9 August 1945

9 August 1945

9 August 1945

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Japan

The second atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki. The bomb is dropped from Bock's Car, an aircraft of the 509th Composite Group.

Kamarski is hit by conventional attack

Diplomacy

President Truman makes a broadcast on the results of the Potsdam Conference



August 9, 1945: Second Atomic Bomb Dropped on Nagasaki, but Was It Necessary?

On August 9, 1945, a Boeing B-29 bomber named “Bockscar” dropped the second atomic bomb on Japan, incinerating 39,000 people within seconds. In the following weeks, thousands more would die from exposure and their injuries, and more would keep dying from radiation-related illnesses for years to come. The Japanese quickly surrendered after this second nuclear attack, but the question of whether or not this bomb was necessary still haunts Americans to this day.

Digging Deeper

“Bockscar” was part of a special B-29 unit specially trained for dropping atomic bombs. The bombers were modified B-29s that had their bomb bays adapted to fit extra large bombs (the Uranium “gun” type and the Plutonium “pumpkin” type) and whose armor and guns had been removed to save weight. They had also been fitted with improved engines. Not only were these planes able to carry either the “Little Boy” or the “Fat Man” bombs, but their superior performance allowed them to escape the blast zones more quickly.

The first atomic bomb, “Little Boy” which had the “gun” type configuration, was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The stunned Japanese had already started to debate whether or not to surrender when the second bomb, called “Fat Man,” a Plutonium-implosion “pumpkin” type, was dropped on Nagasaki.

The “Fat Man” bomb was considerably more powerful than the “Little Boy” bomb, but poor visibility caused it to be dropped off target, killing fewer people.

Normally the debate about the use of the atomic weapons against Japan focuses on whether the first bomb should have been dropped on a populated place at all, something we here at History and Headlines have discussed here. Whether or not the second bomb was needed is even more debatable. Why did the U.S. not give the Japanese a little more time to sort out the chaos of the first attack or, after a day or 2, communicate an ultimatum? Were the American planners that eager to test the effects of another type of bomb on real people? Some have speculated that the second bomb was needed to prove that the U.S. had more than one such weapon. This implies that the U.S. might have continued to drop atomic bombs until Japan finally surrendered.

The statement “With great power comes great responsibility” may come from a comic book, but it is certainly true. Was the United States using its great power responsibly in August of 1945? Most Americans would say yes, but many people around the world would say no. Question for students (and subscribers): What do yousay? Should the U.S. have dropped that second bomb on Nagasaki, or should America have pursued other means before rushing to nuke another city? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section below this article.

History and Headlines Note: “Bockscar” is on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. The pilot of “Bockscar,” Major Charles Sweeney, later became a Major General in the Massachusetts Air National Guard and died in 2004 at the age of 84.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

KidCaps. The Atomic Bomb: A History Just For Kids! CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.


This Day in History: 6 – 9 August 1945


Clothing remains of victim of Hiroshima atomic bomb

Please excuse my tardiness but it has been a hectic week!  This anniversary was too important to ignore though especially considering I had recently taken the photograph above which depicts the clothing remains of of a victim of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

On 6 August 1945, the Enola Gay (a US military B-29 bomber) dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima and up to 140,000 people were killed.  Three days later on 9 August 1945, the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and 80,000 people were killed.  The bombings resulted in the surrender of Japan to the Allied forces and is attributed with bringing World War II to an end.

But at what cost?  The predominantly civilian victims of the atomic bombs experienced their skin literally melting off their bodies.  Those closest to the bombs died within seconds but about 15-20% of the victims died from the effects of flash burns, radiations burns and injuries sustained in the fall out.  In later weeks and months, they succumbed to radiation sickness, illness and malnutrition.  There have also been several linked cases of leukaemia and other cancers in the area since the event due to remaining radiation.

The horrific but acclaimed Japanese manga series Barefoot Gen illustrates the effects of the bomb.  Take a look at this short video.  You can watch the full feature length film on YouTube.  That link takes you to the playlist and consists of nine 10-minute clips.

My grandfather fought in World War II and I am not taking sides.  I just think it is important to realise that we can never do this again.  That we must trust in organisations such as the United Nations and that atomic war can never, ever be allowed to happen again.

This excellent article presents a United Press news story that appeared at the time.

2 comments

I really admire your passion for this cause and I totally agree - we should never allow such things to happen again. It's kind of scary though because we have more powerful weapons available and I'm not just talking about nuclear arms but biological weapons.

As if that isn't enough, more and more people are dying from AIDS, hunger, malaria, dengue, respiratory diseases from pollution, H1N1 flu, and all kinds of cancers everyday.

But there's reason to hope, too. And one of them is THIS blog.

@ Isis: hi there! Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I know right, the world could be over in a couple of seconds!


Today in World War II History—Aug. 9, 1940 & 1945

80 Years Ago—Aug. 9, 1940: Hermann Göring orders Luftwaffe to destroy RAF fields, control centers, and radar.

In past month the RAF has lost 84 fighters, while the Luftwaffe has lost 227 aircraft.

Romania passes antisemitic laws, bans marriage between Christians and Jews, bans Jewish and mixed-race children from state schools, and bans Jews from public or military service.

75 Years Ago—Aug. 9, 1945: Atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki by US B-29 Bock’s Car, flown by Maj. Charles Sweeney about 35,000 killed.

Soviets invade Japanese-occupied Manchuria with 1.5 million soldiers.

Last Victoria Cross of war is awarded posthumously to Canadian Corsair pilot Lt. Robert Hampton Gray for sinking Japanese destroyer Amakusa off Honshu.


August 9, 1945 Nagasaki

The 10,000lb, 10𔄂″ weapon was released at 28,900′. Seconds later, a perfect circle of 64 detonators exploded inside the heart of the bomb, compacting the plutonium core into a supercritical mass and exploding with the force of 20,000 tons of high explosive.

Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds“.

Trinity Test Fireball

The line comes from the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu epic which Mohandas Gandhi described as his “spiritual dictionary”. On July 16, 1945, these words were spoken by J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project, as he witnessed “Trinity”, the world’s first nuclear detonation.

The project had begun with a letter from prominent physicists Leo Szilard and Albert Einstein to President Franklin Roosevelt, warning that Nazi Germany may have been working to develop a secret “Super Weapon”. The project ended with the explosion of the “Gadget” in the Jornada del Muerto desert, equaling the explosive force of 20 kilotons of TNT.

The Manhattan Project, the program to develop the Atomic Bomb, was so secret that even Vice President Harry Truman was unaware of its existence.

President Roosevelt passed away on April 14, and Harry Truman was immediately sworn in as President. He was fully briefed on the Manhattan project 10 days later, writing in his diary that night that the US was perfecting an explosive “great enough to destroy the whole world”.

Nazi Germany surrendered on May 7, but the war in the Pacific theater, ground on. By August, Truman faced the most difficult decision ever faced by an American President. Whether to drop an atomic bomb on Imperial Japan.

The morality of President Truman’s decision has been argued ever since. In the end, it was decided that to drop the bomb would end the war faster, with less loss of life on both sides, compared with the invasion of the Japanese home islands.

So it was that the second nuclear detonation in history took place on August 6 over the city of Hiroshima, Japan. “Little Boy”, as the bomb was called, was delivered by the B29 Superfortress “Enola Gay”, named after the mother of United States Army Air Forces pilot Lieutenant Colonel Paul Tibbets. 70,000 Japanese citizens were vaporized in an instant. Another 100,000 later died from injuries and the delayed effects of radiation.

Fat Man

Even then the Japanese Government refused to surrender. ‘Fat Man’, a plutonium bomb carried by the B29 “Bockscar”, was dropped on Nagasaki, on August 9.

The three cities originally considered for this second strike included Kokura, Kyoto and Niigata. Kyoto was withdrawn from consideration due to its religious significance. Niigata was taken out of consideration due to the distance involved.

Kokura was the primary target on this day, but local weather reduced visibility. Bockscar criss-crossed the city for the next 50 minutes, but the bombardier was unable to see well enough to make the drop. Japanese anti-aircraft fire became more intense with every run, and Second Lieutenant Jacob Beser reported activity on the Japanese fighter direction radio bands.

In the end, 393rd Bombardment Squadron Commander Major Charles Sweeney bypassed the city and chose the secondary target, the major shipbuilding center and military port city of Nagasaki.

The 10,000lb, 10𔄂″ weapon was released at 28,900′. 43 seconds later at an altitude of 1,650′, a perfect circle of 64 detonators exploded inside the heart of the bomb, compacting the plutonium core into a supercritical mass which exploded with the force of 20,000 tons of high explosive.

In the early 1960s, the Nagasaki Prefectural Office put the death count resulting from this day, at 87,000. 70% of the city’s industrial zone was destroyed.

Japan surrendered unconditionally on the 14 th of August, ending the most destructive war in history.

Nazi Germany was, in fact, working on a nuclear weapon, and had begun before the allies. They chose to pursue nuclear fusion, colliding atomic particles together to form a new type of nuclear material, instead of fission, the splitting of the atom which resulted in the atomic bomb.

That one critical decision, probably taken in some laboratory or conference room, put Nazi Germany behind in the nuclear arms race. How different would the world be today, had Little Boy and Fat Man had swastikas painted on their sides.


9 August 1945 - History

By Nathan N. Prefer

To the Soviet military, it is known as the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation. Although it had no official name to the Japanese, it has become known in the West as Operation August Storm. It was the greatest defeat in Japanese military history, yet few outside the circles of Japanese and Soviet history are even aware that it occurred. It ensured the end of World War II as much as the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did, yet it is often ignored in Western studies of the war.

More than one million Japanese soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians were killed or captured in a month’s bitter fighting in a far-off land that even today remains somewhat mysterious.

The seeds of the annihilation of four Japanese armies, each equal to an American field army, were planted in 1931. Japanese militarists saw the civil war in China between Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists and Mao Tse-tung’s Communists as an opportunity for a place at the imperialist table and a slice of the Chinese pie, and thus decided to invade China, Manchuria, and Korea.

The Imperial Japanese Army was particularly interested in showcasing its skills. They began by courting the Chinese warlord then in control of Manchuria. As the situation in China deteriorated, the Japanese Army used a series of staged provocations to eventually invade and seize Manchuria. This move, in the spring of 1931, set the stage for the Sino-Japanese War, which would last until Japan’s defeat and surrender in August 1945.

Although a giant in terms of land mass and population, China was viewed by most Japanese leaders in the 1930s and 1940s as a weak and largely defenseless area ripe for colonization and exploitation. Increasingly the Japanese militarists—primarily the Army but to a lesser extent along the coast, the Imperial Japanese Navy as well—increased their appetite for additional Chinese territory.

But these increasing violations of Chinese sovereignty brought a new player into the scenario: the Soviet Union. Premier Joseph Stalin became increasingly concerned that the Japanese were getting much too close to his own far eastern borders, and the already suspicious Russian leader began to fear their ultimate goals. This brought on the first armed clash between Russian and Japanese forces in late July 1938.

In an attempt to halt the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, Japanese infantrymen board a train bound for the front. Most would not return home alive.

Known as the Changkufeng Incident by the Japanese and the Battle of Lake Khasan by the Russians, it would set the stage for all future conflicts between the two nations.

Essentially, a strong Russian force of about 20 infantry divisions massed on the border of Japan’s puppet state, Manchukuo—formerly Manchuria—to prevent any Japanese incursions. The Japanese, by now fully involved in the so-called “China Incident,” ignored the threat.

The Japanese had a low opinion of Russian military prowess, anyway. The Russian defeat in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, and the more recent Stalinist purges of his own military hierarchy, simply reinforced an already established prejudice.

When in 1938 there arose a dispute over the exact border between Manchuria, Korea, and the Soviet Union, a high-ranking Soviet defector brought much intelligence to the Japanese Kwantung Army. This defection prompted a local Soviet commander to occupy part of the disputed border line.

Even as diplomatic messages were being exchanged, the ever aggressive Kwantung Army began preparations to eject the Russian “trespassers,” and a Japanese infantry division was rushed to the area. The Russians countered, sending more troops as well. The Japanese were ready to attack and needed only the usually pro forma approval of their Emperor. But that approval did not come, infuriating the Kwantung Army leaders.

Repeated requests to begin the battle were denied, only to be followed by more urgent demands. Finally, the local Japanese division commander launched an attack on his own, claiming that the Russians were digging defensive positions within Japanese territory.

It was not the first, nor would it be the last time that the Kwantung Army started a war all on its own. Indeed, during this crisis the leaders of the Kwantung Army seriously discussed prospects of bringing down the current Japanese government should it interfere with their operations.

Riding in U.S. Lend-Lease amphibious DUWKs, Red Army troops advance to the U.S.S.R.- Manchuria border during Operation August Storm.

The Changkufeng battle was comparatively small. Fewer than 2,000 Japanese soldiers attacked in darkness and with surprise, overwhelming the Soviet defenders. The Japanese believed the issue settled. Not so the Russians.

General Grigori Shtern brought up his 49th Corps of the Red Banner Far Eastern Army, and repeated Soviet counterattacks drove the Japanese back, with heavy casualties on both sides. Diplomacy eventually settled the dispute, but the Japanese were unpleasantly surprised by the force and volume of the Russian military response. The result was a change of plans by the Kwantung Army regarding a possible invasion of eastern Russia. To prevent further Russian action, the Japanese ordered a more aggressive border security policy for all their units.

This policy resulted in the next incident, commonly known as the Nomonhan Incident. Repeated clashes between border-guard units finally erupted into open warfare on May 11, 1939. The Nomonhan Incident was much more like a full-scale war than Changkufeng.

Stalin decided that he had had enough of Japanese provocations. He ordered a heavy response and sent a new up-and-coming military leader, Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov (who would later distinguish himself at the Battles of Moscow, Stalingrad, and Berlin), to take command.

The resulting battles, which lasted into August 1939, cost the Japanese between 18,000 and 23,000 casualties and achieved nothing in terms of additional territory. Once again diplomacy resolved the issue but left the pot simmering. In April 1941, to cool the pot, a nonaggression pact was signed between the Soviet Union and Japan.

Within a year of the Nomonhan Incident, Japan’s leaders were trying to decide how to finally knock out China and end a war that seemed interminable. One choice was to attack the Soviet Union, thereby eliminating the northern threat and freeing up forces for the war in China.

Others argued for a strike to cut off all avenues of resources to China, starving her into submission. This, other voices said, might touch off a war with the United States, Great Britain, and Holland.

Already in the spring of 1940, German forces had overrun much of Western Europe and had pushed the British Expeditionary Force out of Dunkirk and back to Britain. In September 1940, Japan allied herself with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany by signing the Tripartite Pact.

Japanese soldiers man a machine-gun outpost along the shores of the Amur River in Manchuria, August 9, 1945, the day the Soviet invasion began.

These seemingly easy successes in Europe whetted the Japanese leaders’ appetite for an aggressive strike against their perceived Western foes. The results, of course, were the 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, Wake Island, and other American, British, French, and Dutch territories in the Pacific.

Between 1940 and 1945, the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuria, which also had responsibility for Korea, remained relatively static. There were no significant incidents and no struggles with the Russians. But the Army itself was being bled by the needs of the Imperial Japanese Army rampaging across the Pacific. Several of the best combat divisions within the Army were called up to do battle in New Guinea, the Philippines, and the Central Pacific. This left the Kwantung Army with inadequately trained and equipped forces should any enemy suddenly appear.

That enemy indeed appeared as a result of the several Allied political leaders’ meetings during the course of the war. As the war rolled on, both the Americans and British were fully engaged in battle in North Africa, Italy, northwestern Europe, and the Pacific. (The British, after their early losses, had, relatively speaking, only token forces left in the Pacific.) The Western Allies, therefore, were anxious for some assistance in defeating Japan once Germany surrendered. Plans had to be made.

The joint U.S.-British effort to develop an atomic bomb was a well-kept secret, and there was no proof that it would work. Even if it did, it might not force Japan’s surrender without a full-scale invasion of the Home Islands. Many requests—at Tehran, Yalta, and most recently at Potsdam—had been made for Russia to enter the war against Japan.

Stalin had agreed in principle but had put off releasing any details. But, as the war continued and his spies in the British and American intelligence communities reported progress on the atomic bombs, Stalin became more interested in acquiring territory in the Far East before the war ended.

As a result, he agreed to declare war on Japan within three months after Germany surrendered. Originally planned for August 15, 1945, the Russian declaration was moved up when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

In mid-1945, the Kwantung Army contained 24 infantry divisions, two tank divisions, five air squadrons, and totaled 780,000 officers and men. In addition, seven more infantry divisions with 260,000 personnel were in Korea and subject to joint operations.

The Kwantung Army commander was General Otozo (Ichikawa) Yamada, with headquarters located at Hsingking. Under his command were the First, Third, and Fifth Area Armies, with numerous independent units.

In addition, General Yamada had under his command armies of the puppet states of Manchukuo and Mengjiang, with 220,000 and 10,000 troops, respectively. Some sources have said that available Japanese defense forces totaled 1,100,000 officers and men.

There were also tens of thousands of Japanese civilians, men, women, and children, who had settled in Manchuria as colonists or worked for the Imperial Japanese Army.

Even as the Russians were about to battle for Berlin in April 1945, arrangements were made to release some major Red Army combat units for the coming war with Japan in the Far East. Beginning in March 1945, Stalin began transferring forces to the East, including the Karelian Front and the 2nd Ukrainian Front. (A Front was the Soviet equivalent of a U.S. Army Group and generally consisted of three to five armies—more than 100,000 men.)

These brought with them four army headquarters: the 5th, 39th, and 53rd Infantry and 6th Guards Tank Armies. These had not been chosen at random. Rather, each had some combat experience that would be needed in Manchuria. Some had fought in marshes and swampy terrain, while others had fought in the Carpathian Mountains—another feature they would face in Manchuria’s Grand Khingan Mountains.

A huge motorized Soviet convoy advances across the Grand Khingan Mountain Range in south central Manchuria.

In addition, a host of artillery, engineer, and tank regiments were also shipped east to reinforce the larger armies. Beginning in March and continuing through August 1945, some 20 to 30 trains per day were rolling east on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, carrying these and other reinforcements for the Far Eastern Army.

By August, Soviet strength in the Far East had doubled, from the former 40 divisions to 80 divisions with strong supporting forces. These troops were assembled in rear areas well out of view of the Japanese border guards, and as the time for the attack neared they were quietly moved forward under cover of darkness to their assault positions (much as Nazi Germany did prior to its 1941 sneak attack against the Soviet Union).

Manchuria itself covered 1.5 million square kilometers and encompassed mountain ranges, swamps, fertile valleys, and barren stretches. Its strategic importance stemmed from its geographic location, bordered on the south by Korea, on the east and north by the Soviet Far Eastern provinces, including Siberia, and on the west by Outer Mongolia.

Japan, China, and the Soviet Union had all viewed this area as a critical location for either defense or aggression against their neighbors, should that become necessary. But the area had a poor road network, and those roads were subject to deterioration under adverse weather conditions.

The key area to controlling Manchuria was its Central Valley region, where most of the population lived and where much of its agricultural production originated. Other key areas included the Barga Plateau and the Grand Khingan Mountains, which controlled, militarily speaking, the rest of the country.

The Japanese defenders consisted of two area armies, the rough equivalent of an American army group. The 1st Area Army, under the command of General Kita Seiichi, included the 3rd Army and the 5th Army, each with three infantry divisions.

Under Seiichi’s direct command at 1st Area Army were four more infantry divisions and one independent mixed brigade. Responsible for eastern Manchuria, the 1st Area Army counted 222,157 soldiers within its ranks by August 1945.

General Ushiroku Jun’s 3rd Area Army was the other major defending force in Manchuria. It included the 30th Army with four infantry divisions, one independent mixed brigade, and one tank brigade, as well as the 44th Army with three infantry divisions, one independent mixed brigade, and one tank brigade.

Under Jun’s control at 3rd Area Army were an additional infantry division and two independent mixed brigades. Responsible for central and western Manchuria, Jun had 180,971 men under his command.

A third force, Lt. Gen. Uemura Mikio’s 4th Separate Army, covered north-central and northwest Manchuria with three infantry divisions and four independent mixed brigades amounting to 95,464 soldiers. In reserve under direct Kwantung Army control was the 125th Infantry Division.

After hostilities with the Soviets began, Imperial Japanese Headquarters in Tokyo assigned to General Yamada the 34th Army, headquartered at Hamhung in northern Korea, with the 59th Infantry Division at Hamhung and the 137th Infantry Division at Chongpyong—a total of 50,104 additional troops.

The 17th Army in southern Korea, with another seven infantry divisions and two independent mixed brigades, was also assigned at this time. The Sungarian Naval Flotilla—a collection of small coastal supporting naval craft—was also a part of the defense.

In Manchuria alone, the Imperial Japanese Army mustered 713,724 soldiers, 1,155 tanks, 5,360 artillery pieces, and about 1,800 aircraft. The average Japanese infantry divisions had more men (about 12-16,000 troops) than the average Soviet division (with perhaps 10-12,000 troops).

Red Army troops follow in the wake of an armored vehicle towing an artillery piece up a steep incline.

Overall, the Kwantung Army seemed to be a formidable force with 31 infantry divisions, nine independent mixed brigades, two tank brigades, and one special-purpose brigade. But these figures were deceiving. Japanese armor was inferior to anything the Soviets possessed, even though the Russians were using, in some units, tanks that had been obsolete on the Western Front by 1941.

The Soviets also were masters in the use of artillery and outnumbered the Japanese in Manchuria nearly five-to-one in both tanks and artillery. In the air, the Japanese were outnumbered two to one. In manpower, the approaching Soviet juggernaut would be closer to equal, but even here the Japanese were about to be outnumbered more than two to one in numbers of troops.

The Japanese had adjusted their planning as time went by and the world’s circumstances changed with the developing war situation. Before 1944, the Japanese continued to plan for an aggressive attack against the Chinese and Soviets to advance their territorial goals in the Far East. By September 1944, those plans had changed to a strong defense of Manchuria at the borders.

Those plans were again changed to a defense-in-depth, with the borders lightly defended and the main Japanese resistance to be set at selected fortified locales within Manchuria and a final stand to be made in the Tunghua stronghold just above the Korea/China border.

Imperial General Headquarters ordered that the many border garrisons be combined and formed into eight new infantry divisions, numbered 121 through 128, plus four mixed brigades. These were to replace four regular divisions transferred to the Home Islands, the Philippines, and Central Pacific.

Headquarters in Tokyo also decreed that some 250,000 Japanese Army reservists be called up for the Kwantung Army. These would be organized into eight more divisions, numbered 134 through 139 and 148 and 149. Seven more brigades and supporting units were also to come out of the reservist callup.

But these measures actually weakened the Kwantung Army, replacing veteran troops with new troops in units that were badly in need of combat training.

The latest plans called for platoons and battalions to be left at the borders to delay the enemy while the main forces withdrew 40 to 70 kilometers to the fortified localities, which were each to be defended by one or more divisions.

The withdrawal was to be as slow and deliberate as possible and directed finally on the prepared defenses at Tunghua and Antu in a decisive defensive battle along the northern Korean border. About one-third of the Japanese forces were to defend the border while the remaining two-thirds were to withdraw into the fortified redoubts.

Japanese intelligence and Japanese diplomatic couriers using the Trans-Siberian Railway had reported seeing massive troop and equipment movements from west to east and noted the unusual recall of Soviet diplomats and their dependents from Japan.

An attack by the Soviet Union had been long expected, but it had been hoped that the Russians would, as one historian put it, “adopt a policy of ‘waiting for the ripe persimmon to fall,’ rather than shaking the tree and were expecting nothing before the end of August.”

This was even though, in April 1945, the Soviets had told the Japanese that they would not be extending their nonaggression pact, which still had a year to run.

The Russians were indeed preparing a strong attacking force to overcome the Japanese plans and forces. The senior command was the Far East Theater Headquarters, headed by Marshal of the Soviet Union Alexsandr Mikailovich Vasilevsky.

After joining the Red Army and becoming a company commander in 1918, Vasilevsky became a battalion commander. By 1936, he was attending the General Staff Academy, after which he was posted to the Soviet General Staff. He was in the operations division of the Soviet General Staff in 1940 and, within two years, was the chief of staff.

As Stalin’s personal representative, he participated in the Stalingrad, Kursk, and Belorussian operations before taking command of the 3rd Belorussian Front in East Prussia in 1945. That same year he was designated to command the Soviet Forces, Far East.

The first of Marshal Valislevsky’s operational armies was known as the Trans-Baikal Front. This army had under its command the 6th Guards Tank Army, the 17th, 36th, 39th, and 53rd Armies, and a Mongolian Cavalry-Mechanized Group, along with the 12th Air Army.

A Japanese horse-mounted unit on maneuvers along the banks of the Amur River shortly before the Soviets declared war on Japan, August 8, 1945.

Its 640,040 men were divided into 30 rifle divisions, five cavalry divisions, two tank divisions, 10 tank brigades, and eight mechanized brigades some 41 percent of the Soviet forces were within this group. Commanding the Trans-Baikal Front was Marshal of the Soviet Union Radion Yakovlevich Malinovsky, who had previously commanded a front in the Battles of Odessa, Budapest, and Vienna.

Malinovsky’s compatriot was 48-year-old Marshal of the Soviet Union Kirill Meretskov and his 1st Far Eastern Army, with the 5th Guards Army, 1st Red Banner Army, 25th and 35th Armies, 10th Mechanized Corps, and Chuguevsk Operational Group, supported by the 9th Air Army.

In total, Marshal Meretskov had 586,589 troops in 31 rifle divisions, one cavalry division, 12 tank brigades, and two mechanized brigades. Meretskov’s forces represented 37 percent of the total Soviet force.

The smallest of these combined Soviet armies was the 2nd Far Eastern Front with the 15th, 16th, and 2nd Red Banner Armies, 5th Separate Rifle Corps, and the Kuriles Operational Group, supported by the 10th Air Army. With 337,096 men, it represented only 21 percent of the total Soviet force in the East of 1.5 million men.

These combined armies were the result of the constant Soviet effort at updating and modernizing their forces as they learned from experience. A combined arms Soviet army at this stage of the war consisted of between 80-100,000 soldiers divided into 7 to 12 rifle divisions, one or two artillery brigades, a tank destroyer brigade, an antiaircraft brigade, a mortar regiment, signal regiment, engineer regiment, two or three tank brigades, and a tank or mechanized corps. These troops were armed with 320 to 460 tanks, 1,900-2,500 guns and mortars, and 100 to 200 self-propelled guns.

Soviet tactics against enemy defenses had also been articulated into military regulations. Superiority over the enemy forces on one particular axis needed to be achieved, then close tank-infantry cooperation, strongly supported by artillery and air power, would attack.

Mobile groups of tanks and mechanized troops would break through, creating an initial penetration at which time the entire attacking force would follow through and exploit that penetration, breaking up the remaining enemy defenders into smaller groups that were then defeated in detail. Meanwhile, airborne, reconnaissance, and partisan groups would disrupt the enemy’s rear areas, cutting lines of communication and supply.

For the Manchurian campaign, 50-year-old Marshal Vasilevsky planned a double envelopment of the Kwantung Army, attacking along three separate axes of advance. His objective was to destroy the Kwantung Army and secure the entire Manchurian territory for the Soviet Union as quickly as possible, before the end of the war halted all military operations.

To do this he had planned to launch Marshal Malinovsky’s army first, followed in a day or two by Marshal Meretskov’s, but on August 7—the day after the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima—Vasilevsky changed his mind and decided on a two-pronged simultaneous attack using all three armies.

On August 9, a second A-bomb wiped out Nagasaki. Still, the Japanese did not surrender.

On that same day, Vasilevsky directed the Trans-Baikal Front to strike east into western Manchuria while the 1st Far Eastern Front attacked west into eastern Manchuria. These attacks were to clear the Japanese out of Manchuria and to join with each other in the Mukden, Harbin, and Kirin areas of south central Manchuria.

After the Soviets launched an amphibious invasion of Japanese-occupied Korea on August 14, the Red Army stopped at the 38th Parallel at the proposal of the United States, thus establishing the later border between North and South Korea.

Meanwhile, the 2nd Far Eastern Front would launch a supporting attack into northern Manchuria and also join with the others in the Harbin and Tsitsihan areas of Manchuria. Attacks planned against southern Sakhalin Island and the Kurile Islands would be delayed, depending upon the speed of the other operations.

The primary thrust was to be made by the Trans-Baikal Front, striking 350 kilometers into the Japanese-held interior by the 10th to 15th day of the attack. Led by Col. Gen. A.G. Kravchenko’s 6th Guards Tank Army with Lt. Gen. A.I. Danilov’s 17th and Col. Gen. I.I. Lyudnikov’s 39th Armies alongside, the object was to bypass the fortified regions around Halung-arsheen and advance upon Changchun.

The attack was designed to destroy the Japanese border defenders, cross the Grand Khingan Mountains, and occupy the central Manchurian Plain between Lupei and Solun as soon as possible.

According to the Soviet timetable, the 6th Guards Army would have to cross the deserts of Inner Mongolia, secure the passes through the Grand Khingan Mountains, and occupy Lupei by day five of the offensive. Subsidiary attacks by the Soviet-Mongolian Cavalry-Mechanized Corps would also cross the desert and strike for Kalgan. Lt. Gen. A.A. Luchinsky’s 39th Army was to cross the Argun River, secure Hailar, and prevent Japanese troop withdrawals through the Grand Khingan Mountains.

The 1st Far Eastern Army was to penetrate the Japanese border defenses or bypass them, after which they were to operate in the rear of the enemy forces in the fortified zones. Col. Gen. A.P. Beloborodov’s 1st Red Banner Army and Col. Gen. N.I. Krylov’s 5th Army, with the 10th Mechanized Corps, were to attack from northwest of Vladivostok toward Harbin and link up there with the Trans-Baikal Front, surrounding many Japanese main force units. They were to also secure Port Arthur on the Liaotung Peninsula.

General M.A. Purkayev’s 2nd Far Eastern Front was to attack on a broad front across the Amur and Ussuri Rivers to keep maximum pressure on the Japanese and destroy those facing them. They were to also prevent a withdrawal of any enemy forces attempting to reinforce other Japanese forces.

General M.F. Terëkhin’s 2nd Red Banner Army was to attack toward Tsitsihar after crossing the Amur River. The 5th Separate Rifle Corps was to attack toward Bikin and secure Paoching, then move to Poli, where it was to link up with the 1st Far Eastern Front.

The Soviet plans called for speed, surprise, and mobility. Tanks would lead all attacks, closely supported by infantry, artillery, and air support. The objective was to prevent the enemy from bringing reinforcements from North China or Korea and then to destroy the Kwantung Army. The attack in all sectors was designed to tie down all the Japanese defenders so that no one area could reinforce another.

At two minutes after midnight on August 9, 1945, after a quick declaration of war against Japan, Soviet forces crossed the border. Advance units crossed both the Inner Mongolia and Manchuria borders, leading main force units behind them.

Initially, only Luchinsky’s 36th Army faced any resistance when that army’s routes passed through fortified Japanese border areas—most other advances were unopposed, a result of the most recent Japanese plans to withdraw into fortified localities.

On the right flank of the Trans-Baikal Front, Pliyev’s Soviet-Manchurian Cavalry-Mechanized Corps advanced with the 25th Mechanized Brigade and 43rd Separate Tank Brigade leading two columns forward. They swiftly advanced across the desert of Inner Mongolia, covering 55 miles on the first day.

To their east, Danilov’s 17th Army, led by the 70th and 82nd Tank Battalions, also entered Inner Mongolia unopposed these columns moved 70 kilometers the first day. The spearhead of the Trans-Baikal Front—Kravchenko’s 6th Guards Tank Army—advanced into Inner Mongolia in two columns, each broken down further into multiple columns, stretching over an advancing front line some 20 kilometers wide.

The forward detachments usually consisted of a rifle regiment, a tank regiment, and an artillery battalion. Opposition was limited and progress remained rapid. By dark the forward elements were in the foothills of the critical Grand Khingan Mountains.

On Kravchenko’s right flank, Lyudnikov’s 39th Army attacked on a southern axis against the Japanese 107th Division. The Wuchakou fortified region was bypassed and, led forward by the 61st Tank Division, the 39th Army continued south, passing the 1939 battlefield of Nomohan (Khalkhin-Gol) to join the 94th Rifle Corps, whose two divisions were attacking the Hailar Fortified Region in support of the 36th Army. Small Japanese counterattacks, supported by Manchurian cavalry, were easily beaten off.

But in some cases, the terrain—more than the Japanese—slowed the Soviet advance. To keep the forward momentum going, many commanders organized new forward detachments built around self-propelled artillery battalions. With infantry and tanks along, these could move faster and farther than previous organizations.

The attackers continued to either overrun or obliterate Japanese defenses and their occupants. The 5th Army, with 12 divisions and 692 armored vehicles, overran the Japanese 124th Division by advancing quickly and penetrating the border at areas the Japanese had deemed impassible, moving swiftly and attacking unexpectedly.

On the left flank of the Trans-Baikal Front, General Luchinsky’s 36th Army sent two rifle regiments of the 2nd Rifle Corps across the swollen Argun River using amphibious vehicles. Lt. Gen. Mikio’s Fourth Separate (Japanese) Army defended Hailar with the 80th Independent Mixed Brigade and 119th Division, also supported by Manchurian Cavalry. These Japanese units were installed in the Hailar Fortified Region.

The spoils of war: Soviet troops remove industrial equipment from a Manchurian factory.

Undeterred, the Soviet 205th Tank Brigade managed to secure the bridges north of Hailar under cover of rain and fog before being ordered to conduct a night attack on the city. Supported by the 94th Rifle Division, the attack managed to surround the city by the next day, August 10.

Although the Soviets secured the outskirts of the town, the 80th Independent Mixed Brigade managed to hold the city center while the 119th Division withdrew to secure the passes through the Grand Khingan Mountains. Heavy fighting would continue in several areas such as these until after the official surrender.

The Japanese had expected a Soviet offensive into Manchuria but believed that it could not begin before autumn. The August 9 assault not only surprised them, but also caught them in the process of reorganizing their defenses and units. The result was a massive victory by the Soviets, despite fierce and dedicated resistance by many Japanese units.

Confusion quickly grew within Japanese ranks. General Ushiroku, commanding the 3rd Area Army, decided to withdraw his forces to defend Mukden, where most of his soldiers’ families resided. This was contrary to General Yamada’s plans and, of course, further disrupted the Japanese defensive scheme.

The Soviet advance continued to suffer from terrain and logistical problems, which caused more concern than Japanese resistance. In the 6th Guards Tank Army, for example, General Kravehenko had to replace one of his leading elements, the 9th Guards Mechanized Corps, because many of its tracked vehicles, including Lend-Lease American Sherman tanks, had broken down or were out of fuel.

Kravehenko moved up the 5th Guards Tank Corps on August 10 to lead his advance the tracked vehicles handled the rough terrain better than his wheeled vehicles. This enabled him to cross the Grand Khingan Mountains with the 7th Guards Mechanized Corps using two roads and crossing at Mokotan on August 10-11. The 5th Guards Tank Corps, followed by the 9th Guards Mechanized Corps, crossed at Yukoto over one road at the same time.

The 5th Guards Tank Corps reached the high point in the mountains at 11 pm, August 10, and then moved rapidly downhill in the dark and rain, crossing the entire mountain range in just seven hours after covering 40 kilometers. The other corps, encumbered with wheeled vehicles, took longer but nevertheless made the crossing in good time.

By daylight on August 10, the 6th Guards Army had reached the central Manchurian plain the followup units arrived the next day, August 11. Immediately they moved east to continue the advance.

The 5th Guards Tank Corps reached Lupei on August 11, and the 7th Guards Mechanized Corps seized Tuchuan on the 12th. The operation, planned for five days, had lasted barely four days. There had been no opposition to speak of Japanese units had already begun to withdraw.

August 12 saw the first serious resistance by the Japanese 107th Division near Wuchakou. The Soviet attack dispersed the defenders, who lost considerably in arms and equipment.

That same day, the 221st Rifle Division accepted the surrender of General Houlin, commanding the Manchurian 10th Military District, along with more than 1,000 of his men. But the fight for Hailar continued unabated.

The Soviet command redeployed its forces, releasing the tanks and replacing them with more infantry. Eventually the Japanese of the 80th Independent Mixed Brigade were driven out of Hailar itself but took up positions overlooking the city and continued to deny it to the Red Army.

Similarly, the 94th and 393rd Rifle Divisions had their hands full with the Japanese 119th Division, still blocking certain access routes to the nearby Grand Khingan Mountains.

General Pliyev’s Soviet-Manchurian Cavalry-Mechanized Corps also had problems, crossing the Mongolian deserts opposed by Manchurian and Mongolian cavalry units—a civil war in miniature. Nevertheless, they pushed their way forward and seized Taopanshin in four days of fighting.

Another problem that gave the Soviets as much trouble as the Japanese was a fuel shortage. The 6th Guards Tank Army, leading the advance of the Trans-Baikal Front, had to stand down for two days, August 12-13, due to lack of fuel, which stemmed from logistical difficulties. The leading forces had advanced so far and so fast that the logistical tail could not keep up over the miserable roads in the area.

To address this issue, vehicles—including Sherman tanks, which used more fuel than the standard Russian tanks—were dropped out of the advance the 453rd Aviation Battalion of the Red Air Force was used to fly gasoline and other fuels to the forward areas. Japanese kamikaze attacks on Russian supply lines contributed to the shortages.

Yet savage fighting continued. At the Wunoerh railroad station, the 275th Rifle Division spent August 13 and 14 eliminating a strong Japanese defensive position, while the 2nd Rifle Corps still fought for Hailar against the 119th Division. While all this continued, the Japanese government was trying to find a way out of the war.

On August 14, the Japanese government contacted the Allied powers for a clarification of surrender terms published earlier. In the interim, the Japanese Emperor ordered his forces to cease fire on August 14 pending further instructions.

Not unexpectedly, General Yamada countermanded the Emperor’s order, causing great consternation in his own ranks. The Japanese soldier had sworn an oath to his Emperor, which required unquestioning obedience, but it also required a no-surrender conviction.

Many Japanese were torn between obedience to the Emperor and obedience to the oath requiring no surrender. This confusion not only created factions within the Kwantung Army but further weakened its defensive efforts. Finally, on August 19, General Yamada agreed to a cease-fire.

Now it was Marshal Vasilevsky’s turn to ignore the cease-fire. Anxious to overcome Japanese resistance and uncertain if the cease-fire would result in a surrender—plus a desire to seize as much ground as he could before any such surrender—Vasilevsky continued with his offensive. Orders were issued for the capture of Mukden, Tsitsihar, and several other significant Manchurian cities.

On that same day, August 15, the Soviet-Manchurian Cavalry-Mechanized Corps ran into stiff opposition from the Inner Mongolian 3rd, 5th, and 7th Cavalry Divisions at Karibao. But two days of fierce fighting culminated in the surrender of the Mongolians and the capture of 1,635 prisoners of war.

When the Russians seized Harbin in central Manchuria they uncovered one of the most infamous war crimes of the century. There a Japanese doctor, Shiro Ishii, had created the top secret Unit 731. Here Japanese doctors and others tried to create new biological warfare weapons using human guinea pigs—mostly Chinese civilians and POWs, but also British and American POWs.

Hidden under the guise of a lumber mill, thousands of human beings were experimented upon, including live vivisections and injections of various diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, typhoid, botulism, and a host of other deadly viruses. Like the Germans, the Japanese disposed of the bodies in a crematorium.

The Russians would later try as war criminals the Japanese staff they captured at Harbin, but those who escaped to Japan and were seized by the Americans, including Doctor Ishii, were never placed on trial.

Meanwhile, Tokyo continued in turmoil. The Emperor’s decision to surrender had been contested by many of his advisors, including the Imperial General Headquarters hierarchy and many junior officers who threatened violence against leading government officials if the war was not continued.

Even the second atomic bomb had not dissuaded them from continuing the war. But when reports from the Kwantung Army began to arrive, reporting significant Soviet penetration in Manchuria and the situation as “obscure,” objections to surrender were far less convincing.

Finally, on August 18, Japan officially announced the surrender of the Kwantung Army. On that same day, the Soviet-Manchurian Cavalry-Mechanized Corps symbolically crossed the Great Wall of China and marched toward Peking (today Beijing), joining en route the Chinese Communist 8th Route Army.

Japanese troops lay down their arms after surrendering to the Red Army in Harbin, Manchuria, August 20, 1945.

On this day as well, Hailar finally fell, producing 3,227 prisoners of war. Mukden was occupied on August 24, and on the 30th the last major Japanese force, the 107th Division, surrendered to the 94th Rifle Corps, which was mopping up rear areas. Another 7,858 POWs were sent to the prison camps.

Although such figures are suspect and have been repeatedly altered by the respective governments since their first publication, the Russians claimed the Japanese suffered 84,000 killed and 594,000 captured. Their own losses, since updated, are given as 12,103 killed and 24,550 wounded.

But these figures ignore the casualties of the Manchurian and Mongolian auxiliaries, as well as the undoubted thousands of Japanese reservists and civilians killed during the campaign.

Further, what is left out of these figures are the missing. Of the 2,726,000 Japanese nationals, two-thirds of whom were civilians, captured during the Manchurian Campaign, 254,000 died in Soviet captivity and a further 93,000 were listed as missing, fate unknown.

One Japanese estimate indicates that as many as 376,000 died or went missing in the first winter in captivity. Another source states that of 220,000 Japanese civilian settlers, 80,000 died, either having starved to death, committed suicide, or been killed by Chinese partisans. Only 140,000 survivors returned to Japan.

As had happened when the Red Army overran Germany, tens of thousands of Japanese—and Chinese—women were raped, many repeatedly, as the Soviets completed their conquest of Manchuria.

At one airfield where Japanese women had collected for safety, one later recorded, “Every day Russian soldiers would come in and take about 10 girls. The women came back in the morning. Some women committed suicide. The Russian soldiers told us that if no women came out, the whole hangar would be burnt to the ground, with all of us inside.”

The Soviets’ Manchurian Campaign, August Storm, destroyed the last vestige of Japanese military power outside Japan, and put the final nail in the coffin of those Japanese militarists who, even after suffering two atomic attacks, intended to continue the war to the death.

Only the most fanatical Japanese still wanted to continue what had become a war of annihilation. These few were either killed by the rational Japanese leaders or conveniently committed suicide. The Soviet invasion of Manchuria—which led to Japan’s greatest defeat—had helped to end the Pacific War.


9 thoughts on &ldquo1945: Nagasaki – the second atomic bomb&rdquo

After more than 50 and 60 years of the Atom Bomb, and even in Germany, there were
Japanese who insisted unfairness of using Atom Bomb which caused many victims in
Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I told them, that we however should think , as general, it was still far better than the battles on the Japanese Main Land Honshu, as well as Kyushu.
The mighty russian Forces with un countable Artillerys and tanks were enormously
strong so that Manchuria which is so large as entire Germany was encircled within
2 weeks and mighty Japanese Forces were beaten to surrender. And they were ready
to land to Japanese Main Land, in August 1945. We had no war ships nor air planes enoughto to defend landing of Ruissian Forces.

At the other hand, the American had most Forces on the Europe and on the
Okinawa Island, they had to learn that they must consider of large Causuality, if
they wish to land to the South end of Kyushu. There were abouts 150,000
japanese soldiers when they had fighting on Okinawa, but after American had
conquerred Okinawa, Kyushu had been reinforced to 600,000 Japanese Soldiers.

To defeat this numbers of Japanese Soldiers, the American had to consider
very large Victims on his side. And in Europe, Germany has surrendered and now
the peoples began to enjoy Peace.

At this moment, the Atom Bomb was ready. Who does not use this new Weapon
not to loose his own solderis ?
At all, the Japanese had to loose millions of lives.
We should be very lucky to servive this war, by any means.

Born in Kyoto , Japan in 1933. 12 years as the Bomb fell.

These are all interesting debating points and have, as everyone knows, been gone over countless times in the last seventy years. World war two, the most violent and destructive in human history, was followed by a so-called cold war between the communist east and capitalist west. No battlefields, no invasions and conquests and above all no use of the enormous stockpile of nuclear armaments. The decision makers shrank just far enough from that brink to ensure the continuation of the human race. Nevertheless, the stocks and the consequent waste have mounted year on year. The superpowers provoked and supported proxy conflicts such as Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan and the middle east. Many nations now possess nuclear WMDs and doubtless others aspire to possession. Yes, the US and the Japanese were spared enormous losses. Later, mutual assured destruction by the Bomb held the world in check. However, the questions now are much wider and deeper. Threats to tolerable human survival beyond, let’s say, the next three or four generations centre on man-made environmental changes, depletion of scarce natural resources, and the rise of untreatable epidemics. Vast areas of the planet may become uninhabitable prompting unprecedented population shifts. The continuation of territorial and ideological conflicts in the light of such challenges poses the question again and again, “What has the human race learned from the devastation of the twentieth century wars?” The emerging global economy and communication networks demand totally new global awareness and a global responsibility. I believe this can only come from the peoples of the world in countless small initiatives. It will come from small-scale action and local initiatives. Those at the top – “them”- are quite unable to lead the way with restricted national visions. They are as blinkered as the Japanese generals in 1945, wilfully denying the obvious catastrophe.

The little known fact of the matter is that the U.S. high command, through code breaking and human intelligence, knew that the Japanese were looking for a negotiated surrender as early as December of 1944. In the first half of 1945 the Japanese made back-channel approaches to the U.S. government through a representative in Switzerland, through the Vatican, and through Norwegian diplomats. U.S. Naval Intelligence was fully aware that the emperor himself wanted to negotiate a surrender.

The admirals and generals who mattered knew that there was no need for an invasion of the Japanese mainland. There are a number of theories about why we dropped the bomb anyway, but the military fearing casualties was not one of them.

What do people think of the idea of it also as a lesson to to the Soviet Union? Churchill was already banging on about the next big threat to world peace etc. etc.

I disagree, Sam. If you read back in the blog, to the entries concerning Okinawa, it’s plain the Americans had no reason to imagine that the invasion of Japan would not be equally long and bloody. Given that the duty of President Wilson was to protect American lives, not Japanese, I can’t imagine how he could realistically made any other decision.

The fault has to fall on the Japanese. They started the war. Attacking Pearl Harbor was an act of incomprehensible folly and stupidity (even had they achieved their objectives, American industrial power would simply have replaced the losses within a year). By this stage in 1945, It was plain to everybody, including the Japanese high command, that they’d lost. Had they simply surrendered, there would have been no bomb. But for reasons that had nothing whatever for the welfare of their citizens, they opted to continue with an impossible fight. Thus, to save hundreds of thousands of American lives, the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

And even then, the Japanese high command still wouldn’t surrender! So another one got dropped. What else were the Americans supposed to do? Tell huge numbers of people that their loved ones had died gloriously invading Japan, as opposed to applying the same destructive pressure on the Japanese high command with almost no loss of American life at all?

Realistically, given the outcomes of Okinawa, which made clear the Japanese high command’s strategy for resisting namely, to make American citizens pay bloodily for their victory, the eventual Japanese surrender almost certainly saved millions of Japanese lives, whereas “only” a few hundred thousand died in the atomic bombings.

To suggest that the Americans should have had a greater regard for the welfare of the Japanese citizenry than the Japanese government did is absurd. Thanks to the atomic bombs, far fewer Japanese died, and the survivors’ suffering was ended far sooner, than it would have done had the Japanese government had its way.

Higher casualties by invading the mainland of Japan was a known fact.
How many is open to specualtion. Based on the Battle of Okinawa, military planners dreaded the invasion. The initial estimates were up to 220K US casualties for Operation Olympic (first phase of taking the Japanese Main islands). Total Allied estimates to take japan were 1.7 to 4 million and Japanese 5- 10 million casualties. Japanese civilians were being taught it was their duty to fight.
“They” understood that the bomb was a terrible weapon, never before seen.
“They” also knew it would have consequences not yet understood.

Gerald is correct.
One only needs to look at the Battle of Okinawa, which had a heavy mix of civilian casualties and almost complete destruction of Japanese military forces on the island. Japanese civilians of all ages were being taught that it was their duty to resist American forces with any means available. Operation Olympic (initial invasion) estimates were between 130,000 and 220,000 U.S. casualties, of which U.S. dead would be in the range from 25,000 to 46,000 (wikipedia/other sources).
I would also say that “they” understood it would be a terrible weapon, but maybe not to the extent it was or the “third order” magnitude of the after-effects .
What seems to be missed (or at least not mentioned) by Sam is that the enemy was also working on such a weapon. The US got to it first.

Gerald, your second assertion is not known to be a fact. But even if it is a fact, for the U.S. to use this type of weapon, against which the U.S. would itself have no feasible defense, was the height of folly. They built it but they failed to understand it.

The Japanese brought the atomic bombs on themselves. Far more Japanese and Americans would have died if the war had continued without the atomic bombings.


August 9th 1945

You can at least appreciate it as being one of the biggest pincer attacks in military history which covered the same area as the Western front. The logistics alone for the operation was beautiful and a marvel considering the lack of infrastructure in the Far East and Manchuria.

Why is he beating up Harry and Ron? Lol

I didn’t know Wolverine and Harry Potter were in the same universe

This is a pretty good template

America didn’t destroy Germany but we destroyed the Weebs no one can take that away from us.

Sorry buddy, but we inadvertently created weebs

Hi, I'm a bot for linking direct images of albums with only 1 image

"The Gang starts a global war(Pt. 2)"

It's a joke on the fact that the USSR didn't declare war on the Japanese empire until after they dispatched Germany.

Also, America didn't destroy Germany.

Wouldn't really make sense, since The US was in an active war with Japan first and Germany later.

Meanwhile The USSR went to war with Germany, fucked them up and only then turned towards Japan, took Manchuria and North Korea like it's no big deal and scared the shit out of them by threatening to take South Korea and eventually mainland Japan.


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Dr. Gary G. Kohls

These baptized and confirmed airmen did their job efficiently, and they accomplished the mission with military pride. There was no way that the crew could not have known that what they were participating in met the definition of an international war crime (according to the Nuremberg Principles that were very soon to be used to justify the execution of many German Nazis).

It had been only 3 days since the August 6th bomb, a uranium bomb, had decimated Hiroshima. The Nagasaki bomb was dropped amidst considerable chaos and confusion in Tokyo, where the fascist military government had been searching for months for a way to honorably end the war. The only obstacle to surrender had been the Roosevelt/Truman administration&rsquos insistence on unconditional surrender, which meant that the Emperor Hirohito, whom the Japanese regarded as a deity, would be removed from his figurehead position in Japan &ndash an intolerable demand for the Japanese that prolonged the war and kept Japan from surrendering months earlier.

The Russian army had declared war against Japan on August 8, hoping to regain territories lost to Japan in the disastrous Russo-Japanese war 40 years earlier, and Stalin&rsquos army was advancing across Manchuria. Russia&rsquos entry into the war represented a powerful incentive for Japan to end the war quickly and they much preferred surrendering to the US rather than to Russia. A quick end to the war was important to the US as well. It did not want to divide any of the spoils of war with Russia.

The Target Committee in Washington, D.C. had made a list of relatively un-damaged Japanese cities that were to be excluded from the conventional fire-bombing (using napalm) campaigns that had burned to the ground 60+ major Japanese cities during the first half of 1945. That list of protected cities included, at one time or another Hiroshima, Niigata, Kokura, Kyoto and Nagasaki. These relatively undamaged cities were off-limits from incendiary terror bombings but were to be preserved as possible targets for the new &ldquogimmick&rdquo weapons of mass destruction.

Scientific curiosity was a motivation in choosing the targeted cities. The military and the scientists needed to know what would happen to intact buildings &ndash and their living inhabitants &ndash when atomic weapons were exploded overhead. Ironically, prior to August 6 and 9, the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki considered themselves lucky for not having been bombed as much as other cities. Little did they know.

Early in the morning of August 9, 1945, a B-29 Superfortress that had been christened Bock&rsquos Car, took off from Tinian Island in the South Pacific, with the prayers and blessings of its Lutheran and Catholic chaplains, and headed for Kokura, the primary target. Bock&rsquos Car&rsquos plutonium bomb was in the bomb bay, code-named &ldquoFat Man,&rdquo after Winston Churchill.

The only field test (blasphemously code-named &ldquoTrinity&rdquo) of a nuclear weapon had occurred just three weeks earlier (July 16, 1945) at Alamogordo, New Mexico. The molten lava rock that resulted from the heat of that blast (twice the temperature of the sun) can still found at the site today. It is called trinitite.

The reality of what had happened at Hiroshima was only slowly becoming apparent to the fascist military leaders in Tokyo. It took 2 &ndash 3 days after Hiroshima was incinerated before Japan&rsquos Supreme War Council was able to even partially comprehend what had happened there, to make rational decisions and to discuss again the possibility of surrender.

But it was already too late, because by the time the War Council was meeting that morning in Tokyo, Bock&rsquos Car and the rest of the armada of B-29s was already approaching Japan &ndash under radio silence. The dropping of the second bomb had initially been planned for August 11, but bad weather had been forecast, and the mission was moved up to August 9.

With instructions to drop the bomb only on visual sighting, Bock&rsquos Car arrived at the primary target, but Kokura was clouded over. So after futilely circling over the city three times, there was no break in the clouds, and, running seriously low on fuel in the process, the plane headed for its secondary target, Nagasaki.

The history of Nagasaki Christianity

Nagasaki is famous in the history of Japanese Christianity. Not only was it the site of the largest catholic church in the Orient, St. Mary&rsquos Cathedral (completed in 1917), but it also had the largest concentration of baptized Christians in all of Japan. It was the megachurch of its time, with 12,000 baptized members.

Nagasaki was the location where the legendary Jesuit missionary, Francis Xavier, established a mission church in 1549. The Christian community survived and prospered for several generations. However, soon after Xavier&rsquos planting of the church in Japan, it became obvious to the Japanese rulers that Portuguese and Spanish commercial interests were exploiting Japan, and it didn&rsquot take too long for all Europeans to be expelled from the country &ndash as well as their foreign religion. All aspects of Christianity, including the new Japanese converts, became the target of brutal persecutions.

By 1600, being a Christian was a capital crime in Japan. The Japanese Christians who refused to recant of their new religion suffered torture and even crucifixions similar to the Roman persecutions in the first three centuries of Christianity. After the reign of terror was over, it appeared to all observers that Japanese Christianity was extinct.

However, 250 years later, in the 1850s, after the coercive gunboat diplomacy of Commodore Perry forced open an offshore island for American trade purposes, it was discovered that there were thousands of baptized Christians in Nagasaki, living their faith in a catacomb existence, completely unknown to the government &ndash which immediately started another purge. But because of international pressure, the persecutions were soon stopped, and Nagasaki Christianity came up from the underground. And by 1917, with no help from the government, the growing Japanese Christian community had built the massive Urakami Cathedral, in the Urakami River district of Nagasaki.

Now it turned out, in the mystery of good and evil, that the massive Cathedral was one of two Nagasaki landmarks that the Bock&rsquos Car bombardier had been briefed on, and looking through his bomb site 31,000 feet overhead, he identified the cathedral through a break in the clouds and ordered the drop.

At 11:02 am, during morning mass, Nagasaki Christianity was boiled, evaporated and carbonized in a scorching radioactive fireball that exploded 500 meters above the cathedral. Ground Zero was the persecuted, vibrant, surviving center of Japanese Christianity.

The Nagasaki Christian death count

Since the Cathedral was the epicenter of the blast, most Nagasaki Christians did not survive. 6000 of them died instantly, including all who were at confession that morning. Of the 12,000 church members, 8,500 died as a direct result of the bomb. Three orders of nuns and a Christian girl&rsquos school disappeared into black smoke or chunks of charred remains Tens of thousands of innocent Shinto and Buddhist Japanese also died instantly and hundreds of thousands were mortally wounded, some of whose progeny are still in the process of slowly dying from the trans-generational malignancies and immune deficiencies caused by the deadly plutonium.

What the Japanese Imperial government could not do in over 200 years of persecution, destroy Japanese Christianity, American Christians did in 9 seconds. Even today those who are members of Christian churches in Japan represent a fraction of 1% of the population, and the average attendance at Christian worship services is 30. Surely the decimation of Nagasaki at the end of the war crippled what at one time was a thriving church


Mr. Darrell's Wayback Machine

Much has changed since I wrote most of the post, below, in 2009. The number of years, perhaps (and I’ve changed them in the text). Not enough else.

The Obama Administration made some progress in getting Iran to the table to talk non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. START was renewed. But not much more.

We’re left with the hope that this was the last time atomic weapons are used.

Stars and Stripes posted this short video of the ceremonies held in 2011 in Peace Park in Nagasaki

A memorial service was held at the Nagasaki Peace Park on Aug. 9, 2011, the 66th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on the city at the tail end of World War II. The ceremony was attended by dignitaries from 44 countries – including an envoy from the United States – to honor the more than 155,000 people who were claimed by the bomb, including the 80,000 killed instantly.

The service came three days after one similar in Hiroshima, and marked the first time in history that an envoy from the United States attended both services.

In the wake of the March 11 disaster, Japanese officials called for the abolition of nuclear weapons and also for renewable sources of energy to replace nuclear power.

Nuclear anniversaries have been ignored again this year, it seems to me.

Ceremony in Nagasaki marked the remembrance of the victims of the second atomic weapon used in war, which was detonated over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Agence France Press reported (in 2009):

Nagasaki’s mayor, marking the 64th anniversary [66th in 2011] of his city’s atomic bombing by the United States, called on Sunday on the leaders of nuclear-armed powers to visit the site and build a nuclear-free world.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, map by CNN

Tomihisa Tanoue urged world leaders from both declared nuclear powers and others such as Iran, Israel and North Korea to visit the city in southwestern Japan.

“I am sure anyone who visits here would feel the sorrow of the victims and be shaken by it,” the mayor said in an address at an annual ceremony commemorating the 1945 bombing.

A minute of silence was observed at 11:02 am (0202 GMT), when the US bomb exploded above the city, killing roughly 74,000 people. The bombing followed one a week before in Hiroshima and hastened Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Tanoue said an April speech by US President Barack Obama in Prague, where Obama pledged to build a world with no nuclear weapons, “impressed” the residents of Nagasaki.

“The Japanese government must support the Prague speech. As a nation that has come under nuclear attack, Japan must lead the international community” in abolishing the weapons, he said.

Similar appeals were made Thursday when Hiroshima marked the anniversary of its bombing, which killed 140,000 people.

At the Nagasaki ceremony, Prime Minister Taro Aso reiterated the Japanese government’s anti-nuclear stance, three weeks ahead of national elections that he is tipped to lose.

Aso raised eyebrows at the Hiroshima ceremony, when he pledged to work toward abolishing nuclear weapons but later told reporters that he thought it was “unimaginable” to attain a nuclear-free world.

Similar ceremonies, and similar pleas for nuclear non-proliferation marked the August 6 anniversary of the atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima. The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported:

Some 50,000 people gathered Thursday at the peace park in Hiroshima to mourn the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II.

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba delivered a peace declaration, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020.

“The hibakusha still suffer a hell that continues,” said Akiba.

“The Japanese government should support hibakusha, including those who were victims of black rain and those who live overseas,” he said.

“Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso delivers a speech in front of the Memorial Cenotaph during the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, western Japan on Aug. 6, 2009. Hiroshima on Thursday mourned the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II. (Xinhua/Ren Zhenglai)”

It was reported Wednesday that the Japanese government aims to come to an agreement with all atomic bomb survivors who have sued the government for financial support to help them pay medical bills for illnesses related to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Akiba also said “The year 2020 is important as we want to enter a world without nuclear weapons with as many hibakusha as possible. We call on the world to join forces with us to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020.”

Referring to the movements such as the environmentalists, Akibasaid, “Global democracy that respects the will of the world and respects the power of the people has begun to grow.”

“We have the power. We have the responsibility. We are the Obamajority. And we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes we can,” said the mayor.

On Wednesday, Akiba urged the people around the world to join the city’s efforts to abolish nuclear weapons in response to U.S. President Barack Obama’ s appeal for a world free of nuclear weapons.

During the 50-minute memorial ceremony, a moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima 64 years ago, killing nearly 100,000 people in a blink.

This in a week when two burgeoning new nuclear powers, Iran and North Korea, continue to claim they will flout non-proliferation agreements for their own self defense. [Still true in 2014, alas.]

The question obtains on nuclear issues as well as genocides: When does “never again” start?

It’s up to you and me. What have you done to make “never again” with atomic weapons, start now?

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