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Remembering Hiroshima, the city that was destroyed by the “Little Boy”


By Nithin Sridhar

On the early morning of August 6th, 1945, Colonel Paul W. Tibbets Jr. of United States Air Force and his crew flew Enola Gay, the Boeing B29 Bomber, into the city of Hiroshima and dropped “Little Boy” precisely at 8:15 am.

“Little Boy” was none other than the very first atomic bomb that contained 64 kg of uranium-235.


After 44 seconds, the bomb exploded directly above Shima Surgical Clinic in Hiroshima. The Little Boy caused a blast that was equivalent to a blast by 16 kilotons of TNT. There was a total destruction within 1 km radius and a future destruction due to firestorm happened within 4-5 km radius.

The Hiroshima bombing by the Little Boy was followed by Nagasaki bombing by “Fat Man” on August 9th, 1945. On the one hand, the bombings forced the Japanese to surrender and ended the Second World War. On the other hand, it resulted in thousands of people in these two cities suffering for many generations.

Today is the 70th anniversary of this great tragedy that resulted in an end to a War which could have led to a greater tragedy if it had not been stopped.

Why America chose to use Atomic Bombs

There has been a lot of criticism in the aftermath of the Second World War regarding the decision of Harry S. Truman, the then President of US to drop atomic bombs on Japan. But, at the same time, it has been well established that during the war itself, the President received advice from various military and civil personnel including many scientists regarding the use of atomic bomb.

The US explored various options like continued naval blockade, air bombardment and eventual invasion of Japan in order to end the war as the Japanese were not ready for unconditional surrender.


In his thesis “America’s Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb on Japan”, Joseph H. Paulin says:

During the time President Truman authorized the use of the atomic bomb against Japan, the United States was preparing to invade the Japanese homeland. The brutality and the suicidal defenses of the Japanese military had shown American planners that there was plenty of fight left in a supposedly defeated enemy. Senior military and civilian leaders presented Truman with several options to force the surrender of Japan. The options included the tightening of the naval blockade and aerial bombardment of Japan, invasion, a negotiated peace settlement, and the atomic bomb became an option, once bomb became operational.

“Truman received recommendations, advice, and proposals from civilian and military leaders within the first two months of taking office after President Roosevelt died. Only after meeting with the senior leadership to discuss the various options did Truman authorize the planning and execution of the invasion of Japan.  However, the extremely large casualty estimates presentedby the Chiefs of Staff remained a concern for Truman, especially in the wake of the bloody battles on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.These estimates became the driving factor for Truman’s ultimate decision to use the new weapon against Japan and to end the war before any more Americans service members died unnecessarily.”

In 1945, Quincy Wright and William Shockley prepared a report assessing the probable causalities in the event of an American invasion of Japan. The report estimated that an American invasion of Japan would lead to deaths of 5-10 million Japanese and 1-4 million casualties on the American side including the deaths of 400,000 to 800,000 American soldiers.

Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - 65th Anniversary

Therefore, the driving force behind American decision to drop atomic bombs were to end the war as soon as possible and to prevent further loss of Americans who are fighting the war. Other factors that might have influenced the decision to use the bombs include using it as a justification for spending huge cost on Manhattan project (around $1,889,604,000, 1945 dollar rate) that produced the bomb, and as a response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The casualties of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing

Whatever may have been the reason, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced the Japanese to surrender, but at a great cost to human lives.

In Hiroshima, around 70,000-80,000 people died immediately and another 70,000 people were injured due to the blast and the resultant firestorm. The total figures of those who died reached about 140,000 by December 1945. Around 92% of the 76000 buildings were destroyed or damaged beyond repairs by the blast. In Nagasaki, at least 39,000 people died and another 25,000 people were injured.

The radiation from the bomb explosion had long-term health effects on the Japanese survivors of the war including causing leukemia, blood disorder, solid cancer and keloids. A study by Radiation Effects Research Foundation shows that between 1950 and 2000, 46% of leukemia deaths and 11% of solid cancer deaths among the bomb survivors were due to their exposure to radiation from the bombs.

These heavy causalities and the long-term effects of the atomic bombs must serve as a lesson for the people in power to make sure that a situation wherein the use of these bombs become inevitable, like Second World War, never again arise.


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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    In the history of mankind, this was the biggest destruction ever caused! Not only the people, but their generations also suffered a lot

  • Being_Stupid

    They bombed Pearl Harbor first.

Next Story

Solving a murder in a Nazi bastion, escaping the Stasi

But as there are a couple of Nazis who are not so bad, our hero also shows that anyone with some dignity and honour can keep his mooring amid the direst evil

Prussian Blue is a must read book which offers different perspective. IANS
Prussian Blue is a must read book which offers different perspective. IANS
  • Prussian Blue is a novel by Philip Kerr
  • It is set in World War II
  • Thr book is an interesting read

Title: Prussian Blue (Bernie Gunther Series); Author: Philip Kerr; Publisher: Quercus

Some men can never outrun their past. It is not that their wrongdoings cannot be forgotten, but rather that their unique abilities which even their enemies, spanning the spectrum from Nazism to Communism, recognise and seek to utilise for their own ends. As with this outspoken, irreverent but capable German ex-policeman.

Bernie Gunther has survived over over two decades of Nazi rule, World War II’s Russian front, Soviet captivity, the Cold War’s lethal attentions — from all its sides — service to Juan Peron and the American mafia in Battista’s Cuba, and now just wants a quiet life.

Not Nazi were bad.

But his eccentric fate hasn’t yet finished with him, even in 1956. And in his latest appearance, Gunther learns — yet again — that the pathology of power remains the same, though the name, uniforms and even ideology may change, and today’s oppressed can easily become — and inevitably do — tomorrow’s oppressors.

Fleeing Berlin after a complex intelligence operation where he got even with those kicking him around — with the help of a dangerous figure from his pre-war past — Gunther tries to live obscurely as concierge in a small hotel on the French Riviera. But soon, his unlikely helper — Erich Mielke, the dreaded second-in-command of East Germany’s Stasi — personally appears and threatens him to undertake a mission.

This entails going over to Britain and poisoning — by thallium no less — a covert woman agent, whom Gunther had deftly outsmarted in his previous outing (“The Other Side of Silence”, 2016). And just to keep him on his toes, Mielke has his men arrange a near-fatal hanging for him.

But our hero is not one to give in tamely. While he goes along with Mielke’s assignment knowing the men wished upon him to “help” will eventually be his executioners, he escapes from the train taking them towards the English Channel. The Stasi men are soon on his trail and since their leader is someone who knows Gunther too well — a former pre-war Berlin police colleague who was his aide in investigating a crime in Adolf Hitler’s hilltop Bavarian retreat in 1939 — keeping ahead will not be too simple.

As Gunther flees across France with the French police too on his trail, his mind travels back to April 1939 when another dreaded boss sent him to solve a serious crime in Hitler’s holiday home, just before the Fuhrer visited it for his 50th birthday.

A top engineer overseeing construction and renovations has been shot dead right on the terrace of special tea house planned as a surprise for Hitler and now his close aide Martin Bormann wants the matter to be solved expeditiously without any fuss, so there is no threat to the Fuhrer’s life.

But as Gunther finds out, there is no shortage of suspects given the greed, graft, jealousy, turf fights and more going on between Nazi bigwigs in this Nazi citadel and a mass of resentful local residents, dispossessed of home or property for the Hitler retreat.

Given the high stakes involved, will he be allowed to investigate the case to its logical conclusion and identify the truly guilty or will any scapegoat do?

Flipping between the hazardous 1939 investigation and the nervous 1956 flight, Philip Kerr, in the 12th installment of his most captivating series, brings our wise-cracking, sardonic but resourceful hero back to life in all his tarnished, tired but still irrepressible form.

Also Read: Book Review: ‘Blitzed – Drugs in Nazi Germany’- Straight dope about the Fuehrer and the Nazi war machine

While it is a thriller twice over, the real worth is the uncompromising light it shows totalitarianism in — especially Nazism, which despite its much touted high ideals, could not advance from the ambition, greed and conceit of its principal leaders. Stalinist Communism, with its readiness to employ former Nazis and be as violent, doesn’t come far behind.

Kerr also scores in his vivid but unflattering portraits of top Nazis — from the boorish Bormann to the devious Heydrich and their system of violent loot or just violence. Apart from the insight into workings of Nazism, there is an unforgettable insight into normalisation of terror and casual brutality to gain and keep personal power.

But as there are a couple of Nazis who are not so bad, our hero also shows that anyone with some dignity and honour can keep his mooring amid the direst evil. That is why Bernie Gunther’s exploits are a must read. IANS