The Holocaust Historiography Project

Fact File 6 — The Bombing of Hiroshima

Note: The fact file series is intended to present facts of history, free from the polemics and misinformation so often presented in this medium. Hopefully the facts contained herein will serve the cause of truth in history.

Fifty years after the first atomic bombing of a civilian population, the media is still rehashing the old government propaganda about the loss of lives which would have been incurred during an invasion of the Japanese mainland. Many politicians, historians, and people from all walks of life have been quick to counter revisionist arguments that the Japanese were ready to surrender on Allied terms, and that using the bombs was unnecessary. Rarely is Japan’s hopeless military situation or their desparate attempts to necogiate peace discussed. Fact File No. 6 contains quotes and excerpts from various military figures and historians.

“Even before one of our B-29’s dropped its atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan’s military situation was hopeless.”

General Arnold, Third Report, 12th November, 1945, p.33.

“It would be a mistake to suppose that the fate of Japan was settled by the atomic bomb. Her defeat was certain before the first bomb fell.”

Winston Churchill, quoted in Charles Mee Jr., Meeting at Potsdam (New York: M. Evans and Co.), p. 239.

[The bomb shortened the war] “by months.”

General Marshall, quoted in Mee, Meeting At Potsdam, p. 238.

[It shortened the war by] “two weeks.”

General LeMay, quoted in Mee, Meeting At Potsdam, p. 238.

“Japan was completely defeated strategically before the atomic bombs were used against her.”

Bernard Brodie, The Absolute Weapon: Atomic Power And The World Order (1946), p. 92.

“Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31st December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1st November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bomb had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

The United States Strategical Bombing Survey (Pacific War), p.26.

“His majesty is extremely anxious to terminate the war as soon as possible, being deeply concerned that any further continuation of hosilities will only aggravate the untold miseries of the millions upon millions of innocent men and women in the countries at war. Should, however, the United States and Great Britain insist on unconditional surrender, Japan would be forced to fight to the bitter end.”

Japanese foreign minister Togo’s cable to Ambassador Naotaki Sato on July 12, 1945 cited in Mee, Meeting at Potsdam, p.23.

“The cables from Japan to the Japanese ambassador in Moscow (which begin on July 11 and continue throughout the [Potsdam] conference ) are filed under 761.94/7-2145: Telegram. That these cables were being passed up the line to Truman is evident from Stimson’s diary entry for July 16 ("… I also received important paper in re Japanese maneuverings for peace …") and Truman’s own remarks to Department of State historians in a conference on January 24, 1956, in which he said he was familiar with the Togo-Sato cable #893 before he was informed of it by Stalin [at Potsdam].”

Charles Mee, Meeting At Potsdam, p.342

“The dropping of the first atomic bomb was also an act of pure terrorism. It fulfilled no military purpose of any kind. Belatedly it has been disclosed that seven months before it was dropped, in January 1945, President Roosevelt received via General MacArthur’s headquarters an offer by the Japanese Government to surrender on terms virtually identical to those accepted by the United States after the dropping of the bomb: in July 1945, as we now know, Roosevelt’s successor, President Truman, discussed with Stalin at Bebelsberg the Japanese offer to surrender…. The Japanese people were to be enlisted as human guinea-pigs for a scientific experiment.”

F.J.P Veale, Advance To Barbarism: The Development Of Total Warfare From Serajevo To Hiroshima (California: Institute for Historical Review, 1979), pp.352-53.

“The decision to use the atomic bomb was not only a moral but also a psychological blunder.”

General J.F.C. Fuller, The Second World War (New York: Da Capo Press, 1993), p. 397.

“No one likes, or wants to confront, the fact, but it is clear from the events and conversations during the Potsdam conference that the use of the atomic bomb against Hiroshima and Nagasaki was wanton murder.”

Charles Mee, Meeting At Potsdam, p. 289.