August 6, 1945; ‘˜Little Boy’ is dropped over Hiroshima. Three days later on August 9; ‘˜Fat Man’ is introduced to Nagasaki. No. These are not comics; this is the darkest fact of world history. ‘˜Little Boy’ and ‘˜Fat Man’ were the names given to the two atomic bombs dropped over two cities in Japan marking the end of the darkest era in the world history. The state of total war that the globe was put through, during World War II, devastated millions of lives and casted a bitter shadow mirroring the ugly face of theories like ‘˜democracy’, ‘˜balance of power’ and ‘˜fight for dominance’ which were lived through sheer violence.
Fought majorly among the Allied powers comprising the ‘˜The Big Three’, namely, the United Kingdom, the United States, Soviet Union and the Axis powers which mainly included Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and the Imperial Empire of Japan, World War II caused total mayhem in mere six years from 1939 to 1945. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States is one of the major menacing events of WW2; others being the Holocaust, bombing of industrial and population centres and so on.
Entry of United States
The United States’ entry in the World War II (though only after December 7, 1941, after Japan bombed the American fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii) was a heavy footed one, with President Franklin Roosevelt already preparing his country for what he termed the ‘˜inevitable’ armed conflict. America’s vision to see itself as a superpower was evident since the days of President Roosevelt’s declaring its need of becoming ‘˜the great arsenal of democracy’.
The Manhattan Project ‘“ Precaution better than cure?
The bombings were a product of The Manhattan Project which was to study and put together the nuclear weapons for World War II. The countries involved in these experiments were the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. They majorly wanted to develop nuclear weapons in order to safeguard themselves even before any danger strikes. As the Trinity Test which was the experimentation of these nuclear weapons, was carried out, the Allied forces had already defeated Europe. After the unconditional surrender of Germany on May 7th, American aircraft, especially B-29, kept bombing Japanese cities, further depleting its strength. However Japan stood strong on its ground and refused the Allied demand for surrender proposed in the Potsdam Declaration. The impression of Japan to always ‘˜fight till the bitter end’ despite its shrinking resources and near defeat was of major concern to the Allied powers.
The Big Decision
Japan’s rigidity made its surrender a matter of centre stage during the near end of the war. As Japan held ground, General MacArthur, along with other top militarists of the US decided to carry on with the conventional bombings followed by a ground invasion termed ‘˜Operation Olympic’. Evidently desperate, it was also made very clear that and unconditional surrender would not mean total annihilation of Japan and it would be given complete freedom to choose its government, suspiciously this clause was left out of the Potsdam Declaration offered to Japan in writing. When nothing worked and Operation Olympic came out on the maps, the total estimated casualties for the United States was drawn up to a staggering 1 million if it were to carry on with it. This became the pivot for ending the war as the United States then decided to ‘˜end the war quickly’ rather than bear the casualties of the ground invasion.
The war ended but the ordeal of the people in Japan stayed till years after the two atomic bombs wiped out cities. Many of the scholars citing that US merely wanted to showcase its superpower, condemn the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki by President Franklin’s successor President Harry Truman. This horrifying event in history is one of the most controversial debates even today.
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