Rayees Ahmad Kumar Berigam
On August 6, 1945, one atomic bomb reduced most of Hiroshima to rubble. Some 200,000 people died in the initial blast and from the ensuing effects of radiation. Three days later, Nagasaki faced the same nuclear fire. After the bomb fell, Hiroshima was full of miraculous accounts of services restored—water, electricity, streetcars—and of unheralded heroes from near and far who helped bring the city back to life in the years afterwards. United States of America was late and reluctant entrant to the World War II . It had no direct concern with the war which began on 3rd September 1939 and centred in Europe. For about two years USA was silent spectator of war. When Hitler launched mindless attack on Soviet Russia on 22 June 1941, UKs Prime Minister Winston Churchill convinced USA of Hitler’s ambition of world hegemony. USA declined to send it’s soldiers but agreed to assist the Allies (UK, France and USSR) with liberal supplies of war materials. War continued. In the meantime, Japan made blunder of attacking the Pearl Harbour a coast of Hawaii Island in the Pacific under USA’s sovereignty on 7th December 1941. This provoked USA to enter the war. Now USA was fighting war against Hitler in Europe and against Japan in Asia. Japan had formidable military strength. It embroiled USA for two years. After Hitler’s imminent surrender in Europe, USA became impatient to end the war in Asia. US President Harry Truman got hold of atom bomb. It had the potential of razing everything buildings, vegetation and living creatures to the ground. Truman couldn’t resist the temptation of using the bomb, and hurled two bombs one at Hiroshima another at Nagasaki. It was too much for Japan to bear it. Its formidable conventional weapons were no match for the nuclear bombs of USA. The use of atomic weapons by USA in war against Japan was a great wrong against humanity. With the development of atomic weapons by several countries, the whole world is sitting under the Damocles’ sword of nuclear war. When begin, it would annihilate the entire mankind and civilisation.
The bombing of Hiroshima, codenamed Operation Centerboard I, was approved by Curtis LeMay on August 4, 1945. The B-29 plane that carried Little Boy from Tinian Island in the western Pacific to Hiroshima was known as the Enola Gay, after pilot Paul Tibbets’ mother.
Today Hiroshima’s problems are those of many Japanese cities—a declining birth rate, an aging population, inadequate hotel capacity for its more than two million yearly visitors, and aging buildings and infrastructure. But there’s a sense of urgency about preserving the memories of the survivors—the hibakusha. There are about 47,000 of them in Hiroshima; their average age is 82. The city has dispatched hibakusha around the world, in person and via the internet, to tell their stories. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum has a video library of more than 1,500 survivors’ tales, some 400 viewable online. Some survivors are even available for video conferencing. Many say that sharing their stories gives more meaning to what they endured. On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. The bomb was known as “Little Boy”, a uranium gun-type bomb that exploded with about thirteen kilotons of force. At the time of the bombing, Hiroshima was home to 280,000-290,000 civilians as well as 43,000 soldiers. Between 90,000 and 166,000 people are believed to have died from the bomb in the four-month period following the explosion. The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that after five years there were perhaps 200,000 or more fatalities as a result of the bombing, while the city of Hiroshima has estimated that 237,000 people were killed directly or indirectly by the bomb’s effects, including burns, radiation sickness, and cancer. The bombing of Hiroshima, codenamed Operation Centerboard I, was approved by Curtis LeMay on August 4, 1945. The B-29 plane that carried Little Boy from Tinian Island in the western Pacific to Hiroshima was known as the Enola Gay, after pilot Paul Tibbets’ mother. Along with Tibbets, copilot Robert Lewis, bombardier Tom Ferebee, navigator Theodore Van Kirk, and tail gunner Robert Caron were among the others on board the Enola Gay. Below are their eyewitness accounts of the first atomic bomb dropped on Japan.
(The author teaches at Govt BHS Anderwan Ganderbal. Views are his own) [email protected]