tv American Citizens in Hiroshima and Nagasaki CSPAN September 1, 2015 7:55am-8:14am EDT
other classic paintings of that sort. it's the first time they have been to the united states anywhere since 1995. now we brought them here. we put it together with these artifact and with children's drawings from hiroshima. i will explain later. that was the origin of our exhibit in 1995. 20 years later, we have a more elaborate exhibit i'm sure it's the most elaborate exhibit on the atomic bombings that has been held in the united states. it's overwhelming. i can't tell you how many people have written to me who have seen it and said that it left them in tears. this is one of the most famous images out of nagasaki. this is a young girl. she looks -- the caption says dazed. she's holding a rice ball. there's blood on her face.
she has such a look in her eyes, such a forlorn, distant gaze. like so many other people, she didn't know what happened to her. she didn't know what had occurred. so many of the people who lived through the bombing said they were sure the bomb landed on their house. they figured that's what had happened. they went outside and they saw that all of hiroshima or all of nagasaki was ablaze and the fires were coming toward them. you will see one of the panels called fire, what it was like for the survivors who were engulfed in flames. next to this we have got a crucifix. there are a lot of crucifixes that are considered symbolic, especially in nagasaki. in nagasaki, the bomb missed the original target by almost two miles and landed above the cathedral. nagasaki had not been bombed
before this. a small bombing in 1944 but it had been preserved along with other cities, because the americans wanted to have a pristine target to show the effects of the atomic bomb. they hadn't bombed nagasaki. people thought they had not been bamm ed bombed because of it it was the christian capital. the bomb dropped above the cathedral, the biggest cathedral in east asia. there's a crucifix. we see the stop watch there. the pocket watch there showing 8:15. that's a very popular image inside hiroshima. the bomb dropped at 8:15 a.m. on hiroshima. time stops there, clocks stop, watches stop. also, it dropped at 11:02 in nagasaki. a lot of the images will show that. when we did our first exhibit in 1995, many of those representepe
not being left outside of japan anymore. some of these we have the replicas instead of the originals. almost everything is the original artifacts. what we've got here are the famous mushroom clouds. the photographs of the mushroom cloud in heiroshima and nagasak. the descriptions of them, from people who are on the plane, was that it was like a pillar of flames shot up into the air. this cloud. it kept expanding from the top of the column, pillar, you would see additional bursts. it would keep going up. estimates are 40,000 feet into the sky. enormous. the crew said they could see the cloud from four hours away. they could still see the cloud
looking back, it was so high. there was a lot of radioactive debris swept up in the cloud. some of that come down as black rain on the victims of the bombing. here we've got the view of he hiroshima city. the target for the bomb was h e here. they thought the pilots would be able to see that very, very clearly from the sky. the bomb drifted and it missed the target and landed over here above this hospital. this is probably the most famous symbol. this is the old industrial prefecture building. it's now called the atomic bomb dome. this has been preserved. there was debate whether to preserve it. if you go back now, this has all been built up. this part here and here has been preserved as a peace park. you can see that everything is
devastated. the estimate is that almost two miles in each direction was totally destroyed. if you went two miles away you would be badly burned. your house could have been destroyed. remember, this was by modern standards a tiny, primitive bomb. the bomb that dropped on hiroshima we estimate to have been 16 kilatons. the bomb that dropped on nagasaki we estimate 21 to 22. we later developed bombs that are going to be so much bigger. we actually -- by 1954, we were holding congressional hearings in project sun dial in which the scientific leaders were laying out plans to build a bomb 700,000 times as powerful as the hiroshima bomb. it seems insane. that was the future that they were holding out. this is what we knew we walked into with our eyes wide open.
this is what this little bomb did at hiroshima. let's look at what the bomb did at nagasaki. this bomb was a little bit bigger. the casualties were actually smaller. because nagasaki was surrounded by this mountains on both sides. so the effect of the bomb was contained. the effect of the blast was contained by the mountains. nagasaki was in the valley in between the mountains. the hiroshima bomb, the estimates are 150,000 dead by the end of 1945, 200,000 dead by 1950. the estimates on nagasaki are 70,000 dead by the end of 1945, 140,000 dead by the 1950. the hiroshima bomb was uranium. nagasaki bomb was plutonium. they were different kinds of bombs.
here we've got some of the more human artifacts, in a way. we've got the shoe of a young student, 13-year-old boy, who was killed in the bombing. we've got the hat of a junior high school student who was killed. we've got the water bottle of another young boy, 13-year-old, who was killed when the bomb exploded. here we've got one of the replicas. it's a replica of the lunch box that 12-year-old girl, who totally disappeared, no trace was ever found of her. inside you have the rice and peaces. her mother was able to identify that as her, even though she couldn't find a trace of her daughter. back in 1995, a few of us suggests that if they wanted to cancel the big exhibit and they
wanted to limit it, they should show two artifacts, one was the enormous plane, the other was the lunch box of the 12-year-old girl. we thought that would send the message about what the atomic bombs were really about. of course, that was the last thing in the world that they were going to display. they wanted none of the artifacts about the victims. they didn't want the photographs of the victims. they didn't want the statements by american military leaders condemning the bombing. they didn't want that controversy. here is a more historical panel. as a historian, i would like an exhibit about the context, about the decision to drop the bomb. it would have made a boring exhibit, probably. but this has some of the important information about the manhattan project that was started to build a bomb as a deterrent against the
possibility that the germans would get a bomb. they were terrified at the prospect of hitler getting an atomic bomb. we built it as a deterrent against germany. they didn't anticipate it would be used against japan because everybody knew japan didn't have the industrial or scientific capability of building a bomb during the war. this is a survey of the bombing targets. these are potential targets. you have to remember that the united states had been fire bombing japanese cities since the night of march 9 through 10 when we firebombed tokyo. by the end of the war, three-quarters of our bomb loads were incendiary to burn down japanese cities. we bombed over 100 japanese cities. when we ran out of important major cities, we started to bomb the secondary cities that had no military significance. the destruction reached 99.5% in the city of toyama.
some of the american leads were appalled. secretary of war stimson said to the president, i don't want the united states to get the reputation of outdoing hitler as doing atrocities. another top general said it was the most ruthless killing of non-combatants in history. it was to burn down the cities to kill civilians. this is about the decision to drop the bomb. we have a section here about the reasons for using the bomb. the official narrative says the united states dropped the bomb to exta diet the end of the war without having to invade. truman says an american invasion would cost a half million lives. number keeps going up. truman said it saved thousands of lives and tens of thousands then a quarter of a million. in his memoir he says a half million lives. there's no record of that. it would have been a lot of americans lost in an invasion and japanese killed.
that's the official narrative that we dropped the bomb to avoid an invasion. the bomb ended the war in the pacific. there's no truth to that. maybe a little truth to that in terms of truman's mind, but no basic truth to that. the reality was the japanese from the battle of saipan in july of 1944 onward knew they could not win. they hoped to get one more victory and sue for better surrender terms. the big obstacle was the emperor. macarthur's command issued a report in 1945 in the summer that said, hanging of the emperor to people would be like the crucifixion of christ to us, all with fight to die like ants. that was what macarthur understood. almost every adviser of truman urged him to change the surrender terms. that was in america's interest. america planned to let them keep the emperor. we didn't want to -- we were
finished. american intelligence reported repeatedly that the entry of the soviet union into the war will convince all japanese that complete defeat is inevitable. it will lead to the end of the war.
the question is, the confusing thing is why truman, who is not blood thirsty, not a hitler. did he not take pleasure in killing people. why would truman use the atomic bombs knowing that the japanese were defeated and trying to surrender, knowing they were not militarily necessary? what we assume as historians was that a big part of his motivation was that he was sending a message to the soviets that if the soviets interfered with american plans in europe or in asia -- this was the fate they were going to get. the soviets interpreted it that way. suddenly, the day of judgement was tomorrow and has been ever since.
that's the reality we have been confronted with. that's what makes the atomic bombing so important, not just that hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children were killed unnecessarily. but the fact that the human species has lived with this over our heads ever since. that possibility still today -- we have 16,300 nuclear weapons in the world. we have this conflict with the russians over ukraine. the u.s. and russia still have thousands of nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert pointed at east other. we're not playing games here. the threat is real. which is why we wanted to do this exhibit. there were apparently several people carrying cameras in hiroshima on august 6. but only one is known to have taken any photos. that's this man. he was a photographer with
hiroshima's newspaper. he had enough film to take 24 photos. he said it was too horrible. so he ended up taking seven photos and five of them have been preserved. he was very respectful. he didn't want to show close-ups. he didn't want to show horrible burns, suffering. he shows the people at the relief stations stations who ha from the fire downtown. you can see some of the fire in the background. see the destruction everywhere. this was 1 1/2 miles from the center from what was occurring. and he said it was like walking through hell. he said he couldn't take photos. it was just too intrusive on people's privacy and their suffering. this shows people, no medical supplies, almost all the doctors were killed, the hospitals were destroyed, the nurses were, you
know -- so what you see here are just people in these relief stations. there was no medicine, there was nothing to treat them. they would put oil on the burns to try to help within days people reporting maggots coming out of the wounds. it was just awful. the shots from nagasaki, people lying there, dying, clothes on the ground, on the mass ress, a woman breast-feeding her baby. there were lots of stories about women carrying around dead babies on their backs trying to nurse their babies. these images of the charred corpses of some of the victims. what they had was that people who were near the hypocenter, their internal organs boiled away and they quickly turned into charcoal. they became carbonized.
you can see the bodies. the bodies lying there, charred corpses. some of the people who wore their clothes would have the patterns burned into their skin and the shadow of somebody completely disappeared. the steps of a bank -- i'm pretty sure that was the steps of a bank in hiroshima. i have one friend in nagasaki who speaks to our group and he survived, obviously. and he writes down the names of all of his family members and how far they were and not a single one was affected by the bomb, was scarred by bomb, was injured, wounded or burned by the bomb. he has the name of them and how far from the hypocenter. and one by one, he crosses them out. this is over the next couple of weeks. one by one would die of radiation poisoning.
you would get these purple spots all over your body. you would get terrible diarrhea. your hair would start to fall out, become sick. i know of cases, many cases in which family members or friends came into hiroshima after the bombing looking for their relatives or their friends and coming several days after and they would die of raid age. some experts said the effects of radiation was gone very quickly. a lot of experts said that wasn't the case. this is the hiroshima hospital. it was above the hospital that the bomb actually detonated when it missed its initial target. he actually -- and in the elementary school, almost all the teachers and students were killed. it's only 3/10 of a mile from the hypocenter. i take my students now, every year on thmo