6 August: Sixty fifth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima


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Dr. Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle
Bellevision Media Network

06 August 2010: Sixty five years ago on the morning of 6 August 1945, the world witnessed for the first time the disastrous impact of atomic weapon that caused the death of thousands of people and destruction of a city that was full of life and activity. It was the fag end of the Second World War and in a desperate move to put an early end to the devastating war and avoid risking more American lives, especially those of the young soldiers, the United States which had by then developed the atomic bomb used it for the first time in human history over one of the most populous cities of Japan-Hiroshima causing widespread death and destruction. The people who were exposed to the atomic radiation and survived suffered from various types of diseases such as leukaemia and cancer. As Japan stood firm and refused to surrender, the United States dropped another atom bomb on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945, that finally forced Japan to surrender  thus drawing the curtain over one of the most devastating and widespread wars in human history.

The Second World war that had started in Europe with the attack on Poland by Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Germany on 1 September 1939 had gradually spread to different parts of the world in which the Allied Powers England and France and their associates and the Axis Powers-Germany, Italy and Japan and their supporters were ranged against each other. The United States was aloof from the war till the Japanese air force, without any warning attacked the Naval Base of the United States at the Pearl Harbour in the Hawaii islands in mid-pacific Ocean on 7 December 1941. This belligerent act of Japan dragged the United States into the war.

The war became widespread and resulted in thousands of casualties, destruction and untold human suffering. The war in Europe ended with the defeat of first Italy and later Germany, Hitler committing suicide and Germany surrendering on 7 May 1945.  However, in spite of the end of the war in Europe, Japan, the remaining member of the Axis Powers continued the war in the Pacific, Far East and South East Asia. On 26 July 1945, the United States, England and China issued a joint ultimatum to Japan to surrender or be destroyed. As Japan ignored the final warning, the United States devised a plan to use the newly developed atom bomb against Japan.

Harry S Truman-President of USA

Harry Truman, who had succeeded F D Roosevelt as the president of the United States following the latter’s death in April 1945, decided to use the untested ultimate weapon-the atom bomb on Japan.

In the early morning hours of 6 August 1945, a B-29 bomber named Enola Gay carrying the atom bomb nicknamed ‘Little Boy’ and piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets took off from the island of Tinian and flew toward Japan. The primary target of the mission was Hiroshima, a city with a civilian population of almost 300,000 and was an important military centre with about 43,000 soldiers. Hiroshima also had Japan’s Second Army Headquarters and a communications centre and storage depot. 

The Enola Gay and its crew

It was sunny Monday morning and people were having their normal morning activities. At approximately 8:15 am, the Enola Gay dropped the atom bomb nick named ‘Little Boy’, weighing 9,700-pounds over Hiroshima. Forty-three seconds later, a huge explosion lit the morning sky as ‘Little Boy’ detonated 1,900 feet above the city. The yield of the explosion was later estimated at 15 kilotons, equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT.  Within minutes the entire city of Hiroshima was hidden by a vast mushroom-like cloud. 

            

With the impact of the atom bomb, those closest to the explosion died instantly their bodies being charred into black bundle of flesh.  The survivors closer to the blast described the sudden impact of the blast as being struck with a blinding light combined with a sudden and overwhelming wave of heat. People farther from the point of detonation experienced first the flash and heat, followed seconds later by a deafening boom and the blast wave.  Nearly every structure within one mile of ground zero was destroyed, and almost every building within three miles was damaged.  Less than 10 percent of the buildings in the city survived without any damage, and the blast wave shattered glass in suburbs twelve miles away. 

 The numerous small fires that erupted simultaneously all around the city soon merged into one large firestorm, creating extremely strong winds that blew towards the centre of the fire.  The firestorm eventually engulfed 4.4 square miles of the city, killing anyone who had not escaped in the first minutes after the attack. 

Even after the flames had subsided, relief from the outside was slow in coming.  For hours after the attack the Japanese government did not even know for sure what had happened.  Radio and telegraph communications with Hiroshima had suddenly ended at 8:16 am. The first confirmation of exactly what had happened came only sixteen hours later with the announcement of the bombing by the United States.  

It was several days after the impact of the atomic bomb that the medical staff began to recognize the first symptoms of radiation sickness among the survivors.  Soon the death rate began to increase as patients who had appeared to be recovering began suffering from this strange new illness.  Deaths from radiation sickness began to multiply and long-range health dangers associated with radiation exposure, such as an increased danger of cancer continued for the rest of the victims’ lives along with the psychological effects of the atomic attack.

Even after sixty five years of the tragedy of Hiroshima no one knows exactly how many people died as a result of the attack.  It is generally believed that around 70,000 people might have died during the initial blast, heat and radiation effects.  However, by the end of 1945, because of the lingering effects of radioactive fallout and other after effects, the Hiroshima death toll was probably over 100,000.  Over the period of time it has been estimated that more than 200,000 people have perished due to cancer and other long-term effects.

Three days later, the United States dropped another atomic bomb nick-named ‘Fat Man’ on the city of Nagasaki killing around 40,000 people, which finally drove Japan to surrender bringing an end to the Second World War.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the two cities of Japan that faced the first and last nuclear holocaust. The death, devastation and suffering of the people roused the conscience of the humanity to such an extent that there has been a general consensus against the possession of nuclear weapons by any country of the world. 

Every year, 6 August has been observed as ‘Hiroshima Day’ in many parts of the world with special vigils and peace marches. The memorial Cenotaph in Hiroshima was unveiled on 6 August 1952. Under the Cenotaph, which is in the shape an ancient clay house, is a stone coffin. On its surface are inscribed the words, "Rest in peace, for the mistake shall not be repeated." However, nuclear weapons continue to present a threat to civilisation, the human species, and 95 percent of land-based living things.

The United States and Russia, with approximately 23,000 nuclear warheads between them control 95 percent of all the nuclear warheads in the world. Among these, around 5,000 warheads between them are on high-alert, capable of being launched in less than two minutes. As these warheads are monitored and guided by the computers, any computer error would still end civilisation and possibly the human species as well as most living things on land. The proliferation of nuclear weapons and their possibility of falling into the hands of the terrorists would jeopardise the security of the terrorist targeted nations.

The big powers stockpile nuclear weapons and additional nations undertake to produce such dangerous warheads as deterrent which can be considered as ‘nuclear blackmail’. Such psych of the nations would bring the world at the brink of ‘nuclear suicide’. The only way to ensure that there is no further spread of nuclear weapons and that terrorists would never lay their hands on such messengers of death is to eliminate them completely by means of a Global Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Whether we like it or not, we live in the age of nuclear horror. Therefore in order to make our own lives secure and to ensure the perpetuation of human race it is imperative that the world leaders and statesmen should put their heads together and banish all nuclear weapons from the earth once and for all. Japan, which had suffered the worst effects of the atomic bomb, is in the forefront of this drive for peace. Will the other nuclear nations follow suit...?

 

 

Comments on this Article
Philip Mudartha, Qatar Fri, August-6-2010, 3:16
With the death, injury, pain, penury and destruction, it is important to recall the aftermath: surrender of militarist regimes, end too the most devastating war in the history of mankind, emergence of democratic rule in Europe, emergence of several independent and free nations ending the colonial control of Europe, reconciliation of the powers at war and especially the US-Japanese collaboration to build a future as new peaceful nation for a bruised people, the forgiveness (not hatred) of the vanquished towards the vanquisher,..the list can go on. These were the fruits of the sacrifices Hiroshima and Nagasaki made. The good brought on by evil. Therefore, let it be remembered that the existence of nuclear threat has prevented WW-III, despite having lot more reasons why the world could go to war..It is nobler to abolish them, but they also have served a noble cause, strange it may seem..
Staney D Souza, Dubai Thu, August-5-2010, 9:43
Almighty god please brighten the mind of all nation leaders and give wisdom to destroy these nuclear weapons to live peacefully on this planet.
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