By Elisabeth Hellenbroich
On August 2nd 2019 the INF Treaty that had been concluded in 1987 between US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev with the aim to eliminate their intermediate range and shorter range missiles, came to an abrupt end. The treaty was a milestone at the height of the Cold War; it required the S.U. and the US to completely eliminate ground launched missiles ranging from 500 to 5500 km. Since 2014 there have been mutual accusations from the US and Russia which claimed that each side had violated the treaty. On February 2019 U.S. President Trump officially called for the end of the INF treaty. Shortly after President Putin followed suit.
This very dangerous strategic move opens a new era of strategic uncertainty and the risk of a new nuclear arms race with potentially devastating consequences for Europe. It indicates the “return of mistrust, geopolitical rivalry and readiness for nuclear strategic aggressiveness,” as an editorialist commented in the German Daily FAZ on August 3. At present the drama is however that the general public in Germany is more preoccupied with “climate change” and that Europe doesn’t fully realize what the break of the INF treaty means. Fact is that it was U.S. President Trump who called first for the elimination of the treaty and it is also a fact that on August 3rd US Defense Minister Mark Esper announced cynically that the US would begin stationing missiles in Asia- supposedly in response to China’s nuclear missiles.
74 years after nuclear bomb was dropped on “Hiroshima” (6.August 1945)
In the midst of this geostrategic insecurity it is highly instructive to look at a documentary film that was aired by the German- French TV channel ARTE end of July. The film had been produced originally in England 2014. The film “Hiroshima” is based on new archive material (see also link at the end) and the documentary is a shocking testimony about the immense physical and emotional devastation that was caused by the drop of the first nuclear bomb in the history of mankind. The bomb was thrown from the US B- 29 “Enola Gay” targeting the Japanese city Hiroshima on a nice morning August 6th 1945. Three days later a second nuclear bomb was dropped over the city of Nagasaki August 9th 1945.
The film documents in detail that it was US President Harry S. Truman who had decided for the first time in the history of humanity to make use of the “nuclear bomb.” Truman and his military experts General Maj Lt Leslie Groves (military leader of the first nuclear bomb project in Manhattan), General Curtis LeMay et al. were key players of the drama which began to unfold then. For several years secret research had been conducted on the Island Tinian in the Pacific where the US military had one of its biggest airbase, as well as in US laboratories such as Los Alamos. The political and military protagonists were fully conscious about the devastating consequences that this nuclear weapon had on the people of Hiroshima. They consciously wanted to demonstrate the “power” of this weapon –to the Soviet Union and to mankind as a whole. What is even worse: the truth about the atomic bomb and its devastation was initially kept “secret” from the American public. The Japanese military, as the film documents, even if they knew that Japan couldn’t win the war, decided to hide the truth about the drop of the nuclear bomb from the rest of the population until the very end; until Japanese Emperor Hirohito surrendered to the USA August 15 1945, which brought the US –Japanese war (1941-45) to an end. Many American military historians cynically claim up to this day that the “nuclear bomb was a necessary evil,” to bring the US-Japanese war to an end.
The film documents that the US military, in particular General Maj. Lt. Leslie Groves, was engaged in systematically “covering up” the truth about the devastating consequences of the nuclear bomb. After the drop of the nuclear bomb he ordered the military “not” to help treat the war victims in Hiroshima, deliver humanitarian aid, nor to write anything about the bomb blast, while the Japanese Military on the other side, according to archive material and witnesses (from Secret Intelligence Service and Japanese Air Force pilots) that were interviewed, remained astonishingly passive and didn’t do anything to stop the bombers on August 6.
The first nuclear bomb hitting a peaceful city in the early morning of August 6 1945
After the drop of the nuclear bomb, August 6 1945,on the city center of Hiroshima – within 45 seconds – a gigantic explosion occurred, wiping out the city center of Hiroshima, leaving 80.000 people dead on the spot. In a press release issued after the atomic attack US President Harry S. Truman warned Japan “to surrender or accept rain of ruin from the air- the like of which has never been seen on this condition.” Up to this day many American historians and military experts argue that the atomic bomb had brought the US –Japanese war that broke out when Japan bombed the US Navy in Pearl Harbor 1941, to a quick end. Fact however is, as the film documents that on the Pacific Island of Tinian where during the US- Japanese war a huge US military airbase had been located, a secret research program was conducted that involved the work of US scientists on the nuclear bomb. The Film interviewed Benjamin Bedersen (Manhattan Project) who was serving on the Island and Russel Gackenbach (Air Force navigator of the accompanying bomber of “Enola Gay B-29” bomber).
The documentary also showed that at the end of the Second World War and after the capitulation of Germany, the US military had captured 1000 tons of Uranium in Germany.
According to US Historian Professor Sean L. Malloy from the University of California, the uranium barrels were transported to England and to the US, to be processed into Plutonium in the Laboratory of Hanford, so as to be used for a nuclear bomb, in which the Laboratory Los Alamos got involved. The Film shows an interview with the physicist Dr. Roy Glauber (Harvard and then engineer of the Manhattan project), who knew about the nuclear bomb plan that had been worked on since 3 years, into which 2 Billion US Dollars had been already invested with no visible results. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, already deadly sick at that time, wanted to have the nuclear bomb “before Russia.” After his death the plans got into the hands of his successor, President Harry S. Truman.
Many witnesses were testifying in the documentary how they lived through the unfolding drama on August 6 1945. The film crew interviewed among others witnesses Sunao Tsukoi, Shoso Kawamoto, Massai Kako Yamamoto, and the school girl Reika Yamada. They also interviewed Kazuhike Togo (grandson of the Japanese Foreign Minister) as well as Tomayuki Tomamoto, historian from the Meiji University Tokyo. The latter stated that based on new archive material which was analyzed, the Japanese military leadership knew that the war was lost, but didn’t do anything while hoping for a diplomatic solution to end the war. Meanwhile the US prepared for the nuclear bomb blast, conducting nuclear bomb tests.
In July 1945 the Allies against Hitler (England- Winston Churchill; USA- Harry S. Truman; Soviet Union- Josef Stalin) gathered for the Yalta Conference in the German city of Potsdam, in order to discuss the post- World War II order. US President Harry S. Truman at the Potsdam conference spoke about those successful “nuclear bomb tests” that had been made by his scientists and military. Truman and his war minister Stimson knew that Japan wanted to capitulate. As the American History Professor Sean Malloy testified in the documentary, the Japanese at the time had sent several messages as well as dispatched envoys for example to Switzerland to Alan Dulles, to signal that they wanted to surrender. They also hoped at that point that the Soviet Union which was not involved in the war would mediate for a peaceful end of the war. On 26 July the Allies in Potsdam signed an ultimatum (US and England) that was addressed to Japan to surrender, which Josef Stalin didn’t sign (the Japanese took this falsely as a sign that Stalin wanted to mediate and negotiate according to History Prof. Malloy). The Japanese refused on July 29th to sign, since o guarantee had been given for the continuation of the Emperor’s Rule. According to Malloy the truth is that President Truman was determined to show the “force of the weapon to the Soviets and the world”.
Nuclear Bomb targeting Hiroshima – the Beginning of Hell
Hiroshima was a beautiful city, the incarnation of Japanese culture. It was the biggest city of Western Japan, according to Yoshie Oka, interviewed in the documentary who at that time worked in one of the Military HQ of the Japanese military. Given the fear of air attacks by the Americans during the war, 23.000 children from Hiroshima were brought at that time to the country side. On the Island of Tinian, one of the biggest American Airbases, planes were engaged in training for the drop of the nuclear bomb.
Japanese Secret Intelligence at that time, according to an interview with intelligence officer Ryjoi Hasegawa, had suspicions about a special bomb that was being prepared, but not more. The American Physicist Roy Glauber stated in the documentary that at that time 70 US scientists had sent a petition to President Truman, urging him not to use the bomb. However General Major L. Leslie Groves, the key promoter for the use of the nuclear bomb, was determined to “silence“ the scientists and kept the petition away from Truman. On the 5th of August in Tinian the nuclear bomb was ready. The B- 29 Bomber “Enola Gay” with the Pilot Tibbits began its mission.
In the early morning the B-29 Bomber approached the city Hiroshima. Dr. Shuntaro Hira, a Japanese military doctor, who at that time was trying to help war victims in Hiroshima, testified in the film, that he saw that morning planes in the sky and that at 8:15 a bomb was thrown on Hiroshima. An extreme white “flashlight” was coming out- causing the immediate feeling that one would get blind. After the lightening a huge pressure- wave followed which expanded by a speed of 1600 km an hour. It was like 100 thunder beats. Sunao Tsuboi, another witness, reported in the documentary that “my ears fell off, my lips were burning. I ran away burning, just in the last minute escaping death.” Within 5 seconds 80.000 people died on the spot. One minute after the first detonation the Americans observed a huge mushroom of smoke, according to Russel Gackenbach (pilot and navigator of the accompanying bomber “Necessary Evil”, the huge mushroom had the size of 10.000 meters emitting gases and radioactive particles. There was a red circle of fire and a growing mushroom. Japanese Military Doctor Hira testified that he “could see a yellow –orange sky and a fire column over Hiroshima.”
Whoever survived the nuclear attack was now confronted with new dangers. Black rain fell from the sky. All rivers were poisoned as the witnesses stated. Gamma rays and radioactive isotopes were distributed all over the city. Children lost their skins; some ran to the river which was poisoned, where they immediately died. This was Hell!! At 13:10 the bomber returned to the Tinian airbase. A huge party was given for the soldiers where “beer was given for all”. The Japanese Government decided to keep the whole thing secret. Hiroshima military doctor Shuntaro Hida tried to help the wounded with a kind of improvised hospital on the ground. There were 80.000 wounded and he was the only doctor on the ground who remembered that “it was hell.” He couldn’t see at that time what what the cause was for people’s wounds.
US Major Lt Groves meanwhile ordered the military to secretly film and document in detail the damages that had been perpetrated by the nuclear bomb, but not to help. Streets were inundated with corpses and wounded people. Many dead were burnt on the spot. According to then 11 year old Tetsushi Tenezawa who was sitting that morning in a tram with his mother, there was total chaos, people lost blood, vomited and died. Everything had disappeared from the earth there was a huge stink and deadly silence.
On the island of Tinian order was given to prepare another plutonium bomb in order to send a message to Japanese Emperor Hirohito and on August 9th the second nuclear bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.
On August 15 1945, Japanese Emperor Hirohito declared surrender, stating: “Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation but also it would lead to the total extermination of human civilization.” The surrender was then accepted by General Douglas Mac Arthur as Supreme commander of the Allied powers. In the US the population celebrated the end of the war in the streets while the Pilots who had dropped the nuclear bomb were treated like heroes.
While the Americans looked into the damages that the bomb had caused, those Hiroshima inhabitants who had survived were suffering from hunger. Witnesses reported that if somebody fell into the trenches nobody did anything to help them. The American occupying troops were ordered to not do anything. What then followed as witness Shoso Kawamot reported was that the power vacuum in Hiroshima was filled with total “lawlessness.” There were thieves and the mafia which now took over. Soon the Yakuza gang came taking over the black market. People according to Shoso Kawamoto, didn’t have neither conscience nor morality. Even gold teeth were pulled out from the dead. Many atrocities were committed, but nobody talked about it. Hiroshima became the city of the “orphans.” But also among them the “law of the stronger” ruled. The elder children were the first to get some potato soup which had been cooked for them twice a week by peasant women, while the younger were starving. 3000 orphans lived on the street. When winter arrived, food was running out. Little girls were burnt like garbage, while girls at the age of 8 and 12 were used by the Yakuza in the red light district.
US General Groves was obsessively avoiding that any news would come out. The City was practically sealed off. All in all 140,000 to 240.000 were victims in the nuclear bomb attacks, not counting the many wounded and sick people.
First reports about the atrocities of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb came out when on September 5 1945 the Australian Journalist Wilfried Burchett published an article “The Atomic Plague” for the London “Daily Express.” The US military meanwhile secretly filmed the radiation victims or sent organs of the dead to US Laboratories for further research. Then on February 1946 the American author John Hersey published an essay for the New Yorker “Hiroshima,” in which he documented in detail the devastating effects of the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima. The essay triggered a debate in US Congress. The American propaganda version won the upper hand and the line peddled was that the nuclear bomb was “a necessary smaller evil” to end the war. According to US medical professor Schull and other witnesses children in Hiroshima were brought to the ABCC Institute and secretly used there as objects for research by US professors and students in order to study the effects of radioactivity on the development of human physical growth.
In the year 1952 the American occupation ended and the inhabitants of Hiroshima, who survived, began to reconstruct the city. In the US meanwhile there was a huge propaganda “New Bomb frees Atomic energy” or “The Atoms come home town,” were children were given plutonium boxes to work with as toys. At the height of the Cold War, as the documentary reports, the US had 68000(!!) nuclear devices in store.
One can only hope that the historical lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are being remembered today, the decisions to drop the nuclear bombs were taken by men in power. The door to hell is opened again to the geostrategic aggressive use of nuclear weapons by the nuclear powers – which today would have much bigger consequences. The doors should be quickly closed-for the sake of survival of humanity.