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Hiroshima Atom Bomb, Photo source: Wikipedia

Excerpted from Wallbuilders.com

On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. That blast hastened the end of the War and helped halt further war deaths in the Pacific Theater beyond the 20 million lives already lost.

With the war in Europe ended, Japan and the Pacific became the unitary focus of Allied military action. As American and Allied forces worked closer to Japan in victory after victory, Japan was extended multiple informal opportunities to surrender, including the public offer resulting from the Potsdam Conference, but all offers were rejected. An assault on Japan was therefore planned similar to that which had ended the war in Europe.

There would be a D-Day style invasion followed by Allied troops fighting their way across the Japanese-controlled islands until they finally took complete control, forcing the enemy into the surrender that all sides knew was inevitable. Projections of fatalities resulting from the invasion ranged from around 7 million on the low side, up to 14 million on the high side. These projections included American, Allied, and Japanese deaths. Given this situation, there was no moral dilemma: Truman chose to save millions of both Japanese and Allied lives by using the atomic bomb and bringing the war to a quick close, but little known today are the extraordinary efforts made by the Americans to avoid using that bomb.

Potsdam Conference

The radio station on Saipan (which was then in Allied control) began broadcasting information about the pending attack directly into Japan, and B-29s also dropped millions of leaflets telling the people exactly which cities would be bombed and what the effects would be. Americans pleaded with the Japanese to flee those cities and save their lives.

For example, on July 28th, one million leaflets were dropped over the 35 Japanese cities (including Hiroshima and Nagasaki) that had been targeted for bombing in coming days, urging citizens to evacuate those cities. These actions by the American military were very risky as the bombers dropping the leaflets not only faced enemy attacks but also forewarned the Japanese military exactly where the American bombers would be coming. But American leadership felt these were acceptable risks in order to give Japanese civilians every opportunity to flee those cities.

Japan ignored America’s pleadings, and so the first atomic bomb was dropped at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Over the next few days, President Truman warned the Japanese that a second bomb would be dropped unless surrender occurred, and those warnings were broadcast into Japan every fifteen minutes. Still, the Japanese refused to surrender. A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, and Japanese leaders quickly notified the Allies of their surrender.

Significantly, neither bomb came as a surprise to the Japanese. Japan had been forewarned about what would happen, and they chose the path of the atomic bomb – both bombs were dropped due to choices made by the Japanese, not the Americans.

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (replaced on July 26 by Prime Minister Clement Attlee), and U.S. President Harry Truman—met in Potsdam, Germany, from July 17 to August 2, 1945, to negotiate terms for the end of World War II. In addition to settling matters related to Germany and Poland, the Potsdam negotiators approved the formation of a Council of Foreign Ministers that would act on behalf of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China to draft peace treaties with Germany’s former allies. Conference participants also agreed to revise the 1936 Montreux Convention, which gave Turkey sole control over the Turkish Straits.

Furthermore, the United States, Great Britain, and China released the “Potsdam Declaration,” which threatened Japan with “prompt and utter destruction” if it did not immediately surrender (the Soviet Union did not sign the declaration because it had not yet declared war on Japan). www.history.state.gov

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