. It does not usurp, it builds - even, and especially, from tragedy
David Vosburg

It is more difficult to remember and when a country did great damage to a nation like Japan.

at least for me this war It means a lot to the great changes that took place in the world, so let's not forget that the U.S. is well established as the world's great power.

The Japanese were very brutal. They got what was coming to them at the time.

These photos reveal better than any other way the criminal nature of the U.S. government.

MxPt, It is my opinion that you are crazy.
I respect your right to hold beliefs; I still think you're crazy.
Jenny Wu

What an unfortunate series of events. I would have done the same thing, had I been in Truman's shoes.
Mark Williamson

The conception of nuclear weapons as fraud is more appropriate to the present day than the notion of nuclear weapons as horror.
Wayne Hall

A war crime of horrendous proportions. Those who compel themselves to believe American propaganda about the bomb saving lives when the Japanese were trying to surrender are deluding themselves. Just as they do about Vietnam, Iraq and the next big American war crime which undoubtedly will lead us to the very pictures you see. One day those will be American cities if the lies don't stop.

Only sick people celebrate Hiroshima. But there are lots of them or the world would not be in the state it is.

Also consider that the U.S used those weapons to realize the complete military domination of the planet - something most people thought they were fighting against in WW2 - world domination by a self-serving power killing millions to achieve that aim. America took over where Hitler left off.

Thats the unvarnished truth...

Far earlier than this was a comment that read: ". . .that could not have been the Sims; the Sims was destroyed in 1942."

I can clarify. My uncle Andrew Patrick Steward, LT, USN, was the executive officer and chief gunnery officer aboard Sims from the time she was commissioned until she was sunk by Japanese aircraft on 7 May 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea. Armed with only 4 5-inch guns and perhaps 8 .50-calliber machine guns she was helplessly overmatched by a formation of Japanese level bombers and dive bombers returning from a mission in which they were unable to locate the U.S. aircraft carriers. Sims had been stationed away from the fleet as bodyguard for the oiler U.S.S. Neosho whose assignment was to refuel the fleet as necessary.

Uncle Andy and a very large part of the crew were lost, and it was some years later that the Navy declared him Killed in Action. I had the great privilege of being conducted on a guided tour of Sims in 1939 or 1940 when she made port in Miami en route to her shakedown cruise in the Caribbean. Many years later (about 1971) I was very much surprised during a visit to the museum at the Bath Iron Works in Maine where she was laid down and built to find in the basement a full-scale mockup of Sims's machinery room. The ship off Hiroshima was one that had been assigned the name in her (and the old admiral's) honor probably not too long after she was lost.

There is still a lump in my throat each time I encounter a mention of that brave vessel and her gallant crew.

Richard Letaw

As to labeling the United States' use of the A-bomb and the fire bombings that caused terrible civilian casualties in Japan, consider this: Any casualties suffered by a nation in wartime after an initial surprise attack against that nation are beyond question the "fault" of the nation that takes the casualties. That is always true in a national war.

Please stagger back from your compulsion to disagree. At any time the magnitude of human loss exceeds a nation's willingness to accept the casualties the nation has the option of discontinuing the fight. "But," one might protest, "The consequences of losing the war are worse than the consequences of the human deaths and mutilation."

That--my friend--is a calculation to be made by the suffering nation. If it decides to continue the fight, it has tacitly accepted the human cost.

Picasso's celebrated painting "Guernica" is renowned for the horror it inspires in those who view it. It is used as a propaganda piece aimed against Germany and the monarchist forces of Francisco Franco. In fact, the air raid would not have occured if the Republican side had surrendered before it was launched.
Richard Letaw

War is war....it has been going on since the dawn of time. Man against man, beast against beast. Wars are fought for reasons that are unknown to all of us (the public) but we continue to "mourn" those who die in these wars. Look into your own pasts and find your own family members lost in wars gone by-mine have through Normandy 1066. War is war. Celebrate the fight, the lose, the victory. Innocents die without war everyday-cry for them.

If I had a bomb I'd blow myself up. God the hand wrenching going on here is ridiculous!

One could call the 6th of August "a day that went down in infamy". Actually, every day gone by since the American people learned what their Head of State has done to countless innocent civilians and still have not repented, brings a new tear in the eyes of humanity.

Collective punishment deprives us of individual humanity that makes life worth living, if we are lucky enough to survive it.

For anyone who would blame an entire nation for the failure of its leaders to surrender, whether in Japan or Republican Spain, ask yourself how a child, or any individual can make such a choice who has no power to resist the course of the government? Why should everyone be held liable for the course of a few? Why should children and dissidents die too because of the actions of war criminals they never chose to support?

That is justice? They are along for the ride, held captive by the collective.
Colin Patrick Barth

Richard Letaw claims that the Japanese could have avoided Hiroshima and Nagasaki by surrendering.

But think of what was involved in the act of obeying the Allies' demand of "unconditional surrender".

It meant disloyalty to the country's constitution, because loyalty involved defending the emperor. None of the country's political leadership was prepared to do it. And this was THEIR ONLY CONDITION.

After Hiroshima and Nagasaki political leaders committed harakiri. They were still unwilling to betray the emperor, i.e. their country's constitution.

It was the emperor who had to surrender. Something that was unconstitutional, because his powers did not include the power to issue executive orders. Japan's surrender was a coup d'etat by the emperor, an illegal act.

And then of course, after this crippling blow to very substance of the Japanese nation, a blow not warranted by any consideration of secular politics and/or real-world military calculation, the Allies then decided that the Japanese could keep their emperor anyway. In other words they made the concession that, if they had made it before, could have made Hiroshima and Nagasaki unnecessary.

Is that the politics of wise statesmanship or the politics of inhuman sadism?? In any case, it is the politics that governs today's world.

Wayne Hall

The whole presumption that if not for the genocide, America would have lost a million lives invading Japan is stupid. Who says the island had to be invaded?!! Japan was already made harmless, evicted from it's colonies, with no airforce, alone in the world, unable to reconstruct under a blocade, because it imports almost all it's energy etc.
It was a question of weeks, before Tokyo would have negotiated surrender, though on softer terms.
Truman's atrocity had 2 purposes. He wanted to inherit all of the japanese conquests and become Ceaser of Asia. Second - to show Stalin that he was not the victor of the whole world war.
So for his macho dick-measuring demo he decided to murder 200 000 civilians. He could have invited international observers in a desert and shown them a blast. Instead he thought it necessary to show, like a Mafia boss, how he could be vicious, ruthless, indiscriminate, vengeful.... Should I add "American"?

The whole presumption that if not for the genocide, America would have lost a million lives invading Japan is stupid. Who says the island had to be invaded?!! Japan was already made harmless, evicted from it's colonies, with no airforce, alone in the world, unable to reconstruct under a blocade, because it imports almost all it's energy etc.
It was a question of weeks, before Tokyo would have negotiated surrender, though on softer terms.
Truman's atrocity had 2 purposes. He wanted to inherit all of the japanese conquests and become Ceaser of Asia. Second - to show Stalin that he was not the victor of the whole world war.
So for his macho dick-measuring demo he decided to murder 200 000 civilians. He could have invited international observers in a desert and shown them a blast. Instead he thought it necessary to show, like a Mafia boss, how he could be vicious, ruthless, indiscriminate, vengeful.... Should I add "American"?

I just returned from visiting Hiroshima with my son after living in Tokyo for 5 years. An incredibly moving experience to see ground zero first hand. An unforgettable opportunity to talk with my 9 year old son about conflict resolution and the nobility of walking away from a fight. Thank you for your wonderful article.
father and Son

I am stunned… stunned.

Even after a full redesign of designobserver.com you are still using the same horrible slideshow technology. At minimum I would have thought you would upgrade to Slideshow Pro by Todd Dominey.

Jimmy from Photo Dept.

At the time of the bombing the range for US casualties in an invasion was 30,000 to 1.6 million.

It was likely that continued bombing and the blockade would have cost millions of Japanese lives and extensive casualties of those under Japanese control, but nothing close to that for the US.

It seems to me (and many others) that the real reason for dropping the bombs was putting the USSR on notice that the US could destroy it.

And speaking of doing research, as one of the "bomb 'em into the stone age crowd" did:

The 1946 United States Strategic Bombing Survey, written by Paul Nitze: "Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated."

"The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace. The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military point of view, in the defeat of Japan." Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

"The use of [the atomic bombs] at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons... The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion , and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children." Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to President Truman.
Bill Michtom

One of the first Japanese doctors in Hiroshima. Link at signature.

"First, the victims get a high fever of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It was so high that I thought the thermometers were broken. Also, when you tried to get close to their faces, you noticed that they had unbelievably bad breath. It was almost impossible to go near them. I guess in medical terms you would describe the smell as a combination of necrosis and decomposition. When you peered into their mouths, they were completely black. Because the white blood cells in their bodies were completely dead, the bacteria in their mouths had multiplied profusely. And since there was nothing to protect the inside of the mouths anymore, they started to rot very quickly without even going through the usual stages of inflammation or pus formation. This rot was what we were smelling. It’s a smell that only the medics who experienced the aftermath know about.

Next, purple blotches started appearing on any unburned skin. In medical terms we call this purpura, and they usually form just before a patient who has a blood disease like leukemia dies. I was extremely surprised when I found these on the victims, because I had no idea why they were appearing. After that, their hairs would all fall out, as if their heads had been swept with a broom. Radiation usually targets healthy cells, so hair roots are the first to go. The final symptoms are vomiting blood, as well as hemorrhaging from the eyes, nose, anus, and reproductive organs. The victims only last a few hours after this before they die. At the time we were all extremely scared, because obviously nobody knew what was causing all this."
Bill Michtom

I am truly astonished by the images, and even more astonished from the comments made by some of the viewers, after seeing all those images, some still insist in a defensive manner on those horrible actions, and what is even more frightening, is the backlashing effect from some claiming (in their own words) that this is good so the Muslims also get to know the power America has..

"Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (and minds) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts." (Quran 22:46 )

Yes I am a Muslim, and it is hard for me to generalise a nation like America to be cruel (I have friends there), and its also unjustified to think that all Muslims are like the ones publicised by the media. Cruelty comes from the people themselves and what they have accumulated on their hearts, not from a broad tradition (that is rarely studied).

With ignorance, lack of reason and direction in this life, combined with cruelty, you get destruction, and I think that is where some these actions stem from. I think its time to open up and learn about what other people rather than live in an ideological cultures that neglect others presumably because 'we are the best'.

[Do not public this contribution if it means that I give up rights to use it in other publications. Also I must acknowledge credit to Ward Wilson, Google his website. AT]

I have spent more time than I ought to have done reading through the many memories, emotions, and argumentation evoked by the Hiroshima photos. I am deeply dismayed by the confusion that pervades the great bulk of of the comments. Are we still so far from making sense and drawing vital conclusions from this terrible slaughter? If so, we are doomed to repeat it -- who knows where.
To begin with, let us reaffirm that two wrongs do not make a right? The barbarism of one nation may provoke a barbarous reaction from another, but it does not change the fact that both nations have behaved barbarously.
An obvious corollary of this, looking at just one actor, is that a previous barbarous action does not make the next barbarous action any less barbarous.
Another point we need to reaffirm is that the irresponsibility of one party does not automatically exonerate the other party of all responsibility. The Japanese strategy in WWII was to win quick gains and then sue for peace. They knew from the beginning that a prolonged conflict was not winnable. There is a rule of war (yes, look it up they exist and soldiers are trained by them), that it is illegal to prolong a hopeless military effort. Japan ought to have ceased hostilities and withdrawn in 1943. The fact that they did not, does not mean that all atrocities inflicted upon the Japanese people after that date were solely the responsibility of the Japanese Government. The Allies were conscious actors and can and must be held accountable for their conduct of the war. No honorable soldier would claim otherwise. Tibbits was not an honorable soldier.
The preceding dispenses with more than fifty percent of the 'justifications' advanced for the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
We are left with this justification: a current act of barbarism may avert a far greater act of barbarism. But let's parse this a little more closely: are we talking here about one party or two?? If I shoot and intruder, so that he will not kill my entire family, that is two actors. If I shot an intruder so that I will not have to shoot his family, that is one actor.
Although a few of the commentators maintain that Japan still had the capacity to inflict damage outside Japan, the evidence for that is very weak. So we need to zero in on the one-party version of this.
These are the pertinent questions a moral actor has to ask and answer:
How certain is it that if I do not commit the prior act of barbarism, the subsequent act of barbarism will be unavoidable?
It is very important to keep in mind that is extremely difficult to know the consequences of action or inaction. Regarding action: the US war planners did not know, for example, how many cities would have to be destroyed before Japan surrendered? Two dozen Japanese cities had already been leveled and hundreds of thousands killed by conventional bombing to no visible effect. Dozens of nuclear weapons were in the pipeline. Easily a million people would have been killed if by these un-dropped bombs. The point: there was already huge uncertainty in the efficacy of bombing civilian targets. If there had been any certainty, all planning for the invasion would have been cancelled; it was not. The bombing was done without any certainty of its impact or result. I will return to this point later.
As for the consequences of inaction: there was a huge range of opinions on every aspect of this question in the US military. As one commentator pointed out the US casualty estimates ran from 30,000 to 1,600,000. There were clear signals coming from Japan that they were ready to discuss surrender. The big gap was between unconditional surrender and continuation of the Emperor’s role. Some have asserted that unconditional surrender was sacrosanct and correct. It is worth knowing the story of how unconditional surrender became Allied policy. Churchill and Roosevelt were discussing the war objective in Marrakech. During a break, they held a press conference and Churchill mentioned unconditional surrender, the press immediate assumed that was England position and turned to Roosevelt asking him if the United States agreed. Roosevelt. making the decision on the spot, said he did. Had he thought through all the options, or was he impressed by how the press latched onto the phrase, or did he not want to give the impression of disunity among the Allies? In the end, unconditional surrender was clearly not only dispensable, but actually a lousy idea. Maintaining the Emperor was the best way of ensuring the occupation of Japan would go smoothly.
All the above, argues for a very conservative approach to decision to commit barbarism to avert future barbarism. When over two hundred thousand lives are to be put at risk, inaction has its virtues. The advantage of inaction is that you can most probably revisit the choice tomorrow or the next day.
So the real question -- let me emphasize this -- THE REAL QUESTION, was why rush right in with the attack. Thin Man was untested; it went non-stop from Los Alamos to Hiroshima as quickly as humanly possible. Was there not some other factor that might clarify the decision coming up in the coming days or weeks?
Indeed, there was: Russia’s entry into the war. An army in retreat fears nothing more than have a whole new front being opened up against it. Where on Earth is it going to find the forces to hold that front when it cannot even hold the others? And there is a further consideration, Japan had look to Russia to broker a deal to end the war. What options would remain when Russia took sides?
The long-agreed date for Russia’s entry into the war was 8August 1945. Why couldn’t use of the atom bomb have been held up for a week to measure the impact of that Japan-shaking development? The fact that it was rushed into action just prior to that event inevitably raises suspicions about the motive. Such as the desire:
-- to jump in and take credit where credit was not really due, and/or
-- to justify the tremendous sums of money devoted to the Manhattan Project when father, brothers, and sons were dying in the trenches and on the beaches often not properly equipped.
It is cruel to assign such base motives to the scientists and military? No doubt many of them had no idea of the significance of Russia’s entry into the conflict. No, doubt they were thrilled with the idea of making a major contribution to hasten the victory over Japan. But the same cannot be said of the top decision-makers. This is why there was so much opposition to using the atomic bomb within the military. One of the commentators provides quote from two top military leaders; General Eisenhower was also opposed – both before and after the attacks. They knew there was no way out for Japan; that is was already a defeated nation.
So in reality, the argument for using the bombs rests on the weak premise that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were more decisive in bring the Japanese Government and Emperor to their senses than a massive new military force joining the fray; that, if anything, Russian entry into the war only marginally helped tip the already tipping balance.
Based purely on timing, it is not obvious which cause to assign to the effect. To get to the bottom of this we need to know how the Japanese leadership perceived the situation at the time. Recently the records of their deliberations have been made public and have been subjected to scholarly research. The record is crystal clear: the new Russian role was the decisive factor; the atomic bombings were a minor factor. “But,” some will protest, “former Japanese military has themselves described the atomic bombs as decisive.” Indeed, they have – after the fact! The atomic bombs became the perfect excuse for their defeat: “How could we be expected to continue the fight against such a weapon in the hands of a military willing to use it so barbarously!” But there is no record from these crucial days to indicate that any of them were particularly concerned about the fate of Hiroshima or Nagasaki at the time.
So, if the Hiroshima bombing had been postponed to see if the Russian entry into the war would instead achieve the stated purpose, then it would never have been dropped. In this light the bombing of Nagasaki is completely unfathomable! Not even 24 hours were allowed to elapse before it was dropped. There was NO INTEReST in discovering whether Japan would change course on the basis of the new developments. Again the suspicions: was Fat Boy rushed into action because, unlike Thin Man, he was based on a plutonium device and the military wanted to learn about its impact?
Am I arguing that if Russia opening a new front had been insufficient to induce Japan to surrender, then attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been justified later? No, I am making the point that when anyone is in a position to make a decision with certain barbarous consequence now, versus possible barbarous consequences tomorrow, delay is always the moral choice. This for example, is why it is always a mistake to be the first to fire nuclear weapons in a crisis. Until one is absolutely sure that the other side has attacked, there is always the hope that they will continue not to act on that option. This is the essence of nuclear deterrence. Any other stance is a prescription for crisis instability, which in fact means the failure of deterrence (a minor concern, of course, when the Earth is being sent into straight into an Ice Age and humanity is being decimated or worse).
It is also why we have to get beyond mutually assured destruction to a nuclear-weapon free world. But that is a topic for another day.
Aaron Tovish

People go to Pearl Harbor and say : How horrible ! People go to Hiroshima and say : How inhuman !

Yet the armies march on ; Yet the budget share of the military grows...

Will we EVER learn ?

A pacifist from (what used to be) a pacific country, Canada
François Poisson

OK... WWII is history... We can't take back the effects of Fat Man and Little Boy, but is there anything that should have been learned?

President Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican military man, was a great statesman and visionary. Unfortunately, we did not heed his warning to not let the military industrial complex continue to stand in peacetime.

I cannot thank the living veterans of WWII enough for their sacrifice, and the ones who died deserve much more than any meager words from me or anyone else. Unending gratitude in the name of freedom from true fascism (unlike how the word gets bandied about these days.)

The living veterans remember a time in the U.S. before we had "standing armies", yes...? I don't care what the Pentagon or all the war profiteers think, but good sirs who were the "boots on the ground", do you not think that was and is the ideal...?

Men and women dying while companies profit from their sacrifice disgusts me, and now we've got mercenaries (Blackwater / Xe, et al) doing our dirty work, and they replace the U.S. soldier while getting paid much more.

Mercenaries. It sounds so ugly, but like the logical outcome of "war for profit"... I cannot believe the U.S.A. has actually reached this (logical?) extreme but, then again, Mr. Halliburton / Dick Cheney was arguing to use the U.S. military within the borders of the U.S., and this, too, is expressly forbidden in that quaint and much-touted document, The Constitution.

There were also voices around the time of the inception of our country warning us against this "standing army in peacetime" issue, but people these days are accepting of perpetual war... We've been sold a very ugly myth... There was a time when huge companies did not profit from death and destruction, and you may consider me a "blood sucking leftist", but I'm with you, actually.


If you disagree, I've got to tell you this: No, you do NOT have the right to tell me to leave the U.S. any more than I have the right to tell you to leave it. We may love it in different ways, but we both love it.

At some point, if the anger boils over and there are militias in the streets silencing the opposition, don't try to prettify it... When you start killing intellectuals and burning books and inciting mobs to run riot, history will not paint a flattering portrait of you. In my opinion, the very people shouting most about their patriotism are the very ones creating the greatest threat to this country that has been a symbol of freedom to those huddled masses, yearning to be free...
C Earl Jr

Correction about the first war photographers during the 19th century. A decade before Brady and Gardner were photographing the US Civil War, other photographers were photographing the battlefront during the Crimean War from 1853 to 1856. Most notably was the British photographer Roger Fenton who made stunning large format images of the war. When he returned to England he was replaced by John Robertson and Felice Beato, also Birtish nationals and that pair also documented the war in photographs like never seen before.

Brady seems to be some sort of household name now, but in fact there were many other photograhers doing conflict photography well before him, even during the 1840s.
Torin Boyd

im sure somewhere in japan sits an old dusty musty trunk with photos of captured gi's with anguish upon their faces that is just as horrific as this storys photos.


To those who are so very certain of their knowledge of WWII, what caused it and how it was fought, I recommend that you read 'Conjuring Hitler – How Britain and the US made the Third Reich', by Guido Preparata.

From the cover: "Through a close analysis of the events in the Third Reich, Preparata unveils a startling history of Anglo-American geopolitical interests in the early twentieth century. He explains that Britain, still clinging to its empire, was terrified of an alliance forming between Germany and Russia. He shows how the UK, through the Bank of England, came to exercise control over Weimar Germany and how Anglo-American financial support for Hitler enabled the Nazis to seize power.

This controversial study shows that Nazism was not regarded as an aberration for the British and American establishment of the time, it was a convenient way of destabilizing Europe and driving Germany into conflict with Stalinist Russia, thus preventing the formation of any rival continental power".

The history revealed in this book gives new meaning to the observations that 'War is a racket' and 'History is written by victors'.

We need to view what is commonly written about the Pacific theater of WWII with the same circumspection. The US joined the fighting largely because it saw an opportunity to take up where a powerful, self-destructing Europe would leave off. It was as concerned about saving the world from fascism as it has been in bringing 'democracy' to Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere ...

Japan was more or less powerless by the end of 1944, and US officials were well aware that that was the case. The same propaganda techniques that we know so well today were used then to convince Americans that Japan continued to represent a dire threat, to millions [judging from some of the comments, above, the spin was not only effective but durable]. This provided the appropriate atmosphere for what was to be the testing of a new weapon of ungodly destruction.

Why would the US have needed to test the bomb on populated areas when several tests had already been undertaken in New Mexico deserts? In order to evaluate its destructiveness on infrastructure and humans.

There simply is no justification for the release of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki — None.

D Livingston

D Livingston:
"Japan was more or less powerless by the end of 1944""
Tell that to the widows of those US soldiers killed at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, to name a few places.

The Japanese killed 10-20 million civilians in China, the Dutch East Indies/Indonesia and other countries. ( See Wikipedia) Recall the rape of Nanking. Think of Bataan death march.

I suggest you have some pity for the victims of Japanese barbarity instead of crying for the citizens of a country that willingly followed followed their leaders into killing millions upon millions of civilians.

Ask the Chinese, the Indonesians, the Filipinos and the Vietnamese if they object to the bomb being dropped on Japan. It stopped the war. Period.

Pearl Harbor was the shock it took to get America to declare war. Nagasaki and Hiroshima were the shock it took Japan to end the war. I see that some allude to the US causing the war with Japan by its embargoes but those were rational acts of policy with the aim of ending the suffering in China and Manchuria that was being inflicted by the Japanese Army. Had Japan had the sense to accept those embargoes and end their attacks in China there would be no war.
Atomic attacks against Japan in 1945 can only be examined in the context of events in 1945 leading to those attacks. Iwo Jima and Okinawa strongly suggested and implied that if the US invaded Japan every Japanese would fight to the death. I see that mention is made of the inevitability of Japanese surrender and I don't really see that they made any sign of such a thing to their enemies. It's easy to say that they were talking to the Russians about surrender but they weren't at war with Russia. They should have been talking surrender to the US and UK and China and the Philippines and Australia.
Now about that shock. One plane, one bomb, one city. It was an equation that could only result in one outcome. It took that to force those idiots to throw in the towel and end the war that they started.
I'm almost 50 and was born in Germany. This article and the pictures were haunting and evocative. When one thinks about it, almost nobody alive now using computers can recall what it was like to rebuild the cities left shattered by WWII. We can look at these pictures showing widespread devastation and wonder: a generation of people labored to rebuild from that devastation. Did they grow up as pacifists? or were they steeped in hatred for the US and Britain that did this? or were they like the shattered post WWI generation that didn't want war at all and vowed to not to fight for anything? I have an inkling of what it meant to that German generation and to that Japanese generation but I also know what it meant to that Korean generation.

Perhaps my entry was too long, but I am really saddened that my effort to bring some structure and information into the discussion (08.17.09) has been totally ignored. The same illogical arguments are being endlessly repeated. It is hard to acknowledge a gross injustice when they or their parents where party to it. It is harder still when you feel that others have not acknowledged the injustices they have inflicted on you or your parents. But it has to start somewhere, and given the existential threat that nuclear weapon pose to humanity and our good Earth (see www.nucleardarkness.org), it seems to me that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a good a place to begin as any.
Please take the time to read my previous entire and really think hard before responding.
Aaron Tovish

Aaron Tovish: Here is some "structure and information" for you.
I hear nothing from you about the 10-20 million civilian victims of the Japanese war machine, and the need to stop Japan's killing civilians.


It is a very sad that few powerfull mad governments do such a horrible act on other nations. Hope the new generation learn from this and try not to repeat this mistake again.



Fascinating to see how long this thread has remained active. I'm heartened to see how many posters have stood up for the truth, however - there's so much revisionist history being fed to our kids these days.

I'll try to keep this short, but it won't be an epigram.

I would like to clear up a point that's been bandied about here, most recently by Aaron Tovish, regarding Russian entry into the war in the final days.

Nobody should think that the Stalin would have done anything at all useful to help defeat the Japanese on the home islands. His sole aim was loot, and warm-water ports on the Pacific. That this was known to Truman cannot be disputed with any credibility. Russia's aim to acquire warm-water ports had been axiomatic since the 18th century, and their looting in eastern Europe in the spring of 1945 was already notorious. Furthermore, Stalin had ZERO in the way of amphibious capability in place on the Pacific. They could not and would not do more than conquer Korea and more of China, and then sit there smiling while while American boys died on the Japanese islands.

One of America's original aims at the outset of the Pacific war was to preserve China. Letting Stalin replace the Japanese as its' conquerors would have run counter to that purpose. The American decision to use the Bombs forestalled more extensive Soviet conquest in China, and most sources I've read say that this was with clear intent to do so.

Secondly, no-one should think that the Japanese leadership in WW2 was rational by any standard. "Demonstrations" of the Bomb would have had no effect whatsoever.

There is a coffee-table book in existence, although sadly out of print, titled "The Rape of Nanking". I have had a copy in my hands for study. Nanking was a modern city - it had plenty of cameras and photo shops able to process film. Lots and lots of photos were taken, and a good many survived.

As gruesome as the Hiroshima photos are, those from Nanking are far, far worse. Some of these made it to the West within weeks of the event, and wide publication of them was one big reason why Roosevelt's administration had begin to pressure Japan with economic sanctions. A-bombs may kill in quantity, but they do not stand in lines to rape women, and they do not hold contests to see how many innocent people they can behead in an hour with swords.

The Rape of Nanking happened because the Japanese high command was so inhumanly brutal to its' own soldiers that the soldiers assumed that inhuman brutality to conquered peoples was not only normal, but expected. Nanking is only the best documented example of this mindset.

That the pinnacle of this barbaric military command was more than willing to destroy the entire Japanese nation in pursuit of fealty to Bushido was well known to Truman. He knew he wasn't dealing with rational people.

And we only had the two Bombs. If the Japanese could not be induced to surrender by this show of force, it would have been many months before more could be fabricated and delivered. And the dying of Americans and Japanese alike would have dragged on and on and on.

We gave the Japanese high command a "demonstration", by the destruction of two Japanese cities, (both of which DID have important military significance, by the way).

Merlin 8047


WWII was spawned by financial poles, in London and New York City, in the name of venality and power-consolidation, in order to fill the vacuum that was being left by a crumbling British Empire.

Britain was not about to let upstart, industrialized Germany — the inter-war industrialization and rearmament of which were underwritten by Western finance —, fill the void.

Who stood to gain from the two World wars? As ever, banks, lending institutions and power-hungry, would-be hegemons, the US, Germany, Japan ... Who lost the war? Civilians, who comprised the vast majority of the 70 million or more deaths in the conflict.

You mention the loss of US soldiers in Iwo Jima and Okinawa, waxing sentimental over the loss of US soldiers, but there is question whether those attacks were justified in the first place. Some, including my father and the soldiers in his unit, considered them brutally opportunist. I'm in the possession of a poignant portrait of a photographer in an Okinawan forest, dedicated to my father, which reads: 'To Bob, in memory of the days when the issues were clearer — Paul, 1944'.

These men went off to war having been led to believe that they were to fight for a 'good' cause. As in all wars, that indoctrination eventually wears off, in the reality of the battlefield.

So, no, I don't have any more sympathy for the families of US soldiers who lost their lives in Iwo Jima and Okinawa than I do for those of the nearly 18,000 Japanese soldiers who were killed.

There's no way around it, Gringo. Wars are fought for bastards wearing pin-stripe suits. And it's foot soldiers and civilians who lose their lives.

There is no such thing as a 'just' war, and there can be no excuse for the macabre human 'experiment' the US undertook in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
D Livingston

D Livingston :
"So, no, I don't have any more sympathy for the families of US soldiers who lost their lives in Iwo Jima and Okinawa than I do for those of the nearly 18,000 Japanese soldiers who were killed."

I would agree with you that American soldiers killed in these battles deserve no more sympathy than Japanese soldiers also killed in those battles.

However, you ignored my point, which was that contrary to your claim that "Japan was more or less powerless by the end of 1944," the spirited resistance that Japan put up at Okinawa and Iwo Jima, as measured by the soldiers killed, shows that in 1945 Japan was by no means powerless.

I also note that you made no reply to my point about the 10-20 million civilian victims of the Japanese war machine.

I leave you with a quote from Louise Steinman’s book The Souvenir: A Daughter Discusses her Father’s War (Algonquin Books, of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, 2001.)

“During my visit to Japan, I met Japanese who (unlike Soji) had lived through the war years. They shocked me when they offered me their opinion that the atomic bomb had been necessary to end the war, that the military government would have urged them to mass suicide if the conflagration of Hiroshima hadn’t happened.”

If we accept the basic moral code that two wrongs do not make a right, then all the references to Japan's barbarism do not reduce one iota the barbarism of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan paid dearly for its war crimes, but I agree that does not mean they should be forgot. The US paid dearly making Japan pay dearly, but neither does that mean our crimes can be overlooked.
Now, the argument that Russia would not have contributed to the sea invasion of Japan proper misses the point. Japan knew it was defeated, all its hopes rested on a combined strategy of winning a Battle-of-the-Bulge type effort to stun the attackers and then sue for peace through the Russian intermediary. Russia entry into the war sank BOTH parts of that plan. They had no basis for carrying on and so they, with a heavy push from the Emperor, decided to surrender. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were coincidental to this basic calculation.
"Revisionist history?" When directly relevant new evidence is brought forth any good historian is obliged to consider revising prior conclusions. The new evidence is the verbatim records of the actual discussions in the top circles of the Japanese Government during these crucial days, including the meeting at which the Emperor presided. Not a single person in the Government suggested an emergency meeting after the bombing of Hiroshima. After Russia declared war on Japan, the highest level meeting was convened overnight. (Read a lot more on this on Ward Wilson's blog.)
So the conclusion that the nuclear weapons ended the war is simply wrong. Perhaps they ought to have ended the war; perhaps they might have ended the war if Russia had stayed out and more had been dropped; perhaps, perhaps. But the fact is that they did not.
This does not reflect one way or the other on the morality of the calculation they they ought to help end the war. Truman may have deeply in his heart believed they would do the trick and when nothing else would. But what this does show is how mistaken such deeply held beliefs can be. Thus it is a cautionary tale -- so crucial to the Nuclear Age -- that you do not kill 200,000 civilian now because more might die several months later. We can see in retrospect that such certainty about what will happen if we do not act now is delusional. We must apply this insight prospectively: it may be the only thing that saves the world in the next nuclear crisis (even in the Asia subcontinent). In a crisis, stability depends on each side relying on the other side not to strike first DESPITE ANY AND ALL EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY. Once either side, lose faith in that premise the temptation to strike first spirals out of control.
I really fear for the world if this insight is not gained from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Aaron Tovish

One last point. Gringo wrote (08.24.09 at 06:47):
"I leave you with a quote from Louise Steinman’s book The Souvenir: A Daughter Discusses her Father’s War (Algonquin Books, of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, 2001.)
'During my visit to Japan, I met Japanese who (unlike Soji) had lived through the war years. They shocked me when they offered me their opinion that the atomic bomb had been necessary to end the war, that the military government would have urged them to mass suicide if the conflagration of Hiroshima hadn’t happened.'”
It does not surprise me one bit. That it is (what we now know to be) myth that was perpetuated after the war. As I said in my first entry, the Japanese military leaders HELPED to perpetuate that myth because it excused them from fighting what was anyway an un-winnable war. At the final meeting, Hirohito was enumerating all the ways the military had 'failed him.' the atom bomb was one of MANY. But for the military, after the fact, it was the one they could latch on to which allowed them to save face.
Also, this argument whether made by Japanese or Americans isn't really logical. If the Government was willing to have millions die during and invasion, why won't they be willing to let millions die from atomic attacks. They had already allowed half a million to be killed by firebombing. No, it seems to me the purpose of this line of argument is to brand the Government as entirely irrational. It may be satisfying to believe that, like putting down a mad dag, but it is VERY rarely the case in politics, of which war is merely an extension.
We no know the Government very rationally calculated the impact of the Russian entry into the war and threw in its cards. This in no way exonerates them from all the horrific acts they perpetrated before that final act of sanity. But should inspire us to re-evaluate the rationality of our own leaders who got it very wrong about Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


I was a little too vague with that last sentence. I do not mean they were crazy. What I mean is that rational judgment can be undermined by extraneous motivations. Three such motives have been cited:
-- a desire to send Russia a signal
-- a desire to contribute to the war effort
-- a desire to justify the diversion of scarce war resources to the Manhattan project
-- a desire to ensure continuing funding for the nuclear weapon establishment after the war.
None of these motives is necessarily evil. Perhaps it was a good idea to put Stalin in his place. It was no doubt honorable to want to contribute to the war effort. Etc. THE QUESTION IS WHETHER THEY SHOULD INFLUENCE THE DECISION to drop the bomb on cities and kill hundreds of thousands of civilians. In that light, I would hope that the obvious answer is NO.
To the extent that any of these motives were influencing some or all of the decision-makers, this could have badly clouded their judgment. I find it odd, that no top leader said before Hiroshima, "Hey, let's wait a few days and see how the entry of Russia into the war is going to affect the Japanese leaders." Or after Hiroshima and the Russian declaration of war but before Nagasaki, no one said, "All this ought to give them a heck of a lot to think about; before killing another 100,000 people let's wait a few days and see if they are ready to give in."
In early entry I said there were more A-bombs en route to the Pacific theater of war. A letter entry by someone else, said that there were no more. I cannot put my hand on a reference for my assertion although I am confident about it based on my reading over the years. Can anyone locate a reliable reference?
Aaron Tovish

The one point that alot of us have overlooked is the fact that the nuclear weapons remaining in the U.S.'s and Russia's stockpiles today are in the 150 kiloton range and above. Thats 10X and higher the destructive capability of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Take another hard look at the pictures and times that by 10!
Alan Doughty

While I do feel bad for the children, it must be said that the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon their children. This is the price that citizens pay when they allow their government to conduct itself criminally.
Marc Page'

There is no point in further arguing with Aaron Tovish 's pettifogging.

I can hardly let this discussion end with this ad homina 'argument' from 'Gringo'. Such a blanket dismissal is a sure sign that one has run out of sound arguments.

For those who care to know what peril nuclear weapons hold for humanity, visit www.nucleardarkness.org. The use of just one hundred of the 25,000 nuclear weapons on Earth against cities would have far greater climatic impact in ten years that a century of global warming. Lower estimate: one billion dead from attack, famine, and pandemics.
Whose sins will be visited upon whose children?
Wake up, world!

Aaron Tovish

Comments about this whole thread.

1. Great pictures. I wish they could be placed on a map of Hiroshima before and after for locations.

2. To those who wish war was not a part of life: I agree. However, as long as people are not perfect, there will be the power-hungry wolves who become successful in preying on "the sheep" in their society, become tyrants, and threaten peace of their neighborhoods, and if not opposed, the world. This is not a result of any particular religion, race, or philosophy. Some wolves are known names like Cain, Genghis Kahn, Pharoah, Hannibal, Hitler, and Hussein; some are known to you as your neighbor's boss, ex-husband, or the tax collector. Power-hungry people are a fact of life, and history suggests that the less democratic any society is, the more brutal those wolves become. Often the only way to stop their aspirations is to meet force with force. The US attempted to deter the expansionist, militarist aspirations of the Japanese with "blockade" techniques- that failed. Look how unsuccessful "blockades" and "sanctions" have proven to be in Iran and Iraq and NKorea- in all those cases, those "peaceful" actions have resulted, or will result, in greater losses due to allowing retrenchment and expansion of the aggressive country's technology and military. And unfortunately, as Tibbetts says in a quote above, there is no morality in war- maintaining anything else is foolish.

The best we can hope then is to minimize the effects of war. Like it or not, one of the ways to measure the effects is estimates of deaths given different scenarios. Invasion=2-5,ooo,ooo deaths vs. Nuke=2oo,ooo deaths isn't something that anyone enjoys thinking about, but it is common calculus in war. It is guessed that the thousands of deaths incurred on IwoJima saved up to 25,000 American fliers, so the cost of Iwo is reckoned small. Each month of war costs huge amounts in terms of death and dollars, so ending a war sooner usually can be thought to be worthwhile if it is possible. Nuking Japan probably saved lives and dollars, and so was a smart thing to do.

I wish that tyrants were not part of the fabric of humanity, and that I could be more sympathetic to the wishes of so many who yearn for an end to war. However, I have witnessed some persons in my life who expressed such desires to be incredibly tyrannical and deceptive themselves. It is clear humanity will not see an end to war.

3. One of the greatest failures of people now is the crazy hope that people have somehow become "better" than our ancestors, and that we can avoid war by talking. Talking for five years to the crazy man in Iran about their nuclear program has yielded the predictable: A country controlled by fanatics five years closer to nuclear weapons. Those who now bet against Iran using nukes in an attack on their neighbors or in coersion sometime in the next ten years are highly likely to lose their bet. It would be interesting to see what kind of odds you would get from a bookie for this today.

4. Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were important war material producers. If they had been instead been neutralized with conventional weapons the collateral damage of the civilian deaths and property would have been done just as surely. Those claiming that the use of the nukes constituted war crimes don't know what they are talking about. Nurenburg Principle states "...wanton destruction of cities ... not justified by military necessity" and it is clearly arguable these would be exempt military targets. No war crimes trial has been conducted on such a basis. Luftwaffe Gen.Goering was convicted for crimes against Jews, not for indiscriminate bombing of cities. Any such argument would apply to any city bombing prior to the development of "smart bombs" for certain. However, that is countered by noting that those submitting their populations to such bombing instead of surrender commit the first and greater crime. Those responsible for initiating aggressive actions must be held responsible for all the war deaths and actions needed to bring the war to conclusion. In fact, Geneva Conventions are written in such a way that is more arguable that using a "civilian populace" to shield military targets such as factories is itself the war crime, not the bombing of cities of military significance.

5. Unconditional surrender is the only smart way to end a war. Most analysts purport that WW2 was a result of the conditional endings of WW1. After the unconditional surrender, then the winning power can allow some of those conditions the losing power would like, such as maintaining Japan's emperor. It is critically important that utter defeat be recognized or the wolves will be regroup.

6. Those who criticize the allies who won the 20th century wars ought to think a bit about how the world would be otherwise. Short suggestion of the answer: there would be much less freedom in the world, more hunger, lower life expectation, lower standard of living, less peace in the world, and even greater stratification of the haves and have-nots. Not one country of the world would enjoy as much freedom as it now enjoys- even 'neutral' countries- witness how much the neutrality of Holland deterred Hitler.

7. The US had the nuclear material to build ONLY the three bombs exploded plus one more: The single Trinity test in July'45, Little Man, and Fat Boy(similar to Trinity) and one probably available ~20Aug. After that, maybe three per month could be built. Discussions about timing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki included a desire to give an impression that the US had an unlimited ability to deliver horrific these weapons that did not exist. There wasn't much room for error, and using one of them for a demonstration (which was considered) would be a big gamble.

8. It will forever remain controversial whether the Russian declaration of war had more or less effect on Japan's final decision to surrender than the atom bombs. The arguments raged on from a month or two before the nuking on up until today. What is certain is that the Japanese were known as particularly deceptive in diplomacy (witness their pre-Pearl Harbor events), and there was great uncertainty about the psychology of Japan in Aug45. Examination of the written records prior to 09Aug45 reveals estimates were all over the spectrum as to how to handle the situation. Examination of Japanese docs after 09Aug45 still shows military desire to fight on, and a Japanese military coup attempt on 14Aug45 to preempt the surrender talk by the emperor. Saying either or both of the nukes were unneeded is mere speculation in the face of clearly ambiguous information.

9. The damage wrought by a weapon is not linear with respect to the yield. Blast damage 2km away is 1/8 the blast damage at 1km. In addition, the radiation damage (in general) is lower with higher yield weapons with respect to the yield of the weapon. Though a 300kt weapon releases 15 times the energy of Hiroshima, the damage radius is "only" 2-3 times that of Hiroshima.

10. Nuclear weapons have resulted in a LOWER level of high-casualty conflict in the world since they were developed. They have resulted in LOWER levels of military expenditures than would otherwise have been seen. They allowed Europe to maintain very low military levels during the Cold War instead of needing to maintain a sufficient conventional force to counter the aims of the USSR. It is likely that they are responsible for the survival of Israel, South Korea, and Taiwan to name only three countries.

"Ridding the world of nuclear weapons" would be almost certain to result in another round of non-nuclear world-wide wars analogous to those of the 19th and 20th centuries. Nuclear weapons have proven to be life-savers because they ARE horrific.

Anyone believing that the world would be better off if the US, Russia, China, etc., would renounce nuclear weapons is naive and living in a fantasy world. It would instead make massive wars by them again "thinkable".

Seeing this article with pictures, I urge you to donate the pictures to an archive which can conserve and protect, as well as help publish them.
The article was a great piece of work, also some of the comments are good.
An egocentric view of the world, is what starts wars, if you ask me.

USA has nothing to do in Iraq or Afghanistan.
This is utter terrorism by the USA.

I don't blame the US citizens, as I know how this works.
The government scares you with horror tales about Saaddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.
This then makes you so scared that you will justify a lot more than what should be justified.

There is never a good reason to resort to violence, unless you are TRULY protecting your own life.

Who are you to consider your life more important, than someone not sharing the same cultural ideas that you do?

I know many hillbillies will now pull theire mustaches and go out and do burnouts with theire v8 pickups (with American flags on the roofs) and shout, shoot to the air and say: oh no, we are the supreme power.

However, I hope the coming generations of the USA citizens are a bit skeptical to what the government feed you with.
Do not let your self be used as a piece of a chess game.
Do to others, what you want others to do to you.

Sure, thousands of innocent Japanese people died because of the bombings. But remember what happened December 7th?! I'm not rooting for a specific country, I'm just saying that we aren't better than the other. Our innocent Americans died. We fought back and their innocent Japanese people died. It's an ongoing war.

After having read the post and the comments, as hopeless as it seems, I'd like to voice an opinion too.

The tragedy is that there are people who still believe it was right to kill innocent civilians, and given the chance, would campaign for the same thing over and over again.

It's people like you, with so little tolerance for everything that is not yours and every culture that you don't know that makes the world such a war-torn, tragedy-stricken place.

Nobody refutes the fact that Japan has had blood on their hands. Nobody refutes the fact that they have been responsible for war crimes. But then again, stand up today with your head held high and tell me you support America's crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan (what was that about oil again?) And what does America do? Kill civilians to make a point? All you people who agree with this seem to be finding ways to soothe guilty consciences. Nothing justifies the taking of an innocent life.

The people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were going about their daily lives. Making them the target of nuclear warfare didn't change anything; only proved to the world what countries with money and power can get away with when it suits them. And for the people affected by Nuclear warfare, the pain and suffering doesn't end with one generation.

All you people who believe America was standing up for all that is good and right in the world when they bombed innocent civilians, think about this- If the whole world had to function along your thought lines, innocent American civilians would be dying every other day (and unfortunately, they are).

I don't believe anybody has the right to take an innocent life. Every time you stand up for a country (yours or anybody else's) that lies to you that they're fighting a war for peace, you give them the right to kill an innocent being.

I feel horror when I read these comments, because I know that the world will never be a better place as long as people do anything but condemn war, nuclear weapons, innocent killings, and hate for everybody who doesn't share their worldview. There are some comments, like Aaron Tovish's that stand out, trying to make some sense out of this awful hate-spree. There are others, like me, who are genuinely devastated to see that people can still be so gullible and swallow everything they read and hear without questioning. But we seem to be outnumbered.

In the end, nobody's religion and nobody's God preaches hatred. Remember that everytime you spew some around.


I pray that these weapons will never again be used. This terrible war claimed the lives of millions, and it was avoidable. I will not pass judgment on the American military because I believe that if Japan or Germany has possessed these weapons they would have been used. The good people of Japan, Germany, Russia, and America have a solemn duty to eliminate any chance that this can ever happen again. It is tragic that these cities were destroyed. We MUST work together for a more sane world. My prayers are for the victims of these attacks and for the men who made this difficult decision. May God forgive us all.

would the japanese use an atomic bomb on an american city had they developed one before the americans? i believe that, given the oppurtunity, the imperial navy would have done so without remorse

this is the most telling photos i have seen on the effect of the uranium bomb on the poor city of hiroshima. i just wish there would be no another hiroshima. history term paper writers like me are saddened and hoped that this would never happen again.
research paper

It almost same as our Chernobyl but it peoples made for people in purpose... I dont understand

It is incredible how easy american people justify the atrocity the did. Sentences like "otherwise it was going to die a lot of people" to clean your concience from killing thousands of people, not soldiers.
The USA has to apologize because what they did, but this is something that never will happen.

I can't believe people are arguing the oil embargo somehow "provoked" Japan. The United States can trade with whoever the hell she wants to trade with. The passive act of not trading with a terrible country cannot be blamed for anything. Japan was not entitled to trade with anyone. Maybe it's that type of imperialistic thinking that got the Japanese into deep trouble, evident in these photos, lol.

The Japanese knew exactly what they were doing when they rejected the unconditional surrender. Their whole point was to prolong the war. They threw in that "let us keep the emperor" knowing that the soon to be victor wasn't going to be pushed around and let "unconditional" all of a sudden become "conditional". What a joke of an excuse by these Japan apologists. Imagine Germans surrendering without renouncing Hitler. The fact that MacArthur allowed the Japanese to keep the emperor that presided over human experimentation on POWs and an innumerable list of atrocities is wrong, very wrong. But that doesn't somehow negate the validity of the initial demands of unconditional surrender and renouncing of the emperor.

As everyone should realise at this point in our history, yet not ONE government has, nor seeks this kind of control over its populace, which, is its OWN survivability, and when the population within ANY borders SEEKS to achieve a food source that, at the present and growing populace lies OUTSIDE its own borders are therefore REQUIRED, by obligation to its citzenry, not to mention voter's base, to incringe/infringe upon its neighbor. I, myself, have placed upon MYSELF, this executing of a "higher" good, by not having, by the grace of GOD, ANY children!

Would this be SO hard a feat to accomplish/endure? Or are the observations of Solomon in the Bible that: "VANITY, VANITY! EVERYTHING IS VANITY", still hold true!

Apparently as well as obviously NOT!

UNLESS, or until this can be successfully achieved? Guess what people?

This website covers the Hiroshima bombing and aftermath so well. Makes good info for students and historians. I've had a look at the skideshow and, it is very sad how so many people disappeared in an instant and, how many suffered so terribly afterward including animals. Must have taken years and millions of dollars to rebuild.

Imagine your plans for the day, terminated and changed forever by one single event. Thank the living God Hiroshima and Nagasaki were never repeated. Little John and Fatman were small fry compared to the bombs developed afterward.

My apologies...I meant to refer to 'Little Boy' and 'Fatman'....

I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good. This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post.

Flash website

Well i'm just studying world war 2 in school and think that they did the right thing. The US was originally planing to use the atomic bomb in Nazi Germany. i don't know if they did the right thing dropping the bomb on those 2 cities. What i do know that that dropping of those bombs changed the way we fight war forever. I do think that it saved lives but with soviet union joining the war i think that the bombs where not necessary, but i think that the united states just wanted to win the war in the pacific on their own without help from the soviet union. Well that's just my opinion. thanks for reading this!

1. "In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them."

2. "Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting."

(Chapter 3 'Attack by Stratagem', The Art of War, Sun Tzu.)

It is disturbing to see comments (especially from the crowd visiting Design Observer) which tries to justify the nuke citing 'lives saved' by averting further war and so on.... Funny to imagine what these guys would've commented if Japan had put a nuke at New York, forcing U.S. to withdraw...
Manu T

people say we shouldnt have droped the bomb but if we dindt we would have lost hundreds of thousands of more people and the war would have been longer.

You know, i agree with maria on the 4th comment above me...I think that is true...the gov. would be that stuck up to want us to win the war, without the russian help, to make america seem, how do i say it, powerful. maybe even to strike fear into others...i dont know, im only 12, but i agree with maria strongly

I am grateful to you for allowing us to view your photographs because I just finished reading "Children of the Ashes" by Robert Jungk (1913-1994), an Austrian journalist who was in Hiroshima just after the bombing. The photographs helped bring this book to life. It's a different kind of writing that tells the story from the inside. He talks with and tell the story of the civilians, soldiers and the children who were orphaned. It chronicles how the government was re-established and talks about the rebuilding of the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. If you want an inside look, this "rare" book is a must read.

War, to me, is never the answer and I feel for both our Americans who were involved and the Japanese citizens - especially the children - because the scars left by this war may never truly heal.

They took several pictures of "hiroshima today", but please ignore them. they are taken in yokohama, which is near to hiroshima. just warning

Just an observance for all of those saying what was done "saved lives" how many of you truly lived through a war or have truly talked and listened to any sort of war survivor. My parents went through World War II in Germany (and no they were not Nazi's nor did they believe in it). To wake up at night and hear the whistling of the bombs being dropped, to have to run from your home and eat rotting food from trash cans or to see your sister killed and water burn because the Americans bombed a Red Cross Ship (yes we did thing too). It is not a matter of who did what first it is a matter of innocent people truly good people both young and old who are always the victims of war. The saying is “War is Hell” and not only for those who serve but those who survive. We need to learn from our past history and not point blame at each other, yet we all continue to repeat the past.

Never has any nation fought so much of its history over the bodies of dead women and children … as the US of A.

White power in America has always seen Asian as sub-human. The war for Asian-Pacific dominance was an extension of the war and genocide aimed at the related First Nation tribes.

America had no need to go into Asia and no right to go into Asia.

It could not even fight man-to-man. It had to pick on women and children.

It still does.

I've read many posts from many sites, and one thing I have noticed, especially concerning comments about the wars there have been, is how quickly people turn on each other. What if those commenting met in person? Would they get into physical fights because of their disagreements? They certainly declare "war" on each other in their posts which grow more and more heated. Most get downright hateful and abusive. If these posters are so against war, they should step back and read their own words. Wars have started because of words. I'll give my thoughts on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, probably angering someone in the process. I wish the war never happened. But it did. Those whose US Military relatives survived due to the Atom bomb, your relief is understood. But they were in the military and when your are part of the military, you go in knowing you can die and could be in deadly fights. I feel it was wrong to bomb two cities made up of children whose lives only consisted of going to school and play, mothers doing house wrok, fathers going to their jobs...they weren't military. They didn't expect to die. They had no clue they were even a target. They weren't soldiers. There were other places to drop the bombs they had already decided would fall on Japan that would have made the impact they wanted. I didnt decide this so please don't jump on me. I wasnt even born. This is history to me. We all lost the war because it introduced a bomb I fear will rear its ugly head again someday.

My father came through Hiroshima in October and told me about the damage and also how the sands on the shore-line had been turned to glass. He said that it looked as though thousands of coke bottles had been broken from where the tracked vehicles had rolled over the glass. I had never been able to visualize what he saw until now. His unit was preparing for the homeland invasion when the bomb was dropped. Had the bomb not been used, there would be greater losses on both sides as the Japanese were prepared to fight to the death against the invasion forces. My dad would have surely died and I would not exist.
War has never respected mankind so we must be strong enough to prevent it.
Ben Hudman
Ben R. Hudman

The Japs killed over 20 Million Chinese in WW2, mostly civilians. This is the biggest slaughter in the history of mankind. That bomb saved many lives, including mine as my 6 yr old father was in Jap camp for over 3 years.

Robert L. Corsbie was my grandfather. I have a picture of him in his naval uniform with his wife and daughter (my mother) on the wall in my dining room. His involvement in the testing of the bomb was based on his knowledge of engineering and architecture. His connection to this testing was not something he was proud of, and he kept the records of his involvement hidden away from his family. He went on to design railroads, bridges, and terminals which are now longstanding historical structures.
It's interesting to learn that his records have recently surfaced. He died (along with his wife and son) when his house burned down in 1967. How these photographs and the trunk were overlooked when the relics of the fire were sorted out I have no idea, but I'm glad to see that some of our personal history lives on.
Nancy Knight

Thank you for the article and the pictures which are such a vivid reminder of how we as a human race can go to such lengths to destroy each other.
During the Blitz in London my Father was an Air Raid Warden and missed by half a minute a direct hit on an Air Raid Shelter situated below a block of flats killing 170 people. It took ten days to recover all the bodies with shovels and hands the most accessible tools.
Having read this story and seen those pictures it makes those of us that survived the Blitz seem almost lucky compared to Dresden, Hamburg, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In the years since, without denying there were real people who share responsibility for this, I have learned that the blame game simply does not work in bringing us further forward. Today we need to learn the lessons and in our own lives and together ensure none of this happens again.

I love how people assume it was a fait accompli that had we not vaporized 200,000 Japanese citizens there would be no America, hence the "I am alive today because of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." Such reductive, simplistic and plain erroneous thinking drives me bananas, as if dropping the A-bomb was some kind of heroic act. It wasn't. The A-bomb was dropped for a number of reasons, the chief among them that too much time and money was spent developing the A-bomb not to drop it. It was a heinous act, and if someone could please enlighten me as to what good came out of the development of nuclear weapons I would appreciate it, because apparently I just don't get it.
John LiCalsi

...thought you might find this article of interest. pop

Who flipped the first (twisted iron) photo? Design Observer or the NYT?

Thanks for you astute observation davec. We've flipped the image back to its authentic placement.
Adam Harrison levy

"People dealt this fate to people" Z.Nałkowska

It was WAR! Very few ppl alive today can remember or appreciate wars so total and destructive as the World Wars. Over 20 Million people were killed in both wars, including combatants, civilian casualties and atrocities. That was more than 8% of the population of the world at the time. Anything that shortens a war like that, anything, is worth doing. President Truman deserves a lot of respect for daring to go ahead with the atomic bombing. We didn't really have a choice.
Richard H

The photographs open up the actual face of Hiroshima after the blast. It forces us to think the effects of the bomb. It’s really tragic to see the pictures. We can feel the pain of that country by seeing the pictures. No other country shouldn’t do like this. search here

Someone said it was war, but I bet to differ, the war was pretty much over before the bomb was dropped. In reality it was just revenge for the pearl harbour attack, that's the nature of people in the western world, they NEVER forgive, but expect you to forgive them when they do you wrong. - Bill Phillips

Obviously the bomb was dropped out of spite, rather than as a tactical decision, as the war was pretty much over prior to the dropping. So I’m not surprised that the American government did everything they could to suppress images of the devastation they had caused, for pretty much no valid reason. Anyway, everything is well today, because Japan is one of the most technologically advanced nations today.

Hiroshima incident is one off the biggest incident of it's kind. There are few things that bring to us. 1. End of every war is the destruction and peace contracts. 2. From that day to today Japan tell the world that how to compete the world without starting a war. 3. "Peace " among the countries bring more to them. I was reading reviews about mini fridge and amazed to see that In US market several of the Japan's products are one the best selling.
Erric martin

"Radiations" can be quiet helping and the quiet damaging. It depend on that how you use it. In ultrasound and X-ray they are used to diagnose and solve the problems. Radiology tech workers are generating handsome salaries just because of this technology so we should always go for the positive use of the things instead of negative.
Catherine james

Jobs | July 17