By Raza Mehdi
Aug 05, 2022
On August 6, 1945, an American B-29 bomber dubbed Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing 80,000 people immediately. Tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. Here are 10 facts you must know about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Image: Wikipedia Commons
Initially, there were 5 Japanese cities on the US’s hit list- Kokura, Hiroshima, Yokohama, Niigata and Kyoto. However, the Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, had spent his honeymoon in Kyoto and was so fond of the city that he insisted on taking it off the list. Nagasaki was chosen as the replacement.
The codenames “Little Boy” for the Hiroshima bomb and “Fat Man” for the Nagasaki bomb were chosen based on the shape of the bombs. Moreover, these names were inspired by the two characters in the film, The Maltese Falcon.
Before midnight, on the day of the Hiroshima bombing, Japanese radar detected the arrival of American planes. Two alerts were sounded in Hiroshima an hour apart, but an all-clear signal was given both times. And at 8:15 am, “Little Boy” was dropped.
Image: Wikipedia Commons
Before the atomic attacks, the US Air Force dropped pamphlets to warn the Japanese people. But these pamphlets didn’t warn of an impending nuclear attack. Instead, they only promised “prompt and utter destruction” and urged civilians to flee.
In Hiroshima, 70% of all buildings were razed and burned, 42 out of 45 hospitals were rendered non-functional, and 90% of physicians and nurses were killed or injured. In Nagasaki, ground temperatures reached 4,000°C, and radioactive rain poured down. As a result, most people died without getting any medical attention.
By the end of 1945, the bombing had killed an estimated 140,000 people in Hiroshima and a further 74,000 in Nagasaki. Many of the survivors would face leukemia, cancer, or other terrible side effects from the radiation.
The intense heat of the atomic explosion caused what is called nuclear shadows. These shadows are often the only remnants left of human beings. Those vaporized in the blast left imprints behind so the legacy of Hiroshima cannot be forgotten.
Few plants lived through the bomb in Hiroshima, and the ginkgo tree was one of them. At over 270 million years old, this species of tree is considered a living fossil and is incredibly resilient to disease and damage.
In the wasteland left behind by the bombs, the Oleander became the first flower to bloom within a year of the explosion. It also got recognition as the official flower of Hiroshima.
Paper cranes are a traditional Japanese symbol of good health. They also symbolise the Hibakusha - survivors of the bombings. Survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are living witnesses to the horror of nuclear war.