The use of atomic bombs against Japan

The photograph in source A shows graphic evidence of how the dropping of the atomic bomb caused catastrophic damage on a part of Hiroshima. It gives evidence that the bomb caused large amounts of damage, and explains the high death toll. There are a few buildings in the picture just standing with everything else wiped out by the blast. It does however not show how radioactivity has affected the area; it just shows the physical devastation. The photo has visual impact that would be difficult to explain in words. We know Hiroshima was a built up area but the photograph depicts an area showing little sign of habitation.

This picture has been taken perhaps from a tall building or a helicopter to show the extent of the damage over quite a large area. The buildings have been reduced to nothing more than fine rubble apart from a few buildings. If this source were a bird’s eye view photograph then it could show the devastation the bomb caused more clearly. There is always a risk with photographs that they do not depict the full story as tampering could occur. Source B is a Newspaper article written for the British public. It describes how people continue to die from the after affects of the atomic bomb.

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The source has a date, is a primary source, a reason and an audience. This makes the source useful for understanding the long-term affect of the bomb but is less useful at seeing short-term effect. I think that the effect of the ‘A’ bomb was a mystery to the Americans which makes this source quite interesting “people who were not injured in the bombing are still dying mysteriously from an unknown something”. This is because radiation sickness was a new type of illness, which was not known about until the dropping of the bomb.

I think that both sources are useful pieces of evidence of the devastation caused by the atomic bomb particularly when applied together. This is due to them both complimenting each other by showing both long and short-term affects of the dropping of the atomic bomb. I do however think that source ‘B’ is more important than source ‘A’ because after the bomb was dropped it led to a campaign for nuclear disarmament. Source C was spoken by the new American president Harry Truman in 1945, the day after the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima. His speech was aimed at the public to justify his reason for dropping the bomb.

This source is reliable. Many USA lives would have been lost, he knew how strong willed and tough Japan was. The audience of the speech (Americans) were informed by Truman to keep moral high to make his people feel they had got revenge for Japanese atrocities. The speech was his justification for dropping the bomb to end the war quickly after Truman realised how tough and unwilling to give in the Japanese were. Source D is not reliable as evidence of events in 1945 because this source is propaganda for the Japanese people; which makes it not literally true.

The Japanese were defiant; this source is proof of that. This article does have its use of boosting morale of the Japanese. Japan’s Prime Minister had the support of kamikaze pilots. But the population of 100 million weren’t all prepared to sacrifice their lives. This source could be reliable evidence put out by the American Prime Minister to show the determination of the Japanese to defeat the enemy, therefore his way of justifying the dropping the bomb. Source E is not reliable evidence of events of 1945. It is truth-full evidence of events in 1945 because it gives an explanation of what happened.

There is however no physical written evidence by General Groves, which makes the source more likely to be unreliable. Source F to me is a reliable source due to the fact that the author had the advantage of hindsight of what happened. The author of the article is highly regarded historian who would appear to have the best interpretation of the events during this time. Although at the time of the article being written there was the tension of the Cold War at this particular moment in time. I don’t think this would have had an affect on the article because censorship in Britain was over at this time.

In conclusion I feel that source F is the best account of what happened in 1945. The other sources seem to have more chance of being unreliable due to the time when they were written. They were more propaganda based issues and opinions which were bias to one side. Source C seemed quite a justified response considering the circumstances, however I feel that source F sums up what happened more effectively. Source G could be his own ‘opinion’ but fails to emphasise the fanatical lengths the Japanese would go to against surrender.

The Emperor refused unconditional surrender, even though an ‘A’ bomb and a Plutonium bomb had been dropped. The Emperor would only accept defeat of his Country if he continued to be Emperor. The article source H is a reliable source from the USA perspective but source ‘G’ shows that there were senior Japanese citizens that would have surrendered if the war could not be won. Henry Stimson is exaggerating the task of defeating Japan to justify the dropping of the ‘A’ bomb. Both articles show some degree of bias depending on which country the personnel comes from.

Source G is an interview with a senior Japanese civil servant in 1963; who had worked in 1945 for the War ministry. This article still seems to show the bitterness and raw emotion even 18 years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Source H was written only two years after the bombing and the feeling is that of a last resort to prevent further loss of men by ending the war and also warning communist Russia of Americas superiority. America had faced early problems when trying to invade Japan, loosing many men and gaining very little ground.

The newly appointed Truman was worried about loosing support at home because of these loses and wanted a quick and effective end to the war. The Americans were fearful of the tactics of the Japanese in War after their savage attack on Pearl Harbour and the attitude of the Japanese suicide pilots. The historian’s judgement is often clouded by different facts from various sources as shown in these two articles and one’s personal opinion tends to support the victor as in this case America. Because of America showing Russia their new weapon this led to the start of a new arms race and the beginning of the Cold War.