Hiroshima (I)

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The dropping of the A-bomb on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 was a moment not just of Japanese history, but global history. It heralded the nuclear war age. There is a vast amount of online material. Just a small selection highlighting some key issues is below.

And while Hiroshima gets most of the attention, one must not forget Nagasaki. Here is the website of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.

Historical Context

Read the full text of the Potsdam Declaration and the full text of the Emperor’s radio address on 15 August. This makes it sound like the bombs were the crucial factor in Japan’s surrender.

But were they? There is considerable academic/media debate regarding whether dropping the bomb was necessary.

Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, “The Atomic Bombs and the Soviet Invasion”.

Richard B. Frank’s review of Hiroshima in History.

Regarding whether the bombs “saved lives”, here are opposing arguments by Zachary Keck in The Diplomat and Ward Wilson in Beyond Nuclear International.

A summary of the key positions is provided by the Atomic Heritage Foundation and the following video gives an excellent overview of the arguments.

Why Japan Surrendered, by Real Time History

The Manhattan Project

A documentary video produced by Los Alamos Laboratory.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

There are many materials in the Peace Database, such the video From Hiroshima to the Future.

From Hiroshima to the Future

There is also much survivor testimony.

For analysis of the most recent museum renovation, see Jeff Kingston “Renewing and Reframing Hiroshima”.

President Obama’s Visit

President Barack Obama became the first serving American president to visit Hiroshima. Here is commentary by Daniel Sneider, a leading researcher in war history and memory issues.

President Obama visits Hiroshima

The trip caused controversy in the United States, not least because many veterans and postwar Americans continue to justify the use of the bombs and/or refuse to apologize. The following video from 2005 shows what happened when one of the crewmen on the Enola Gay met some of the civilians in Hiroshima that day …

Enola Gay crewman meets hibakusha …

G7 Hiroshima Summit

Hiroshima received its greatest concentration of visits by global leaders during the G7 Hiroshima Summit in 2023 (Prime Minister’s Office of Japan summit page). This took place against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, and included a visit by president Zelensky. There were various commemorative activities in the Peace Park, including a joint visit to the memorial for Korean A-bomb victims by President Yoon and Prime Minister Kishida.


The 2001 UK documentary Hell in the Pacific gives a powerful account of the brutality of the Pacific War and the events leading up to the Hiroshima attack (it includes an interview with Hiroshima pilot Paul Tibbetts). Warning: Contains graphic war violence, including close-ups in colour of dead bodies. Viewer discretion advised.

Hell in the Pacific, part 4

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