tv Hiroshima Nagasaki and End of World War II CSPAN August 7, 2020 3:40pm-5:44pm EDT
with richard frank, the end of the imperial empire. they'll take your call asks tweets. and at 4:00 p.m. eastern, the 1946 film "effects of the atomic bm" and "a thousand cranes." then on the presidency, the 75th anniversary of the conference where the new president harry truman informed churchill of england and stalin of the soviet union about the new superweapon. exploring the american story. watch "american history tv" this weekend on c-span 3. a short time ago an american airplane dropped one bomb on hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the end. that bomb has more power than 0
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 latest book "twilight of the gods war
in the western pacific" welcome to washington journal on the 75th anniversary. fds. >> thank you very much. i'm glad to be here. >> we have heard from the former president harry truman after the bombing. from your research and study of the war and the bombings in particular, why did he do it? >> i think the decision to use the bomb was complicit in the project. it was really assumed that the time he came to office in april. it may be more accurate to say there was a nondecision. truman did not decide to
intervene to stop a project that was in train when he came into office. the assumption had been made that if built the bomb, we would use the bomb. i think it's different from cob vengsal weapons. for truman and hissed a viruss i don't think that was as clear to them. we had essentially wiped out an enormous percentage of urban areas with conventional bombing. so using the atomic bomb in their view at that time did not seem like a sort of a break or a departure from what they had
been doing already. it's hind site we understand that weapon to be something basically different in a different category. >> is it true when he assume d the presidency on april 12th of 1945 that harry truman did not know anything about the manhattan project and 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? >> it is true that he was not briefed on the manhattan project. he had been vaguely aware there was a large and secret and expensive project underway. in the senate before he was put on the tilkt in 1944, the most important thing he had done in the senate, the thing that made his name that that he chaired a
committee that investigated corruption and waste in the industries. this was called the truman committee. and in his capacity as chairman of that senate committee he learned about these enormous plants being built in tennessee and washington state. he behind kwierd and begun to use his resources to determine what exactly was happening there. and henry stin son was the secretary of war. he went to true man and said we're doing something really important. it's very secret. and truman agreed. so when he very suddenly with fdr's death was the vated to the presidency, he was briefed on james berns. who trueman pointed as zx is zx. secretary of state. he was briefed in 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. 1944 to 1945. the minds, as they were last hour, for the eastern and central time zones. for those that are vets or family, our line for japanese americans. one of the questions that came up 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 think that's a hard question. 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 to end the war quickly without 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 minority among military historians in feeling this is a preference i have that i would have liked to have seen the weapon used against a military target. the question of demonstration has been raised. the argument is against the demonstration are that number one it might have backfired. if you would announce you're going to demonstrate the bomb and it had worked, that would potentially double japanese determination to resist. i do think that would be a way to demonstrate the bomb without running into that problem. dropping it high in the
atmosphere off the coast say of tokyo, off tokyo bay. what 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 surrenderer. so the reason you might have done that is abstract. it's an ab tract reason. you do it because in the long run, it may enhance the country's moral standing. i do think that's important. but you have had some callers who have fathers or grandfathers who are in the war for american veterans, plrly those who would have participated in the innovation of japan. the atomic bomb has never been an abstraction to them. it's real. it's something they believe saved their lives. that belief is something that i think we need to acknowledge and respect. and so that's essentially write
come out. looking back, i would have liked to have see the bomb used differently. not dropped on a city. the first one dropped on a military target. i think that would have been more defensible.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 downgoing back to the days of the samurai. the city was not chosen for that reason. none of the four cities on the target list for the atomic bomb,
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 would have the topography and the conditions that would provide the greatest demonstration to the bomb's power. and so -- yes. >> finish your thought. >> yeah. it is true that there was, you know, an important army base in hiroshima. in the clip that you played from -- 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. i think just from the point of view of looking back with 75 years of perspective, in that situation you would prefer that the president of the united states, you know, look into the eye of the camera and tell the world exactly what we had done without mincing words, without using that kind of locution. >> 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. so, you know, on august 6th we hit hiroshima. on august 9th we hit nagasaki. we did not have a third bomb at that point. it would have been a few weeks. >> charles in richmond, virginia. >> caller: good morning. it's interesting when you hear those defections. one thing about why they dropped the bomb is 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 war declared. japan didn't do that. and what happened when the bomb became available -- truman didn't know a thing about it. all you knew, you just become president. they didn't really like him. and they put it to him and said, look, this is it. we have this bomb. to me, it was all -- 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 for the bomb and i didn't make too much difference what truman had to say. it was in the works and the
united states was going to drop that bomb. >> do you think that the president had a say in that? >> well, absolutely. the constitution confers enormous powers -- virtually unlimited as commander in chief in wartime. and 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. i don't think there's any question that 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 that 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 prisonseers of war, these ar all factors that played into the decision to use the atomic bomb and burn down japanese cities with incendiary bombing raids. truman could have simply decided. he wouldn't have had to ask for permission or have his military chiefs or cabinet take a vote on the question. he could have simply said, we're not going to hit a city or we are going to explicitly warn the japanese we have this weapon. in his private diary on july 25th. actually, he says i have instructed secretary stimson to use this weapon against military targets and not against women and children. and i have instructed him that we will make a warning to the japanese telling them to surrender. it's odd because he didn't give that order. 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 questions is, if fdr had lived, how would have fdr decided to use the bomb? he certainly would have been at all -- he wouldn't have heft hesitated at all to make his own decision. he was accustomed to doing that. >> let's hear from anthony on our line for world war ii veterans and families. >> caller: 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 hiroshima and in okinawa and in the occupation of japan. he came home in 1946 but we never really found out why he -- he never 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 a fight, to fight them and invade japan, i probably would have never came home. it was a flip of a coin. my personal opinion, if i had to make that decision, i would say, yeah. brothers were -- one was in norman di, he was a paratrooper in the 101 and my other uncle was a medic. those people from that generation, they fought hard and fought for our country. when i talk about my father and his brothers, i'm proud of them. that's something today we wouldn't be able today. >> from your book on 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 half a million. the answer seems to be that the causality projections were significantly lower than that. and, you know, it's a disputed point and there were different causality 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 can't say, well, the casualties would have been lower so we should 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, you know, as the caller, you know, mentioned, there were so many people in this country who have fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers, 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. just a last comment. one of the really interesting phenomenon is that those who were in japan after the war with the occupying forces, they tended to have a much more nuanced view of the japanese. 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 a behaved during the war and the way that the japanese people are in general because of the personal exposure they had had to japan and to the japan in the nation of japan after the war. >> our line for japanese
americans is 202-748-8003. >> caller: good morning. i'm half japanese. and my father was drafted into world war ii. my grandfather was drafted by the japanese army. i keep seeing every year when they talk about pearl harbor that america was attacked unprovoked which is not true. truman said on that clip that you've shown and like charles said on the -- in the call that japan bombed pearl harbor unprovoked. the flying tigers were flying under the awg under secret order of the president and until 1996 when it was -- it was either reagan or clinton acknowledged that the flying tigers were part of the military so they could get their va benefits, it showed that the awg was under military
payment from the united states government through a company. so i keep hearing of this japanese unprovoked attack, that's not true. i'm not saying that the 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. >> scott, we'll get a response from our guest ian toll. >> yeah, you know, i think that the count against the japanese for the way they began the war was not so much that it was an unprovoked attack. fdr did say it was unprovoked in 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 of the pacific war and little heard is the role of japanese americans who worked as interpreters and language officers and 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 the 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. that's not as familiar to people. >> to jean in maryland. good morning. on our line for vets and families. >> 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 a sister all were on active duty in the military. for two reasons, one personal and one family. we loved truman's decision. my two brothers at the time of the -- just before the invasion, my two brothers were in combat in the navy, in the pacific. both had close calls with death and my brother 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, this one is more personal, this i cannot forget about the japanese. i'm sorry, but the way they treated prisoners. my sister was a naval nurse at the naval hospital. she wanted to stay in the knana but she wanted to get married. as a naval officer she was not allowed to stay in the navy. that was the rule. she had to leave the navy and get married. the nine girls that were there, i remember them vividly. they used to come to our home in massachusetts to play tennis. they were full of wife and wonderful young ladies, they were -- i'll just say this, they were caught in the death march and after the war i asked my sister, she called and the supervisor and asked what happened to those young ladies.
there were nine of them. seven died and two were, quote, strapped down. we were fore truman's decision. but there's one other fact. this one i've almost never heard mentioned. i think it's maybe true. that the people killed in the hiroshima were not all japanese. i believe in hiroshima there were -- killed by that bomb were more than 20,000 korean slave workers and i believe it's also true in nagasaki. is that true, that there were tens of thousands of slave workers who were killed in these bombings? it's never mentioned. >> all right, gene. >> yes, it is true. it is true. there were -- i don't know if it was 20,000, but that sounds like it. it might be about the right number of koreans who were
working in hiroshima and 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. there were also -- there were westerners in japan. 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 missionaries who had come from portugal and spain. some of the most compelling eyewitness counts are by catholic priests who were european or german and so, you know, these cities were -- 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. they were affected in both of the atomic bombings. >> were there any american p.o.w.s in either city? >> there were american p.o.w.s in the area of both hiroshima and nagasaki and a number of personal accounts came out after the war about the, 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 hear and see these explosions. >> next up is frank in lexington, north carolina, good morning. >> caller: good morning. thank you for letting me share. 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 corpsman attached to the marine corps. this is the avermefter math of dropping of the bomb. 1945, he had been training for the invasion as a navy corpsman. he arrived in japan september 22nd, 1945. it's the seaport next to inland nagasaki. nagasaki. >> yeah. >> caller: 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 about treating the people that had been survivors but within two weeks, his whole unit got deathly sick.
and they were at that point moved to another area halfway between hiroshima and nagasaki. my father passed away at age 54 in 1977 and all his siblings, my aunts and uncles have lived to a ripe old age. and i believe it's 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 by doctors about his cancer and his service in japan in 1977. my mother was a registered nurse. he was asked a lot of questions. i think about i was 10 years old and i asked my father, i heard the word "armageddon," and i asked him about, and he said,
son, i've already been there. and you never want to see it. >> your thoughts? >> of course if you want to talk about how the atomic bomb was different from conventional bombings, this issue of radiation is one of the first things that you consider. it was, you know, as -- chairman of the joint chiefs after the war left a scathing passage saying he thought it had been a 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 mcarthur after the war, you know, they suppressed really all 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 a historical, you know -- a great disgrace, really. it was a great disgrace, that we allowed our own forces to be exposed in hiroshima, nagasaki without allowing them to fully understand the risks involved in radiation. 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 causality rates in places like eiwo jima.
ian toll, "twilight of the god's," his book. we welcome your calls and comments. 202-748-8000, eastern, 202-748-8001, western time zones. we have a photo in the book and i think we've shown some 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 destructive of some of the photos we see of hiroshima and nagasaki. >> 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 bombing raids, most likely, if you take all of the 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 of tokyo that occurred on the night of march 10th and 11th, 1945, it's very hard to say exactly how many people that 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 could only vaguely estimate how many people were killed. almost everyone in the japanese government who studied the issue believes that it was at least
100,000. it could have been more like 150,000 possibly. it's conceivable in that one night's fire raid you had more people killed than hiroshima and nagasaki combined. at least initially if you don't count deaths from radiation afterwards. the scale of these fire bombings raids was enormous and 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 by any of his principle advisers because there was this feeling that we had already taken this step to start attacking japanese population centers from the air. >> good morning. >> caller: good morning. my brother fought in world war ii, because of that i've always
been extremely interested in american history and specifically world war ii. i watched all the documentaries that i can -- that i've been able to find. i have capable 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 the gentleman you've 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 that i've watched that if we had to invade japan, they would have fought us with everything they had even
pitchforks. anything they could put their hands on tooth and nail. every step of the way. >> okay. ian toll, how prepared were the japanese for an invasion? >> how prepared were they? at that point, you know, japanese strength was kind of 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 bamboo spears. being told to use 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, i think if that was true, i think that using the bombs exactly the way we did, hitting cities without a prior explicit warning, i do think that you could defend that. the traditional way in which americans have understood the atomic bombings sets up this kind of forced binary where you have to choose either, hit these cities without warning or launch an invasion and i don't -- i personally don't think that's right. i think there were many other options other than just those two. and i think you could make a
pretty good case, although of course there's a counter factual that an invasion would not have been necessary with or without the atomic bombs. keep in mind the invasion of kyushu, the target date was four months after the bombing of hiroshima. and so the idea that the bombs were a last resort, you know, to an invasion that was just about to happen, that's not quite right. but as i say, veterans of that war had their own very, very strongly held beliefs about what had happened at the end of the war. and as an historian, someone who is interviewed hundreds, 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 this subject. >> twilight of the god's is your third in the trilogy. how long have you been working on the trilogy? >> 14 years. >> phillip is up next. >> caller: 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, "uss craven" was decommissioned and used for
atomic tests. i have a lot of feelings on this from a humanitarian point of view. the japanese empire was defeated in 1944. it was an island country as were all 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 inhuman. the war was over. they were a defeated country and 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 and surrounded the country for years if we had to. we occupied it for years afterwards. i think it set the stage for the future.
i know as a young man in the '50s going through grammar school the drills for the atomic bomb and the nuclear age and the terror and all the rest of it that we've all had to live with since then, i think it was unnecessary and it sets a 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 toll, tagging onto that, a question about would a naval blockade have been effective? a question from a viewer in michigan. our previously caller referencing something like that. >> well, yeah. really we had a blockade in place at the end of the war. we had essentially destroyed japan's oil tankers, the kind of background of the pacific war
was that the -- japan is a place that has virtually no national resources at all. they have no oil to speak of. it has some low-grade coal. very little mining of 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 military regime had to control their own resources of natural resources. the oil fields they took were in indonesia. it's 3,000 miles from japan. they had the problem of, you know, having to import their oil through this 3,000-mile artery that could very easily be attacked and was attacked by our submarines, by our air power and by, you know, 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 -- you can make a good argument that, you know, if we didn't have the atomic bomb, forget whether we decided to use them, say if we didn't have them at all, most likely the japanese would have surrendered by some point in the fall of 1945. >> 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 soouunk all of their shi. what little remained of the navy was in japanese harbors. we were attacking those ships with our carrier planes.
japanese navy was totally finished by the summer of 1945. >> you do point out -- >> i do agree -- i do agree that a blockade would have forced a surrender. how long would that have taken? that's hard to say. the japanese army which had control of the country the rank-and-file of that army was determined not to surrender. and so 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 counter factual argument. as a historian, scholar, you have to acknowledge there's uncertainty there. >> what was going on in those
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. really the rank-and-file of the japanese army, the elite kind of middle echelon of the officer corps at the imperil headquarters at the tokyo and at the army ministry were dead set against anything reassembling surrender. the idea of letting an occupying army coming onto japanese soil without a fight, that was unknown to them. you had in the highest circumstance of of power, within the inner circle of the ruling group, you had a deadlock between those who said we don't have any choice.
the nazis have been defeated and the militarist die hard, hard line, fight on faction, there was a deadlock within the ruling group. and it took, you know, all of that time to resolve that deadlock. we had hiroshima on august 6th, nagasaki on august 9th. on august 9th another important thing happened which is that the russian suddenly declared war on the japanese and rolled their army -- their tanks and their enormous number of truoops from siberia. it was the soviet attack that was really sort of the final straw that convinced the ruling group in 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 a -- you know, it was a difficult process for them to kind of reach that point of consensus that explaining 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. that explains part of the delay as well. >> here is bill from 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 two. i'm ashamed of what my country did by introducing this terrible weapon to the world. 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. 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? 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. all right. 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, divisively 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 that we're now -- it's 75 years today since the first weapon was used against the people of hiroshima. 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 -- 1945, excuse me, people at the end of the war, americans at the end of the war looking forward i think would
have absolutely surprised that that had been the case. there was very much an assumption that this was a new era of warfare and we were to see more of these bombs used. throughout the cold war, this was a constant terror. we had generations who grew up having to do these duck and cover drills in classrooms. we came close in several occasions to a nuclear exchange, the cuban missiles crisis. there were a number of potential accidents -- we have been very fortunate that event seen these weapons used again and so, you know, i think that that's something that we can celebrate today. >> a couple more calls here. we'll go to bee in 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 japan p.o.w.s. one went through the death march and we -- 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 toll, how soon after the bombings did americans know the news? >> know the news that we had -- >> dropped the bombs. >> one of these weapons? you played the clip of president truman's newsreel announcement
aboard the ship. the same day, 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. until, 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 big city there. if you're going to do that, you ought to be able to say, this is what we did. i think in a looks better in the long lens of history. but as, you know, 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 typical ground, if you're a marine, 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 quickly 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 that they 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, in the way that -- the sort of orthodox or
traditional defense of the atomic bombings that we hear most often now is that the issue of revenge is removed from the equation. it's more, we hit these two cities because the total number of dead would have been lower than in 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. that initial feeling we had that this was an act of retribution against an 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, then -- 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 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 god's" third and final volume of his trilogy. 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 associated press reporter in japan calling us this morning from hiroshima who was reporting this morning on the 75th anniversary there in hiroshima.
mary, good morning. >> good morning. not in japan, but, yes, good morning. >> what can you tell us about the ceremony that took place today in the peace park 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 0.1 of the usual attendance. >> we understand the mayor of hiroshima spoke. what did we hear from the mayor? >> she said that despite the coronavirus scare that she
called for world leaders to cooperate together more than ever and also called for leaders to visit hiroshima to see firsthand the reality of the atomic bombing so that they will be more likely to abandon nuclear weapons and also he noted that and asked for the japanese government to do more for -- to take leadership in playing the bridge between nuclear state and no nuclear state so that they will work harder toward a nuclear weapons
ban. >> mari, you've been reporting this week on the survivors, the victims of hiroshima, how they have been stigmatized over the years in japan and this urgency to bear witness grows for the last hiroshima victims. how is the government helping to preserve the legacy of those survivors? >> rather than the government, i think it's citizens groups are helping -- working with them more than the government. although, some local governments, including hiroshima, are trying to set up an occasion 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 that they can continue to tell their stories on their behalf. >> associated press reporter mari yamaguchi with us this morning reporting on the 75th up anniversary of nhiroshima. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> there's more ahead. another hour of your calls and comments and we'll continue our discussion on the anniversary with clifton truman daniel, grandson of former president harry truman. here is the former president explaining his decision to use
atomic weapons. this was 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. all this time, some of their people seemed to be acting behind their backs -- backs of the cabinet trying to pursue peace in one underhanded way or another. we knew there was only one of two things to do. we could advance on japan and fight every inch of way, losing a million of our own men, or drop the atomic bomb. we dropped the bomb. 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. in this spirit, the emperor was finally called onto give his opinion. an unprecedented move. he didn't want his people to die any more than he wanted to surrender. yet, the military was so strong that still would notify us of their capitulation. we had to drop a 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 be licked, but they would have killed 3 million more people on both sides. that's why there is no question that in view of the whole japanese military had on their people, the dropping of the atom bombs was the only sensible thing to do. it was the only thing to do. >> there are a lot of cry babies
around who were talking about what ought to have done and the bomb had to have had a demonstration, but i had the authority of the best men in the business, the only operation that the japanese would understand would be one that would show them what it was and that's what happened. it stopped the war. i don't care what the cry babies say now, because they didn't have to make the decision. >> joining us from chicago is clifton truman daniel, the grandson of president harry truman joining us this morning on this 75th anniversary of the bombing of hiroshima. mr. daniel, welcome to "washington journal." >> good morning. thank you. >> you were 15 years old when your grandfather -- when harry truman passed away. 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 -- what have you come to in terms of your -- his
decision, what's your view of the decision to drop those bombs? why do you think your grandfather made that decision? >> my grandfather always said that he made the decision to end the war and save american and japanese lives. and i understand that that's a simplistic answer. but that was something that he stuck to all of his life. for me, i've been listening a little bit to the previous program, 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 i didn't, whether a blockade would have done the same thing, whether or not we would have had to invade. for me working with survivors, working with the truman library, for me it's more important to listen to -- to listen to the stories, to understand why it happened, why the decision was made so we don't do it again. and more broadly, so that we can
avoid future conflict. i think if we look at all the reasons that we got to where we got in 1945, we'll have a better understanding of how to head it off again. sometimes i don't have much hope for that. >> what sort of resources have you used in your quest to figure 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. from his point of view, but also on the other side talking to survivors, working with survivors of hiroshima and nagasaki, listening to the stories, trying to understand the japanese point of view. just generally whatever comes my way, whatever is new, whatever i think i might be get some more understanding from. >> you were well along in your career and profession, the life
of a parent when in 2012 you were the first truman to visit hiroshima as part of a visit there and a program that we aired in conversation with c-span back in that -- in 2012. what prompted your decision to go to japan, to go to hiroshima? >> it's -- i'll try and shorten it. it's a bit of a long story. when my son wesley was 10 years old, he came home from school with a book, "the thousand paper cranes." for those in the audience who 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 but lost their grandmother in the attack. she went onto have leukemia.
she followed a tradition, if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, you're granted health. a crane is a sign of life in japan. she folded 1300 cranes but she died of leukemia at age 12. there's a monument to sadako and all of the children who were killed, sickened or wounded in the bomb in hiroshima's peace park today. wesley's 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. came home one afternoon and found wesley in the living room wearing a kimono with green tea and sushi laid out on the coffee table behind him. she and wesley brought all of japan into our house. well, on subsequent anniversaries of the bombings
when japanese journalists called looking for a comment from a member of the truman family, i mentioned that story. i mentioned that we had read sadako's story together. and i told wesley i thought it was important for him to understand his great grandfather's decision, his country's point of view but also to understand what that cost the people of hiroshima and nagasaki. wesley said that he enjoyed the book, he remembered as a child enjoying the book and what he said was that it was different from all of his other children's books and it did not have a happy ending. well, in a -- i think it was in 2005, i had a call from japan from sadako's older brother, himself a survivor of the bombing. he had read japanese journal accounts and interviews they had done with me and asked me if we could meet someday, 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 donatet cranes as a gesture of healing. during that interview, he took a tiny crane from a plastic box he carries and dropped the crane into my palm, and told me that that was the last crane she had folded before she died. at that point, she and his father asked me if i could consider visiting hiroshima and nagasaki and going to the ceremonies, and i agreed. >> and our guest, we're showing video from that 2012 visit, video we had as part of a program with you in that year
2012. for those of you who are world war ii vets or family, 202-748-8002, and our line for japanese americans, 202-748-8003. during that trip, mr. daniel, you spoke to several survivors. i wanted to play the video shot by your son -- am i right? your son shot some of this. >> right, that was wesley. >> i want to show the conversation of one t of the survivors telling his story. and we'll get back to your comments. >> 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, unless you can remove this stuff from my shoulder, i can't move. but i couldn't. >> translator: i was a militaristic boy, and i knew japan was cornered and going to lose soon. so, i was always 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 testimonies. 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 retell those stories. and they're committed to doing that 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 these stories over and over againor our benefit. not one of them came to me in anger or recrimination or anger or recrimination. they simply wanted to tell me those stories and asked me at the end of each interview that i would keep telling those stories, again, in the name of disarmament and peace. >> and those survivors obviously now 80 years or 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 sorries, to keep openly and honestl telling those stories 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. they were my hosts and companions through that. no, they were -- the atmosphere was respectful. again, open, blunt, factual but respectful on both sides. i was -- 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 of you who are world w ii vets or family members, william in boyneton
beach, good morning. >> caller: yes, i landed on okinawa when i was an 18-year-old boy, and at that te -- what do you call it -- 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 it. bill eli was a very 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. i said, we had a tremendous typhoon on okinawa in that month. 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-an-hour, destroyed everything on okinawa. and there was no way that the innervating fleet would survive. and he says, in fact, general mcarthur sent bill eli to japan to check out the area. he was the first american in japan after the atom bombs, and he said the destruction was unbelievable. but what they had waiting for us, he says, was unbelievable too. he said, they had submarines, two-man subs. they had all kinds of fortifications. the civilians were all armed to their teeth waiting for the americans to invade. >> william, thanks for your call. mr. daniel. >> that's -- 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 of course that feel that japan was defeated and that it was only a matter of -- i don't know -- weeks, months, days before they surrendered. 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. this was not something that they -- i mean they trained for. but this was not something they expected. the japanese government was telling them that they were all going to fall like the petals of
cherry tree -- cherry blossoms and this was going to be 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 am an immigrant and i am a student of american history. that's why naturally for me i want to find out more about the country where i'm now residing. and so how would your guest answer the question, i mean would japan surrender without the bomb taking into consideration that decisions of in yalta conference in february that took place in february 4th,
1945 when british prime minister winston churchill, president franklin roosevelt and soviet leader joseph stalin decided that soviet union would enter the war against japan, and it did. so at that time when the bomb was dropped, the soviet union basically was -- took so much territory that japan occupied it -- occupied and it was basically about to enter al quaeda. >> the soviets. the soviets, ann, right. >> caller: the soviets, i mean, was about to enter al quaeda exactly at that time when the bomb was dropped. so, the first one. so, was it really necessary because the soviet army would
occupy japan. they were moving very fast and japan, indeed, they were fighting furiously, but at that time the power of soviet army was huge. so, they were moving very, very fas fast. >> ann, i'll let you go right there. clifton truman daniel, what do they tell you about the state of the populous? what was the population like? were they prepared for any potential invasion be it soviet or america? >> 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 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 accept speech. she is a nearly 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. you had school gurls 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 were a lot of japanese drew pictures of things that they had seen and been through. the occupation government, 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 rebuild. so, there's reaccidentment over that. there's also reaccidentment of
the atomic bomb commission hospitals that were set up following the war to study radiation victims and 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 -- of radiation poisons. but it felt a little like lab rats. >> and who was running that hospital? was that the u.s.? >> that was us. >> and from washington, d.c., good morning. >> caller: i just wanted to bring up two really important facts. 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 to bring peace to the country and would specifically warn people to
leave the area they would be bombing the next day. over 70 million were dropped. and second, when you speak to -- they will never tell you this, but especially the older people. i've heard from probably over 100 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 -- the leader of the pearl harbor attack met in 1959 with paul tibbets who is one of the ones that dropped the bomb. 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 now has developed. but when you speak to the people
that actually were adults and remember, they will all say they remember when they saw the american bombers flying overhead and when they heard about the bomb, they were so happy because there was no way -- they felt terrible for the ones that had passed away, but they knew that if the war came on land, approximately at that time about 3 million people would have died. 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. we we would rather have them bomb us. 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 can see them all. they're just amazing. they say the world is with you, japanese people, hang on. everything's going to be okay.
we want -- we're very sorry, but the only thing we can do is bomb. and they instruct people to leave the areas of the bombing. >> i'm going to let you go there so we can get a response from our guest. thank you. >> thank you. yes, those are familiar to me, but i also think of -- it makes me think of another story that sitsiko told. she listened to the emperor's broadcast surrendering on august 15th, she and her family. they set up a loud speaker hanging from a tree, and she remembers the people gathering around. they had gone up into the hills outside the city to escape the city by this time. 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 he -- i think that was the first time that the emperor had ever -- it was certainly 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 information on those warning leaflets too. 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 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 my dad asked if he could come down and work in the basement and he could work in the shipyard. he did the lettering on the doors to all of the offices and stuff like that. like today they have all that vinyl lettering and stuff, but 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 i just thought, that well, that's 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 it as long as i live. went downstairs. he broke out his gun, his rifle, and then he reached in this private area he had and he brought out a bayonet. he put it on -- i don't know what it was. i was too young. anyway, he strapped it on the end of the gun and told me he was killing them. he was 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 it 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 mr. mitchell 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 -- he couldn't shoot deer when he went hunting with his daughter. he couldn't do it. he didn't want 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 -- the 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 he 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. they attended church every sunday and he could not shake this. they were -- they were worried about him. if he saw someone that even looked as though they were of
asian descent, it didn't matter, chinese, korean, he got angry. finally he watched a program on television about a group of former marines who had 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 travelled to japan. he met with former kamikaze trainees and he said, we were just a bunch of old men talking to each other, they were just like me. and finally -- he was in his 70s by the time this happened -- but he was finally able to put that hay thread 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? >> no. i have never -- i've not spoken
to anyone on the inola gay. >> to larry in new mexico, good morning. >> caller: good morning. i'm here in the navajo nation and i want to say a little piece here regarding the navajo coast 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. but the navajo code talkers were informed on there's going to be -- you heard that term fat cat and little big boy that the navajos were working at the south com pacific headquarters company and they were told that they were going to be
something -- something going to happen in the wind so that was the message that was sent 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 c confiscating weapons, guarding the streets/neighbors, and distributing food and clothing. so, that was their role and the message they sent after their occupation there back to san francisco through the navajo code. so we don't know who the navajo code talkers who sent that code, but that's part of history, what was said, how many buildings were destroyed, how many vegetation left, 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 their role in the post-occupation of japan. thank you. >> okay, clifton truman daniel. >> thanks larry. i don't know the history of the native americans and the navajos 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 marine artillery captain and fought his way all the way 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 japanese gun placements were just going to be able to rain shells down on orville and his men and all the other members of the invasion force.
so, he was very worried that 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 that they did not have to land at nagasaki. they wound up landing at nagasaki weeks later anyway as part of the initial occupation source. and/orville was heart sick at the destruction. the wounds on the civilians, he said the hillsides were just bear, nothing standing. no 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 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. he kept it in his closet. he 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 funlly after 67 years -- and he wondered all that time who it belonged to and should he give it back and he tried on and off throughout the years to see if he could find the owner to the owner's 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 rotted away and this tag was wooden and it had a name and address. and through sheer luck and a lot of phone calls, they found the son of the owner of the sword, of the officer who had to give it up. he was a japanese newspaper executive in nagasaki. and he wrote to him and told him that he wanted to give him back, give his family back his 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. i recall 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. >> wow, let's get in calls now. 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 czechoslovakia and kill ed 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 on board three nights or three days in 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 i've 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 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. i want to remind our viewer toos we have covered several programs on the navajo code talkers. you can go to our website
c-span.org. you can find plenty of information about that. just search navajo code talkers. our guest, clifton truman daniel with us talking about the 75th anniversary of the bombings of hiroshima, august 6th, nagasaki on august 9th. mr. daniels also the honorary chair of the board of trustees of the harry s. truman institute. you've also written a couple of books about your grandparents. 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 whrks we saw them -- i mean, they were grammy and grandpa. we saw them on family vacations. these were also vacations from school. 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 or anybody in the audience. my grandfather was remarkably open and consistent in his views, and there's nothing the family would have learned that the public didn't know or had spoken. let me go to joe in wilmington. it was fies to hear from someone in wilmington since i lived there for 15 yores. i worked on star news. it was in wilmington at the end of a day full of ceremonies that i first met pacific war veterans. and they were actually 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. 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 we could do for them. both of these men had tears in their eyes. we asked them what's wrong. they said, nothing, we just want to thank her. if her father hadn't dropped that bomb, we wouldn't be here. >> you were very vocal and encouraging of president obama to visit japan in 2016. why was that? >> 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 of the things he said struck me. he said the atomic bombings were an atrocity but they were the atrocity in a war full of atrocities. it was a horrible, devastating war. people make decisions in wartime that are fatal to thousands and thousands, millions of people. 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 -- i thought he did exactly the right thing. he went and he listened. he laid a wreath. he visited the peace park. he spoke to survivors. one of the survivors that -- i believe he gave a hug to mr. mori. mr. mori was a survivor of the bombing but also spent about 25 years of his life and a lot of his own money finding out exactly what happened to the 12 americans who were killed in hiroshima. they were prison rs. they were airmen, i think navy and army airmen, a mixed group, who were prisoners in basement cells in the cpolice headquarters. nine of them died immediately
from the explosion, but three died from severe radiation within a day or two. but not much was known about what happened to them, and their family back here in the states didn't know. and mr. mori discovered that a lot of the people he was interviewing for other survivors for other stores were drawing pictures of americans in hiroshima. 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 me moyer liez th memorialize them when the other victims. >> we've got about ten minutes left. we'll go back to your calls. mickey, good morning. >> caller: good morning. i'd just like to tell you my father and seven of my uncles were in world war ii. and they fought in theaters from europe all the way through 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 terribly a human being can treat another human being until he walked into that concentration camp. but this here about the atomic bombs, i would 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 million to 85 million people were killed during that war. and those atomic bombs put an end to it. thank you. >> thank you, mickey. yeah, again, the debate goes on.
i find myself, i think as i said earlier, in the middle of this. i cannot, 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 had 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 it's -- that's what i try to look at. it's the human suffering and the sacrifice on both sides. and you have to look at the human stories and understand what happened and what that means. >> here's carol in new york. good morning. >> caller: hello. i just want to tell another side. my father was an air corp.man 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 have his arms around her neck. the only good was a good one and he was attempting to kill them. my father died 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. i knew a lot about it. this was protecting their god. this wasn't, you know, protecting their president, protecting their country. this was protecting their god.
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. >> thank you, carol. you have to -- you just said it yourself. you separate the japanese from today from -- and i think you have to separate the japanese civilians from 1945 from the japan na japanese military. certainly there was a wide range of emotion among the japanese for all for fighting to the last man committing suicide, going down fighting. and there were those who were just browbeaten into that, people who 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 with someone who survived the bombing of hiroshima. and she was 12 years old when the bomb exploded. she was badly burned. she came to this country in 1955 as one of the hiroshima maidens for reconstructive surgery. we were with a grouch 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 want sympathy, you want understanding for the bombings, what about what the japanese military did to my people, did to china? and she said very quietly, we had no idea. we did not know what was going on. she didn'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 earlier from the associated press, survivors mark 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 mark in hiroshima? and how was your visit received by the both the media and the public? >> my reaction, my -- the initial reaction in both hiroshima and nagasaki stuck and it was -- it shouldn't have been a surprise to me but it was. both cities are very much like being in a surge or a synagogue or a mosque. it's hallowed ground. thousands of people died there. in hiroshima in the peace park, their ashes are three feet down in the layer of soil that one japanese survivor called the sad layer of soil, a white layer of bone and ash. so, you are on hallowed ground and you feel it. and the survivors contribute to that through their kindness.
so, 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. that's 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 interview that i did in tokyo before we even went to hiroshima. the reporter got two questions in to the interview and then said have you come to apologize? and i -- as i said, it caught me off guard. it caught me flat footed. and i said no, that's not what this is about. this is about honoring the god
and listening to the living. and she kept rephrasing it, if you didn't come to apologize, why bother. she 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 and at tokyo university all the way to hiroshima on the train. all 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 walked to the peace monument and came out of the middle of the throng. i had not seen him in two years. i had not seen him since we met in 2010. he came out of the throng and put his arms around me and
hugged me and most of my worries evaporated. he was showing me and the japanese media and the japanese people that we were in this together. >> we're going to bonnie next up in marion, ohio. >> caller: yeah, i had two uncles that was in world war ii. and one had got captured by the japanese and him and part of his squad. and they threw him down in a pit and covered him up. well, 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 would come home, they would never talk about it. then 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. before he died, he told mom, don't ever want to see that again. you don't ever want to see it in your lifetime. he said it was very, very, very
nasty look. that's all i've got to say. >> thank you, bonnie. >> yeah, it -- there is, again, the last atrocity in a war full of atrocities. >> let me ask you what -- 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 non-profit in new york called hi back shah stories, a bomb-effected person. 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 work with them for four years doing exactly that.
we would -- one of the founders, kathleen sullivan or robert croonquest would get up and talk about the current nuclear arsenal, 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 of them are on hair trigger alerts, still aimed at old cold war targets. and now we're both our government and the soviet and the russians are talking about modernizing the nuclear arsenal. so, we feel like we're on the edge of another arm's 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 these 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 representative to that. you know, high school students can be tough to reach. they slouch in their chairs. they look at their phones. none of that was going on here. they were paying raft attention. and afterwards, they wanted selfies, they wanted to talk to the survivors further, they wanted hugs and they got them. it was a very emotional and i think effective program. >> see if we can get a call or two more. daryl in east point, michigan, good morning. daryl in michigan, you're on the air. all right. we'll going to cameron in nevada, missouri. good morning. >> caller: yes, hi. i just wanted to say i think that -- >> cameron, can you do us a favor and take your phone off speaker? it's a little hard to hear you. go ahead. >> i.
>> caller: i apologize. is that better? >> that is better. yes. >> caller: okay. i just want to say that fighting in a war has been something that we have done for years i know in the past and without war we cannot find peace. and here recently as the protests have gone on in america and we have been combatting this virus, and looking back in our history i realize that maybe there's a time coming where we don't have to fight war anymore, where we can just come to peace and live in that peace and live in that sort of peace and not have to go back to fighting anymore. if we can come to that time, i think we would all be better off and we wouldn't have to worry about which country is going to nuc which country and what. it's all nonsense. all we're going to do is end up hurting each other or damaging our neighbors. it's just not good. it's not an effective way of living i don't believe. >> okay.
if you can hold your thought for a minute, i want to see if we can get one more call from hawaii. >> caller: thank you so much. >> good morning. >> caller: i've been up from 3:00 or 2:30 in the morning trying to see this program. i'm so happy to meet with you, the grandson of truman. and i am a post-war 1946 birth. and i just happen, two days ago, from nagasaki who was a professional photographer. he just passed away at the age of 96. he was also a survivor from the nagasaki bomb. and he and my father were very, very good friend to each other. my father also passed away several years ago. it must have been a coincidence. i really wanted to see this
program. and today we live in 2020, ai, artificial intelligence era. and we have internet. what we need to know out of all the tragic human killing each other, war call it, we should put an end to it. what we all have to do is learn to appreciate and study languages. if you can only each other to the deep of understanding, language is a cultural understanding. japanese people have a long history from smodernization era and every time we have all the change. >> so, really appreciate you
waiting on the line and calling in early there in hawaii. we'll get some last thoughts from our guest. >> thank you. thank you sachiko and camera. and i know it was nevada, missouri, not nevada, missouri. i only know that because i've been there. for both of you, the story that brings to mind is out of the bombing of nagasaki in caves that had been dugged into the hillside. he lost her entire family, she wound up homeless afterwards living under a bridge. her sister was so sick and so 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 story. she speaks out in the name of peace and disarmament. but she had, i think the quote that sums up about war, she said
very simply, she said, i think peace, the basic idea of peace is to have some understanding of other people's pain. i think that's very true. >> well, clifton truman daniel, it has been a pleasure to have you share time with us on this 75th anniversary of hiroshima. thank you so much for being here. >> thank you, a appreciate the opportunity. weeknights this month we're featuring american history television programs. tonight at 8:00 eastern a look at hiroshima and nagasaki and the end of world war ii for the 75th anniversary of nagasaki. the stories of several survivors. the film also features a young family in hiroshima born after the bombing who were trying to make sense of the bombing during the 50th