Atomic Cover-up ) since the early 1980s with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media suppression in the decades after.
July 26, 1945:
Early on July 26, Chief of Staff Gen.George Marshall cabled to Gen.
Leslie Groves, military chief of the Manhattan Project back in
Washington, DC, his approval of a directive sent by Groves the night
before. It read: “1. The 509th Composite Group, Twentieth Air Force,
will deliver its first special bomb as soon as weather will permit
visual bombing after about 3 August 1945 on one of the targets:
Hiroshima, Kokura, Nigata and Nagasaki…. 2. Additional bombs will be
delivered on the above targets as soon as made ready by the project
This assembly-line approach would have tragic consequences
for the city of Nagasaki. (Kyoto had been removed from the target list
after the Secretary of War Henry Stimson pleaded that destroying this
historic and beautiful city would really turn the Japanese against us in
the postwar period.)
In a 1946 letter to Stimson, Truman reminded him that he had ordered
the bombs used against cities engaged “exclusively” in war work. Truman
would later write in his memoirs, “With this order the the wheels were
set in motion for the first use of an atomic weapon against a military
target.” Even years after the decision, and all the evidence (largely
kept from the American people) that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were only
partly “military” targets, Truman still acted otherwise.
--The other major event from this day was equally significant. The
Potsdam Declaration was issued in Germany by the United States, Britain
and China. (The Soviet Union was still ostensibly not at war with
Japan but agreed to enter the conflict around August 7. This has led
some to suggest that we used the bombs quickly to try to end the war
before the Russians could claim much new territory.) It was Truman’s
first key wartime conference with other top leaders.
The declaration ordered Japan to surrender immediately and
unconditionally or face a reign of ruin—“prompt and utter
destruction”—although the new weapon was not mentioned (such a warning
had been considered by Truman but rejected). Much was made of the
importance of the “unconditional” aspect but three weeks later, after
the use of the new bombs, we accepted a major condition, allowing the
Japanese to keep their emperor, and still called the surrender
Some historians believe that if we had agreed to that
condition earlier Japan might have started the surrender process before
the use of the atomic bombs. Others believe an explicit warning to the
Japanese, or a demonstration of the new weapon offshore in Japan, would
have speeded the surrender process. But the Potsdam Declaration set US
policy in stone.
Greg Mitchell’s latest book (also out as an e-book) is Atomic Cover-Up: Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made. He also co-authored, with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.