In September 1944, there was a meeting of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Hyde Park. They discussed the probability of using atomic weapons against Japan. By the summer of 1945, the United States, with the support of Great Britain and Canada, completed the preparatory work for the creation of the first samples of nuclear weapons.
After three and a half years of U.S. involvement in World War II, about 200 thousand Americans were killed, about half of them – in the war against Japan. In April-June 1945, during an operation of capturing the Japanese island Okinawa, there were killed more than 12 thousand American soldiers, 39 thousand were injured (the loss of Japanese soldiers ranged from 93 to 110 thousand and more than 100 thousand civilians). Expectedly, the invasion of Japan itself, led to losses, many times larger than in Okinawa.
Hiroshima was located on a flat area, just above sea level at the mouth of the River Ota. The city’s population before the war was over 340,000 people, making Hiroshima the seventh-largest city in Japan. The headquarters of the Fifth Division and the Second Main Army Field were located in the city. Marshal Hata Sunroku commanded the defense army of southern Japan. As we can see, Hiroshima was an important supply base of the Japanese army.
In Hiroshima, most of the buildings were one or two storied, built from wood and with tiled roofs. The factory was located on the outskirts of the city. Outdated fire equipment and the lack of training, created a high risk of fire, even in peacetime.
Hiroshima population peaked at 380,000 people during the war, but before the bombing, the population gradually decreased due to systematic evacuation orders, made by the Japanese government. At the time of the attack, the population was about 245,000 people.
At 8:15 local time, the B-29 plane was at an altitude of more than nine km, he dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima. The detonator was set at the height of 600 meters above the surface; the explosion was equivalent to 13 – 18 kilotons of TNT. It occurred in 45 seconds after the dropping.
People, who were nearest to the epicenter of explosion, died immediately. The explosion turned their bodies turned into coal. Birds, which were flying by, burned in air. Dry, combustible materials, such as paper, ignited at a distance of two km from the epicenter. The light emission from explosion left the silhouettes of dead bodies on the walls. The people, who were outside, described the blinding flash of light, which came at the same time as the stifling wave of heat. The blast wave, followed almost immediately after the light, was knocking people down. Those who were in the buildings, avoided the exposure of radiation from the explosion, but almost all the buildings, accept the most solid, have collapsed. One teenager has blasted away from his house, while it collapsed behind him. Within a couple of minutes, 90% of people, who were at a distance of 800 meters or less from the epicenter, have died.
The blast wave shattered all the windows at a distance of 19 km. Numerous small fires have occurred in the city, and soon they merged into one large firestorm that created a strong wind. The firestorm took over 11 km ² of the city, killing everyone who did not get out in the first few minutes after the explosion.
According to the memoirs of Akiko Takakura, one of the few survivors, who were at a distance of 300m from the epicenter: “Three colors characterize the day when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima: black, red and brown. Black, because the explosion cut off all the sunlight and plunged the world into darkness. Red was the color of blood flowing from the wounded people. It also was the color of fire, burning in the city. Brown was the color of burnt skin (Hersey p.).”
A few days after the explosion, doctors began to notice the first symptoms of exposure among the survived. Soon the number of deaths, among the survivors has been rising, as patients who seemed to have started to recover, began to suffer from this strange new disease. Death from radiation sickness peaked 3-4 weeks after the explosion and began to decline only after 7-8 weeks. Long-term health effects associated with radiation sickness, such as increased risk of cancer, haunted the survivors for the rest of their life’s, as well as the psychological shock from the experience of the explosion.
The number of deaths from the direct impact of the explosion varied from 70 to 80 thousand people. By the end of 1945, due to the action of radioactive contamination and other post-explosion effects, the total number of victims ranged from 90 to 166 000 people. After 5 years, the total number of deaths, including deaths due to cancer and other long-term effects of the explosion reached 200 000 people.
According to official Japanese data at the end of March 2009, more than 235,000 people have suffered from the effects of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The number of deaths in total is more than 413,000 people (263,945 in Hiroshima and 149,226 in Nagasaki).