tv Reel America Effects of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima Nagasaki CSPAN August 9, 2020 10:00am-10:32am EDT
richard frank and american universities peter kuznick, you can watch it again later tonight on c-span3 at 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. eastern time as part of a sunday night lineup on american history tv of programs about hiroshima, nagasaki, and the events surrounding the end of world war ii. if you would like to learn more about hiroshima and nagasaki, starting now is an interview with greg mitchell on a collection of archival films documenting the aftermath of the bombings hidden from the public for years. that is coming up right now in american history tv on c-span3. >> dozens of films documenting the aftermath of the iraq -- of the atomic bombs dropped on japan in 1945 are available at the u.s. national archives in maryland. japanese andot by american crews, were hidden and
off-limits to the public for decades afterward to ended. historian greg mitchell, author of atomic joins us to tell the story of these films. we begin with a portion of a film describing the morning of august 6, 1945 in hiroshima. this program includes scenes of atomic bomb victims that some viewers may find disturbing. ♪ the sixth of august. the air raid alarm which had been on the night before was lifted for the time being. it was an unusually calm and clear morning. a few minutes after 8:00 two super fortresses in formation appeared over the city. then a bomb came hurdling down from one of the bombers.
flash, thenblinding a deafening explosion. in an instant, hiroshima was a scene of chaos. hiroshima was instantly transfigured. there was nothing left but ruins. nothing standing to hinder a full view of the city. in the first days after the atomic bombing of hiroshima and then nagasaki three days later, 75 years ago now, the leading team sent one or more cameramen to the cities. they shot footage of the aftermath, not just the buildings, but survivors, victims, told the whole story. this footage was shipped back to tokyo, where it was soon suppressed by the american
occupation when they arrived in early september. the team then tried again. they sent several elite people to hiroshima and nagasaki and extensivey shot footage over the month. when the americans arrived in nagasaki, again, the footage was seized, and the japanese, however, had been there before the americans, and had the totally historic footage that showed medical and physical effects. the americans ordered them to continue their work but under american supervision. the japanese went back to work. they shot more footage. they were ordered to edit and narrate a documentary, which they did, two hours and 40 minutes, but again, under
american supervision. then it was seized by the american military, and basically suppressed for decades. really until the late 1960's. the americans, meanwhile, began shooting color footage of the aftermath, and that footage would be suppressed for decades. -- i mean,y a story my book, the film, i'll talk about how this footage -- all talk about how this footage, black-and-white, japanese and american, was suppressed for decades. >> as we drew close to the becauser, we found that the blast came from overhead, per peeler -- perpendicular objects remained erect on the
ground. this is a commercial and industrial exhibit building made of brick. >> why did the japanese make these films that are so scientific and carefully constructed? >> well, when they first arrived, they did not know what they would find. it was quite shocking just to be there. of course, they were the victims. we can talk about them being the perpetrators of the war, but in terms of the atomic bombings, they were certainly the victims. over 200,000 died, 90% civilians. and survivors suffered horribly from burns and radiation effects. they were making makeshift hospitals, shacks, documenting the aftermath. people were suffering from a new disease. you could say it was incredibly important just from a medical
standpoint because they were documenting the emergence of a new disease in the world, radiation sickness caused by an atomic bomb. >> a brother and sister, upstairs in their house to kilometers from the epicenter. it was reported that after about a week they began to develop symptoms of anorexia, bleeding, and fever. mother and daughter were both inside their house to kilometers southwest of the epicenter. -- two kilometers southwest of the epicenter. the mother had no visible injuries and was nursing her daughter outside of the city when, a month later, she became seriously ill. intent is why they were on capturing that, and they did, but it was also important for the u.s. to then hide that footage because they did not want americans to see the effects. they wanted americans to turn
the page, the war was over, and they did not really want to see what happened to the people, the civilians, almost all women and children, elderly men. we still wanted people to believe that we bombed military facilities and so forth, but that wasn't the case. forjapanese did it posterity and for the occupiers. they try to do an honest job with the footage they had. ♪ they visit hiroshima. the day was calm, bright, and winless. a summer sunshine's upon the city. for 2.5 hours, the alert warning
continued to prevail. super fortresses appeared over the city from the northeasterly direction flying at a high altitude. the first plane dropped three objects attached to parachutes. at 11:02, the second plane dropped an object, it's dissent taking 40 seconds. then came a -- blinding flash followed by an explosion and a blaze. the destruction was the greatest ever rot by man -- ever wrought by man. the whole of this neighborhood, once teeming with houses and small factories, now flattened and denuded of everything. only pebbles and broken tiles remain. to makewere directed this documentary focusing on, namely, the visible effects, the effects on plants, the effects
on other things in the natural world, with some focus on injuries to people. it is mainly not showing the survivors, you know, it is mainly showing a wide range. you're scrolling through here. a good variety of what was shown. the shadow effects are quite dramatic, the flash of the bomb threw up permanent shadows on the buildings and sidewalks and so on. the footage shows scientists, japanese scientists, study this, taking measurements, calculating the direction of the bomb and so on. it is quite an amazing document, and people can view it now at the national archives or even online. it is available, but nobody in -- americas saw it until nobody in america saw it until 1970.
film that will eventually be coming out, we did the first 4k modern transfers. >> if people want to know more about your film that is not yet released but will be soon, tell us what they can do. go to my blog, pressing issues, where i have put up four brief clips from the film. it is about 50 minutes long. these clips are short. they do footage of the black-and-white and the color and a little bit about what is being shown, so it is a very good -- it gives you a very good idea of what my film is about, what the footage is about, and why it is important. >> there is a dramatic story about this whole project. the americans, after the japanese completed the two hour and 40 minute documentary, the
american military certainly arrived -- suddenly arrived and not just seized the original print but every scrap about take -- scrap of outtake, everything used in the hours of footage. that footage has never surfaced and it is known as the phantom film in japan. even though this documentary did emerge eventually from the shadows, all the outtakes, what they call the scraps and leftover material has never surfaced. it is either still buried or it was destroyed by the americans. that is the phantom film. what happens when the japanese newsreel team were about to be rated by the americans, they had a copy made at great risk of imprisonment. they had one copy made. they then came back and hid that copy in the ceiling of an
editing suite, where he remained for several years. -- it remained for several years. they kept it in the ceiling. after several years, they brought it out. the first small bits of it that anyone saw in the west was sort for a famousut hiroshima, which is not a documentary. but the director used small bits amore.in hiroshima, mon that is how the west saw tiny bits of it, but a large part of it was never seen, and we can talk about this if you want. it aired on pbs just after 1970.
tell us about this film. found out in the late 1960's. he was in columbia -- columbia at the time, and already famous writer. he found this footage had been declassified at the national archives. he then made a 15 minute, rather artful, understated documentary, which we are looking at right hiroshima/nagasaki, publicnd managed to get television to air it around the august 6 anniversary. this causes great controversy at the time. some people thought this is not a proper border -- a proper idea. at least one station refused to
run it. when it was aired, there was a panel that came on after to discuss it to give it more context, rather than letting it speak for itself. but he basically took the two hours and 40 minutes, took 15 minutes of highlights with narration, and it caused quite a stir. it was available for many years tape.hs >> in hiroshima on that day, half of the doctors were killed. at the hospitals, between three in 10 people came each day for help, and each day, 2000 people died. they were buried together because there were too many to bury separately. >> so it was a historic moment. this is a 1970, 1971. the color footage shot by the americans at that point was still unknown.
no one had ever seen it. we are seeing the first bits of it here. there, it ist card an interesting story. momora, maybe a name not many americans know, but he was a well-known japanese cinematographer born in japan. actually went to hollywood, worked on mainstream hollywood movies in the 1930's, went back was the, and in 1942, summer talk of her for a cure occurs so -- was the cinematographer for akira kurosawa's first movie. he was then enlisted by the americans. of qualitythe level that went into this. a shot much ofr
this footage, some of this you will see now. this scene is nurses merging into the red cross hospital at hiroshima, which was badly damaged. this footage was shot in the fall or winter following the atomic bombing. host: where was this color footage, then? nationalked at the archives as united states air force, but when the people first learn about this? guest: i guess it is a long story, but one of the handful of men who took part in this project was a man named herbert sussen. he got out of the military and went on to be one of the pioneering network tv producers and he wasrs,
haunted by what he had seen their. years to getfor permission to get at this footage, which was kept basically in the military archives for so long, and was never allowed. 1970's, he happened to attend a u.n. exhibit of photos at hiroshima and nagasaki -- of hiroshima and nagasaki. he saw a still from this footage. he told the organizers, i shot that. my team shot that footage. they said, what are you talking about? he said, this is footage i shot. that led the japanese to investigate. they found the color footage had all been declassified at the national archives, but no one knew about it. it was just as if it had not been declassified. launchedpanese then what is called the 10 foot campaign.
you donate a certain amount of money and you can buy 10 feet of the 90,000 feet of footage. they end up getting all of the relevant footage back to japan and started making films in the early 1980's. the first time i was exposed to this was in new york in 1982, when that first japanese documentary was shown, and herbert sussen spoke. i became good friends with him. i edited a magazine called that theimes, and first article about the suppressed footage. it became a mini sensation. documentary filmmakers started to use it. so, thanks to herbert and the japanese, the footage finally emerged after 35 years. host: have you seen the japanese
documentaries using this footage, and could you compare it to american --? guest: they did interesting things. from the very start. was a big, new project in japan, as you can imagine. it was covered is this incredible finding -- as this incredible finding. the press covered this. they located some of the people who were shown in this footage. in fact, a couple of them i met myself years later in japan. they tracked down some of the people shown in the original footage and they would kind of show the original footage and then talk to the person in 1980 about how they felt about it or the story behind it. that is pretty much how they handled it. they did kind of a before and after treatment in most cases. host: do you know if president
truman or other policy leaders ever saw these films? guest: i do not really. top-secretlassified, at the start, and they kind of remained there. they got shuffled two different military repositories, but as far as i know, no top person had that. there was a screening of the japanese, black-and-white footage, which i document in the the top brass was shown, ok, here's what we have. ok, you havee, to keep the secret. and that endured. once things are classified, someone has to take a step to release it or no one was about
it, and that is what happened in this case. americans inthink 2020 should watch these films? do, since iusly i just made a film based on them. host: why? guest: the selections you are showing a representative in some ways -- showing art representative in some ways. it could be edited into a long feature with subtlety, not necessarily focusing on the most graphic images. these images are pretty hard to take and i understand that. i did not make a film where people have to sit for an hour or two watching this. you can put it in context, show stories of the filmmakers, which is what my film is about, really, the japanese and american filmmakers.
the whole story is told first person. japanese filmmakers, cameramen talk about what they saw, how they experienced it, and the american film makers. it is entirely from the point of view of the filmmakers. and half of them were american soldiers or officers. they are sympathetic to the --rican military and military trying to shoot this footage, but ultimately it is the footage. it is kind of the story of these elite filmmakers versus the government and the public right to know, or should have the public been allowed to see this from the start? would have made a difference? my latest book was about mg m making a film sabotaged by the white house and the military. the same year, they were suppressing this footage.
so it is part of an overall drive by those in authority to manage what i called the hiroshima narrative to get -- to keep the story focused on the use of the bomb that allegedly was the only thing that could end the war, save one million lives, and so forth. it was important to keep that not interrupted by images and stories that might make people have second thoughts about that. that is all part of this whole postwar routine. host: your new book, the beginning, or the end, how hollywood and america learn to stop worrying and love the bomb. what is that about, basically? guest: as i mentioned, immediately -- shortly after the atomic, a group of scientists within the manhattan project approached mgm, a giant
to make a film that would warn the world about the dangers of going down -- continuing down this path, to make powerful weapons, more powerful weapons, the arms race, and so on, everything that followed. yer, the head of mgm, said yes. they immediately embarked on this. the first scripts were very balanced. they showed effects in hiroshima on the ground. they raised questions about the use of the bomb. they certainly raised questions about further use of the bomb, bigger bombs. grovesowed both general and the white house, president truman himself, to intervene and have script approval. the book charts out the year.
both the military and president truman intervened in unprecedented fashion to revise the script, cut out things they did not like at all, such as the bombing of nagasaki, which was eliminated entirely. thatasically shape a movie was pro-bomb propaganda that came out in 1947. documentary footage was suppressed. that film eventually came out, and hollywood has only made two movies about the bomb, about the creation and use of the bomb, since. that is kind of remarkable when you think about it. three movies in 75 years. the book goes back to the origin of that. this first film was totally turned in a different direction. [video clip] >> the whole thing is terrifying. you must have spent many
sleepless nights over it. >> i have consulted with mr. churchill and my top advisers, the civilian heads of the war effort, and all these advisers told me the bomb will shorten the war by at least a year. >> where will we use it? >> that's another question i had to think about. the army has selected several japanese cities as prime military targets. host: 25 years ago, you caught third -- you co-authored this denial. years in how could you summarize your thoughts about the united states' relationship with hiroshima and nagasaki? guest: some people might say, why have you been writing about this for 38 years? why does it matter today? you cannot bring back dead civilians, you cannot change the direction of the arms race, and
that is all, sadly, true. what has really driven me is that we still have at least 5000 nuclear weapons, warheads, on alert here in the u.s. and other countries have them as well. what most people do not know is that the u.s. has and still has a first use policy, which means that any president has the ok to launch a nuclear war, not in retaliation like in the movies, but as a first strike. --is called the first strike you could call it the first strike policy. absolutely ok to do that in response to a conventional attack or even a threat. and polls show that a good 45%,r of americans, 30% to say they support a first strike on, for example, north korea or iran if they started making
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