[This post may occasionally be placed at the top of this blog in early August for the Aug. 6 commemoration of the Hiroshima bombing and the Aug. 9 commemoration of the Nagasaki bombing, during which newer posts are below this one. It was written from Portland, Oregon, where I lived in Summer 2013.]
“…[The] use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender. … [In] being the first to use it, we . . . adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”
– Fleet Admiral Major General Curtis E. LeMay, Chief of Staff to President Truman [Source: American Military Leaders Urge President Truman not to Drop the Atomic Bomb]
This week marks the 68th anniversary of two heinous genocidal war crimes, committed by the US government: the nuclear incineration of the almost entirely civilian Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, at a time top military commanders were fully aware Japan had been making attempts to surrender for months.
On August 6, 1945, 8.15 am, the uranium atom bomb exploded 580 metres above the city of Hiroshima with a blinding flash, creating a giant fireball and sending surface temperatures to 4,000 degrees Celcius. Fierce heat rays and radiation burst out in every direction, unleashing a high pressure shockwave, vaporising tens of thousands of people and animals, melting buildings and streetcars, reducing a 400-year-old city to dust.
Women, men and children were incinerated instantly or paralysed in their daily routines, their internal organs boiled and their bones charred into brittle charcoal.
Beneath the center of the explosion, temperatures were hot enough to melt concrete and steel.
Within seconds, 75,000 people had been killed or fatally injured. As a city full of families, with young children most affected by fallout, these most evil of massacres includes the fact that:
65% of the Hiroshima casualties
were younger than 10 years old
[Source and historic images: Fogonazos, 05 febrero 2007: Hiroshima, the pictures they didn’t want us to see, from which part of the text in this blog post was taken as well:]
Survivor Yasuo Yamamoto wrote in his memoir: “There was a column of fire about ten yards ahead of me—a regular waterfall of fire—with terrific explosions like the sound of a thousand thunderclaps,” […] “The screams of babies and women and the helpless calling for lost ones poured into my ears like water from a dam that has broken.”
Radiation deaths were still occurring in large numbers in the following days. “For no apparent reason their health began to fail. They lost appetite. Their hair fell out. Bluish spots appeared on their bodies. And then bleeding began from the ears, nose and mouth”.
Three days later, Nagasaki was obliterated as well, this time by a plutonium bomb, with plutonium made at the war-crime-scene-turned-national-monument Reactor B (which I visited, see HERE) at the Hanford Site in Washington State. (Which is currently struggling with leaking tanks with extremely radioactive nuclear waste).
On August 10, 1945, the day after the bombing of Nagasaki Yosuke Yamahata, began to photograph the devastation. The city was dead. He walked through the darkened ruins and the dead corpses for hours. By late afternoon, he had taken his final photographs near a first aid station north of the city. In a single day, he had completed the only extensive photographic record of the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing of either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
Mr. Yamahata’s photographs are the most complete record of the atomic bombing as seen in the most immediate hours after the bombing. The New York Times has called Mr. Yamahata’s photographs, “some of the most powerful images ever made”. (For more images, see also at Nuclear Darkness, and at the Japanese Congress.)
“[…] these weapons, as they were in fact used, dramatized so mercilessly the inhumanity and evil of modern war. In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.” – J. Robert Oppenheimer (Physicist and Director of the Manhattan Project – Quote from lecture at M.I.T., November 25, 1947)
I went to the event, “Hiroshima, Nagasaki, & Hanford: A Tragic Connection.”, held (yesterday) Tuesday, August 6th, 2013, 6:00 – 7:00 PM at the Japanese American Historical Plaza.
It was attended by at least 300 people, I estimate.
From the website of the Oregon chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility:
“August 6th and 9th of this year mark the 68th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As we have for many years, Oregon PSR will use this opportunity to educate our community regarding the very real threat posed by nuclear weapons and to mobilize Oregonians to act to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again.
This year we will commemorate the lives lost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki while exploring our region’s inextricable relationship to the bombings. The plutonium used in the “Fat Man” weapon, which killed so many tens of thousands at Nagasaki, was created at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, WA, which sits on the Columbia River just a few hours east of Portland. As a result of nearly half a century of producing materials for nuclear weapons, Hanford is now considered one of the most dangerously polluted places on Earth. [speakers list and more; …]”
The amazing Portland Taiko drum group opened and closed the commemoration.
There are currently two art exhibitions: Black Rain: Memories, Histories, Places, Bodies by artist Yukiyo Kawano, and Shadows, by artists Anna Daedalus and Kerry Davis, powerfully explore the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through installation pieces, performance and photographic prints.
— May Peace Prevail on Earth —
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