Hiroshima Week 1: The City and the Bomb

On August 6,1945, at 2:45 am, the plane Enola Gay and two others set out from Tinian, a small pacific island in the Marianas. Ten days earlier, the Allies had issued the Potsdam Declaration, calling for the unconditional surrender of Japan, or the country would face ‘prompt and utter destruction.’ In the hold of Enola Gay was the instrument to deliver that destruction.

This week marks seventy years since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. I was lucky to visit Hiroshima in March 2014, a wonderful city, and this week will be a special Hiroshima week on my blog. Every day I will post a new article relating to Hiroshima.

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Hiroshima seen from Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima is famous for the atomic bomb, and several posts will of course deal with this subject, but Hiroshima has so much more to offer. Great restaurants with okonomiyaki as the local speciality, a vibrant night life, beautiful parks, a castle and many other sights. Even though most historic sights were destroyed by the bombing, some of them, like the Hiroshima Castle, has been rebuilt.

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On the streets of Hiroshima

Enola Gay, with the two other planes carrying cameraes and measuring equipment reached Hiroshima just after eight in the morning. Part of the reason Hiroshima was chosen as the first target was that it had so far survived the war relatively undamaged, making it easier to assess the damage caused by the A-bomb. Once Hiroshima was chosen as a potential target, the military made sure to avoid Hiroshima during their bombing raids over Japan.

Hiroshima is the capital of Hiroshima prefecture, and was established by warlord Mori Terumoto in 1589. Four hundred years later it would gain city status. During the First Sino-Japanese war the Japanese government temporarily moved to Hiroshima, and Emperor Meiji resided in Hiroshima Castle from September 1894 until April 1895.

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In front of Hiroshima Castle

At 8.15 am, Enola Gay was flying over Hiroshima. The crew, who had armed the bomb over the Pacific, opened the hatch on the airplane and the bomb, Little Boy, was released. It was aimed for the easily recognizable t-shaped Aioi bridge. This kind of Uranium bomb had never been tested before, and the Americans were not sure it would explode.

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The Aioi Bridge

The bomb was a result of the Manhattan Project, which united the countries USA, UK and Canada in trying to produce a working atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project was initiated by President Roosevelt after scientists warned of the danger posed by Germany developing nuclear power. The Project pursued both uranium and plutonium atomic bombs at the same time, the former being used on Hiroshima and the latter on Nagasaki. The project, despite its vast size was kept so secret that vice president Truman only learned of it after being sworn in as president. This confirmed a suspicion he had had for a long time, that something big was going on. During his time as senator he had seen money disappear into ‘black holes’ in the military budget, but told not to investigate more by very senior officials. Once president Truman learned of the bomb, he quickly saw its potential. If it only would work.

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Pictures of the explosion at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

The bomb did explode, directly over Shima Surgical Clinic. Wind had made it drift about 240 meters away from its target, the Aioi bridge. The time was 8:16 am. For the first time in history an atomic bomb had been used in war. Even the Americans were unsure of what damage it would make.

Go to post 2: Genbaku (A-bomb) Dome.

One comment on “Hiroshima Week 1: The City and the Bomb

  1. […] — Read post 1: The City and the Bomb. […]

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