the recent Atomic Cover-Up on the U.S. suppression of film for decades) since the early 1980s with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media reactions in the decades after.
July 30, 1945
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander of U.S. troops
in Europe, has visited President Truman in Germany, and would recall
what happened in his memoir (Mandate for Change): "Secretary
of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that
our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one
of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question
the wisdom of such an act...
"During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of
a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings,
first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that
dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I
thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use
of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a
measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that
very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of
'face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude..."
In a Newsweek interview, Ike would add: "...the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."
-- Stimson, now back at the Pentagon, cabled Truman, that he had
drafted a statement for the president that would follow the first use of
the new weapon--and Truman must urgently review it because the bomb
could be used as early as August 1. Stimson sent one of his aides to
Germany with two copies of the statement. The Top Secret, six-page typed
statement opened: "____ hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb
on ______ and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb has more
power than 20,000 tons of TNT.... It is an atomic bomb. It is a
harnessing of the basic power of the universe." Later, as we will see,
the claim that Hiroshima was merely "a military base" was added to the
--After scientists sifted more data from the July 16 Trinity test of
the first weapon, Gen. Leslie R. Groves, military head of the Manhattan
Project provided Gen. George Marshall, our top commander, with more
detail on the destructive power of atomic weapons. Amazingly, despite
the new evidence, Groves recommended that troops could move into the
"immediate explosion area" within a half hour" (and, indeed, in future
bomb tests soldiers would march under the mushroom clouds and receive
harmful doses of radiation). Groves also provided the schedule for the
delivery of the weapons: By the end of November more than ten weapons
would be available, in the event the war had continued.
--Groves faced a new problem, however. Gen. "Tooey" Spaatz on Guam
urgently cabled that sources suggested that there was an Allied prisoner
of war camp in Nagasaki just a mile north of the center of the city.
Should it remain on the target list?" Groves, who had already dropped
Kyoto from the list after Stimson had protested, refused to shift. In
another cable Spaatz revealed that there were no POW camps in Hiroshima,
or so they believed. This firmed up Groves's position that Hiroshima
should "be given top priority," weather permitting. As it turned out,
POWs died in both cities from the bombing.
Greg Mitchell, former editor of Nuclear Times and Editor & Publisher, is the author of more than a dozen books, with three on the use of the bomb, including Atomic Cover-Up (on the decades-long suppression of shocking film shot in the atomic cities by the U.S. military) and Hollywood Bomb (the wild story of how an MGM 1947 drama was censored by the military and Truman himself).