"Original Child Bomb"

Today is the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

For an historian, the recent history of the atomic arms' race poses grave problems. Clearly, we're not detached enough yet to even begin to objectively judge the events. Still, whether you think it was justified or no, it would be irresponsible for us not to continuously evaluate it as each and every single new piece of historical information becomes available!

For example... (from Metafilter):

The main reason it was classified was...because of the horror, the devastation. US military crews and Japanese newsreel teams shot color and black & white footage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bombs were dropped. The newsreel footage was suppressed for 25 years; the US military footage was hidden until the early 1980s, and has never been fully aired. Some of the newsreel footage 'might have disappeared forever if the Japanese filmmakers had not hidden one print from the Americans in a ceiling.' This August 6 and 7 the Sundance channel is showing Original Child Bomb (review, QuickTime trailer), a documentary that combines the newsreel and military footage. The title is inspired by Thomas Merton's poem...

Lieutenant Daniel McGovern, a filmmaker for the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS), and Akira Iwasaki, the chief producer of one of the Japanese film crews, used some of the footage in the documentary
The Effects of the Atomic Bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (This page has links to many of the memos from the late 1940s about classifaction of the footage.) McGovern was instrumental in preserving the US military footage and secretly made a print of the Japanese newsreel footage that ended up being the only surviving copy." [continued]

More on "Original Child Bomb":
I am become death, the destroyer of worlds (from Metafilter)
Suppressed film of 1945 nuclear attacks to air (from Boing Boing)

Granted, the internet isn't the most reliable of sources, but it does make an unprecedented amount of information available to us that we can then use with our own critical thinking to evaluate for ourselves! I wouldn't presume to tell anybody how to understand this difficult period in human history, but I would urge each and every one of us to be as educated about it as possible!! Whatever you decide, I suspect that most of us would agree in our own way with Pope John Paul II on his visit to Hiroshima in 1981, "To remember Hiroshima is to commit oneself to peace."



Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that the Germans and the Japanese absolutly would have done the same thing if they had gotten the bomb first. It is NOT just something the Americans would have done.

Anonymous said...

Afterwards Americans gave a hand up to the Japanese but it makes me wonder how we would have been treated if the Axis powers bombed us first. It brings to mind the Bataan Death March and prisoners getting bayoneted etc. and the Rape of Nanking where they cut open little girls so they could rape them and then there is the European Theatre and North Africa too. Please don't get me wrong my favorite singer is Japanese but these are things to consider. At that time if you "surrendered" it was not honorable to the Japanese mind. Japanese civilians were also killing themselves. These are all things that factor in and I have had my share of nightmare's as a child about the Atomic Bomb.

Paul said...

Time magazine did a whole piece in last week's issue on the anniversary -- for someone not around when it all went down, it's pretty sobering to see what war causes to happen.

Petra said...


Atrocities on civilians on the one side does not mean that this excuses atrocities on civilians from the other side. If someone comes up and kills your child, do you think it is justifiable to kill his child in turn - instead of turning him, the murderer himself, in to the authorities instead, or whatever? I mean, aren't you thinking very much along the lines of vendetta here?

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you misinterpreted my thoughts here. I am not alowed the luxury of vendetta or vengence. My point was that I believe the Axis powers would have done the same thing and multiple more times than just twice based on the observations of the behavior of the Japanese and German "Governments"/military. I also do not believe we would have been treated well if we surrendered because that was looked down on. What is the Quality of Mercy in your enemies eyes? What would the prolonged atrocities that would have existed if Japan and Germany used the bomb with little regard for people they thought inferior and subhuman( and yes I know there was alot propaganda on our side). Germany was working on a long range bomber as well that probably would have reached New York. It can become difficult to differentiate between an enemies mind set and values and separate that from a human being and changing their minds about surrender. In our mind surrender bore a different quality. It meant the end of war and the beginning of rebuilding and reconciliation and bringing aid to your enemy, food and water etc(as the whole picture, Germany could not have been left in the same state it had been after WW I. I believe that we would all almost be erraticated if the Allies hadn't won. Concentration camps, nuclear holocaust if there was resistance work camps, comfort women operating on men while they were awake without anesthesia and the list goes on. World War II was a NO SURRENDER WAR on the Allies part. These were probably questions that were being considered. I do not hate or despise or wish that for anyone. There was a Japanese man I think at Bataan that brought a POW as much milk as he could spare and Rommel in WW I along with those under his command gave whatever (food) or water they could to wounded men on the battlefield that were not their own. How do you change your enemies mind and their view of the quality of mercy. Is it possible those two bombs actually saved Japan from starvation, ground combat and prevented many more civilians from taking their own lives causing honorable genocide because of their values of honor? I am glad Japan is still here today, would we have been? These seem to be questions that most pelple leave out of the equasion when they talk about the Atomic bomb ( Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Unfortunatley it is probable that those kinds of weopens will be used again and soon.( I'm sure that I'm offending someone but these are very distastefully difficult questions to grapple with but nonetheless need to be remembered.) My name is Dawn by the way in case anyone wants to bite my head off. Thanks for listening.

Michelle said...

Dawn, thanks for inspiring some thought-provoking debate!

To paraphrase Stevie Wonder (or the Red Hot Chili Peppers), in a good debate, for those who are preachers, their jobs are rightly to keep on preachin'... But I'm a teacher, and, for me, debates are a great excuse to keep on teachin.'!

I *love* making information available to people, and encouraging folks to think about it! What can I say? It's my job!

Thanks again!!

Anonymous said...

Michelle you are correct, thinking is a good thing! Keep up the great blog and the info comming!! I visit during my breaks at work for some brain food!!

Michelle said...

Thanks for the kind words!

Happy reading!!