Hiroshima was the first victim of a nuclear attack. At 8:15 am on August 6, 1945 the “Little Boy” uranium gun-type bomb was dropped on Hiroshima by the B29 Superfortress Enola Gay. 70,000 people perished immediately, mostly civilians. In time that number increased to 90,000-166,000 due to radiation poisoning. 90% of the city was destroyed. 4 square miles.
Germany had surrendered May 8, 1945. Only July 26, 1945, the U.S. And Allies called for the complete and unconditional surrender of Japan, or face”prompt and utter destruction.” In fact, the order for for atomic bombs to be dropped on four Japanese cities had been issued the day before.
For those interested in global ethics, this bombing presents a conundrum. The taking of civilian lives was clearly against just war theory. However, proponents of the bombing argue that many more lives would’ve been lost in the ground invasion. Normandy cost 425,000 German and Allied lives.
Still, even the right-leaning American Conservative considers this an immoral act: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/dont-whitewash-the-hiroshima-bombing/. President Harry Truman’s clear point in his announcement of the bombing was revenge for Pearl Harbor: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=12169
Nevertheless, Japanese culture discouraged surrender. Even after Hiroshima the Emperor did not submit. Sixteen hours later, American President Harry S. Truman called again for Japan’s surrender, warning them to “expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”
So three days later, a plutonium bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. After the effects of radiation poisoning, an estimated 40,000-80,000 lives were lost, half on the first day. Immediately following this, Japan surrendered.
These two bombings represent the only use of nuclear weapons in the history of warfare.
Those with a pessimistic (some will say realistic) view of humanity believe that there will never be an end to this human violence. I prefer a more optimistic perspective. Well there will always be murderers and violence, people of goodwill can learn to respond to that violence. There will always be Hitlers. The bigger question is how to keep a society from following them. They only have power if people revere them.
Isaiah the prophet also has a hopeful outlook:
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
People of faith can hope, pray and work for a day when humanity matures and blooms from its barbaric ways and into true caretakers of the earth. Even if it’s a pipe dream, it’s one worth working for. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.