Did the Japanese deserve the Atomic Bomb?

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by LostKingdom, Feb 25, 2004.

  1. Jon Horley

    Jon Horley Member

    I've been looking up some online stats about Japan's murderous campaigns against civilians and I'm wondering whether the tens of thousands of slaughtered Chinese, Korean, Phillipino, Burmese and Malay peoples would counter the topic question without much preamble, let alone consider any Western revisionism, with "Did we deserve the Japanese?"

    I don't see how the people in countries unaffected directly by Japan's extraordinary brutalities towards unarmed, helpless civilian populations - mass rapes, the live burials of Chinese, the jolly japes of seeing who could behead the most in the shortest time (extra innings, chaps!) - can offer up a judgment on whether Japan's own civilians should have been nuked. But, however one might rationalise suicide pilots, over-deferential obedience to authority, etc., nothing can rationalise the Japanese forces' apparent enjoyment of the suffering of the people they overran.

    When the British and Americans went into the horrors of Nazi concentration and extermination camps, what was their reaction? To run amok, gunning down all the locals, bayoneting their babies and raping their girls? No, of course it wasn't. And yet, without any provocation at all, invading Japanese troops did just that, over and over again.

    If the A-bombs did one thing, whether this was intended or not, it rained down retribution - a civilian for a civilian, if you will. A gesture probably applauded by the Chinese who'd suffered hideously during the Sino-Japanese war and again during WWII.

    I can't say that Japanese civilians 'deserved' to be killed by nuclear blasts, but I can say that the civilians butchered by the Japanese - sometimes, let's not forget, for sheer fun and sport - didn't 'deserve' to die, either. The Japanese imposed some of the most appallingly sadistic cruelties upon captives - one has only to read a little about their live and unanaesthetised vivisection, amputation and 'medical' experiments (which made Dr Mengele look like Dr Seuss), to know that one was not dealing with a straightforward warrior enemy. Any notions of honourable, Samurai-like behaviour was ripped to shreds by their actions.
    Mike L likes this.
  2. tasker

    tasker Member

    in my view, yes they did.
  3. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    Can anyone recommend a good book about the dropping of the bombs ?
    Wills post has got me intrigued to know more.


    J. Samuel Walker's Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs Against Japan is probably the best short guide to the current conventional wisdom. Richard Franks' Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire is longer and more detailed, but comes to similar conclusions. Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb is also good, but as someone else already mentioned is more about the MANHATTAN Project than the Hiroshima/Nagasaki attack as such, and goes into the physics in a way that may be too much for some people (e.g. me).

    A great discussion of the historiography of Hiroshima can be found in Michael Kort's The Columbia Guide to Hiroshima and the Bomb. This also includes many primary source documents, including translated copies of Japanese sources.

    Best, Alan
  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    I concur with your recommendations, Alan. I would add John Ray Skates' book on Operation Downfall and Giangreco's Hell to Pay.
  5. wowtank

    wowtank Very Senior Member

    I thought he said that of Hamburg? It was virtually over by the time of Dresden.

    I have a bad memory for stuff read in books as I am dyslexic. ( even with spell checker i put dynastic instead of dyslexic) lol at my self.

    I have so many books with so many post it notes in (trying to remember stuff in them) it very hard to find references.

    I have to wright it how i think it is if i get it wrong it is not from hard of thinking. I think I do pretty well for an illiterate:)
  6. spidge


    I got a question? If the US wanted to end the war in the pacific quickly to save lives (which I think the bomb did if you don't believe they were trying to sue for peace ). Why then did they not take the same approach to bombing city's to kill people in Germany?

    Was there not more people killed in Dresden think what Bomber command at the 8th could have done to population in Germany. Speer said him self anther few more Dresden and German would of had to surrender?

    Hi Wowtank,

    If you are saying more people were killed in Dresden than were killed by the two bombs on Japan - Then the answer is no.

    German researchers themselves have revised down the "Nazi" claimed number of 500,000 to 600,000 Dresden deaths to about 25,000. (Still a horrible number nonetheless)

    Nazis 'exaggerated Dresden death toll', German historians conclude - Telegraph


  7. wowtank

    wowtank Very Senior Member

    Hi Wowtank,

    If you are saying more people were killed in Dresden than were killed by the two bombs on Japan - Then the answer is no.

    German researchers themselves have revised down the "Nazi" claimed number of 500,000 to 600,000 Dresden deaths to about 25,000. (Still a horrible number nonetheless)

    Nazis 'exaggerated Dresden death toll', German historians conclude - Telegraph



    Interesting I thought it was 35000 to 75000. Never new the NAZIs claimed so much.

    Edit I am not saying that at all. 1 bomb then yes maybe???
  8. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member


    21st Bomb Group (Heavy) Bombing reports Japan.


    The green bar! Accidentally (!) clicked on. Now I am a 'glorious beacon of light'- JHC - where is that article on spontaneous combustion!

    Dresden; A very good friend of my fathers (same RAF association) was a decorated Group Captain RAF Rtd, He was jovial man who gave me golf lessons and some of his clubs. He would never go to the Armistice day parades - his preferred way was to play a round of golf. I remember his words, 'I have no choice - I remember everyday'. It is in later life you realise that he had probably seen enough. Whilst on this, I caddied for him one day - very impressed was I too, introduced to - and this is where my memory fails, it was something like Air Vice Marshal Lord (Evill or something similar sounding - anyone?) Another introduction on that day - hip flasks!
  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Cheers for the book recomendations, think I need a trip to the library.
  10. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  11. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I had been following this thread with much interest when out of the blue it took a sudden swerve and once again the thorny subject of Dresden was being discussed.

    As one who has had his knuckles rapped for posting new threads when it was patently obvious that other threads already existed, I debated with myself as to whether or not I should pick up this new tack. I then spotted that the big man himself had also responded to the change of subject and so was encouraged to make this comment about Dresden.

    Dresden was just another raid over Germany.

    I repeat.......

    Dresden was just another raid by Bomber Command in their efforts to destroy Hitler's Third Reich and bring the war to a speedy end and as part of the evidence to substantiate my assertion I offer, once again, an article that I have previously posted.

    Dresden ?

    We have all been here before and in general, views are so entrenched on the rights and wrongs of bombing the city that I fear whatever is said today will do nothing to alter fixed viewpoints.

    I would offer just one new item for you to consider.

    My dear late brother Jack who was killed in the skies over Nuremberg on the 16th March '45 had as a crew-mate a lovely man by the name of Ted Hull.

    In 1997, when I was belatedly researching Jack's death, I was in constant communication with Ted who had been the Flight Engineer on Jack's Lancaster.

    Ted let me have a copy of his Log Book which, he assured me, would have been identical to Jack's log, regrettably no longer available.

    Note the 5th op in which the crew took part. The date was the 13th of February, it was just another raid on just another German City and one from which they were lucky to return.

    On the 16th of March, just over a month later, their luck finally ran out.
    BBC - WW2 People's War - The night my father was killed in action

    Dare I hope that when I am no longer around to state my case that others will bump this thread ?

    Many thanks !


    Attached Files:

  12. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Dresden - legitimate target - if Southampton,Portsmouth,Coventry and dear old London to name but a few were legitimate so was Dresden.
  13. peaceful

    peaceful Senior Member

    This is what my mother told me 2 or 3 times when I was a lassie.

    The allies pleaded with Japan to stop and surrender. They would not.

    No one knew what this atomic bomb would do because there had never been one dropped before. The number of killed citizens was still not enough to convince them to surrender and a second bomb was dropped.


    Dresden and Japan cannot be compared. Two completely different situations.

    And to drop an atomic bomb on Germany -- how would you contain it within the borders?

    Chrissie :poppy:
  14. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  15. PeterG

    PeterG Senior Member

    A passing thought, and not exactly related to the main question here, but do any of you aerial types know what sort of escort Tibbets, Sweeney, and their chaps went out with? Never really occurred to me before, as perhaps the 'cultural' image is of Enola Gay & Bockscar going in alone in a clear blue sky - presumably we're talking s-loads of other aircraft in the area at the time?
    The B-29 'superfortress' was a very advanced bomber for its time, it had a pressurized cabin and mid-cabin, an electronic fire-control system, and remote-controlled machine-gun turrets. It was very fast and flew at high altitude, fighter escort wasn't deemed necessary until the 1950s (Korea and all that) and the advent of the Soviet jet MiG-15.

    The Enola Gay was accompanied by two other B-29s, Necessary Evil which was used to carry scientific observers, and as a camera plane to photograph the explosion and effects of the bomb and The Great Artiste, instrumented for blast measurement. One of those accompanying pilots may also have carried out the Nagasaki mission.

    There were seven B-29s assigned to the first atom bomb 'mission' on 6 August 1945, although only six flew:

    V-82 "Enola Gay", for the "Little Boy" (U235) atom bomb drop.
    V-89 "The Great Artiste", tasked with blast measurement.
    V-91 "Necessary Evil", for high speed photography (but arrived with no usable film).
    V-85 "Straight Flush", weather reporting Hiroshima - primary target.
    V-71 "Jabit III", weather reporting Kokura - secondary target.
    V-83 "Full House", weather reporting Nagasaki - tertiary target.
    V-90 "Big Stink", back-up for "Enola Gay", remained at Iwo Jima.

    Six B-29s were assigned for the drop on Kokura (diverted to Nagasaki), on 9 August:

    V-77 "Bock's Car", to drop "Fat Man" (P239) atomic bomb.
    V-89 "The Great Artiste", again tasked with blast measurement.
    V-90 "Big Stink", for high speed photography (but failed rendezvous).
    V-88 "Up 'n' Atom", weather reporting Kokura - PRIMARY target.
    V-95 "Laggin' Dragon", weather reporting Nagasaki - SECONDARY target.
    V-83 "Full House", back-up for the "Bock's Car", remained at Iwo Jima.
  16. PeterG

    PeterG Senior Member

    These are the full crew lists, the two bombs, and some of the B29s that took part, all from Enola Gay - Mission to Hiroshima by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-White:

    Attached Files:

  17. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    When discussing the matter we should try to "keep our heads in the times", to consider it from the viewpoint of the people who made the decision to drop the bombs. My piddle amount of research has lead me to believe that the first and foremost reason for dropping the bombs was to end the war as quickly as possible. To this end they were willing to use all available weapons. In that same vein, the understanding of the "after effects" of the use of atomic weapons was poorly understood. Gen. Marshall was given control over eight atomic bombs, either ready or being built, for use in the invasions of Japan. The plan he approved for their use allowed commanders on the scene to use them against large concentrations of enemy forces. The bombs would be dropped, and then after one half hour the Allied troops would move through that area. This should illustrate that the Allies did not think use of these weapons was anything but the application of maximum force available against the enemy.
  18. PeterG

    PeterG Senior Member

    No one knew what this atomic bomb would do because there had never been one dropped before.
    And to drop an atomic bomb on Germany -- how would you contain it within the borders?
    Of course what it would do was known, that was what the test before dropping it was for. In fact the more powerful plutonium bomb, the one dropped on Nagasaki, was tested at Alamogordo in New Mexico on 16 July 1945.

    As for containing an atom bomb's explosion within Germany's borders, they were powerful bombs but a thousand times less powerful than an H-bomb, which requires an atom bomb as a detonator. Atom bombs were destroyers of cities, not nations.
  19. peaceful

    peaceful Senior Member

    This is what my deceased mother thought who lived through those times. Not saying she was right or that I agree with her. Thanks for your reply. I appreciate that.

    Best wishes
  20. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

Share This Page