Nuclear War Against Japan
Nuclear War against Japan
FDR did not live to see the end of the war in Europe. He died on April 12, 1945, at his favorite retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia. FDR had been president for so many years and had courageously held the nation together through such hard times that his death devastated the nation as Abraham Lincoln’s had done many years before. With Roosevelt’s death, Vice President Harry S Truman took office.
The news from Europe made it clear that the German surrender was imminent; this allowed Truman to turn all his attention to the war against Japan. Faced with the implacable Japanese attitude of fighting until their last soldier had been killed rather than surrendering, Truman decided to use the deadliest weapon in history: the atomic bomb, the world’s first nuclear weapon.
European and American scientists had developed the bomb between 1942 and 1945 in a research project called the Manhattan Project. The first bomb was successfully tested in New Mexico in July 1945. It was clear that the bomb would wreak unimaginable destruction; nevertheless, Truman believed that it would save lives in the long run by ending the fighting immediately. On August 16, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The blast killed more than 75,000 people and laid every building in the city flat. A second bomb, even more destructive, was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. The bombing achieved Truman’s goal of immediate surrender; the Japanese, stunned at the extent of the damage and the number of deaths, signed formal terms of surrender on September 2nd.
Today, all the great powers of the world understand the destructive long- term effects of radiation poisoning. No one knew anything about this in 1945— not the atomic scientists and not the U.S. government. All the United States knew was that the atomic bomb was much more powerful than any previous weapon. It had not planned or anticipated the terrible, long-term suffering of thousands of Japanese civilians affected by the huge blasts of radiation.
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