Every year at this time I trace the final days leading to the first use of the atomic bomb against Hiroshima and
Nagasaki in August 1945. In this way the fateful, and in my
view, tragic decisions made by President Truman, his advisers,
and others, can be judged
more clearly in "real time." As
some know, this is a subject that I
have explored in hundreds of articles, thousands of
posts, and in three books, since 1984: Hiroshima in America (with Robert Jay Lifton), Atomic Cover-up and last year's Hollywood epic, The Beginning or the End. Now I've directed an award-winning documentary.
July 22, 1945: Still at Potsdam, Secretary of War Stimson meets with Prime Minister Churchill, who says that he was baffled by President Truman's sudden change in getting tough, almost bullying, with Stalin--but after he learned of successful first A-bomb test at Trinity he understood and endorsed it.
also cheered by "accelerated" timetable for use of the bomb against
cities--with first weapon ready about August 6. Stimson in diary notes that two top officials endorse his
striking off the city of Kyoto (which he had visited and loved) from the target list because of its cultural importance.
The U.S. learns through its "Magic" intercepts that Japan is sending a special emissary to the Soviet Union to try to get them to broker a peace with the U.S. as soon as possible (the Japanese don't know the Russians are getting ready to declare war on them in two weeks). Of course, as we noted earlier, Truman--who wrote in his diary it meant "Fini Japs" when the Soviets entered war--now hoped to use the bomb before then.