On August 6, 1945, the world first used nuclear weapons – an American aircraft dropped an atomic bomb on Japanese Hiroshima. Three days later, Nagasaki city was bombed. These air strikes claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Thousands more Japanese died for years from the effects of radiation. According to experts, there was no military meaning in the use of nuclear weapons against the civilian population.
The prerequisites for a great war in the Pacific began to emerge in the middle of the 19th century, when the US Commodore Matthew Perry ordered the Japanese authorities to cease the isolationist policy, open ports for American ships and sign an unequal treaty with the United States, which gave serious economic and political advantages to Washington.
In a situation where most of the Asian countries were in full or partial dependence on the Western powers, Japan had to carry out a lightning-fast technical modernization in order to maintain its sovereignty. At the same time among Japanese the sense of resentment to those who forced them to one-sided “openness” took root.
In its example, America demonstrated to Japan that with the help of brute force, it is allegedly possible to solve any international problems. As a result, the Japanese, who for centuries practically did not choose anywhere beyond their islands, began an active expansionist policy directed against other Far Eastern countries, the victims of which were Korea, China and Russia.
Pacific theater of military operations
In 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria from the territory of Korea, occupied it and created the puppet state of Manchukuo. In the summer of 1937, Tokyo launched a full-scale war against China. In the same year, fell to Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing. On the territory of the latter, the Japanese army staged one of the most monstrous massacres in world history. From December 1937 to January 1938, the Japanese military killed, using mostly cold weapons, up to 500,000 civilians and disarmed soldiers.
The murders were accompanied by monstrous torture and rape. Victims of rape – from small children to elderly women – were also severely murdered. The total number of deaths as a result of the Japanese aggression in China eventually reached 30 million people.
In 1940, Japan began its expansion into Indochina, in 1941 attacked the British and US military bases (Hong Kong, Pearl Harbor, Guam and Wake), Malaysia, Burma and the Philippines. In 1942, Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia, the American Aleutian Islands, India and the islands of Micronesia became victims of the aggression from Tokyo.
However, already in 1942 the Japanese offensive began to slip, and in 1943 Japan lost the initiative, although its armed forces were still strong enough. The counterattack of the British and American troops in the Pacific theater of operations was moving relatively slowly. Only in June 1945 after the bloody battles of the year, the Americans were able to occupy the island of Okinawa, annexed to Japan in 1879.
As for the position of the USSR, in 1938-1939, Japanese troops tried to attack the Soviet units in the area of Lake Khasan and the Khalkhin-Gol River, but were defeated.
Official Tokyo was convinced that faced with too strong an opponent, and in 1941 between Japan and the USSR was a pact on neutrality.
Adolf Hitler tried to get his Japanese allies to break the pact and attack the USSR from the east, but Soviet intelligence officers and diplomats managed to convince Tokyo that it could cost Japan too much, and the treaty remained in effect de facto until August 1945. The principled consent to Moscow’s entry into the war with Japan was received by the United States and Britain from Joseph Stalin in February 1945, at the Yalta Conference.
In 1939, a group of physicists, enlisting the support of Albert Einstein, gave the US President Franklin Roosevelt a letter stating that Hitler’s Germany could in the foreseeable future create weapons of a terrible destructive force-an atomic bomb. The US authorities are interested in the nuclear issue. In the same year, 1939, the Uranium Committee was established within the National Defense Research Committee of the United States, which first assessed the potential threat, and then began preparations for the creation by the United States of its own nuclear weapons.
The Americans attracted emigrants from Germany, as well as representatives of Great Britain and Canada. In 1941, a special Bureau for Research and Development was established in the United States, and in 1943 work began on the so-called Manhattan Project, whose goal was to create a ready-to-use nuclear weapon.
In the USSR, nuclear research began in the 1930s. Since 1941, thanks to the activities of Soviet intelligence and Western scholars who had left-wing views, information about the preparations for the creation of nuclear weapons in the West began to flock to Moscow in large numbers.
Despite all the difficulties of wartime, in 1942-1943 nuclear research in the Soviet Union was intensified, and representatives of the NKVD and the GRU were actively engaged in the search for agents in American scientific centers.
By the summer of 1945, the United States had three nuclear bombs: plutonium “Shtuchka” and “Tolstyak”, as well as uranium “Malysh.” July 16, 1945 at the test site in New Mexico was a test explosion “Pieces”. The American leadership was satisfied with its results. True, according to the memoirs of the Soviet intelligence officer Pavel Sudoplatov, only 12 days after the first atomic bomb was collected in the US, her scheme was already in Moscow.
On July 24, 1945, when US President Harry Truman, most likely for the purpose of blackmail, told Stalin in Potsdam that America had a weapon of “extraordinary destructive power”, the Soviet leader only smiled in response. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was present at the conversation, then concluded that Stalin at all does not understand what is being discussed. However, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief was well aware of the Manhattan project and, after parting with the American president, told Vyacheslav Molotov (Soviet Foreign Minister in 1939-1949): “We will have to talk with Kurchatov today about speeding up our work.”
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Already in September 1944, a fundamental agreement was reached between the United States and Great Britain on the possibility of using the created nuclear weapons against Japan. In May 1945, the committee meeting in Los Alamos on the choice of goals rejected the idea of delivering nuclear strikes against military facilities because of the “possibility of a miss” and not a strong “psychological effect”. They decided to beat the cities.
Initially, the city of Kyoto was on this list, but the US military minister Henry Stimson insisted on choosing other goals, because he had warm memories with Kyoto – he spent his honeymoon in this city.
On July 25, Truman approved a list of cities for potential nuclear strikes, among which were Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The next day, the Indianapolis cruiser delivered a bomb “Little Boy” to the Pacific island of Tinian, to the location of the 509th mixed aviation group. July 28, the then head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff George Marshall signed a military order on the use of nuclear weapons. Four days later, on August 2, 1945, Tinian delivered all the components necessary for the assembly of Tolstyak.
The goal of the first strike was the seventh largest city in Japan – Hiroshima, which at that time was home to about 245 thousand people. On the territory of the city was the headquarters of the Fifth Division and the Second Main Army. On August 6, the US Air Force B-29 bomber under the command of Colonel Paul Tibbets took off from Tinian and headed for Japan. About 8 o’clock in the morning the plane was over Hiroshima and dropped the “Malysh” bomb, which exploded at 576 meters above the ground. At 8:15 in Hiroshima all the watches stopped.
The temperature under the plasma ball, formed as a result of the explosion, reached 4000 degrees Celsius. About 80 thousand people died instantly. Many of them in a split second turned into ashes.
Light radiation left dark silhouettes from human bodies on the walls of buildings. In the houses within a radius of 19 kilometers, the glass was broken. The fires that arose in the city united in a fiery tornado that destroyed people trying to escape immediately after the explosion.
August 9, an American bomber set course for Kokuru, but in the vicinity of the city was cloudy, and the pilots decided to strike at a backup target – Nagasaki. The bomb was dropped, using a gap in the clouds through which the city stadium was visible. The “fat man” exploded at a height of 500 meters, and although the power of the explosion was greater than in Nagasaki, the damage from it was less because of the hilly terrain and the large industrial zone in which there was no residential development.
During the bombing and immediately after it killed from 60 to 80 thousand people.
After some time after the attack, doctors began to note that people who seem to have recovered from wounds and psychological shock begin to suffer from a new, previously unknown disease. The peak of the number of deaths from her came 3-4 weeks after the explosion. So the world learned about the consequences of exposure to the human body radiation.
By 1950, the total number of victims of the bombing of Hiroshima as a result of the explosion and its consequences was estimated at about 200 thousand people, Nagasaki – 140 thousand.
Causes and consequences
In the mainland of Asia at that time there was a powerful Kwantung Army, to which the official Tokyo had high hopes. Its strength due to rapid mobilization measures was reliably unknown even to the command itself. According to some estimates, the number of Kwantung Army soldiers exceeded 1 million people. In addition, the support of Japan was provided by collaborative forces, in the military formations of which were several hundred thousand soldiers and officers.
August 8, 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan.
And the very next day, with the support of the Mongolian allies, he put forward his troops against the forces of the Kwantung Army.
“Now in the West they are trying to rewrite history and reconsider the USSR’s contribution to the victory over both fascist Germany and militaristic Japan. However, only the entry into the war on the night of August 8 to 9 of the Soviet Union, fulfilling its allied obligations, led the leadership of Japan to declare August 15 about surrender. The offensive by the Red Army against the forces of the Kwantung group was developing rapidly, and this, by and large, led to the end of World War II, “Alexander Mikhailov, a historian and historian of the Victory Museum, expressed his opinion in an interview with RT.
According to the expert, the Red Army surrendered more than 600 thousand Japanese soldiers and officers, among whom there were 148 generals. The impact of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the end of the war, Alexander Mikhailov calls not to overestimate. “The Japanese were initially determined to fight to the end against the US and Britain,” he stressed.
According to Victor Kuzminkov, senior researcher at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, associate professor of the Institute of Foreign Languages of the Moscow State Pedagogical University, the “military expediency” of a nuclear strike against Japan is only a version officially formulated by the leadership of the United States of America.
“The Americans said that in the summer of 1945 it was necessary to start a war with Japan on the territory of the metropolis itself. Here the Japanese, according to the leadership of the United States, were to exert desperate resistance and could allegedly inflict unacceptable losses on the American army. And the nuclear bombings, they say, still had to persuade Japan to surrender, “the expert explained.
But, according to Valery Kistanov, head of the Center for Japanese Studies at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the American version does not stand up to criticism.
“There was no military necessity for this barbaric bombardment. Even some Western researchers recognize this today. In fact, Truman wanted, first, to intimidate the USSR with the destructive power of new weapons, and, secondly, to justify the enormous costs of its development. But it was clear to everyone that the USSR’s entry into the war with Japan would put an end to it, “he said.
Viktor Kuzminkov agrees with these conclusions: “The official Tokyo hoped that Moscow could become a mediator in the negotiations, and the entry of the USSR into the war left Japan no chance.”
Valery Kistanov emphasizes that ordinary people and elites in Japan respond about the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in different ways.
“Usual Japanese remember this catastrophe, as it was in fact. But the authorities and the press try not to pedal some of its aspects. For example, in newspapers and on television, atomic bombing is often said without mentioning exactly which country has committed them. Acting US presidents for a long time did not attend the memorials devoted to the victims of these bombings. The first was Barrack of Deception, but he never brought the descendants of the victims of their apologies. However, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also did not apologize for Pearl Harbor, “he said.
According to Viktor Kuzminkov, atomic bombings have greatly changed Japan. “A huge group of untouchables, hibakusha, born of mothers exposed to radiation appeared in the country. Many of them avoided, the parents of young people and girls did not want Hibakusha to marry their children. The consequences of bombing penetrated people’s lives. Therefore, today many Japanese are consistent supporters of the total refusal to use atomic energy in principle, “the expert concluded.