The decision by President Harry S. Truman on the morning of August 6th, 1945 to order the U.S military to drop an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima was the result of careful consideration and thought. Factors such as the Japanese government and military’s refusal to surrender, whether to mount a U.S. ground invasion of the Japanese home islands, what city would be targeted for atomic destruction and what would the toll of human deaths and casualties were taken into account.
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Harry S. Truman was sworn in as president of the United States on April 12th, 1945 after President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a massive stroke. President Truman had very little experience in foreign policy and now found himself charged with ending WWII. The decisions made would require President Truman to rely on senior military officials and trusted advisors.
On July 26th, 1945 in Potsdam, Germany the United States, China and Great Britain met to discuss the peace settlement with Germany as the country had surrendered two months earlier. Japan had not yet surrendered so the war continued in the Pacific area. President Harry S. Truman, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek used this opportunity to draft a document to state terms for Japan’s surrender and to warn Japan of terrible consequences if they continued to fight.
The United States had considered a ground invasion of the Japanese home islands but were convinced the Japanese military would fight even more fiercely if the United States invaded their home land. The battles at Iwo Jima and Okinawa had cost thousands of U.S. soldiers and sailors their lives and this remained a concern for President Truman.
Given the choice of a peaceful solution for Japan’s surrender would not be possible and further battles would result in more death for U.S. military personnel, use of an atomic bomb was the only choice left. The choice to target Hiroshima was made carefully. The city had suffered little damage from the war and was primarily used for military production. It would not be a choice without concern because in Japan, the homes of the factory workers were built close to the factories where they worked. However, since Hiroshima was not a main cultural city such as Kyoto, President Truman would be able to destroy Japan’s ability to continue to make weapons and fight, without destroying its culture. President S. Truman was a man of details and fully understood what the result of using an atomic bomb might be.
Given he had to bring the war to an end on August 6th, 1945 President Truman ordered the military to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The B-29 aircraft named Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb called Little Boy it exploded releasing power equal to twelve and a half tons of dynamite. There were sixty-two thousand buildings destroyed and there were a great number of fires which started as the result of the blast. Over eighty thousand people were killed, thirty-five thousand were injured and at least sixty thousand more people would be dead by the end of the year because of the radiation. A second atomic bomb called The Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan three days later. On August 14th, 1945 Japan agreed to the terms of surrender and the following day, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito broadcast the news to his people via a live radio broadcast. The world famous artist Pablo Picasso once said Every positive value has its price in negative terms… the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima.
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