The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood--and America--Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
July 21, 1945: Gen. Leslie Groves' dramatic report on
the Trinity test lands on Secretary of War Henry Stimson's desk.
Residents of New Mexico and Las Vegas, who witnessed a flash in the
desert (some received radiation doses) are still in the dark.
The Interim Committee has settled on a target list (in order):
Hiroshima, Kokura, Nagasaki. Top priority was they must be among the
few large Japanese cities not already devastated by bombardments--so the
true effects of the new bomb can be observed. That's also why the
bomb will be dropped over the very center of the cities, which will also
maximize civilian casualties. Hiroshima has the added "benefit" or
being surrounding by hills on three sides, providing a "focusing effect"
which will bounce the blast back on the city, killing even more.
Kyoto, on the original target list, was dropped after an appeal by
Stimson, who loved the historic and beautiful city.
Stimson in his diary recounts visit with Truman
at Potsdam after they've both read Gen. Groves account of the successful
Trinity test. He finds Truman tremendously "pepped up" by it with "new
confidence." This "Trinity power surge" (in Robert Lifton's phrase) helped push
Truman to use the new weapon as soon as possible without further
reflection, with the Russians due to enter the war around August 7.
Truman has not yet told Stalin about existence of the bomb.
Note: Groves' lengthy memo
generally pooh-poohed radiation effects on nearby populations but did
include this: "Radioactive material in small quantities was located as
much as 120 miles away. The measurements
are being continued in order to have adequate data with which to protect
the Government's interests in case of
future claims. For a few hours I was none too comfortable with the
Bombing crews start practicing flights over targets in Japan.