The Atomic Bomb
The Atomic Bomb How would you have felt if you had to make the decision to drop an atomic bomb on a city? That is what President Truman was faced with towards the end of World War II. In 1941, the Manhattan Project began and a few years later the first atomic bomb was produced. The president didn’t know how to use this weapon. Japan was the only axis power left fighting and they were very weak. They were just about to surrender.
Before they could, President Truman made the call to bomb Hiroshima. A few days later they bombed Nagasaki. He thought that it would bring an end to the war and save many American lives. Was this the right decision? The Manhattan Project The race to build the world’s first atomic bomb was well underway. Scientists such as Albert Einstein who fled Nazi persecution and Enrico Fermi, who escaped fascist Italy, feared that Germany and Japan might also be constructing an atomic bomb. It was arranged that Enrico Fermi would meet with President Roosevelt to inform him of the dangers of atomic weaponry in the hands of the Axis Powers.
Few others saw this problem. Later, Einstein wrote a letter to the president persuading him to start an atomic research program. He saw no need for this project but agreed to proceed. In 1941, the research project to create an atomic bomb began and was known as the Manhattan Project. At that time, research was based at Columbia University, University of Chicago and the University of California Berkeley. After Fermi and other physicists produced the first controlled nuclear chain reaction in 1942, the project received more funds and began to advance quickly.
Two nuclear facilities were built. Los Alamos, New Mexico is where the main assembly plant was constructed. Robert Oppenheimer was the man in charge of putting all the pieces together at Los Alamos. Nearly two billion dollars were spent on research and over 120,000 Americans were employed. Keeping this project a secret was very important. Neither Germany nor Japan could find out about this.
Only a few people knew of the development of the atomic bomb. Despite all efforts to conceal the advancements of this project, a Soviet spy uncovered some information. Thankfully, the Axis Powers never found out. In the summer of 1945, the atomic bomb was ready to be tested at Trinity site near Alamogordo, New Mexico. The bomb was attached to a hundred foot tower. Nothing could have prepared the scientists for what occurred when the bomb detonated.
A mushroom cloud reached over 40,000 feet. A blinding flash could be seen from 200 miles away. The windows of homes up to 100 miles away were blown out. A half mile wide crater was left. The sand had been turned into glass.
A cover story was quickly released saying that an ammunition dump exploded in the desert. President Truman soon received word that the project was successful. Bombing Hiroshima World War II was quickly coming to a close. Japan was the only Axis Power left fighting. They were very weak and close to surrendering. President Truman had to choose whether or not to use the atomic bomb.
He decided to drop the bomb on Japan because he thought that it would quickly end the war and save many American lives. President Truman picked a city that had not been damaged by any other bombings so that they could see how much damage the atomic bomb could do. They chose Hiroshima, a military supply base. On the morning of August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay flew from an island in the North Pacific carrying the atomic bomb nicknamed the “Little Boy.” The bomb was dropped from 1,900 feet above the city and only missed the intended target by 800 feet. The tail gunner of the Enola Gay described Hiroshima as “a peep into hell.
” (Dowswell 115) Two thirds of the city was destroyed. Seven-year-old Michiko Kodoma said this about the bombing. “I saw a bright blast, and I saw yellow and silver and orange and all sorts of colors that I can’t explain. Those colors came and attacked us, and the ceiling beams of the wooden school along with the glass from the window pane all shattered and blew away all at once.”(abc.go.com) Over 80,000 people died in the bombing and another 80,000 from radiation poisoning. When Hiroshima made contact with Tokyo after the bombing, they thought it was an exaggeration since no one had ever heard of such destructive weaponry. Bombing Nagasaki On August 9, three days after dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, another plane left an island in the North Pacific carrying a second atomic bomb. After much debate, the Americans had found two possible cities to bomb; Nagasaki and Kocura. Nagasaki was ruled out because it had been previously bombed and it would be difficult to asses the damage so Kokura, a weapons arsenal, was chosen. The morning the plane set out, the sky was hazy above the city and they could not see the target to drop the bomb.
They flew the atomic bomb nicknamed “Fat Man” one hundred miles south west to Nagasaki. The bomb was dropped from 1,650 feet above the city. Even though this bomb was stronger than the one dropped on Hiroshima, it destroyed only two fifths of the city. Nagasaki’s terrain prevented the bomb from doing as much damage. About 40,000 people died in the bombing.
After The War Japan had faced immense destruction after the dropping of atomic bombs on two of their cities. The Japanese emperor said that “the unendurable must be endured.” (Appleby 832) August 15, 1945, was pronounced V-J Day. It stood for “Victory over Japan.” On September 2, Japan signed the formal surrendered.
World War II was finally over. All the ghettos and concentration camps set up by the Nazi’s were liberated. Criminal trials were held for Nazi officers for crimes against humanity. These trials were held in Nuremberg, Germany. Conclusion In short, World War II was one of the deadliest wars in United States history.
More than sixty million people died from fighting, disease and starvation. A large number of casualties were civilians. Many people suffered through horrendous conditions. There were also many food things that came out of World War II. There were jobs for women and other minorities.
The United States economy thrived. World War II was a major learning opportunity for our country. General Eisenhower said, “The world must know what happened, and never forget.”(worldwar2tributes.com) We can never forget the horrific tragedy that was World War II.