One scene shared by all of the 20th century's bloodiest wars might have been lifted straight from The Road Warrior: a spectral landscape; buildings obliterated; blasted trees; a lifeless wasteland. The picture above, for instance -- a photograph never published, until now-- while mirroring every bleak, war-battered panorama from Verdun to Iwo Jima to Pork Chop Hill, was in fact made by LIFE's Bernard Hoffman in September, 1945, in Nagasaki, Japan. But far from chronicling the aftermath of sustained, slogging armed conflict, Hoffman's picture -- along with others seen here for the first time -- depicts devastation produced in a few, unspeakably violent seconds. On the 65th anniversary of American planes dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9) -- killing 120,000 people outright, and tens of thousands more through injury and radiation sickness -- LIFE.com presents never-before-seen pictures from both cities taken in the weeks and months following the bombings. Included, as well, are excerpts from issues of LIFE published after the war that convey the powerful, discordant reactions -- relief, horror, pride, fear -- that the bombings, and the long-sought victory over Japan, unleashed.
There is no doubt that soldiers who fought under the flags of North Carolina and the Confederacy posed a greater existential threat to the United States than the soldiers of imperial Japan ever did. Yet the field of battle on which they were beaten contains multiple monuments to North Carolina’s war dead, as well as to those of other Confederate states. And visitors to the Gettysburg cemetery and battlefield show those dead as much respect as they do to Union dead, even when the visitors come from Wisconsin or Massachusetts.
Similarly, though Japan isn’t part of the United States, we should respect the innocent who died or were ruined at Hiroshima, for innocent they were. It isn’t an apology to respect the dead, and one of the ways that governments show respect is to send diplomats to memorial ceremonies.
James Tibbets is an American, and he has the right to speak his mind, but he didn’t fight against Japan any more than I did. His descent from a famous man gives him no moral authority. He is not a hereditary war hero. His father’s courage and service won’t be lessened one bit by a diplomatic visit to a ceremony for the dead.
AElfwine: If nothing else you're ignoring that the USSBS you keep quoting says that Japan would likely have surrendered even if the US had not dropped the atomic bombs... as long as the USA had ramped up conventional bombing over Japan for several more months.
The Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs did not defeat Japan, nor by the testimony of the enemy leaders who ended the war did they persuade Japan to accept unconditional surrender. The Emperor, the Lord Privy Seal, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Navy Minister had decided as early as May of 1945 that the war should be ended even if it meant acceptance of defeat on allied terms. The War Minister and the two chiefs of staff opposed unconditional surrender. The impact of the Hiroshima attack was to bring further urgency and lubrication to the machinery of achieving peace, primarily by contributing to a situation which permitted the Prime Minister to bring the Emperor overtly and directly into a position where his decision for immediate acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration could be used to override the remaining objectors. Thus, although the atomic bombs changed no votes of the Supreme War Direction Council concerning the Potsdam terms, they did foreshorten the war and expedite the peace.
With regard to unconditional surrender we are unable to consent to it under any circumstances whatever. Even if the war drags on and it becomes clear that it will take much more bloodshed, the whole country as one man will pit itself against the enemy in accordance with the Imperial Will so long as the enemy demands unconditional surrender. [source - PDF]
I consider the Joint Proclamation a rehash of the Declaration at the Cairo Conference. As for the Government, it does not attach any important value to it at all. The only thing to do is just kill it with silence. We will do nothing but press on to the bitter end to bring about a successful completion of the war. [source]
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