Hiroshima and Nagasaki faced the worst fate of any city in this entire world can come across. August of 1945 brought with it two days that completely destroyed these two Japanese cities. What is interesting is that Nagasaki was not the chosen city by the US to drop the atomic bomb on. It was a twist of fate and accumulation of several events that resulted in the catastrophe of Nagasaki that killed more than 70,000 people.
Exactly two minutes after 11’o clock on the morning of 9th, the US dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese port which got obliterated to the ground.
History of Nagasaki
Nagasaki is present on the western coast of the island of Kyushu in Japan. It is famous for being one of the oldest port cities which opened trade to West in the 19th century. In reality, back in the 16th century, the port had already welcomed Portuguese merchants and traders. They brought with them Catholicism that several locals adopted secretly in fear of persecution by the emperor.
The port was valuable for being one of the major trading centres of the country. The open port and the weapon factories, Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works, and Mitsubishi-Urakami Torpedo Works made Nagasaki a very important centre for Second World War.
Then why was it not the first choice for the US?
Nagasaki being sandwiched between two mountains reduced its value as the mountains would mitigate the effect of the atom bomb.
Also, the presence of PoW camps in the valley made the valley a less suitable choice. Although it was an option back in April of 1945, it was dropped.
What were the factors that the US was looking for?
1. The cities must be large, wider than 3 miles with heavy population.
2. ‘High Strategic Value’ was an important factor that the US considered.
3. The cities in question must have escaped the firebombing campaign of the US back in March.
Considering all the factors, four cities were finalized. Kyoto, Hiroshima, Kokura, and Niigata ticked off all the requisites that were considered by the US. By the end of 1945, the s for the bombing was chosen to be Hiroshima and Kyoto.
In early June, US Secretary of the War Henry Stimson appealed to President Truman for removal of Kyoto from the target list. His reason for the appeal was that the city was culturally significant to Japan. His appeal was accepted and once again the search for the suitable city began. On July 24th, Nagasaki was added to the list of probable cities but there was a negligible chance of the city to be bombed.
Eventually, Kokura, another city in Kyushu island of Japan was chosen as the target because the Japanese Imperial Army’s massive arsenal was situated there.
August 9th, 1945.
On August 6th, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. ‘Little Boy’ caused massive destruction and blasted with the intensity of 15 kilotons of TNT. After the inhumane destruction of the city, the US was planning on dropping the second bomb on Kokura on 10th August. But Nagasaki’s fate was fixed. Due to the weather forecast predicting unclear sky, the day was preponed to 9th August.
The ‘Fat Man’ was carried from Tinian Island to Kokura. But the cloudy sky saved Kokura. Even after circling the city thrice, they could not see the city and eventually abandoned it at 10:45 am. They then hastily decided to bomb Nagasaki. At exactly 2 minutes after 11, the bomb was dropped on the clueless Nagasaki and which doomed several coming generations of the city. The plutonium bomb unleashed energy of 21 kilotons of TNT.
Following the bright flash of white light, almost 70,000 people instantly died and thousands of others followed in the coming weeks. In an instant, the houses were dilapidated, clothes were burnt off the skin, even the skin melted and hair turned to ashes. The misery and pain ended for those who died at the spot but the survivors eventually died over weeks in excruciating pain and suffering. All in all, there were only 47 survivors left eventually.
Not just that, the extremely high levels of radiation messed up the genetic configuration of the survivors which led to the birth of deformed babies for the next few generations. Even the air contained enough to affect the expecting women of coming generations.
The immensely brutal step by the US destroyed two important cities of Japan but that did not stop the island country from flourishing. The country developed and spread its wings despite the ruthless bombings, war and numerous natural disasters like tsunami, earthquake and volcanic eruptions.
Then sturdiness and resilience of this East Asian country is impressive, admirable and inspiring.