The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagazaki, on August 6 and 9, 1945, brutally brought humanity into the nuclear era. They will provoke the Japanese surrender and temporarily assert the military supremacy of the United States over the USSR. To accelerate the end of the war in the Pacific, the Americans drop the first atomic bomb of history, "Little Boy", over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945. Three days later, a second bomb exploded over Nagasaki. The two towns are instantly reduced to ashes and the two explosions cause tens of thousands of victims, immediate or subsequent.
1945 in Asia - Pacific, the conflict dragged on
On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor by surprise, and the next day the United States declared war on it. Japan will first win several battles and seize Hong Kong, the American islands of Guam and Wake then Malaysia, until the Battle of Midway, which will stop the Japanese expansion. From now on, the Americans will laboriously regain the upper hand and recover the occupied islands one by one (Iwo-Jima, Okinawa. The Americans had set Kyushu as their next objective; they had envisaged operations for November 1945, but an easy victory seemed little Despite the progress of the Americans, the Japanese refuse to surrender and the war can continue for a long time, when peace has been signed in Europe. On July 26, 1945, the allies meeting at the Potsdam conference demanded a unconditional surrender of Japan.
From then on, the US government turned to a different strategy, which relied on the use of atomic weapons. The fissionable materials, uranium and plutonium, essential for the project, were nevertheless not available in sufficient quantities until the end of the war. The first experimental bomb exploded in Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945. Two more bombs had been built and the possibility of using them to force the Japanese into a quick surrender was discussed. President Harry Truman, who had succeeded Roosevelt, who died on April 12, decided to use them to spare thousands of American troops. To hasten the end of the conflict, Truman orders General Cari Spaatz, the chief of the American air force in the Pacific, to launch a nuclear weapon as quickly as possible on a densely populated city in Japan. It will be Hiroshima.
The bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
On August 6, 1945, pilot Paul Tibbets boarded the B-29 bomber, christened “Enola Gay”, the “Little Boy” uranium bomb and dropped it over the city. The explosion causes a huge fire, which will last over six hours, and destroy all life within a radius of one kilometer. There will be 70,000 dead. Yet the imperial government, dominated by hard-line officers, refuses to surrender. Truman threatens Japan with a "rain of other atomic bombs" and then orders a second bombardment (out of a total of 7 planned). The USSR, for its part, declared war on Japan on August 8.
On August 9 at noon, another American B-29 bomber dropped "Fat Man" on the city of Nagasaki. The ensuing explosion killed 40,000 people. On August 15, after an attempted military coup was thwarted, Emperor Hirohito personally announced the surrender of Japan. Less than a month later, on September 2, 1945, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Chief of Staff of the Imperial Army boarded the American cruiser Missouri, anchored in the harbor of Tokyo, and signed a surrender. unconditionally in the presence of General Douglas MacArthur.
According to the sources, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have caused a total of between 300 and 400,000 victims between 1945 and 1995.
This dramatic ending officially marks the end of World War II and opens a new chapter in history: the Cold War.
- Hiroshima, 50 years old. Japan - America: memories of nuclear power, by Maya Todeschini. Otherwise, 1998.
- Hiroshima: Monday August 6, 1945, 8:15 am, by John Hersey. Text, 2011.
- An atomic bomb on Hiroshima: August 6, 1945, the day everything changed, by Maxime Tondeur. 50Minutes, 2015.