The Eve and the Day of the Atomic Bombing
☆The “Parachute News” Scattered by Planes
Today, a Press Club exists in the City Government Office, the Prefectural Government Office, and also other offices in Hiroshima. This is where many newspapers and TV stations have registered, and reporters actively gather news. During the war, news reporters were stationed at the Press Club to gather material. The Press Club was established in the Chugoku Area Army Headquarters, and the newspapers such as the national Asahi, Mainichi, and local Chugoku, Nishi-Nihon (Western Japan), Godo (Sanyo), and Osaka usually stationed one reporter there. The Chugoku Newspaper stationed two, covering a wider area that consisted of five prefectures of Yamaguchi, Shimane, Tottori, Hiroshima and Okayama. In those days, each prefecture was permitted to have just one newspaper. At the Chugoku Area Army Headquarters, the group leaders of the Publicity Section were to distribute the military news to the reporters; 2nd Lt. Matsuo, 1st Lt. Nishina, and 1st Lt. Yamamoto were in charge. However, the reporters could not write freely as they do today. Only those articles that the military authorities had censored and permitted were posted in the papers. I have already mentioned that the Japanese Naval airplane carriers, battle ships, cruisers, and destroyers had been anchored in the various corners off the shore of Kure, trying to hide themselves; and that they were fiercely attacked by the planes of the U.S. Navy and Army Air Force on July 24 and 28. However, news of this incident was never announced through the Press Club, and it was only after the war that the extensive damage became known to the general public. On the other hand, the U.S. had naturally grasped the facts, which they reported back to their country.
Towards the end of the Pacific War, the U.S. planes distributed tens of millions of copies of the “Parachute News” in the Japanese language. They were quite similar to newspapers, and were designed for Japanese soldiers and citizens in Japan proper. They also appeared in Asian countries, reporting the news of the war situations and posting agitation. During the daytime on August 5, 1945, a great number of Parachute News was dropped from the B-24 bomber Contrary Mary, which flew over Hiroshima City. It was a newspaper of three sheets in a tabloid size. The personnel aboard the plane who scattered the flyers was Mr. Robert Bersten, who now lives in Florida. Let us see the flyer, which was dated August 4. First comes a big headline: The Seto Inland Sea Became A Graveyard / 2,000 Aircraft Carrier Planes Flew [in the Attack] / 308 Warships Sank or Seriously Damaged
The article reports: Guam August 3rd; Through the unprecedented great air raids by carrier planes, the Seto Inland Sea was turned into a graveyard of vessels last week, which were destroyed or gone up in flames. The damage of the Japanese vessels was up to a total of 308 ships; 370 Japanese airplanes were shot down or seriously damaged. According to the announcement made by Admiral Nimitz, more than 1,200 craft joined in the air raids, and resulted in the crippling or sinking of twenty of the Japanese warships, including three battleships, six aircraft carriers, and nine cruisers.
On July 28, around 2,000 planes of the 3rd Fleet commanded by Admiral Halsey attacked the facilities of the Kure Naval Base. Despite the fierce anti-aircraft defense, which was conducted from the areas surrounding the wreckages of the Japanese warships that had been destroyed by the great air raid earlier in the week, and despite the attacks by the Japanese fighters, the great formation of the joint U.S. and U.K. Forces further executed a thorough bombing of this area. According to the reports by our joint U.S. and U.K. Fleet, it is believed that the large vessels of the Japanese Navy have all been sunk or destroyed to the extent that it is not possible for them to function any longer.
The article also mentions the summary of the Potsdam Declaration and other matters, presenting fairly precise reports of the war situation viewed from the current standard. Because it was a daytime mission, the anti-aircraft attack was horrible, and in the sky above Hiroshima City, some fragments of the anti-aircraft guns hit the Contrary Mary. Fortunately, the plane was all right. In his letter, in which he was telling me about his memories of the mission, Mr. Bersten says half indignantly, even now, that he should have been ordered to fly that mission during the night, given that its purpose was just distributing the flyers. It turned out to be such a nerve-wrecking flight. Those Parachute News and flyers, or dentan, were picked up by citizens, submitted to the police, and gathered at the Military Police Headquarters. All the flyers filled three cardboard boxes.
☆The Atomic-Bomb Test in Alamogordo
In 1938, German chemists, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann succeeded in the division of uranium by bombarding it with neutrons, and sent a report to Naturwissenschaften, The Science of Nature. The results were confirmed on January 13, 1939.[MS1] This is called nuclear fission, and the USA decided to develop atom bombs before Germany, whose scientists had discovered the theory, would use it for warfare. Since then, the USA poured two billion dollars and ten thousand personnel into the development of the Atomic Bomb, and completed it in July 1945. As is well-known, the Atomic Bomb was not developed by a handful of crazy scientists, rather, it was developed through a gigantic project called the Manhattan Project. It was staffed with normal and brilliant persons, and the development was achieved in quite a short period of time. After the Third Reich of Hitler had fallen, the USA focused the targets of the newly produced nuclear weapons on the three cities of Japan, which then was in the death agony: Hiroshima, Kokura and Nagasaki.
In the hands of the USA, three nuclear weapons existed. One of them was brought to the desert of Alamogordo in New Mexico on July 16, 1945, and was hung from an iron tower 30 meters high, and the test was carried out. At 5:30 in the morning, the test started. Following a flash, an enormous explosion occurred. The test was successful; however, the energy of destruction was far beyond the expectations of the scientists. By the way, a plutonium bomb was used for this test, leaving an inventory of another plutonium bomb and a uranium bomb. Hiroshima was to be hit by the uranium bomb, and for Nagasaki the plutonium bomb was to be used.
The USA considered the personnel who were to be involved in the dropping of the atomic bombs. Mr. Richard Nelson enlisted when he was seventeen years old, after graduating from high school. He wanted to be a pilot; however, he gave it up because his eyesight was weak. He reentered the school for radio, and graduated with excellent scores. He was selected as a crew member of the Enola Gay, the B-29 which was used for the first atomic bomb mission. In this way, the crew members of the Enola Gay, being headed by Mr. Paul Tibbetts, the pilot, consisted of a well-chosen group of men. As mentioned before, “Enola Gay” was the name of the mother of the captain of the plane, by which nickname the plane became known to the world. However, actually it was called by the code name, “Dimples No. 82”. This plane was of the latest model. It was built in a factory in Omaha, Nebraska, and was an improved model, upgraded with reversible pitch propellers, improved engines with fuel injection, and a bomb bay door which was to close three seconds after the bomb was released. Fifteen planes of the same model had been made, and the Enola Gay was one of them.
The US Government, on receiving the report that the test in Alamogordo had been a great success, gave President Truman’s order to drop the atomic bomb to the crew of the B-29 Enola Gay, who were being trained on Tinian Island.
☆The Fate of Hiroshima has been decided!
On August 6, 1945, an imposing warning line was formed at a corner of the apron on Tinian Island, which was located southwest of Saipan Island, and one B-29 had started its four engines. The B-29 was revving the engines, and the airplane was shaking with a deafening roar. Colonel Tibbetts, the captain of the plane, seated in the cockpit, shouted in the microphone attached in front of him, “From the Dimples No. 82 to North Tinian control tower. We’ll start taxing. Give us the instruction for departing.” The reply came in an instant. “From North Tinian control tower to the Dimples No. 82. Depart to east from Runway A.” The brakes were released, and the airplane which was loaded with the Atomic Bomb gravely entered Runway A, and started its roll-out. It started slowly, gaining speed gradually till the scenery around the plane streamed away to the rear as if it were flying. The atomic-bomb carrier Enola Gay, with the twelve crew members in it, rolled well down the runway. Finally just before the end of the runaway, it floated up into the air leaving Tinian Island behind. Following the Enola Gay were the Great Artiste, an observation plane, and No. 91, for taking photos.
The first target for the atomic-bombing was Hiroshima, the second was Kokura, and the third was Nagasaki. Although the candidate cities for the target had been decided, the actual city for bombing had not been confirmed at the time of departure. It was decided that the atomic-bombs should be dropped not depending on the radar but by visual inspection. If the clouds thickly covered those three cities, making it impossible to drop the bomb by visual inspection, the Enola Gay was to disarm the detonation device, and return to Tinian Island. Col. Parsons, who was the person in charge of the atomic-bomb among the crew of the Enola Gay, crawled into the bomb bay while flying on the ocean, and after some struggle, succeeded in connecting the wiring of the detonation device. The plane went on a smooth flight over the ocean. Then, from the Straight Flash, a weather research aircraft, which had departed one hour earlier for Hiroshima, sent an emergency Morse Code message: “Y2, Q2, B2, C1.” It meant, “At all the altitudes of low, middle and high, the amount of the clouds over Hiroshima is below 3. Attack the first target Hiroshima, as planned.” At this time, the fate of Hiroshima was decided.
“It’s decided on Hiroshima.” The crew was satisfied to hear the Captain’s voice. It was because Hiroshima was the city they had studied best. The Enola Gay flew on according to the planned schedule, and arrived at Hiroshima within one minute of the scheduled time. Through the eyes of the bombardier, Maj. Ferebee, the target was seen: the Aioi-Bridge, to which he had repeated the bombard trainings so many times that he had dreamt of the action. “I can see the target!” Looking through the Norden bombsight, Maj. Ferebee pushed the release button. The atomic-bomb dropped straight downward.
That night on Tinian Island, cheers of the American soldiers were heard, celebrating the success of the atomic bombing by the Enola Gay. It went on through the night and did not stop till the morning.
On the other hand, on August 5 Washington DC time, Otto Hahn in Germany was said to be troubled, upset, and deeply depressed. People were afraid he might commit suicide. Dr. Albert Einstein had fallen into a similar mental state. He is said to have strongly regretted that he had sent a letter to President Roosevelt in August 1939, telling him about the possible Nazi’s project for development of nuclear bombs, trying to persuade the President to gain a head start.
Three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, on August 9, the B-29 Bockscar departed from Tinian, loaded with the remaining atomic bomb. Because of the bad weather conditions above Kokura, Nagasaki was targeted and bombed. Thus the U.S. had used all the nuclear weapons they had. Of course, because of that, their goal was achieved: Yes, Japan had surrendered.
☆Atomic Bombing Experiences of the German Priests
The horror of the Atomic Bombing is not only the immediately destructive power of the blast. The threat consists also in the fact that it emits an enormous amount of ionizing radiation: i.e. alpha rays, beta rays and gamma rays. The alpha ray can be blocked by a sheet of paper. The beta ray is blocked by a thin sheet of metal such as aluminum. The problem is the gamma ray, which can be blocked by a thick shield of lead or iron. However[MS2] , most of the houses in Hiroshima City were made of wood, which was more easily penetrated by gamma rays. The cells of the people who were inside the houses had been destroyed. Creatures that were exposed suffer greatly. It is the reason why those survivors from the epicenter died, tearing at their breast, although they had no outer injuries.
In Nobori-cho, near the central part of Hiroshima City, there is a tall, stately building––the World Peace Memorial Cathedral. The building, which has been rebuilt, used to be Nobori-cho Catholic Church, where many Japanese Christians assembled in those days before the bombing of Hiroshima. At the time of the bombing, there were numerous German priests here in the Nobori-cho Church and at the cloister at Nagatsuka in the suburbs of Hiroshima.
Under Fr. Arrupe, who was the Father Superior from Spain, there were Fathers Lassalle, Kleinsorge, Siemes, Kopp, Cieslik, Stolte, Erlinghagen, Schiffer, Kruer, Luhmer, Tappe and so on. Most of them were at Nagatsuka in the suburbs, but in the church in Nobori-cho, a location where 70% of the population were killed by the bomb, being close to the central part of the city, some of them were exposed to radiation. Fr. Lassalle and Fr. Schiffer were bleeding; however, the other Fathers were all right. Immediately, they started attending the injuries of the wounded colleagues. The wife of the next-door neighbor came and asked for help to find her husband, who was missing under the burning wreckage of the house. Fr. Cieslik went but the fire was fierce and no one replied to his call from the debris. Supporting a Japanese colleague, who was desperate and wanted to be left there in the fire, they escaped to the river, passing through the burning town.
Among those Fathers, four of them left memoirs of their atomic-bombing experiences. Particularly, the memoir by Fr. Siemes is the earliest record of the witnesses of the Hiroshima atomic-bombing, which had already been written in German in September 1945. It was soon circulated among the German Fathers of the church. Fr. Siemes himself rewrote this into English, which was sent to the Jesuit Headquarters in Rome, and was published world-wide in their Newsletter. This material consisted of around ten pages in the size of A4( 297 X 210cm), and contains an episode describing when the Fathers felt that their lives were threatened by Japanese Army officers. This happened because the officers mistook them as American POWs, who had been captured before the atomic bombing. If a false step had been taken, a massacre could have occurred.
☆ I Have No Regret about the Atomic Bombing
Here is a sequel to the event. On February 1, 2003, in a hospital in Riverside, LA, Mr. Richard Nelson passed away at the age of seventy-seven, from complications arising from emphysema. He was a former radio operator of the B-29 Enola Gay, which bombed Hiroshima. After the bombing, he sent a message to then President Truman, “Results Excellent”. He was survived by two of the twelve crew members of the Enola Gay: Mr. Theodor Van Kirk, the navigator, and Mr. Morris Jeppson, who was in charge of arming the Atom Bomb during the flight in the Enola Gay. Mr. Nelson, who at age twenty was the youngest crew member, was in excellent health several years before he died, attending annual airshows. However, his health deteriorated recently, so he was in a wheel chair, always connected to an oxygen mask. Among the twelve members of the Enola Gay, just Mr. Richard Nelson visited Hiroshima. Towards the end of November, 1989, he visited Hiroshima with Mr. Charles Sweeny, former captain of the Great Artiste, the plane that dropped the weather monitoring device during Enola Gay’s mission. They came to Hiroshima as part of a BBC Documentary film, and visited Shima Surgical Hospital at the epicenter, the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, Memorial Park, and so on.
[Note: Shima (Surgical) Hospital : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shima_Hospital. The founder and Director, Dr. Kaoru Shima had studied in the U.S., and had been impressed by Mayo Hospital (former St Mary’s Hospital), which was built by William Mayo.]
The group went around Hiroshima City covertly, so no one knew who they were, but Mr. Nelson told the newspaper reporters, “I was hesitant to come to Hiroshima, as I thought I might be beaten up by people, but Hiroshima was full of love and kindness, so I’m glad I came.” It seems his impression of Hiroshima was not bad. However, Hiroshima in those days had already completely recovered, and the cruel scars made by the atomic bomb were scarcely seen except for the Atomic Bomb Dome. Even with visits to the atomic bomb related locations, I wonder if Mr. Nelson could have comprehended real issues of what he had participated in without seeing the ruins immediately after the bombing forty-four years ago. I believe his comments would have been different had he visited Hiroshima right after the end of the war, looked closely at the destroyed city, and talked with some of the hibakusha.
For a long time, I have examined the documents about the Enola Gay and listened to the experiences of concerned persons. As the result of my research, what I can say is the crew members of the Enola Gay were neutral about the Atomic Bomb. All of them had accepted what they did as their mission, and were glad and proud of the success of the atomic bombing. In fact, Mr. Nelson replied to his local newspaper the Riverside Press, “I have no regrets about the atomic-bombing,” in 1995, the fiftieth anniversary. Recently, the house of the late Mr. Thomas Ferebee, the bombardier of the Enola Gay, was for sale, and the house had a sign on it, which read ,“The Home of Col. Ferebee, the bombardier of the Enola Gay that atomic-bombed Hiroshima”. All the crewmen of the Enola Gay are heroes in America. All of them were honored by the U.S. Government. Only in war, is killing people accepted in a positive manner, awarded with certificates of appreciation and honor, and admired. Here, I see the horror of war. Mr. Nelson returned to the sky over Hiroshima soon after the release of the Atomic Bomb, and witnessed the earth. At that time, he sent a coded message to then President Truman, “Results Excellent”. Did Mr. Nelson see the mushroom cloud that rose from the ground, and feel like that?
At that time, I was looking up at the mushroom cloud––from 10,000 meters below.
☆ The Victims of the Two Bombs
On May 15, 1990, the Ministry of Welfare (current Ministry of Welfare and Labor ) of Japan officially released the number of victims who are listed in the Diseased Roster caused by the atomic-bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The two cities conducted a survey of the holders of the Hibakusha Health Handbook, which was issued to each recognized hibakusha by the Ministry of Welfare. Each hibakusha was asked to list all the individual names of those who died by the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima on August 6, and Nagasaki on August 9. Then, spending five years, they compared the names with the list of the dead which both cities held, and in that way they confirmed the number of the deaths. According to this Roster, the number of the Atomic-Bomb deaths in Hiroshima was 201,990, and in Nagasaki that number was 93,966, which tells us that total of 295,956 people had been killed by the Atomic Bombs.
The number of those who died by the end of December 1945 because of their exposure to atomic bombs is said to be 140,000 plus/minus 10,000, so we notice that the number has substantially increased. There are some cases in which all the family had perished and could never reply to the survey. Therefore, they are not included in this total. Precisely speaking, the ultimate number of the diseased remains unconfirmed even now. During the Pacific War (WWII), the U.S. Armed Forces bombed the major cities all over Japan, killing around 700,000 citizens. However, the two bombs, i.e. the Atomic Bombs, produced more than 40% of the victims, all through the indiscriminating bombardment. That is the reason why it is criticized as against the International Laws. On top of that, among those deaths were included a fairly high number of non-Japanese. According to the research done by the Atomic Bomb Museum, there were around 5,000 to 8,000 Koreans and North Koreans, also some Chinese residents who had all lived in Hiroshima City and outer areas of the city for a long time, even before the Meiji Restoration. There were some students from Asian countries, and also the small number of American POWs.
Several days had passed since the atomic bombing. I had evacuated to a hill, which our family owned. There, one of my cousins came from the epicenter. He murmured, “I could not save Mom.” I still remember his face that was stricken with his mental suffering. He would never tell his atomic-bombing experience, to his closest kin who eagerly ask of him. In fact, his mother was burnt to death when their home was crushed by the atomic bombing. My cousin managed to be dug out, but the mother was not. She was trapped under a big pole of the house. She could not move nor could they move her. Eventually the house was in flames. It seems he had to run for his life, hearing the mother’s death cry behind.
The fate of those Japanese people was shared with the American POWs, who had been interred in Chugoku Military Police Headquarters.
The founder and Director, Dr. Kaoru Shima had studied in the US, and had been impressed by Mayo Hospital (former St Mary’s Hospital), which was built by William Mayo.
[MS1]Lise Meitner and her nephew Otto Frisch were the first who correctly interpreted Hahn's and Strassmann's results as being nuclear fission, a term coined by Frisch, and published their paper in Nature. Frisch confirmed this experimentally on 13 January 1939.… Frisch and Meitner also first realized that Einstein's famous equation, E = mc^2, explained the source of the tremendous releases of energy in nuclear fission, by the conversion of rest mass into kinetic energy, popularly described as the conversion of mass into energy. Meitner refused an offer to work on the project at Los Alamos, declaring "I will have nothing to do with a bomb!" Meitner said that Hiroshima had come as a surprise to her, and that she was "sorry that the bomb had to be invented."
[MS2]Biologically harmful neutrons are emitted, and are very penetrating, as well.