tv American Artifacts Hiroshima- Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Exhibit CSPAN August 7, 2020 12:51pm-1:24pm EDT
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 visit a heairoshima
exhibit in washington, d.c. this program was recorded in 2015. >> hi, i'm the professor of history at american university and director of the american university's nuclear studies institute. and i began our institute back in 1995. it was born in the midst of the controversy around the exhibit. which was going to be held at the air and space museum at the smithsonian institution, but it got cancelled. this was an a attempt to do an honest and balanced exhibit about the decision to drop the bomb and the kobs kwens of the atomic bombing. this was the 50th anniversary. in the midst of that, i decided with one of my students, whose mother and grandmother survived the bombing in hiroshima, she had decided to do something
special to commemorate the 50th anniversary. so we're going to teach two courses here on campus and bring students here. while we were planning this, the smithsonian exhibit got cancelled. so the museums of hiroshima asked if we'd do an exhibit here on the 50th an verse ri. that was the first time that the bombings museums were outside of japan. this is the 20th anniversary of our exhibit and the 70th anniversary of the original bombing. so we decided to do it again here. we combined artifacts with the 6 of the fabulous 15 hiroshima panels. these are historic panels. they can be compared to pith ka so or other classic paintings of
that sort. so this is the first time they have been to the united states anywhere since 1995. so now we brought them here. we put it together with these artifacts and with the children's drawings. so that was the origin of our exhibit in 1995. now 20 years later, we have a more lelaborate exhibit. it's the most elaborate exhibit on the atomic bombings that have ever been held in the united states. it's overwhelming. can't tell you how many people have seen it and said that it left them in tears. >> this is one of the most famous images out of nag is a can i can. this is a young gurm she has a
gaze like so many people didn't know what happened to her. she didn't know what occurred. the people who lived through the bombing, they were sure that the bomb had landed on their house. they figured that's what had happened. they went outside and saw that all of hiroshima or all of nagasaki was ablaze and the fires were coming toward them. you'll see one of the panels called fire what it was like for the survivors engulfed in flames. next to this, we have a crucifix. there are a lot of crucifixes that are considered to be symbolic. especially in nagasaki. because in nagasaki, the bomb missed it by two miles and landed above the cathedral. nag ka sit had not been bombed before this. this was a small bombing in 1944
but preserved in pristine condition along with hiroshima because americans wanted it, have a pris pres teen target to show the effects of the atomic bomb. so people in nag ka sit thought they had not been bombed because it was the christian capital of japan. and there's a crucifix, but we also see the stopwatch there. the pocket watch. it shows 8:15, that's a very popular image inside hiroshima. it dropped at 8:15 a.m. so time stops there. clocks stop, watches stop and it also dropped at 11:02 in n nagasaki. when we did our first exhibit in 1995, many of those replicas were the original artifacts.
some are so fragile that the museums decided not to lot them outside of japan anymore. for that reason, some of these we have the replicas instead of the originals. here we have the famous mushroom clouds. the description to them, especially for people on the plane, was that of a pillar of flames just shot up into the air. the cloud kept expanding from the top of the column, the pillar, you see the additional bursts. they just keep going up. estimates are 40,000 feet into the sky. they could see the cloud from four hours away.
there was also a lot of debris swept into the cloud. here we have the view. so the target for the bomb was here. thought the pilots would be able to see that clearly from the sky. the bomb drifted and landed over here above the hospital. this is probably the most famous symbol. thsz the old prefecture build ing. it's called the atomic bomb dome. this has been preserved there was some debate whether to preserve it. this ha has all been built up. you can see everything is
devastated. the estimate is that almost two miles in each direction was totally destroyed. if you were two miles away, you'd be badly burned. this was a tiny and destructive capability. the bomb that dropped on nagasaki would estimate 22 cull tons of destructive capability. we actually by 1954 while holding congressional hearings and project sun dial. they were laying out plans to build a bomb 700 times as powerful as the hiroshima bomb. that seems insane, but that was the future they were holding out. this is what we walked into with our eyes wide open.
we have the water bottle of another young boy. 13-year-old who was killed when the bomb exploded. here we have a replica of the lunchbox from the 12-year-old girl who totally disappeared. no trace was ever found of her. fds her mother was able to identify that was her. back in 1995, a few of us suggested that if they wanted to cancel the exhibit, they wanted
to limit it, they should show two artifacts. one was the enormous plane. the other was the lunchbox of this 12-year-old girl. we thought that would send the message about what this us atomic bomb was really about. that was the last thing in the world woerp we were going to display. they wanted the statements by the military leaders condemning the bomb iing. it was about the context. it would have made a more boring exhibit probably. but we started to build a bomb a as a deterrent against the
possibility that the germans would get a bomb. the scientists were terrified a at the prospect of hitler getting the bomb. they built it as a deterrent. they didn't anticipate it might be used against japan. they didn't know they had the scientific capability during the war. this is a survey of the bombing targets. these were potential targets. but you have to remember that the united states had been fire bombing japanese cities since the night of march 9th through 10th. by the end of the war, three quarters of our bomb loads were to burn down japanese cities. we bombed over 100 japanese cities. and when we ran out of important major cities, we started to bomb the secondary cities that had military significance. the destruction reached 99.5% of one city. and some of the american leaders were apalled.
secretary of war said to president truman, i don't want the united states to get the reputation for outdoing hitler in as toties. another top general tribed this as one of the most ruthful killing of noncombatants in all history. that was delivering policy in order to target to burn down the cities to kill civilians. this is about the decision to drop the bomb. there's a section here about the reasons for using the bomb. the official narrative says the united states dropped the bomb to expedite the end of the war without having to invade. truman says an american invasion would cost a half million lives. the number keeps going up. truman saved thousands of lives and tens of thousands of lives and a quarter million lives in his 1955 memoir. that's the official narrative that we dropped the bomb to
avoid an invasion at the bomb ended in the pacific. there's no truth to that. maybe a little truth to that. the reality was the japanese from the battle of psi pan onwards knew they could not win. all would fight to die. so that was what they did. almost every adviser of truman's urged him to change the surrender terms. let the japanese know they can keep the em perrer. they plan ned to keep them. but wit refused to signal that.
so what else was going to possibly end the war. february '45, roosevelt got a promise that three months after the end of the war in europe at the big red a army was going to come into the war against japan. truman went to pots dam in july to meet with churchill to see that the soviets were coming in. he gets the agreement from the soviets the first day of the conference and writes in his journal. stalin will be in the the jackpot war by august 15th. truman knew that. he writes home his wife skpa and says the russians are coming in. thi think of all the boys who won't be killed. the japanese would finally vepder. he describes the telegram as the telegram from the jap em porter asking for peace. we knew that. they all knew the japanese were
finished. . american intelligence reported repeatedly that the entry of the soviet union into the war will convince all japanese that it complete defeat is inevitable. so the question is truman was not a hitler. they did not take pleasure in killing people. why would truman use the bombing knows that they were trying to surrender and they were not militarily necessary. what we assume was that a big part of his motivation was that he was sending a message to the soviets. if the soviets interfered with american plans in europe or asia, this is the fate they were going to get. and the astounding thing that the soviets interpreted that way. as was said, sudden issenly the day of judgment was tomorrow. and has been ever since. and that's the reality we have been confronted with.
that's what makes the bombing so important. thot just that hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children were killed unnecessarily. but the fact that the human species has that hanging over our heads ever since. that possibility still today, we have 16,300 nuclear weapons in the world. we have a conflict with the russians over ukraine. they still have thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at each other. we are not playing games. the thereto is still real. there were several people carrying cameras. only one is known to have taken any photos.
hiroshimas newspaper had enough film it take 24 photos. they said it was too horrible. so had ended uptaking seven photos and five of them have been preserved. he was very wantful. he didn't want to show horrible burns or suffering. he shows the people at the relief station who is had escaped from the fire, you can see some of the fire in the background. frfs what was occurring. and it was like walking through hell. he says we couldn't take photos. it was too horrific and too intrusive of people's privacy and suffering. this shows some people with no medical supplies. all the doctors were killed. the hospitals were destroyed. the nurses were killed. so what you see here are just
people in these relief stations. there was no medicine. there was nothing to treat them. they sometimes put oilen the burns. people were reporting maggots coming out of the wounds. it was just awful there. s people were lying on the ground. a woman breast-feeding her baby. there were lots of stories about carrying around dead babies on their backs trying to nurse their dead babies. we have these images of the charred corpses of some of the victims. what they said was that people who were near the hypercenter, their internal organs boiled away and they quickly turned into charcoal. and became carbon newsed. you just see the bodies.
some of people who wore their kimonos had patterns burned into their skin. the shadow of somebody completely disappeared on the steps of a bank. that's the steps of a bank in hiroshima. i have one friend who speaks to our group. and he survived. had writes down the names of all his family members and how far they were. not a single one was affected by the bomb. he has the name and how far from the hypercenter. he crosses them out one by one. this was over the next couple weeks. one by one would die of radiation poisoning. you would get purple spots all
over your body. terrible diarrhea, your hair would start to fall out. i know of many cases of which family members or friends came into hiroshima after the bombing looking for relatives or friends and within several days after, they would die of rauduation suckness. so some of the experts say some of it was gone quickly, there's evidence to suggest that wasn't the case. this is the hospital that was at the bomb detonated. this is the elementary school. almost all the teachers and students were killed. so taillights near the hypercenter. i take my students every year prior to the official nagasaki
ceremony, we go to a private ceremony. all the children who attend the school come there and have a special peace commemoration ceremony. it's this school filled with elementary school students. you realize that that's who the victims were. after the war, cob degree gants of the church here in washington, d.c. sent is art supplies to students at the elementary school in heath sheet ma. you see so many reports living with street ur chants. they didn't have shelter. they put up the makeshift shelters they lived in and the
fact they are just getting art supplies was a huge thing for these kids. so they sent back drawings and paintings to the congress gags that also searched. these were lost for a long time and rediscovered. now members of the church went back to heat sheet ma and met with some of the the kids. 12k3w4r i thought it would add a nice touch to the exhibit. a human side in a different way. americans who reached out to the
people and of the gratitude on the children who receive those gifts. the artists came into the city three days after the atomic bombing and saw the horrors. and decided to do a series of panels. the first one was called ghost. and what it shows is the image of heairoshima afteris wards. it felt as if they were walking through hell. with fires everywhere, people naked, walking usually with their arms held in front of them to lessen the pain, their skin hanging down. people's clothes were blown off by the blast.
and you see this image here. the shock, the horror, the suffering. the reality was the fire was everywhere. and spreading rapidly. and people try ied to escape th fire. but escaping the fire meant this is the reality for so many of the survivors that they would have to leave others behind. they would have to ignore the cries for help, the pleas for people who were trapped in their houses. people who were trapped under beams, who were injured in order to escape. so many tragic stories about
children leaving their parents behind or parents leaving their children behind in order to e . escape with the flames encroaching. i decided i wanted to complicate the narrative. not just portray the japanese as victims of the atomic bomb, but to put in a different context and show that it was possible for the japanese to be victims of atomic bomb but also victimizers a at the same time. so i want two pams that will show that. the first one here is one that you have to realize in hiroshima that day, there were 300,000 citizens. 43,000 japanese soldiers and 45,000 korean slave laborers.
they were abomination of desolationly treat ed by the japanese and had been for decades. and they were discriminated against in japan and also after the atomic bombing. they got almost no medical treatment, no aid at all. and many of them just died in the streets. and this shows the crows. this one is called crows. it shows the crows coming down and plucking out the eyeballs of the dead korean victims here. it's very controversial inside japan still. the prime minister ask his administration is doing everything they can to coffer up the history of japanese atrocities. the other victims of japanese colonialism and oppression. so i want to show that part of it too. and i also want in this one to complicate it further, this was
about the american p.o.w.s. this were p.o.w.s in a camp in hiroshima. 23 of them. or at least in the bombing. many of them survived the atomic bombing only to be beaten to death by enraged japanese citizens. they depicted several women among the p.o.w.s. there were no women there. so this is somewhat baffling why they chose to do so. but what we have seen here is a progression into thinking they focus just on japanese victims. and they have one panel on
auschwitz. so they are trying to make this a broader human story. this one was done later in 1968. the title is floating lantern. if if you go to hiroshima. on the evening of august 6th, we participate every year and it's called a floating lantern ceremony in the river there. the river is symbolically important because so many of the people jumped in the river to try to escape the flames or to cool their bodies. had of them died. all the drupgss of the river that night, it's just a sea of floating corpses. they are now a able to participate.
>> it's very beautiful at night. when i went there, it made it even more special. this is a depiction of the lanterns as they are floating in the river. weeknight this is month, we're featuring programs as a preview of what's available is every weekend on c-span 3. tonight at 8:00 eastern, a look at hiroshima and the end of
world war ii for the 75th anniversary of hiroshima. we'll show you a documentary examing the atomic bombing in japan. through the stories of survivors. it also features a young family born after the bombing. we're trying to make sense of the tragedy during the anniversary. enjoy "american history tv" every night and every weekend on c-span 3. the purge ri case against president trump's former national security adviser michael flynn will be reheard by the full u.s. court of appeals for the d.c. circuit on tuesday. the panel of ten judges will decide whether a federal district court judge must dismiss the charges as recommended by the justice department. hear the case live tuesday at 9:30 a.m. eastern on c-span. and c span.org or listen live with the free c-span radio app. up next on history book shelf, from 2005, author steven
walker talks about his boom "shockwave." the story begins with the first atomic bomb in new mexico on july 16th, 1945. and documents key events leading up to the august 6th, 1945 bombing. which the author then tribes in detail. >> thanks very much. you can hear me i hope. thank you for coming on actually the most wonderful evening in this glorious city, which my daughter has pleatly fallen in love with. and her first visit here. it's such a lovely evening. it's great you could come here and listen to horror stories about the atomic bomb. i want to talk to you from the heart about what this book is and what it means to me and the journey i have taken over the last two and a half years since i started the