Saturday, August 06, 2005

Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima

Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima - An eyewitness report written by a Jesuit priest living near Hiroshima at the time of the atomic bombing. Describes the aftermath of the bombing, and the effects on the people of Hiroshima.

Today is the 6oth Anniversity of the atom bombing of Hiroshima. Over 60,000 Japanese died (most of who were civilians) when the Enola Gay dropped the bomb.

It is hard to predict what may have happened had Truman decided not to atom bomb Japan. Maybe the war would have gone on with a full-scale allied invasion of Japan and the death toll would have been much higher. Further, the Soviet Union may have occupied portions of Japan which would have further complicated the Cold War. But maybe not. It probably was the right decision but we can still mourn those innocents who died on August 6th, 1945.

From the site:

In September of 1945, Bishop Franklin Corley was sent to the Japanese city of Hiroshima as part of the American occupation forces then entering that country. As one of the first American soldiers to enter the stricken city, he encountered many of the people who were helping to re-establish order from the chaos. One of these people was Father P. Siemes, a German priest with the Novitists of the Society of Jesus in Nagatsuki. Father Siemes was directly involved in the post-bombing rescue, and had also witnessed the explosion itself while barely avoiding the bomb's lethal heat and shock waves.

Shortly after they met, Father Siemes gave a typed account of his observations to Mr.Corley, who then brought the manuscript back to the United States where it lay mostly hidden for fifty years. Thanks to the kind cooperation of Mr. Corley's son, Father Siemes' account is now given below without any editing or modification. His eyewitness account is a priceless insight into this event, as are his thoughts on the implications of total war and its application. Shown along with the account are Mr. Corley's photographs of Hiroshima, some of which were taken while the city still smoldered.


Jinxy said...

Ask any veteran of the Pacific or those from the European front who were on their way to fight the Japs and ask them whether or not they were appreciative of what the A Bomb did.

All one has to do is look at the casualties on both sides of the Battle of Okinawa to realize the enormous human cost that would have to have been rendered had not something been done.

All this handwringing needs to be provided with some perspective.

M said...

"All this handwringing needs to be provided with some perspective."

I agree. I am not second guessing Truman here. I think he was right to do it.

Nonetheless, the atom bomb was a nightmare for those who suffered it in Japan. I respect their memory today.


Anonymous said...

I have a question on the authenticity of the eyewitness account. According to John Hersey's book "Hiroshima" page 117 Father Siemes was in Nagatsuka. He made a report to the Holy See in Rome.

A few years ago, I was asked to photocopy an old onion skin copy of this report which was typed on an old type writer. The copy belonged to a man whose father translated the same account to English from German. He was a doctor on the US atomic Bomb Causality Commission who entered Japan to survey the disasters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in September of 1945. I wonder how hidden this documented eyewitness report really was? How many copies of this account where in a lot of people's possession?

JustMe said...

I have a copy of the account by Fr. P. Siemes. It came from my father-in-law, who was on the shores soon after the attack. Where he got it from I do not know, as he is now deceased. The copy is typewritten, and the paper is aged. It is legal-sized paper, It is 10 pages long, with the tenth just half a page. After the end is a note dated 2/13/46