Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A Tragedy

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by socioshezza
Last updated 7 years ago

Social Studies
World War II

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Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A Tragedy

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A Tragedy

The Manhattan Project

This was the code name for the American effort to build an atomic bomb. It started with Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi, both of whom were concerned about Germany's discovery of how to split the uranium atom. They expressed this concern to President Roosevelt, who agreed to let Fermi and Einstein to do research. At first research was only in a few select universities. But in 1942, Fermi and a group of physicists created the first controlled nuclear chain reaction. After this breakthrough, the Manhattan Project moved a great deal faster. The central assembly plant was built in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where Robert Oppenheimer was in charge of assembly. In the summer of 1945, the first atomic bomb was ready for testing. At Trinity Site, near Alamogordo, New Mexico, the atomic bomb was detonated. It resulted in a mushroom cloud of 40,000 feet in height, and the had anything been within 100 miles of the explosion, it would have been incinerated (Manhattan, 5/20/14).The nuclear age had begun.

The Ultimatum

In 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Since then, Japan and the US and its allies had been at war. On July 26th, President Harry Truman issued the Potsdam Declaration, which demanded Japan's immediate and unconditional surrender, and listed terms of peace between the two nations. The Japanese were warned of the consequences if they either did not obey the rules of the Potsdam Declaration, or didn't surrender at all. I feel like sometimes nations make decisions just to shake things up for future readers of history textbooks. This is one of those times. The Japanese rejected the Potsdam Declaration, causing Truman to authorize the use of the atomic bomb (Bombing, 5/21/14).


On August 6th, 1945, 8:15 AM Hiroshima time, a B-29 plane called the "Enola Gay" flew over the city of Hiroshima, and dropped a uranium atomic bomb. The bomb caused unspeakable damage. At ground zero, 70,000 Japanese citizens were vaporized, and approximately 140,000 people were injured. Those who survived the initial blast would have seen people walking around with half of their flesh melted off, and others screaming for help as they were trapped in their burning homes. Two-thirds of the buildings in the city were demolished. In the days, weeks, months, and years after the bombing, 100,000 died of burns and radiation poisoning (Bombing, 5/26/14).That was only Part One. Part Two of Doomsday came on August 8th, in Nagasaki. At 11:02 AM, a plutonium atomic bomb was dropped on the industrial city of Nagasaki. An estimated 80,000 were killed, and more than two-thirds of the buildings in the city were destroyed. Radiation poisoning took the lives of many, even those who were up to two kilometers away from the bomb (Decision, 5/26/14). The Japanese surrendered unconditonally on September 2nd, 1945, putting an end to the war for good.

Works Cited

"The Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." Hiroshima & Nagasaki Atom Bombs. Visual Concept Entertainment, n.d. Web. 26 May 2014."The Decision to Drop the Bomb." Ushistory.org. Independence Hall Association, 2008. Web. 26 May 2014."The Manhattan Project." Ushistory.org. Independence Hall Association, 2008. Web. 26 May 2014.

Testing at Trinity Site

The Bombing of Hiroshima

The Bombing of Nagasaki (skip to 0:40)

Barefoot Gen is a Japanese anime created by a man who survived the bombing of Hiroshima. The bombing scene can be watched here.(Warning: mildly graphic)

View the Potsdam Declaration in its entirety here.

A photoset of the aftermath of the bombings can be viewed here.

Hotel on the Corner

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the surrender of the Japanese shortly thereafter, ended the war. On page 259 of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry talks about how the news spread quickly: the war had ended. People were out in the streets celebrating, unaware of the horrors over in Japan. Because for them, this was the joyous end of the war, and not a holocaust of their people.


  • Momochan 7 years ago

    Momochan's avatar

    I like your choice of videos!

  • J3SS1CA 7 years ago

    J3SS1CA's avatar

    Nice layout. I really like your videos and links. It taught me a lot about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • sunnyinseattle 7 years ago

    sunnyinseattle's avatar

    Great videos! Well-organised :)

  • amynoji 7 years ago

    amynoji's avatar

    Very well done. Written well and presented professionally.