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An Inconvenient Truth About Hiroshima and Nagasaki
An Inconvenient Truth About Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are among the many US crimes in World War II

Stunningly powerful material about the reasons for Japan's surrender in World War II, about the atrocities of the Americans in Japan and how the US and Japanese authorities used the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for their own purposes …

Another US crime, or Why did Japan surrender?

We are unlikely to be mistaken in assuming that most of us are still convinced that Japan capitulated because the Americans dropped two atomic bombs of enormous destructive power. On the Hiroshimaand Nagasaki… The act itself is barbaric, inhuman. After all, it died cleanly civilpopulation! And the radiation accompanying a nuclear strike, many decades later, crippled and maims newly born children.

However, the military events in the Japanese-American War were no less inhuman and bloody before the atomic bombs were dropped. And, for many, such a statement will seem unexpected, those events were even more cruel! Remember what photos you saw of the bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and try to imagine that before that, the Americans acted even more inhuman!

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are among the many US crimes in World War II

However, let's not prejudge and cite an excerpt from a voluminous article by Ward Wilson „The victory over Japan was won not by the bomb, but by Stalin”. Presented statistics of the most brutal bombing of Japanese cities BEFORE atomic strikes just amazing.

The scale

Historically, the use of the atomic bomb may seem like the most important single event in a war. However, from the point of view of modern Japan, the atomic bombing is not easy to distinguish from other events, just as it is not easy to isolate a single raindrop in the middle of a summer thunderstorm.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are among the many US crimes in World War II

In the summer of 1945, the US Air Force launched one of the most intense urban destruction campaigns in world history. In Japan, 68 cities were bombed, and all of them were partially or completely destroyed. An estimated 1.7 million people were left homeless, 300,000 were killed and 750,000 were injured. 66 air raids were conducted with conventional weapons, and two used atomic bombs.

The damage caused by non-nuclear airstrikes was colossal. All summer, from night to night, Japanese cities exploded and burned. In the midst of all this nightmare of destruction and death, it could hardly come as a surprise that one or another blow didn't make much of an impression - even if it was inflicted with an amazing new weapon.

The B-29 bomber flying from the Mariana Islands, depending on the location of the target and the height of the strike, could carry a bomb load weighing from 7 to 9 tons. Usually 500 bombers carried out the raid. This means that in a typical air raid using non-nuclear weapons, each city fell 4-5 kilotons… (A kiloton is a thousand tons, and it is a standard measure of the yield of a nuclear weapon. The yield of the Hiroshima bomb was 16.5 kilotons, and a bomb with a power of 20 kilotons.)

With conventional bombing, the destruction was uniform (and therefore more effective); and one, albeit a more powerful bomb, loses a significant part of its destructive power at the epicenter of the explosion, only raising dust and creating a heap of debris. Therefore, it can be argued that some air strikes using conventional bombs, in their destructive power approached two atomic bombings.

The first bombardment using conventional weapons was carried out against Tokyo at night from 9 to 10 March 1945. It became the most destructive city bombing in the history of war. Then in Tokyo, about 41 square kilometers of urban area burned down. An estimated 120,000 Japanese died. These are the biggest losses from the bombing of cities.

Because of the way we are told this story, we often imagine that the bombing of Hiroshima was much worse. We think the death toll is out of bounds. But if you compile a table on the number of people killed in all 68 cities as a result of the bombing in the summer of 1945, it turns out that Hiroshima, in terms of the number of civilian deaths stands in second place.

And if you count the area of ​​destroyed urban areas, it turns out that Hiroshima fourth… If you check the percentage of destruction in cities, then Hiroshima will be in 17th place… It is quite obvious that in terms of the scale of damage, it fits well into the parameters of air raids with the use of non-nuclear funds.

From our point of view, Hiroshima is something that stands apart, something extraordinary. But if you put yourself in the shoes of the Japanese leaders in the period leading up to the strike on Hiroshima, the picture will look very different. If you were one of the key members of the Japanese government in late July - early August 1945, you would have roughly the following feeling of air raids on cities. On the morning of July 17, you would have been informed that at night four cities: Oita, Hiratsuka, Numazu and Kuwana. Oita and Hiratsuka half destroyed. In Kuwane, destruction exceeds 75%, and Numazu suffered the most because 90% of the city burned to the ground.

Three days later, you are woken up and informed that you have been attacked. three more cities. Fukui is over 80 percent destroyed. A week goes by and three more cities are bombarded at night. Two days later, in one night, bombs are falling for another six Japanese cities, including Ichinomiya, where 75% of buildings and structures were destroyed. On August 12, you enter your office, and you are reported that you have been hit four more cities.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are among the many US crimes in World War II

Among all these messages, there is information that the city Toyama (in 1945 it was about the size of Chattanooga, Tennessee) 99, 5%. That is, the Americans razed to the ground almost the whole city. On August 6, only one city was attacked - Hiroshima, but according to the reports received, the damage there is enormous, and a new type of bomb was used in the airstrike. How does this new airstrike stand out from other bombings that have lasted for weeks, destroying entire cities?

US Air Force raids three weeks before Hiroshima for 26 cities… Of them eight (this is almost a third) were destroyed either completely or stronger than Hiroshima (if you count how much of the cities were destroyed). The fact that 68 cities were destroyed in Japan in the summer of 1945 poses a serious obstacle to those who want to show that the bombing of Hiroshima was the reason for Japan's surrender. The question arises: if they surrendered due to the destruction of one city, then why did they not surrender when they were destroyed 66 other cities?

If the Japanese leadership decided to surrender because of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this means that they were worried about the bombing of cities in general, that the attacks on these cities became a serious argument in favor of surrender for them. But the situation looks very different.

Two days after the bombing Tokyo retired foreign minister Sidehara Kidjuro (Shidehara Kijuro) expressed an opinion that was openly held by many high-ranking officials at the time. Sidehara stated, “People will gradually get used to being bombed every day. Over time, their unity and determination will only grow stronger."

In a letter to a friend, he noted that it is important for citizens to endure suffering because “even if hundreds of thousands of civilians are killed, injured and starved to death, even if millions of homes are destroyed and burned,” diplomacy will take some time. It is appropriate to recall here that Sidehara was a moderate politician.

Apparently, at the very top of state power in the Supreme Council, the mood was the same.The Supreme Council discussed the issue of how important it is for the Soviet Union to remain neutral - and at the same time, its members did not say anything about the consequences of the bombing. From the surviving minutes and archives, it can be seen that at the meetings of the Supreme Council city ​​bombings were mentioned only twice: once in passing in May 1945 and the second time on the evening of August 9, when there was an extensive discussion on this issue. Based on the available evidence, it is difficult to say that the Japanese leaders attached any importance to the air raids on cities - at least compared to other pressing wartime problems.

General Anami August 13 noticed that atomic bombings are terrible no more than conventional airstrikesthat Japan has been exposed to for several months. If Hiroshima and Nagasaki were no more terrible than ordinary bombings, and if the Japanese leadership did not attach much importance to this, not considering it necessary to discuss this issue in detail, then how could atomic attacks on these cities force them to surrender?

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are among the many US crimes in World War II

Strategic importance

If the Japanese were not worried about the bombing of cities in general and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in particular, what worried them in general? The answer to this question is simple.: Soviet Union.

The Japanese found themselves in a rather difficult strategic situation. The end of the war was approaching, and they were losing this war. The furnishings were bad. But the army was still strong and well supplied. It was almost four million people, and 1, 2 million of this number were guarding the Japanese islands.

Even the most uncompromising Japanese leaders understood that it was impossible to continue the war. The question was not whether to continue it or not, but how to complete it on better terms. The allies (the United States, Great Britain and others - remember that the Soviet Union was still neutral at that time) demanded "unconditional surrender." The Japanese leadership hoped that it would somehow be able to avoid military tribunals, preserve the existing form of state power and some of the territories seized by Tokyo: Korea, Vietnam, Burma, separate areas Malaysia and Indonesia, much of the eastern Of China and numerous islands in the pacific.

They had two plans for obtaining optimal conditions for surrender. In other words, they had two strategic options for action. The first option is diplomatic. In April 1941, Japan signed a neutrality pact with the Soviets, and this pact ended in 1946. A group of mostly civilian leaders led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Togo Shigenori hoped that Stalin could be persuaded to act as a mediator between the United States and the allies on the one hand, and Japan on the other, in order to resolve the situation.

While this plan had little chance of success, it reflected sound strategic thinking. In the end, the Soviet Union is interested in the conditions of the settlement were not very favorable for the United States - after all, an increase in American influence and power in Asia would invariably mean a weakening of Russian power and influence.

The second plan was military, and most of its supporters, led by the Minister of the Army Anami Koreticawere military people. They hoped that when American forces launched an invasion, the Imperial Army's ground forces would inflict huge losses on them. They believed that if they succeeded, they would be able to squeeze more favorable conditions out of the United States. Such a strategy also had little chance of success. The United States was determined to get the Japanese to surrender unconditionally.But since there was concern in US military circles that invasion losses would be prohibitive, there was some logic in the strategy of Japan's high command.

To understand what was the real reason that forced the Japanese to surrender - the bombing of Hiroshima or the declaration of war by the Soviet Union, it is necessary to compare how these two events affected the strategic situation.

After the atomic strike on Hiroshima as of August 8, both options were still in force. It was also possible to ask Stalin to act as an intermediary (there is an entry in Takagi's diary dated August 8, which shows that some Japanese leaders were still thinking about involving Stalin). It was still possible to try to carry out one final decisive battle and inflict great damage on the enemy. The destruction of Hiroshima had no effect on the readiness of troops for stubborn defense on the shores of their native islands.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are among the many US crimes in World War II

Yes, there was one less city behind them, but they were still ready to fight. They had enough cartridges and shells, and if the army's combat power had decreased, it was very insignificant. The bombing of Hiroshima did not prejudge either of Japan's two strategic options.

However, the effect of the declaration of war by the Soviet Union, its invasion of Manchuria and the island of Sakhalin was completely different. When the Soviet Union entered the war with Japan, Stalin could no longer act as a mediator - now he was an enemy. Therefore, the USSR, by its actions, destroyed the diplomatic option of ending the war.

The impact on the military situation was equally dramatic. Most of the best Japanese troops were in the southern islands of the country. The Japanese military correctly assumed that the first target of the American invasion would be the southernmost island of Kyushu. Once powerful Kwantung Army in Manchuriawas extremely weakened, since its best parts were transferred to Japan to organize the defense of the islands.

When the Russians entered Manchuria, they simply crushed the once elite army, and many of their units only stopped when they ran out of fuel. The 16th Soviet Army, which numbered 100,000, landed troops in the southern part of the island Sakhalin… She was ordered to break the resistance of the Japanese troops there, and then within 10-14 days to prepare for the invasion of the island. Hokkaido, the northernmost of the Japanese islands. Hokkaido was defended by the 5th Territorial Army of Japan, which consisted of two divisions and two brigades. She concentrated on the fortified positions in the eastern part of the island. And the Soviet plan for the offensive provided for a landing in the west of Hokkaido.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are among the many US crimes in World War II

You don't need to be a military genius to understand: yes, you can conduct a decisive battle against one great power that has landed in one direction; but it is impossible to repel an attack by two great powers attacking from two different directions. The Soviet offensive nullified the military strategy of the decisive battle, just as it had previously devalued diplomatic strategy. The Soviet offensive was decisive in terms of strategy, because it deprived Japan of both options. A the bombing of Hiroshima was not decisive (because she did not rule out any Japanese options).

The entry of the Soviet Union into the war also changed all calculations regarding the time remaining for maneuver. Japanese intelligence predicted that American troops would only begin the landing in a few months. Soviet troops could actually be on Japanese territory in a matter of days (within 10 days, to be more precise). The advance of the Soviets mixed up all plansconcerning the timing of the decision to end the war.

But the Japanese leaders had come to this conclusion a few months earlier. At a meeting of the High Council in June 1945, they stated that if the Soviets go to war, “it will determine the fate of the empire". Deputy Chief of Staff of the Japanese Army Kawabe at that meeting he said: "The maintenance of peace in our relations with the Soviet Union is an indispensable condition for the continuation of the war."

Japanese leaders were stubbornly unwilling to take an interest in the bombing that destroyed their cities. It was probably wrong when the air raids began in March 1945. But by the time the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima, they were right to view the bombing of cities as an insignificant interlude with no serious strategic implications. When Truman uttered his famous phrase that if Japan does not surrender, its cities will undergo a "destructive downpour of steel," in the United States, few people understood that there was almost nothing to destroy.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are among the many US crimes in World War II

By August 7, when Truman voiced his threat, there were only 10 cities left in Japan with populations of over 100,000 that had not yet been bombed. On August 9, a blow was struck Nagasaki, and there are nine such cities left. Four of them were located on the northern island of Hokkaido, which was difficult to bomb because of the long distance to the island of Tinian, where American bomber aircraft were stationed.

Minister of War Henry Stimson (Henry Stimson) struck the ancient capital of Japan off the list of bomber targets because of its religious and symbolic importance. So, despite Truman's formidable rhetoric, after Nagasaki, Japan remained only four large cities that could be subjected to atomic strikes.

The thoroughness and scale of the bombing of the American Air Force can be judged by the following circumstance. They bombed so many Japanese cities that they ended up being forced to target communities of 30,000 or less. In the modern world, it is difficult to name such a settlement and a city.

Of course, cities that had already been bombarded with incendiary bombs could have been re-attacked. But these cities were already destroyed by an average of 50%. In addition, the United States could drop atomic bombs on small towns. However, such untouched cities (with a population of 30,000 to 100,000 people) remained in Japan only six… But since 68 cities in Japan had already been seriously damaged by the bombing, and the country's leadership did not attach any importance to this, it was hardly surprising that the threat of further airstrikes could not make a big impression on them.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are among the many US crimes in World War II

Convenient story

Despite these three powerful objections, traditional interpretation of events continues to greatly influence the way people think, especially in the United States. There is a clear reluctance to face facts. But this can hardly be called a surprise. We should remember how convenient the traditional explanation for the bombing of Hiroshima is in emotional plan - for both Japan and the United States.

Ideas retain their power because they are true; but, unfortunately, they can also remain valid from the fact that they meet the needs from an emotional point of view. They fill an important psychological niche. For example, the traditional interpretation of the events in Hiroshima has helped Japanese leaders achieve a number of important political goals, both domestically and internationally.

Put yourself in the shoes of the emperor. You have just waged a devastating war on your country. The economy is in ruins. 80% of your cities are destroyed and burned. The army is defeated, having suffered a series of defeats. The fleet suffered heavy losses and does not leave its bases. The people are starting to starve. In short, the war has become a disaster, and most importantly, you lying to your peoplewithout telling him how bad the situation really is.

The people will be shocked to learn of the surrender.So what should you do? Admitting that you have failed completely? Make a statement that you have seriously miscalculated, made mistakes and caused enormous damage to your nation? Or explain the defeat by amazing scientific achievements that no one could have predicted? If the blame for the defeat is blamed on the atomic bomb, then all mistakes and military miscalculations can be swept under the carpet. The bomb is the perfect excuse for losing the war. You don’t have to look for the guilty, you don’t need to conduct investigations and trials. Japanese leaders will be able to say that they did their best.

Thus, by and large the atomic bomb helped remove blame from Japanese leaders.

But explaining the Japanese defeat by atomic bombings, it was possible to achieve three more very specific political goals. Firstly, this helped to preserve the legitimacy of the emperor. Since the war was lost not because of mistakes, but because of an unexpected miracle weapon that appeared in the enemy's hands, it means that the emperor will continue to enjoy support in Japan.

Secondly, it aroused international sympathy. Japan waged the war aggressively, and showed particular cruelty towards the conquered peoples. Other countries probably should have condemned her actions. And if turn Japan into a victim country, which inhuman and dishonestly bombed with the use of a terrible and cruel instrument of war, it will be possible to somehow atone for and neutralize the most vile acts of the Japanese military. Drawing attention to the atomic bombings helped create more sympathy for Japan and quench the urge for the harshest punishment.

And finally, claims that the Bomb won the war flattered Japan's American victors. The American occupation of Japan officially ended only in 1952, and all this time The United States could change and remake Japanese society at its own discretion. In the early days of the occupation, many Japanese leaders feared that the Americans would want to abolish the institution of the emperor.

They also had another fear. Many of Japan's top leaders knew they could be prosecuted for war crimes (when Japan surrendered, Germany had already tried its Nazi leaders). Japanese historian Asada Sadao (Asada Sadao) wrote that in many post-war interviews, "Japanese officials … were clearly trying to please their American interviewers." If Americans want to believe that their bomb won the war, why disappoint them?

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are among the many US crimes in World War II

Explaining the end of the war with the use of the atomic bomb, the Japanese largely served their own interests. But they served American interests too. With the bomb assuring victory in the war, the perception of America's military power is heightened. The diplomatic influence of the United States in Asia and around the world is increasing, and American security is being strengthened.

The $ 2 billion spent on the bomb was not wasted. On the other hand, if we admit that the reason for Japan's surrender was the entry of the Soviet Union into the war, then The Soviets may well claim to have done what the United States failed to do in four years. And then the perception of the military power and diplomatic influence of the Soviet Union will strengthen. And since the Cold War was already in full swing at that time, recognizing the Soviets' decisive contribution to victory was tantamount to helping and supporting the enemy.

In looking at the issues raised here, it is disturbing to realize that the evidence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is at the heart of everything we think of nuclear weapons. This event is irrefutable proof of the importance of nuclear weapons. It is important for gaining a unique status, because the usual rules do not apply to nuclear powers. This is an important yardstick for nuclear danger: Truman's threat to expose Japan to a "destructive rain of steel" was the first open nuclear threat.This event is very important for creating a powerful aura around nuclear weapons, which makes it so significant in international relations.

But if the traditional history of Hiroshima is questioned, what should we do with all these conclusions? Hiroshima is the focal point, the epicenter, from which all other statements, statements and claims spread. However, the story that we tell ourselves is far from reality. What should we now think of nuclear weapons if his colossal first achievement - Japan's miraculous and sudden surrender - turned out to be a myth?

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