tv Hiroshima Nagasaki and End of World War II CSPAN August 7, 2020 10:47am-12:52pm EDT
>> weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. tonight at 8:00 eastern a look at hiroshima, nagasaki and the end of world war ii for the 75th anniversary of hiroshima. we'll show you a documentary examining the august 6, 1945 atomic bombing through the stories of several survivors. the film also features a young family in hiroshima born after the bombing trying to make sense of the tragedy during the 50th anniversary. enjoy american history tv tonight and every weekend on c-span 3.
>> a short time ago an american airplane dropped one bomb on hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. that bomb has more power than 20,000 tons of tnt. the japanese began the war from the air at pearl harbor. they were been repaid many fold and the end is not yet. with this bomb we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. in their present form these bombs are now in production, and even more powerful bombs are in development. it is an atomic bomb. it is a harnessing of a basic power of the universe, the force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against
those who brought war to the far east. we are now prepared to destroy more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the japanese have in any city. we shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. let there be no mistake we shall completely destroy japan's power to make war. it was to spaer the japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of july 26th was issued at potstand. their leaders rejected that ultimatum. if they do not accept our terms they may expect a ruin from the air the like of which has never been seen before. behind this air attack will follow such sea and land forces in such power they've not yet
seen and which fighting skill of which they're not already aware. >> ian toll is an author and independent scholar, a pacific war historian and set to release his latest publications gods, war in the western pacific, 1944-1944. ian toll, welcome to washington journal on this 75th anniversary. >> thank you. i'm glad to be here. >> we have heard from former president harry truman after the hiroshima bombing. from your research and study of the war, the bombings in particular, why his harry truman do it? >> well, you know, i think the decision to use the bomb was really implicit in the manhattan project. so it was really assumed from the time before the time that truman came to office in april after the death of fdr that this weapon, if it worked, that it would be used.
and so it may be more accurate to say that there was a nondecision, essentially truman did not decide to intervene to stop a project that was very much in train when he came into office. the assumption had been made that that we had built the bomb, if we had the bomb, we would use the bomb in order to bring the war to an end. and i think the perspective we have now that the atomic bomb, you know, is different, essentially different from conventional weapons, that's something we have with hindsight. for truman and his advisers in the summer of 1945, i don't think that was as clear to them, that the atomic bomb was fundamentally different from conventional bombings. we had already essentially wiped out an enormous percentage of japan's urban areas with conventional bombing and
incendiary raids. so using the atomic bomb in their view at that time did not seem like a sort of break or a departure from what they had been doing already. it's really with hindsight that we understand that weapon to be something basically different. in a different category. >> is it true that harry truman when he assumed the presidency after fdr's death, april 12th of 1945, that one, harry truman did not know anything about the manhattan project, and two, how did he learn about it in the space of less than four short months? how did he become confident in his decision to use those weapons? >> yes, it is true that he was not briefed on the manhattan project. he had been vaguely aware that there was a very large, very secret, very expensive project under way. in the senate before he was put on the ticket as fdr's vice presidential candidate in 1944,
the most important thing he had done in the senate, the thing that really made his name was that he chaired a committee which investigated corruption and waste in the munitions industries. this was called the truman committee. and in his capacity as chairman of the investigative senate committee, he had learned about these enormous plants that were being built in tennessee and in washington state. and he had inquired and begun to use his investigative resources to try to determine what exactly was happening there. and secretary stimson was the secretary of war, essentially went to truman and said we're doing something really important and it's very skretecret, and w going to ask you not to inquire any further, and truman agreed. very suddenly with fdr's death, when he was elevated to the presidency, he was briefed by stimson and james burns who was
the war mobilization czar, who truman subsequently appointed as secretary of state, and he was fully briefed within about 24 hours of assuming the presidency on the state of the manhattan project. >> it's the 75th anniversary of the bombing of hiroshima. we're talking about it with ian toll, whose brand-new book is coming out in september, twilight of the gods, war in the western pacific, 1944-1945. the lines as they were last hour for the eastern and central time zones, 202-748-8000. for those of you who are world war ii vets or family, 202-748-8002, and our line for japanese americans, 202-748-8003. ian, one of the questions that came up a couple times last hour is why didn't the u.s. do some sort of demonstration of the bomb to show the japanese its power instead of actually using it on a city?
>> yeah, i mean, i think that's a hard question. i mean, you know, in my view, the really hard questions when it comes to the atomic bomb is not so much should we have used the bomb or not. given the circumstances in the summer of 1945, the urgent need to end the war and end the war quickly without an invasion, i think in those circumstances, using the bomb, i think, was defensible. dropping it on a city is a different question. and i think i'm in the mineeori really among military historians and this is a preference i have that i would have liked to have seen the weapon used against a military target. the question of a demonstration has also been raised. the aurrguments against a demonstration is number one it might have backfired. if you demonstrate you're going to use the bomb and it hadn't worked, that would have
redoubled japanese determination to resist. i do think there would be a way to demonstrate the bomb without running into that problem. dropping it very high in the atmosphere off the coast, say, of tokyo, off tokyo bay. you know, it would have made an enormous flash. it would have sent a message to the japanese. i don't think that would have prompted a rapid surrender. so the reason that you might have done that really is abstract. it's an abstract reason. you do it because in the long run, it may be -- it may enhance the country's moral standing. you know, i do think that's important. but you've had some callers who are -- who have fathers or grandfathers who are in the war for american veterans particularly those who would have participated in an invasion of japan, the atomic bomb has never been an abstraction to them. it's something real. it's something that they believe
saved their lives. and that belief is something that i think we need to acknowledge and respect. and so that's essentially where i come out. looking back, i would have liked to see the bomb used differently, in particular, not dropped on a city. the first one dropped on a military target. i think that would have been more defensible. >> was there -- was there any military or military related targets in either of those cities? >> well, yes. hiroshima had a really important regional military headquarters. the second army was headquartered in hiroshima. hiroshima had been an army town, really going back to the pre-magi days, the day of the samurai. so there was an important military target in hiroshima. the city was not chosen for that reason, however. none of the four cities on the
target list for the atomic bombs, hiroshima, nagasaki, nigata on the sea of japan, and kokura, which is on the very northern tip of the island, those cities had not been chosen because of their military character. and the military installations that were in those cities were not specified as the aiming points for the bombs. the cities were chosen because they had been relatively unscathed in conventional bombing raids. and the idea was that you wanted to drop the bomb on a city that had the topography and conditions to provide the greatest demonstration to the bomb's power. and so -- yes. >> finish your thought. >> yeah, so it is true that there was, you know, an important army base in hiroshima. in the clip you played by
president truman upon announcing the first atomic bomb, he said we had hit an important japanese army base. hiroshima was a large city, the seventh largest city in japan, with a base in it. so, you know, i think just from the point of view of looking back with 75 years of perspective, you know, in that situation, you would prefer that the president of the united states look into the eye of the camera and tell the world exactly what we had done. without mincing words, without using circumlocution. >> was there a third bomb ready to be dropped in case the japanese did not surrender? >> the third bomb would have become available by the end of august. on august 6th, we hit hiroshima. august 9th, we hit nagasaki. we did not have a third bomb at that point. it would have been another two to three weeks. >> your calls are next, and first up is charles in richmond, virginia.
good morning. >> caller: yes, good morning. it's very interesting when you hear those defections. one thing about why they dropped the bomb, because america was so passionate against japan. japan had pulled a sneak attack on pearl harbor, and we didn't even know that the war was going to start. it should have been a war declared. and japan didn't do that. and what happened when the bomb became available, truman, all he knew, he had just become president. they didn't really like him, and they put it to him, look, this is it. we have this bomb. to me, it was -- you can't drop an atomic bomb and say, well, let's drop it tomorrow. let's drop it next week. they had already planned, everything was planned with the
bomb. and really, it didn't make too much difference what truman had to say because it was in the works. and the united states was going to drop that bomb. >> all right, charles. ian, do you think the president had a say in that? >> well, absolutely. i mean, the constitution confers enormous powers. virtually unlimited power as commander in chief in war time, so truman had the power to simply tell his cabinet and his military leaders, you know, we will use the bomb. we won't use the bomb. we're going to use the bomb in the following way. so i don't think there's any question he had the power to make the decision. i do think that it's true, as charles said, that the motive of revenge was in the mix there. i think that was -- i wouldn't say that was the reason we used the weapon the way we did, but it certainly did -- certainly
did set the context. the sneak attack on pearl harbor, japanese atrocities against civilians, the treatment of prisoners of war. these were all factors that played into the decision to use the atomic bomb and also to burn down japanese cities with incendiary bombing raids. but yes, truman certainly could have simply decided, he wouldn't have had to ask for permission. he wouldn't have had to have his military chiefs or cabinet take a vote on the question. he could have simply said, we're not going to hate city. or we're going to explicitly warn the japanese we have this weapon. in fact, in his private diary, there's a strange entry where he says, actually, he says i have instructed secretary stimson, the secretary of war, to use this weapon against military targets. and not against women and children. and i have also instructed him to -- that we will make an
explicit warning to the japanese telling them to surrender. now, that's odd because he didn't give that order, but in his diary, he seems to have believed it or perhaps he wanted to, you know, have future historians, you know, believe that the whole decision had been made differently. but certainly, he had the power. and one of the fascinating factual questions is if fdr had lived, how would fdr have decided to use the bomb? he certainly wouldn't have been -- he wouldn't have hesitated at all to make his own decision. he was accustomed to doing that. >> let's hear from anthony in north creek, new york. the line for world war ii veterans and families. >> caller: hi, good morning. i'm calling for my father and his two brothers. my father went in the army in february of '41. he fought in the philippines. he fought in eojeemiwo jima, an
was also in the occupation of japan. he came home some time late in 1946, but he never really talked about the war until he got older, and he was against them dropping the bomb, but then he says, if we would have had to fight them and we had to invade japan, i probably would have never come home. it was flip of a coin. in my personal opinion, if i had to make that decision, i would say yeah. his brothers, one was in normandy. he was a paratrooper in the 101, and my other uncle was also a medic. so those people from that generation, they fought hard, and they fought for our country. and when i talk about my father and his brothers, i'm very proud of them. because that's something today maybe we wouldn't be able to do. >> ian, a map from your book on operation olympic, one of the planned invasions, part of the planned invasion of japan, is that figure of a predicted
anticipated 1 million u.s. military casualties fairly accurate in terms of across the board? is that from your research as well? >> well, no. if the question is at the time that we were planning operation downfall, operation olympic was the first stage of downfall. that was the invasion of the southern island of japan. at the time that our military leaders were planning that operation, there was never a point at which they were projecting casualties on the order of a million. there's been quite a lot of work done on this because by historians and researchers, because of how often you hear that kind of figure we might have lost a million or a half a million. the answer seems to be that the casualty projections were significantly lower than that. and you know, it's a disputed point, and there were different casualty figures, different ways of thinking about it. but at no point did our military leaders while planning that
operation, at no point did they expect something on the order of a million casualties. the projections were much lower, maybe as many as 200 total casualties. now, you know, that doesn't really tell us much about the atomic bomb decision. you know, there's not -- you can't say, well, the casualties would have been lower so we shouldn't have invaded. i think invading would have been a disaster, regardless of what kind of casualties we would have taken. and so avoiding a bloody invasion of japan was absolutely essential. and that's why i think using the atomic bomb was inevitable. as i say, using it against a city is a different question. i don't think we should have dropped it on a city. we should have avoided that, i believe. that's just my preference, my belief. but as the caller, you know, mentioned, there were so many people in this country who have fathers, grand fathers, great
grand fathers, uncles, who were veterans of that war and who really believed that their lives were on the line. and that's something that i respect very deeply. it's interesting that the caller said that his -- i think it was his father, he said, had been in japan with the occupation after the war. and that he had -- his personal belief had been that we should not have dropped the atomic bomb. one last comment. one of the really interesting phenomenon when you look at veterans of the pacific war is those in japan after the war with the occupying forces, they tended to have a much more nuanced view of the japanese. in fact, many of them came to like the japanese generally as a people. and they were more ready to kind of make the distinction between the way japanese fighting forces had behaved in the war and the way the japanese people are in general. they were more willing to make that distinction because of the
personal exposure they had to japan and to the japanese in the nation of japan after the war. >> our line for japanese americans is 202-748-8003. on that line, in los angeles, scott. good morning. >> caller: good morning. i'm half japanese, and my father was drafted in world war ii. my grand father was drafted by the japanese army and fath in manchuria. i keep seeing every year when they talk about pearl harbor that america was attacked unprovoked which is not true. like truman said on the clip you have shown and like charles said in the call, that japan bombed pearl harbor unprovoked. that's not true because flying tigers were flying under the awg, under the secret order of the president, and until 1996, when either it was reagan or
clinton acknowledged that the flying tigers were part of the military so they got the v.a. benefits. then it showed that the awg was under military from the united states government through the company of chenault. so i keep hearing of this japanese unprovoked attack when that's not true. i'm not saying that war wasn't bad. it wasn't a bad thing, because it was a very terrible thing of what japan did to china, parts of russia, to the philippines, to the americans and the people who actually ended up fighting with them. there were terrible things that happened. >> we'll get a response from our guest, ian. >> yeah, well, i mean, i think the count against the japanese for the way they began the war was not so much that it was an unprovoked attack. yes, fdr did say it was unprovoked in his speech to congress the day following the
attack. but that there was no formal declaration of war prior to the attack. and so it was the idea of a sneak attack, a surprise attack, that really infuriated americans. you know, the attack had been planned under cover of diplomatic talks. we were engaged in negotiations directly with the japanese government to try to adjust the differences that we had in the pacific, and that attack suddenly descended on pearl harbor without a declaration of war. and so yeah, that, i think, played into the particular brutality of the pacific war. scott didn't say what his father, i believe he said, did when he was drafted, but you know, one of the i think most interesting stories about the pacific war and little heard is the role of japanese americans who worked as interpreters, who worked as language officers, who helped develop propaganda
messages to aim at the japanese. and it was an essential role in places like okinawa. the heroism of the japanese american soldiers who went down into caves and negotiated directly with japanese forces trying to encourage them to surrender, at enormous personal risk. that's one of the great stories about the pacific war. it's not as familiar to people. >> to gene in buoy, maryland. good morning. on our line for vets and families. go ahead. >> caller: good morning. i was 12 years old when we declared war on the japanese. i was the youngest of five children. my three brothers and sister all were in active duty in the military. for two reasons, one personal and one family, we loved truman's decision. my two brothers at the time, just before the invasion, my two brothers were in combat, two
were in combat in the navy in the pacific. both had close calls with death, and my mother knew. i'll never forget how my mother was absolutely terrified every time the telephone rang for about the last four months of the war. a second reason, and this is more personal for myself, this i cannot forget about the japanese. i'm sorry, but the way they treated prisoners. my sister was a naval nurse at chelsea naval hospital. there were ten nurses. she wanted to stay in the navy, but she had to get -- she wanted to get married in october '41, and as a naval officer, she was not allowed to stay in the navy. that was the rule. so she had to leave the navy and get married. the nine girls that were there, i remember them vividly, they used to come out to our home in massachusetts to play tennis, and they were full of life and wonderful young ladies.
they -- i'll just say this. they were caught in the death march, and after the war, i asked my sister if she called the supervisor to see what happened to those young ladies. there were nine. seven died and two were, quote, strapped down. they didn't have the medicines for people who had been through what those girls had been through. so we were for truman's decision, but there's one other fact, and this one i have almost never heard mentioned. i think it may be true. that the people killed in the hiroshima bomb were not all japanese. i believe in hiroshima, killed by that bomb, were more than 20,000 korean slave workers. and i believe it's also true in nagasaki. i would like if the historian could help. is that true that there were tens of thousands of slave workers who were killed in these bombings? and it's never mentioned. >> all right, gene.
>> yes, it is true. it is true. i don't know if it's 20,000, but that sounds like it might be about the right number of koreans who were working in hiroshima. and you know, an enormous number of koreans. and to a lesser extent, chinese, were killed in the atomic bombings as well as in the conventional bombing raids. you know, there were also westerners in japan. you know, there were about almost 1% of the population of japan during the second world war had been christians or were christians. some of them were secretly christians. so christianity actually had a foothold in japan going back several centuries because of the jesuit missionaries who had come from portugal and spain. and you know, some of the most compelling eyewitness accounts of the bombing of hiroshima are
by jesuit catholic priests who were european or german, and so, you know, these cities, i wouldn't say they were international, but to the extent that there were foreigners living in japan, they tended to be living in the large cities, so yes, they were affected in both of the atomic bombings. >> were there any american p.o.w.s in either city? >> there were, yes. there were american p.o.w.s in the area of both hiroshima and nagasaki. and you know, a number of personal accounts came out after the war about, you know, their having witnessed the bombings. i believe there are even p.o.w.s who believed that they had heard or seen a flash for both hiroshima and nagasaki, which gives you some idea of how far away it was possible to see and hear these explosions. >> next up is frank in lexington, north carolina.
good morning. >> caller: good morning. thank you for letting me here. i'm calling in for my father. i have his new testament that he carried, and he made notes in this during his service. he was a navy corpsesman attached to the marine corps, and i would like to share this as the aftermath of the dropping of the bomb. left saipan for japan september, 1945. he had been planning for the invasion as a navy corpsman. he arrived september 22nd, 1945. the sea port next to inland nagasaki. two weeks after being there, two weeks after being there, and he was on both sides, at least from the veterans administration
information, he was all around nagasaki. and he talked to me some about treating the people that the been survivors, but within two weeks, his whole unit got deathly sick. and they were at that point moved halfway between hiroshima and nagasaki. which as his surviving son, my father passed away at age 54 in 1977, and all my aunts and uncles have lived a ripe old age and i to this day believe it was radiation from the bomb there in september, his whole unit was exposed. and i just think that was part of the reason for his premature death. he was questioned very thoroughly by doctors about his cancer and his service in japan in 1977. my mother was a registered nurse. so we would -- he was asked a lot of questions.
i think i was about 10 years old and i asked my father, i heard the word armageddon at sunday school and asked him about it. he said son, i have already been there. you never want to see it. you never want to see it. >> frank in north carolina. ian, your thoughts. >> well, yes. of course, you know, if you want to talk about how the atomic bomb was different from conventional bombings, radiation is one of the first things that you consider. it was, you know, as late admiral william leahy was the chairman of the chiefs, left a scathing passage in his memoir saying he thought it had been sort affa moral atrocity to drop this weapon on a city, and it was this revelation that he had that this was a poison weapon. he said he didn't understand that until the bomb was dropped and you had these reports of radiation poisoning.
and you know, i think that our government and i think general macarthur, supreme commander in the war, they supressed all really discussion of this issue of radiation. and they did so in a way that allowed some of our own servicemen to be exposed. you know, which i think is really, it was a historical, you know, a great disgrace, really. a great disgrace that we allowed our own forces to be exposed in hiroshima and nagasaki without allowing them to fully understand the risks involved in radiation. and the last thing he said, that his dad was a navy corpsman. they were among, really, the most heroic people on the battlefields. they exposed themselves directly to enemy fire, to treat wounded on the battlefield, to pull
wounded off the field to safety. and also suffered some of the highest casualty rates at places like iwo jima in particular and okinawa. >> ian toll is our guest, the author of a trilogy of books on the war in the pacific. in september, twilight of the guides, war in the western pacific, 1944-1945. we welcome your calls and comments. 202-748-80001 mountain and pacific. for those of you who are world war ii vets or families, 202-748-8002. and japanese americans, 202-748-8003. you have a photo in the book and we have shown video of what part of tokyo looked like after repeated fire bombings of that city. why did the u.s. not continue with that strategy? it appears to be equally as destructive as some of the
photographs and video we see of nagasaki and hiroshima. >> yeah, well, i mean, the fire bombings were continuing right up to the end of the war. we were still running conventional bombing raids over japan even after nagasaki. and as you say, those incendiary bombing raids most likely, if you take all of the incendiary and conventional bombing raids of japanese cities, the number of japanese civilians killed in those conventional bombing attacks exceeded the number that were killed in hiroshima and nagasaki. the first great fire bombing, really enormous fire bombing of tokyo that occurred on the night of march 10th and 11th, 1945, it's very hard to say exactly how many people had been killed, partly because all of the government records in the neighborhoods that were wiped out were destroyed. and you had people moving in and out of the city in that time of
war. so you can really only kind of vaguely estimate exactly how many people were killed, but almost everyone in the japanese government who studied the issue believes it was at least 100,000. it could have been more like 150,000 possibly. it is conceivable that in that one night's fire raid, fire bombing raid, you had more people killed than hiroshima and nagasaki combined. at least initially, if you don't count deaths from radiation afterwards. so the scale of these fire bombing raids was really enormous. i think that was partly the reason that the kind of assumption that we would drop these weapons on cities wasn't challenged by truman or any of his principle advisers. because there was this feeling that we had already taken this step to start essentially attacking japanese population centers from the air. >> let's hear from mara calling us from salt lake city.
good morning. >> caller: good morning. my brother fought in world war ii. because of that, i have always been extremely interested in american history and specifically world war ii. i watch all the documentaries that i have been able to find. i have cable television, i have access to about 40 channels, and now, i don't obviously have the education or the -- i don't know what else to say, about these gentleman you have had on here before, but i would like to say that i'm from kansas city, and i have been to the truman library and the eisenhower library, and it's my humble opinion based on
these documentaries i have watched that if we had invaded japan, they would have fought us with everything they had. i mean, even pitch forks. >> yeah. >> anything they could put their hands on, tooth and nail. i mean, every step of the way. >> okay. mara. ian, how prepared were the japanese for an invasion? >> well, how prepared were they? i mean, you know, at that point, you know, japanese strength was down to its last drop. but it is true, as the caller says, that the japanese were essentially pouring all of their remaining strength, their military strength, and their civilian population, they were preparing to meet the invasion and to fight us, as she says, tooth and nail.
you had women and children even being organized into militias, being trained how to fight with, you know, bamboo spears, being told to use, you know, kitchen knives if necessary. and so, you know, i think avoiding an invasion of japan was absolutely critical. and i think it was so critical that if it was true that, you know, really if you could say the choice was bomb two cities with an atomic bomb or launch a bloody invasion, it was one or the other, door a or door b, if that was true, i think that using the bombs exactly the way we did, that is hitting cities without a prior explicit warning, i do think you could defend that. the traditional way in which americans have understood the atomic bombings, you know, sets up this kind of forced binary where you have to choose either, you know, hit these cities without warning or launch an
invasion. and i don't -- i personally don't think that's right. i think that there were many other options other than just those two. and i think you could make a pretty good case, although of course, as a counterfactual, that an invasion would not have been necessary. you know, with or without the atomic bombs. keep in mind that the invasion of cushue, the first stage of the planned invasion, the target date for that was november 1st. that's almost three months after the bombing of hiroshima. and so the idea that the bombs were a last resort to an invasion that was just about to happen, that's not quite right. but as i say, i mean, veterans of that war had their own very, very strongly held beliefs about what had happened at the end of the war. and as a historian, as someone who has interviewed literally
hundreds of world war ii veterans, i have never made it a practice to argue with world war ii veterans about this. i present my views. but i think it's important to recognize and to honor the feelings, the very strong feelings that veterans have about the subject. >> twilight of the gods is your third in the trilogtrilogy. how long have you been working on the trilogy, how many years? >> a long time. you know, 14 years. i would say 14 years. yeah. >> phil's next up. mammoth lakes, california. go ahead. >> caller: hi. thank you for taking my call. i'm 80 years old. my grandfather was in the army air corps, served at wheeler field on december 7th, and my father-in-law served in the u.s. navy for three years and most of that time in the south pacific. ironically, the ship that he was on, the "uss craven" was
decommissioned and was used as a ship for testing the atomic tests that were done. i have a lot of feelings on this from a humanitarian point of view. you know, the japanese empire was really defeated in 1944. it was an island country. as were all of the islands that the u.s. army and the marines fought their way up to japan. the fire bombing of the civilians in japan was just, in my opinion, inhumane. the war was over. they were a defeated country. an invasion was not needed. the bombs were not needed. you have an island nation who lost their navy. they had no air force. their army had been defeated. we could have put an embargo,
surrounded the country for years if we had to. we had occupied it for years afterwards. i think it sets the stage for the future. i know as a young man in the '50s going through grammar school, the nuclear age and the terror and all of the rest of it, that we all had to live with since then, i think it was unnecessary and it sets the stage for the bad things that have happened since and the threat of nuclear war in this world. >> okay, phil. one more thing on that, ian. tagging on to that, a question about --
>> at the end of the war, we had essentially destroyed japan's merchant marine, its oil tankers. you know, the kind of background of the pacific war was that japan is a place that has virtually no natural resources at all. has no oil to speak of, has some low-grade coal, it has very little mining minerals. and so, you know, why did japan strike out to seize this enormous empire in asia and the pacific? well, you know, above all, i think it was this desire that their militaristic imperialist regime had to control their own resources, oil being most important. the oil fields they took were in modern day indonesia and then the east indies. that's 3,000 miles from japan. and so they had the problem of, you know, having to import their
oil through this 3,000-mile artery that could easily be attacked and was attack bide our submarines, by our air power, and really the third month of 1945, we essentially had cut that line completely. so you know, it is true. absolutely agree with the caller that the japanese war machine essentially was kind of sputtering to a complete halt by the time that we ended the war with the atomic bombs. and it certainly is, i think, you can make a good counterfactual argument, if we didn't have the atomic bombs, forget whether we decided to use them, say we didn't have them, most likely, the japanese would have surrendered by some point in the fall of 1945. >> so was the japanese fleet defeated at that time? >> absolutely. and the fact, the japanese fleet really didn't exist.
we had destroyed it. we had sunk all their ships. what little remained of their navy was in japanese harbors. we were attacking those ships add anchor with our carrier planes. japanese navy was totally finished by the summer of 1945. >> you do point out -- >> so yes, i do agree. i do agree that a blockade most likely would have forced a japanese surrender. but you know, how long would that have taken? that's hard to say. the japanese army, which really had control of the country, the rank and file of that army was determined not to surrender. and so, you know, really, what you're asking is a political question. in tokyo, how would you have created the conditions for the emperor to be able to say we are going to accept this unconditional surrender. and to have that decision stick across the military. you know, as i say, i think you can make a good argument that that would have happened even without the atomic bombs by the
fall of 1945, but that's a counterfactual argument. so as a historian, as a scholar, you have to acknowledge there's uncertainty there. >> what was going on in the nine days between the bombing of hiroshima and the announcement by the emperor of surrender on august 15th? what took so long? >> well, you know, you had turmoil in the capital, as i say. you know, really the rank and file of the japanese army, the middle echelon of the officer corps at the imperial headquarters in tokyo, and at the army ministry, were dead set against anything resembling surrender. the idea of letting an occupying army, let the enemy send an occupying army onto japanese soil without a fight, that was anathema to them. and so you had in the highest circle of power, within the inner circle of the ruling
group, you had essentially a deadlock between those who, by that time, were saying we don't have any choice. the nazis have been defeated. we are alone. we have to surrender, and we have to be rational about this. and then the miltitarist die-hard, hard-line, fight-on faction, it was a deadlock within the ruling group. and it took, you know, all of that time to resolve that deadlock. so we had hiroshima on august 6th, nagasaki on august 9th. on august 9th, another really important thing happened which is the russians suddenly declared war on the japanese and rolled their army, their tanks and their enormous numbers of troops from siberia into manchuria. there was this sudden soviet attack. and i think it was that soviet attack that was really sort of the final straw that convinced the ruling group of japan that they had no other choice. and it created the conditions
where the emperor, who generally did not intervene to make decisions, was able to say i'm making the decision that we surrender. and the japanese military then accepted that decision. and so it was, you know, it was a difficult process for them to kind of reach that point of consensus that explains that delay. the first decision, the decision to surrender on the part of the japanese really came on august 9th, but they responded to our demand for surrender by saying we want to preserve the status of our emperor. and so there was a last round of negotiations between our government and the japanese government in those last five days. so that explains part of the delay as well. >> all right, here's bill in waynesboro, pennsylvania. go ahead. >> caller: hello. my dad was a medic in okinawa
during world war ii. he treated people there who had leprosy. i was proud of what my dad did during world war ii. i'm ashamed of what my country did by introducing this terrible weapon to the world. the fact is there were people in hiroshima and nagasaki who were instantly vaporized when the bomb was dropped. there were people whose flesh was burned off their bones. i read one account that said people walked around silently right after this happened, believing that they had died and gone to hell. this is the horror of nuclear weapons. now, if we go to today, our nuclear weapons are hundreds of times more powerful than those original bombs. and we could destroy this entire
planet very quickly. if we didn't kill all life immediately, everything, everyone would die after the nuclear winter from radiation, from the dust cloud that would block out the sun. i think that -- could i say one more thing? >> sure, go ahead. >> caller: it may sound crazy to say we should ban nuclear weapons, but how insane is it to maintain these weapons? and i would like to ask your guest, how do you feel about a worldwide ban, pursuing a true ban of nuclear weapons as opposed to constantly updating and refining the nuclear weapons? >> ian toll.
>> yeah. well, just to take that last question, you know, if it was possible to ban all nukes, that are in the hands of all governments around the world, and to, you know, decisively deal with the potential problem of a nonstate actor getting access to a nuclear weapon, then absolutely, i think it would be in the interest of not just this country but the world to get rid of these weapons. you know, there's a silver lining in this conversation, which we're having, which is we're now, it's 75 years today since the first weapon was used against the people of hiroshima. and the three days later, of course, nagasaki. in 75 years, we have not had another nuke used in any war, in any conventional war, against any civilian population, against any military population. we have never seen a nuke used.
now, in 1975 -- '45, excuse me, people at the end of the war, americans add the end of the war are looking forward, i think would have been absolutely surprised that had been the case. there was very much an assumption this was a new era of warfare and we were going to see more of these bombs used. and of course, throughout the cold war, you know, this was a constant terror. we had generations who grew up having to do these duck and cover drills in classrooms. we came very close on several occasions during the cold war to a nuclear exchange. the cuban missile crisis, there were a number of potential accidents. we had been very fortunate that we haven't seen these weapons used again. and so, you know, i think that's something that we can celebrate today. >> a couple more calls here, we'll go to bee in crowley, texas. good morning. >> caller: good morning. i just wanted to say that it
seems awfully easy for a lot of people to be saying that we shouldn't have done this or we shouldn't have done that when they weren't here. and they weren't living through this. but those of us who were, were just damn glad when it was all over. i had two uncles who were japanese p.o.w.s. one went through the death march. and my family just rejoiced when the war was over. people were getting killed regardless. and this put an end to it for a while, at least. >> ian, how soon after the bombings did americans know the news? >> know the news that we had -- >> dropped the bombs.
>> one of these weapons? >> yes. >> truman, you played the clip of president truman's news reel announcement aboard the augusta on august 6th. so the same day, in fact, just within an hour, i believe, of the bomb being dropped, we had -- the white house issued a statement explaining that we had this new weapon, and that we had dropped it. you know, unfortunately, i think, from looking back with hindsight, we said that we had dropped it on a japanese military base, which really isn't true. it would be like saying, if you dropped a nuke on san diego, it would be like saying we hit an american naval base. well, there's a city there, a big city. if you're going to do that, you ought to be able to say, this is what we did. i think that looks better in the long lens of history, but as the last caller said, for americans who were fighting in that war,
you know, these abstractions were not important to them. these are abstractions. these are questions that we say, you know, how does it make us look as a country kind of in the long term? what does it do for our legacy? those are abstract questions. if you're fighting on the ground, if you're a marine, if you're a soldier, if you're a sailor, you expect to be deployed in this final invasion of japan, the issue looks much, much different. at that point, you want -- you're willing essentially for your country, your president, to do anything at all to end this war. and to end it quickly and end it without an invasion. in addition, it was the brutality of the war. i think in 1945, we should be clear about this, the american people polling shows this, understood the atomic bombings in part as an act of revenge. this was an act of revenge against the japanese for the way that they had treated civilians
throughout asia and in particular the way they had treated our prisoners. and you know, the way that the sort of orthodox or traditional defense of the atomic bombings that we hear most often now, that issue of revenge is removed from the equation. it's more, you know, we hit these two cities because the total number of dead would have been lower than an invasion, and it was sort of, you can use what we call utilitarian reasoning. the greatest good for the greatest number. that's the defense of the bombings. not as an act of revenge. really, that feeling, that initial feeling we had that this was an act of sort of condigned retribution against a barbaric enemy, that only survived the first year or two after the war. once we started getting graphic accounts of what had happened in hiroshima and nagasaki, when john hershey's article was
published in "the new yorker" this was a year after the bombings, august 1946, you know, that's when the american people really began to wrestle with this and to realize this is not how we think about ourselves as a country. we don't take revenge on women and children in cities. that's not who we are. and so then, you know, the explanation changed a bit to, we had to do that. it was a horrible thing, it was a terrible tragedy, but we had to do it because the alternative would have been even worse. >> ian toll, author of twilight of the gods, the third and final volume of his pacific war trilogy. war in the western pacific, 1944-1945. we appreciate you joining us on this 75th anniversary. >> my pleasure. >> our program continues, more of your phone calls ahead. we are joined next, though, by mary yamaguchi, who is an
associated press reporter in japan calling us this morning from hiroshima, who was reporting this morning on the 75th anniversary there in hiroshima. mary yamaguchi, good morning. >> good morning. i guess not in japan, but yes. good morning. >> what can you tell us about the ceremony that took place today in the peace park, is it, in hiroshima? >> yes, it was held at the peace memorial park. but this year, it has been significantly scaled down because of the coronavirus problem. so there were only about fewer than 1,000 people attended, which is about one tenth of the usual attendance. >> i understand the mayor of hiroshima spoke.
what did we hear from the mayor? >> she said that despite the coronavirus scare, that he called for world leaders to cooperate together more than ever. and also, he called world leaders to visit hiroshima, to see first-hand the reality of that atomic bombing so they will be more apt to abandon nuclear weapons. also he noted that, asked for the japanese government to do more to take leadership in
planting a bridge between nuclear states and nonnuclear states, too, so they will work harder toward nuclear weapons ban. >> mari, you have been reporting this week on the survivors, the victims of hiroshima. how they have been stigmatized over the years in japan and here this urgency to bear witness grows for last hiroshima victims. how has japan, the government helping preserve the legacy of those survivors? >> rather than the government, i think it's -- it's citizens groups and passivist groups are helping, working with them more than the government. although some local governments,
including hiroshima, are trying to set up occasions for them to tell their stories, to share with younger people so that they will learn their lessons in their lifetime. there are also projects initiated by hiroshima and some other cities to train young people to learn specific survivor stories so they can continue to tell their stories on their behalf. >> associated press reporter mari yamaguchi joining us this morning. reporting on the 75th anniversary of hiroshima. thank you so much. >> oh, thank you.ur >> there's more ahead. another hour here on our program of your calls and comments. and up next, we'll continue our discussion on the anniversary
with clifton truman daniel, grandson of former president harry truman. first up, though, here is the former president explaining his decision to use atomic weapons. this video is from outtakes for a television series that president truman taped in the early 1960s looking back at the major events of his presidency. >> when we issued the ultimatum to japan to surrender, the only answer we got was to go to the devil. yet all this time, some of their people seem to be acting behind their backs, the backs of the cabinet, trying to sue for peace in one underhanded way or another. well, when they applied that way, we knew there was only one of two things to do. we could advance on japan and fight, losing a million of our own men, or drop the atomic bomb. we dropped the bomb. and still, there was no reaction. we learned later that the
japanese cabinet met and finally, there were enough who agreed to surrender to split the cabinet in half. one half in favor of surrender. the other determined to fight on. emperor was finally called on to give his opinion. and an unprecedented move. he didn't want his people to die any more than he wanted to surrender yet the military was so they still wouldn't notify of their capitulation so we had to drop the second bomb on nagasaki. that did it. i'll tell you without those two a-bombs dropped on them, to show we meant business, they might never have surrendered even though they knew they would le bicced but they killed 3 million more people on both sides. that is why there is no question that in view of the whole japanese military had their own
people, the dropping of a atom bomb was the only sensible thing to do. it was the only thing to do. a lot of cry babies around talking about what ought to have done and bomb had to have a demonstration in japan before he killed all of those people. but i have the authority of the best man in the business and that is henry l. stinson, the only operation that the japanese would understand would show them what it was and that is what happened. they stopped the war. i don't care what the cry babies say now because they dent have to make the decision. >> and joining us from chicago is clifton truman, daniel, the grandson of harry truman on the 75th anniversary of hiroshima. welcome to washington journal. >> good morning. thank you. >> you were 15 years old when your grandfather, when harry truman passed away and you've said in past conversations with
us and elsewhere that you never had a chance to talk with him directly about the decision to bomb hiroshima and nagasaki. what have you come to in terms of his decision, what is your view of the decision to drop those bombs, why do you think your grandfather made that decision. >> my grandfather said he made the decision to end the war and save american and japanese lives. and i understand that that is a sim poli simplistic answer but that is an answer he stuck to all of his life. for me, i've been listening to the previous program, and the previous guests, it is still today a complicated issue whether that was the right decision or wrong decision, whether it ended the war, whether it didn't. whether a blockade would have done the same thing and whether or not we would have had to invade. for me, working with survivors, working with the truman library,
for me it is more important to listen to the stories, to understand why it happened, why the decision was made. so that we don't do it again. and more broadly, so that we could avoid future conflict. if we look at all of the reasons that we got to where we got in 1945 we'll have a better understand of how to head it off again. although sometimes i don't have hope for that. >> what sort of resources have you used in figuring out that decision. where are you looking for information on your grandfather's decision? >> just reading broadly. biographies of my grandfather, his own memoirs, writing books that he wrote after the presidency. so from his point of view. but also on the other side, talking to survivors and working with survivors of hiroshima and nagasaki, listening to the stories, trying to understand
the ja the japanese point of view. whatever comes my way. whatever is new, whatever i think i might be able to get more understanding from. >> you were well along in your career, profession, the life of a parent when in 2012 you were the first truman to visit hiroshima as part of a visit there and we program that we aired with c-span back in 2012. what prompted your decision to go to japan, to go to hiroshima? >> it's -- i'll shy to shorten it. it is a long story. when my son wesley was 10 years old and he came home with a book, sad aucko and the thousand paper cranes by eleanor cor. if you don't know the story, she was a real little girl who survived the bombing of hiroshima at the age of 2. she and her family were fairly lucky they survived largely
unhurt. they lost their grandmother in the attack. she developed radiation induced leukemia at age 11. in the hospital she followed a japanese tradition if you fold a thousand origami paper cranes you a sign of life in japan. she folded 1300 cranes but died at age 12. there is a monument to sadako and all of the children killed or sickened or wounded by the bomb in the peace park today. wesley teacher didn't just give them the book. she taught them japanese culture, she taught them japanese history. she took them to a japanese restaurant. they folded cranes in class. they had a tea ceremony. i came home one afternoon from work and found wesley in the living room wearing a kimono and
green tea laid out on the coffee table behind him. so she and wesley brought all of japan into our house. on subsequent anniversary of the bombings when japanese journalist called looking for a member of the truman family, i mentioned that we had read the sadako story and i thought it was important for him to understand his great grandfather's decision, his country's point of view and what tors in what cost the people of hiroshima and nagasaki. wesley said that he enjoyed the book and he remembered enjoying the book as a child and he said that it was different from all of the other children's book it did not have a happy ending. i think it was in 2005, i had a call from japan from sadako's older brother, a survivor of the bombing.
he read japanese journalist account, read the interviews they had done with me and asked if he if we could meet some day, if we might be able to work together and i said yes. it took us five more years, we did not meet until 2010 in new york city. he and his son were visiting the 9/11 museum, the 9/11 tribute center to donate one of sadako's last original cranes as a gesture of healing for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. during that interview, ugi took a crane from a plastic box that he carries and dropped the crane in my palm and told me that that was the last crane that sadako had folded before she died. and at that point he and his father asked if i would consider visiting hiroshima and nagasaki going to the ceremonies and i agree. >> and we're showing video from
the 2012 visit, video that we had part of a program with you in that year in 2012. we'll get to more of that in just a moment. our phone lines are open, 202-748-8 thousand. and 8001 mountain and pacific. for those of you world war ii veteran families it is 8002 and japanese americans welcome your calls on 202-748-8003. during that trip you spoke to several survivors. i want to play the video shot by your son, am i right, your son shot some of this. >> that was wesley. >> i wan to show conversation, one of the survivors telling his story and then we'll get back to your comments. >> all right. >> translator: i removed the rubble by digging around the area and i managed to remove a
fell tree but in the front the concrete foundation of our house was covered with a big pillar and i couldn't go forward and mother was lying face up about a meter away and her eyes were bleeding. since i couldn't make it to her side, i asked her, can you move. and she said no. and unless you can remove this stuff from my shoulder, i can't move. but i couldn't. >> i was a military boy and i knew japan was cornered and going to lose soon. so i was all dreaming every day that i would get on a plane and throw myself directly on to the u.s. battleships. i never imagined such a horrible thing would happen to me. but i have to say to my mother, the fire is spreading so fast
that i can't help you. and my mother said get away from here, quick. and i said go visit my father who passed away in may. i'll follow you shortly so i went away from the scene leaving my mother. knowing that she was going to die in the fire. >> clifton truman daniel, how did those stories and your 2012 trip change your perspective on the bombing of hiroshima? >> obviously, i think your viewers will also agree that those are hard to listen to. we listen to, and they call it testimony, survivors give testimony, my family and i listened to more than two dozen on that trip in 2012. but as hard as it is for me to listen to, i have to remember it is much harder for the survivors themselves to relive it and they
do day after day after day when they tell those stories and chair committed to doing that, again, so that we understand the horror of the nuclear attack. and prevent it. don't do it again. i was struck by the survivors, by that kindness, that generosity that they're willing to retell the stories over and over again for our benefit. not one of them came to me in anger or recrimination or anger or recrimination. they simply wanted to tell me the stories and ask to help keep telling the stories. again in the name of disarmament and peace. >> and those survivors obviously now eight years older. what do you see as your role, as those survivors die, pass away, what do you see as your role in telling the hiroshima story? >> to keep telling those stories.
to keep openly and honestly telling the story on both sides, telling the human story of world war ii and the atomic bombings, the decision, the effects, the reasons, to be open and keep telling those in the name of honesty and accurate history. >> did it feel uncomfortable for you at all to be in the room knowing that decision was made by your grandfather? >> no. and i will credit the survivors for that. survivors and mossa hero sake. they were -- the atmosphere was respectful. again, open, blunt, factual, but respectful on both sides. i was not uncomfortable in that regard at all. >> we have plenty of calls waiting. our guest clifton truman daniel, the oldest grandson of former
president harry truman. and on the 75th anniversary, our line for those that are vets or family members, william in boynton beach, florida, good morning. >> caller: yes, i landed on okinawa when i was an 18-year-old boy and at that time they had about 2,000 landing crafts. these landing crafts are going to be used to invade japan. and they had over 2 and a half thousand kamikaze planes waiting for -- bill eli was a good friend of mine and he was involved with general mcarthur and the invasion of japan. and i said to him, what would have happened, when was it going to be and he said well it is going to be november 1st. we have a tremendous typhoon in
okinawa in that month. and i said what would it have done to the invasion. he said it would have destroyed the invasion. he says i know the winds were over 150 miles per hour and destroyed everything on okinawa and there was no way that the invading fleet would survive. and he said, in fact, general mcarthur sent bill eli to japan to check out the area. he was the first american in japan after the atom bomb and he said destruction was unbelievable. but what they had waiting for us, he said, was unbelievable too. he said they had submarines, two-man subs, all kinds of fortifications. the civilians were all armed to the teeth waiting for the americans to invade.
>> okay, william in boynton beach, thank you for your call. mr. daniel. >> i've heard similar stories. i'm not familiar with the typhoon that william mentioned. but those are stories that i heard also from survivors. that although they were some of them that feel that japan was defeated and that it was only a matter of, i don't know, weeks, months, days before they surrendered, but at the same time the survivors tell stories of drilling with bamboo spears, of fighting with anything that they could, with kitchen utensils. they were going to be groups of civilians that were going to be attached to groups of soldiers to fight side-by-side. so those stories resonate with me. so at the same time, the civilians were terrified. that is not something that
they -- they trained for it but it was not something that they expected. the japanese government was telling them that they were all going to fall like the pedals of cherry tree, cher yoi blossoms and a glorious mass suicide. so that is in line with stories that i've heard in japan. >> ann is in clayton, north carolina, good morning. >> caller: good morning. i'm an immigrant and i am a student of american history and that is why i want to find out more about the country in where i'm residing. and so how would your guest answer the question, i mean would japan surrender without the bomb taking into consideration that decisions of
the yalta conference that took place in february, february 4th, 1945, when british prime minister winston churchill and president franklin roosevelt and soviet leader joseph stalin decided that soviet union would enter the war against japan and invade. so at that time when the bomb was dropped, the soviet union basically was -- took so much territory that japan occupied and it was basically about to ener al qaeda. >> the soviets? >> caller: i mean the soviet army was about to enter hokkaido
when the bomb was dropped, the first one. so was it really necessary because the soviet army would occupy japan. they were moving very fast at japan, indeed, they were fighting fiercely but at that time the powers was huge so they were moving very, very fast so they were right there. >> ann, i'll let you go there. and clifton truman daniel, what did they tell you the state of the populous, what was the population like? were they prepared for any sort of potential invasion be it soviet or american? >> they were prepared, they were preparing for the invasion. again drilling with the bamboo spears. drilling with army units.
but at the same time, ian was saying this in your previous segment, they had very little left in terms of just the civilians that had little left. there was no fuel. food was scarce. one of the first survivor i ever heard a full story from, setsitco gave the speech, when they won the nobel prize for peace, she gave the speech, she's a life long disarmament advocate. when the bomb was dropped she was the 13-year-old school girl. she and 29 classmates were in an army building in hiroshima learning to use the japanese secret code machines. and as she told me when we met, she said, we had nothing. we had no food, we have had no fuel. had you school girls learning how to use the secret machines
in advance of the invasion. so while there were -- both was going on, both were happening, you had them preparing for an invasion, gearing up to fight american soldiers, but they were doing it with whatever they had at hand. >> how did japanese generally view the post war occupation by the u.s.? >> some of the stories that i heard in japan, one of the ones that springs to mind was that after the bombings, survivors recorded their stories by writing it down. they wrote poetry. they wrote long hand. they wrote it out. they wrote their experiences down. they drew pictures. there is a lot of japanese that drew pictures of things that they had seen and been through. the occupation, the u.s. government confiscated a lot of that because it was inflammatory. they figured that if you had a lot of that out there, if people
knew the horror of the bombings it would make it harder to occupy japan, harder to rebuilder. so there is resentment over that and the casualty bomb commission hospitals set up following the war to study radiation victims of essentially study them. they couldn't treat. te didn't know how. they didn't treat. they studied. so on the one hand that was helpful to general understanding, not only to the patients' understanding of the disease but to world understanding of radioeyati-- on poisons. but it felt like lab rats. >> and what was running that. >> that was us. >> and from washington, d.c., good morning. >> i wanted to bring out two important facts that i'm just visiting from japan but first of all, most people seem to be unaware that whenever the u.s. bombed, they would drop leaflets, a total of 70 million
were dropped that specifically said we don't want to harm you, we're working peace to the country and warn people to leave the areas they would be bombing the next day. over 70 million were dropped. and second, when you speak to -- when you're in japan, they will never tell you this, but especially the older people, i've heard from probably over a hundred of them, they will tell you that when they heard the news of the bombing of hiroshima, they danced in the streets and i'll give you a quote from mr. -- because that meant the world would finally be over. mr. fujita, who was the leader of the pearl harbor attack, met in 1959 with paul tibbetts, who is one of the ones that dropped the bomb and this is his quote. you did the right thing. the japanese attitude at that time was fanatic. every man, woman and child would have resisted the invasion with
sticks and stones. and finally, it's very important that this narrative that has developed, but when you speak to the people that actually were adults and remember, they will all say when they saw the american bombers flying overhead and then when they heard about the bombs, they were so happy because there was no way, they felt terrible for the ones that had passed away but they knew if the war came on land at that time about 3 million people would have died so it was a terrible. and the interesting thing is i was in baghdad before the war and it was the exact same situation. the people were so desperate, nothing could lodge a bad ruler and they said let the americans come. some of us will die but at least we'll be free. two important facts, number one,
over 70 million leaflets were distributed. if you go online you could see them all and they're amazing. they say the world is with you. japanese people hang on. everything is going to be okay. we're very sorry but ome thing we can do is bomb. and they instructed people to leave the areas of the bombing. >> i'll let you go there so we could get a response from our guest. thank you. >> thank you, kenji. those are familiar to me. but i also think of -- it makes me think of setsitco, a story that she told. she listened to the emperor's broadcast surrendering on august 15th. she and her family. and they said set up a loudspeaker or a radio system hanging the speaker from a tree and she remembers the people gathered around, they had gone up into the hills outside of the city to escape the city by this
time. and she remembers people weeping and crying out, stunned. both, i think, as you said both in relief but also stunned that japan would surrender. and just as an aside, frankly surprised to be hearing the emperor's voice, because it is the first time -- the first time that all of them in the circle around the speaker had heard the emperor speak. he didn't often address the japanese people directly. >> just want to show our viewers some information on the warning leaflets. this is a page. if you look at the atomic heritage association, an article about some of those leaflets and how they were used. eureka california, next up on our line for vets and families. william, good morning. >> caller: yes, good morning. my take on all of this is quite different than what you've already heard. i was born in 1943 and my dad at
that time until he retired was the administrative assistant to the admiral at merritt island naval shipyard in vallejo, california which was a submarine base. very important at that time during the war. the submarines were very important. well, anyway, my uncle lived in eureka, california and we lived in vallejo and it was my mother's brother and he was having trouble with his employer so they asked to come down and live in the basement and world at the shipyard. he did the lettering on the doors to all of the offices and stuff like that. like today to have all of that vinyl leathering and stuff. anyway, it was an art that had to be done at the time. well anyway, as i was growing up, like i said, i was born in '43 and as i was growing up, my uncle lived in the basement
and my parents were always gone on weekends and he was like a built-in babysitter. and he would be stone sober monday through friday, but saturday and sunday he was drunk as a skunk. i mean really, really drunk. and i could never understand that. and no one ever told me. and just thought, well that is just the way he was. but he was suffering from what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. and what would happen, as i got older, he started going into the war, talking about the war. he was in the army. and one time he scared the living daylights out of me, i'll never ever forget as long as i live, went downstairs, he broke out his gun, rifle, and then he reached into this private area he had and he brought out a bayonet, i didn't know what it was. i was too young and he strapped it on the end of the gun and
started telling me how he was killing japs. that is what he called them, japs. and he was mean. i mean, he got furious. and then he settled down because i guess he realized i was just a little kid and he put it all away and he apologized. and he never did it again. but he would talk about every time he was drunk. and my perspective on the whole thing is my uncle didn't want to kill anybody. he was the nicest person you could have ever met in your life. >> okay, william in california. and your response. >> thank you. i think of, listening to you talk about your uncle, i think of fred mitchell, lived in pennsylvania and i'm sorry to say i don't know if he is with us any longer. he fought in the pacific. he was like your uncle. never wanted to kill anything, as a child growing up on a farm, he had trouble, and he couldn't
shoot deer, he didn't like to kill anything. wound up fighting in the pacific, i think he was a radio operator on a destroyer and two kamikaze planes hit his destroyer and he was very lucky to have survived. he was blown out of the way by the first explosion and then when the second plane hit, his entire battery where he was stationed was destroyed. and he lost most of his friends. and he wound up in the water for hours, gasoline burning water, oil, and he was traumatized and came back and had ptsd, was treated for it. and for decades afterwards, hated the japanese. just kept that -- kept that hatred. and it got so bad that his wife and his parents didn't know what
to do. they were a religious family and he could not shake this. and they were worried about him. if he saw someone that even looked as though they were of asian descent, it doesn't matter, chinese, korean, he got angry. finally he watched a program on television about a group of former marines who are fought on okinawa and a group of former kamikaze trainees who had gotten together, they had met in japan and talked to each other and put it behind them. and through one thing or another, he wound up doing something similar. he traveled to japan, he met with former kamikaze trainees and he said we were just a bunch of old men talking to each other and they were just like me and finally, and he was in the 70s by the time this happened, and finally able to put that hatred away. >> you talk to many, many of the survivors of hiroshima, i assume
nagasaki as well. have you ever spoken to former crew members of the planes that dropped the bombs, theinola gay? >> no. i've not spoken to anyone on the inola gay. >> to larry in gallop, new mexico, good morning. >> caller: good morning. i'm with the navajo facing and i want to say a little piece here regarding the navajo coat talkers and the warriors in the south pacific. the late harold austin sr., which is my father, served in the gilbert islands, iwo jima and nagasaki. and the coat talkers were informed there is going to be a -- they heard that term fat cat and little big boy that the
navajos were working at the south pacific headquarters company and they were told that they were going to be something -- something going to happen in the wind so that was their message to send out. and after all the events of the bombing that happened, the bulk of the occupation, the forces were broken down and some of the navajo coat talkers were sent into nagasaki and hiroshima guarding the streets and distributing food and clothing. so that was their role and their message that they sent after the occupation back to san francisco through the navajo code. so we don't know who the navajo code talkers, but that is part of history with what was said, how many buildings were
destroyed, how much vegetation was left and how many people deceased on the impact and what was going on here. so thank you. maybe you can say something about the american indians and they're role in the post occupation of japan. thank you. >> okay, clifton truman daniel. >> i don't know the history of native americans in the -- in the nava hoes in the occupation. but i know someone who was also there with the code talkers. there was -- it is the late orville landal who was a artillery captain and fought across the pacific and prior to the expected invasion was looking at maps of nagasaki, they were supposed to land at nagasaki, near the port area. and nagasaki is a steep river valley. there are steep hills all around
the port. and japan gun placements wither going to be able to rain shells down on orville and his men and other members of the invasion source. so he was very worried they were not going to make it through that initial assault. well then the bombs were dropped and the war ended and orville was of course hugely relieved they didn't have to land at nagasaki. they wound up landing at nagasaki weeks later as part the initial occupation source and he was heart sick at the destruction. the wounds on the civilians, he said the hillsides were just bare. nothing standing. to trees, no buildings. the u.s. army had disarmed the japanese officers, taken their weapons, taken their swords. and there was a huge pile of swords, ceremonial swords in a warehouse, up the coast from
nagasaki and orville and all of the other men were urged to take these as souvenirs, because otherwise the u.s. would have to destroy them. he wasn't a souvenir taker and he didn't believe in that but he chose a nice sword and sent it home. over the years, afterwards he didn't put it over his mantel and take it out and show it off to people. kept in the closet. had a devil of a time keeping his children and grandchildren away from it. but over the years he kept it clean. he oiled it, he kept the blade clean, he took care of it. and finally after 67 years, and he wondered about it all through that time, he wondered who it belonged to and should he give it back and how would he go about that and he tried on and off over the years to see if he couldn't find the owner or the family. he never had any success. and finally after he retired, 67 years after the war, through the
st. paul, minnesota, nagasaki japan sister city kpigs he found someone who could translate the wooden tag that was on the hilt of the sword. most of the swords didn't have tags and the ones that did were silk so they rot ated away and this tag was wooden and it had a name and address. through sheer luck and a lot of phone calls they found the son of the owner of the sword, the officer who had to give it up, moto mora was, i don't know if he's retired, was a japanese newspaper and he wrote to him and told him he wanted to give him back the father's sword. and mr. mota mora came to the u.s. with his wife and two sons to receive the sword back from orville. the ceremony was packed. and it was very emotional for everybody around. i called -- there was a writer,
karen steltson who helped arrange this and writes about survivors of hiroshima and nagasaki and she helped arrange this. and i called karen two weeks after the ceremony and i said how are you doing and she said i can't get any work done because i keep getting phone calls from people wanting to return swords and flags. >> back to calls and hear from joe in wilmington, north carolina, go ahead. >> caller: yes, i'm a son of a world war ii veteran that landed at anzio and worked up to check le -- check lass vaukia and killed a lot of americans. my father volunteered to be a part of the european young soldiers and at that time was about a 21-year-old staff sergeant and they went down to naples where they were building a fleet of troop ships and they kept them onboard three nights
or three days and all, but then they released them. said there was a great bomb that had been dropped upon japan. and so i certainly may not have been born if my father had gone and served 30 years in the military and used to see a lot of people and talked to a lot of people that were p.o.w.s and that survived different battles from bethio ando w-- and iwo jima. and i met a couple of the navajo code talkers which should be talking about that element as well, very interesting. but the fact is that if there was no pearl harbor, there would be no issue of talking about that. but, of course, japan's imperial force was in china in the '30s.
>> joe, thanks for your call. you mentioned the code talkers. we have covered several programs on the navajo code talkers. if you go to our website at c-span.org, you could find plenty of information about that. just search navajo code talkers. our guest clifton truman daniel talking about the 75th anniversary of the bombings of hiroshima, august 6th, nagasaki on august 9th. mr. daniel is the chair of the board of trustees of the harry s. truman library institute. and you've written books about your grandparents. dear harry, love bess. did you ever ask your grandmother about the bombing of hiroshima? >> no. no, i did not. again, and going back to whether i asked my grandfather or my grandmother, when we saw them, they were gamy and grandpa. we saw them on family vacations.
and these were vacations from school so the last thing i was looking for was another history lesson. i was out of school. and my grandmother, the same way. i didn't ask her about the bombings. that said, i don't think that my grandfather certainly or my grandmother would have told me anything differently than they would have told you on anybody in the audience. my grandfather was remarkably open and consistent in his views and there was nothing that family would have learned that the public would not know that he either written or spoken. let me go back for two seconds to say to joe in wilmington, it is nice to hear from someone from wilmington because i lived there and worked on the star news and it was in wilmington at the end of a day full of ceremonies, marking the 50th anniversary of the end of war in 1995 that i first met pacific war veterans and they were trying to get ahold of my mother, margaret truman.
they were trying to, as we left an event, they were trying to snag her sleeve and talk to her. and they didn't get her. the crowd moved on and she got pulled away. but my wife and i stayed behind and asked if there was something they could do for them and both men had tears in their eyes and we asked them what is wrong and they said nothing. nothing. we wanted to thank her. if her father wouldn't have dropped the bomb, we wouldn't be here. pacific war veterans. >> and i understand you were vocal and encouraging former president obama to visit japan in 2016. why was that? >> because, again, in the interest of being open and honest about it. decisions were made, horrible decisions in a war. dan carlson, historian and podcaster, i listened years ago to one of his podcasts and one thing struck me. he said the atomic bombings were an atrocity but the last
atrocity in a war of atrocities. people make decisions in wartime that are fatal to thousands and thousands and millions of people. so, if we're going to learn from this, you have to keep talking about it. you have to be open and honest about it. >> and what do you think president obama accomplished during that trip? >> i thought that he did exactly the right thing. he went and he listened. he paid -- he laid a wreath, he visited the peace park. he spoke to survivors. one of them -- one of the survivors that i believe he gave a hug to shigache mory and he was a survivor and spend about 25 years of his life and his own money finding out exactly what happened to the 12 americans that were killed in hiroshima. they were prisoners. they were airmen. i think navy and army airmen. a mixed group who were prisoners
in basement cells in the military police headquarters downtown in hiroshima. nine of them died immediately from the explosion. but three survived. severely poisoned by radiation. they died within a day or two. but not much was known about what happened to them. and their families back here in the states didn't know. and mr. mory discovered that a lot of people he was interviewing for other survivors for other stories, were drawing pictures of americans in hiroshima. and so he tracked down every lead and was able to find out what happened to the men. both to let their families know in this country but also to memorialize them with the other victims of hiroshima. >> about ten more minutes left with our guest. we'll get to your calls. go back to our calls. in new jersey, mickey, good morning. >> caller: good morning. i would just like to tell you,
my father and seven of my uncles were in world war ii and they fought from europe all the way through to the pacific and all of this. in fact, my father was at normandy, fought in the battle of the bulge. he walked into germany into a concentration camp in germany. and he told me even though he had fought two of the biggest battles in history, he never realized how terrible a human being could treat another human being until he walked into that concentration camp. but this here about the atomic bombs, i'd like to put that in perspective. what the atomic bombs dropped on japan did was it ended a war where there was an estimated 70 to 85 million people were killed
during that war. and those atomic bombs put an end to it. thank you. >> okay. >> thank you, mickey. yeah, again, the debate goes on. i find myself, i think as i said earlier, that in the middle of this that i can not, will not tell a pacific war veteran that those bombs were not a good idea. they had been through so much already. and had fought for their country and have endured a lot. but i also can't tell a survivor of hiroshima and nagasaki that the bombs were a great idea. they, too, suffered. and that's what i try to look at it. it is the human suffering and the sacrifice on both sides. and you have to look at human stories and understand what happened and what that means. >> here is carol in new york.
good morning. >> caller: yes, hello. i want to tell another side. my father was an air corpman in new guinea. i won't say anything negative about the japanese of today. but my father was in new guinea, was in three different groups, and every single person but him was the only one that was left. he never talked about the war at all. when he got married to my mother, he used to get up in the middle of the night and had his arms around her neck, the only good jap was a dead jap and he was attempting to kill the good jap. my father guy at 56 years old because of it and they have to realize that had they not dropped these bombs, we would still be in war. because we weren't fighting. my father died in '76, so the last year of his life he talked to me constantly about the war. so i knew a lot about it.
but they were -- this was protecting their god. this wasn't protecting their president, protecting thur country, this was protecting their gods. and if we had not dropped those bombs, we would still be in war today. unfortunately. but my father died with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, having a nervous breakdown and died at the age of 56 because of all of this. >> okay, carol, we'll get a response. clifton truman daniel, any thoughts. >> yes, thank you, carol. and i know you just said it yourself, you do separate the japanese of today from -- and i think you also have to separate japanese civilians from the japanese military of 1945. certainly there was a wide range of emotion over the war among the japanese. there were those who were all for fighting to the last man, committing suicide, going down fighting. and there were those who were
just browbeaten into that. people would just wanted to live their lives and have peace, just wanted the war to be over. i did a program in new york some years ago when shigas and she was 12 years old and badly burned and came to this country in 1955 as one of the hiroshima maidens for reconstructive surgery. we were with a group of international students and when the time for questions came around, one of the students stood up and said i'm chinese. what about what you -- you want sympathy and understanding for the bombings, what about what the japanese military did to my people, did to china. and shigacyo said we had no idea. we did not know what was going on. and certainly she doesn't. some japanese did. some understood fully what the
japanese army was doing in china. but you have a broad range of emotion over the war on both sides. >> the headline we showed you from the associated press, the 75th anniversary of the world's first atomic attack. mr. daniel, your visit in 2012, what was your initial reaction in going into that peace park in hiroshima and how was your visit received by the media and the public? >> my reaction, the initial reaction in both hiroshima and nagasaki stuck. and it was -- it shouldn't have been a surprise to anybody. it's both cities are very much like being in a church or a synagogue or a mosque. it is hallowed ground. thousands of people died there. in hiroshima on the peace park there are ashes are three feet down in the a layer of the soil that one japanese survivor
called the sad layer of the soil, a white layer of ash and so you are on hallowed ground and you feel it. and the survivors contributed to that through their kindness. there is a feeling in both hiroshima and nagasaki, a feeling of peace, both cities are dedicated to peace. so that was my initial reaction and that is what stuck. overall, the reaction to my visit was positive. it was positive before we went. a couple of japanese journalists came to chicago and wrote positive articles about the upcoming visit. people were polite and kind. the japanese media was respectful. the overall positive -- the one hitch and i should have been expecting it but i wasn't, i got a question from the first, the first interview that i did in tokyo before we went to hiroshima, the reporter got two questions in to the interview and then said, have you come to
apologize? and as i said, it caught must off guard and i said flat footed, no, that is not what that is about. this is about honoring the dead and listening to the living and she kept rephrasing it. if you didn't come to apologize, why bother and kept going back at it to the point that my translator guide and translator was half out of her chair getting ready to intervene and stop the interview because it was rude in a japanese point of view. and i worried about that question all that afternoon at a an event at tokyo university, to hiroshima on the train, all of that night i thought, am i just going to wind up defending the apology question, putting it off, doing this for the whole trip. and i walked into the peace park the next morning and a throng of reporters around the peace monument, the sadako peace and i
had not seen him since we met in 2010 and he came out of the throng and put his arms around me and hugged me and all of my -- well most of my worries evaporated at that point because he was reassuring me, showing me and the japanese media and the japanese people that we were in this together. >> we'll go to bonnie next up in marion, ohio. >> caller: yeah, i had two uncles in world war ii and one had got captured by the japanese. him and part of the squad and they threw them down in a pit and covered them up. every time they tried to get out of the pit. the japanese would take their boots and kick them in the face and knock them back down. and then after they come home, they would never talk about it. and i found out my mom's first husband was one of the guys that helped drop the bomb on hiroshima and when he got home
he died a few months later and before he died he told mom, he said, don't ever want to see that again. you don't want to ever see it in your lifetime because he said it was very, very, very nasty look that is all i got to say. >> thank you, bonnie. >> yeah, there is, again, the last atrocity in a war full of atrocities. go ahead. >> let me ask from this point out what you've been doing in staying in contact with some of those victims, some of the survivors and their families, does that work continue? >> it does. not as intensely as it did at first. when i first came back from japan, i spent four years working on and off with a nonprofit in new york called hibakah stories and that is a bomb affected person. the nonprofit over a period of eight years, they brought
survivors to speak to more than 30,000 high school students in the new york city area. and i worked with them for four years doing exactly that. we would -- one of the founders kathleen sullivan or robert quist would get up and talk about the current nuclear arsenal. the 17,000 or so nuclear weapons. all of them hundreds if not thousands of times more powerful than the bombs that destroyed hiroshima and nagasaki. talk about the fact that so many are hair trigger alerts, still aimed at old cold war targets and now both our government and the soviet and the russians, pardon me, are talking about modernizing the nuclear arsenal. so we feel like we're on the edge of another arms race. at the same time you have many countries working against nuclear proliferation. i think more than 120 countries have signed a treaty banning nuclear weapons on their soil. but you have -- so you have this
still going on. and i spent four years talking to students and i would get up and tell pretty much the stories that i'm telling you now and then introduce the survivor and he or she would tell his or her story about the day of the bombing. and students were very receptive to that. high school students can be tough to reach. they slouch in their chairs and look at their phones. >> yeah. >> none of that was going on here. they were paying rapt attention. and afterwards they wented selfies, they wanted to talk to the survivors further and they wanted hugs and they got them. it was a very emotional and effective program. >> see if we could get a call or two more. darrell in east point, michigan, good morning. darrell in michigan, you're on the air. all right. we go to cameron, nevada -- missouri, good morning. >> caller: hi. i just want to say i think
that -- >> you could do us a favor and take your phone off speaker. it is hard to hear you. go ahead. >> >> caller: i apologize. is that better. >> that is better, yes. >> caller: okay. i would just like to say that fighting in the war has done something that we have done for years and i know in the past and without war we could not find peace and as the protests go on in america and we've been combatting this virus and looking back in our history, i realize that, you know, maybe there is a time coming where we don't have to fight war any more, where we could just come to peace and live in that peace and live in that sort of peace and not have to go back to fighting any war. if we could come to that time, i think we would all be better off and we wouldn't worry what country will do what to what country. and it is nonsense.
a mess. if we continue to fight war all we'll do is end up hurting each other or damaging our neighbors and it is just good. it is not an effective way of living out, i believe. >> clifton truman daniel, i want to see if we could get one more call from hawaii. this is sachico. >> caller: thank you so much. i've been up from 3:00 or 2:30 in the morning trying to see this program. and i'm so happy to meet with you, the grandson of truman. and i am a -- i am a post-war 1946 birth and i just happened two days ago from nagasaki who was a professional photographer, he just passed away the at age of 96. he is also, he was also a survivor from the nagasaki bomb. he and my father were very, very good friends with each other.
my father also was passed away several years ago. anyway, must have been aco incident, mr. taka hara, that i wanted to see this program on nagasaki atomic bomb. and today we live in 2020. it is the ai, artificial intelligence era. and we have internet. what we need to know out of all of this tragic human killing each other war, we should put it into an end to it. what we all have to do is learn to appreciate and study languages. if you can only communicate with each other to the deep of understanding language is the culture and the understanding. japanese people have a long history from shotuku area we
went through the samary era and edo era and every time we do have all of the epic change. >> really appreciate you waiting on line and calling in early in hawaii. we'll get last thoughts from our guest. >> thank you sachico and cameron. and i know it is nevada, missouri. i only know that because i've been there. for both of you, the story that brings to mind is out of a she'llo hera, who survived the bombing in nagasaki in caves dug into the hillside. she lost her entire family. she wound up homeless afterwards living under a bridge and she was sick. her sister was to sick and disheartened that she committed suicide by stepping in front of a train after the war. so she went through a lot. she speaks out. she tells her store.
she speaks out in the name of peace and disarmament. but she had, i think the quote that sums up what cam ran was saying and what sachico was saying about war. she said very simply, shee isim the basic idea of peace is to have some understanding of other people's pain. i think that's very true. >> it has been a pleasure to have you share some time with us on the 75th anniversary of hiroshima. thank you for being here. >> i appreciate the opportunity. "american history tv" on skrr c-span 3. every weekend coming up this weekend, sunday marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of nag casa i can, japan. and "american history tv" live at 9:00 a.m. eastern will look
at how the bombings ended world war ii and the decades ahead. with richard frank, author hof " "downfall." they'll take your call, texts, facebook questions and tweets. and at 4:00 p.m. eastern on reel american, the film "effects of the atomic bombs on hiroshima and nagasaki. i object informed church hull of the soviet union about the new u.s. super weapon. exmothering the american story, watch "american history tv" this weekend on c-span 3. next on "american history tv," we