tv FDR Truman and the Atomic Bomb CSPAN August 10, 2020 12:42pm-1:44pm EDT
fate. >> we are now prepared to destroy more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise that the japan have in any city. we shall destroy their docks, they're factories, and their communications. let there be no mistake. we shall completely destroy japan's pouper to make war. it was to spare the japanese people from utter destruction. that the ultimatum of july 26th was issued at potsdam. their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. if they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth. behind this air attack, will follow sea and land forces in such numbers and power as they have not yet seen and with the fighting skill of which they are
already well aware. >> i'm ed langle, i'm senior director of programs at the national world war ii museum in new orleans and i'm joined today by two gentleman, the first is paul sparrow, who is director of the franklin d roosevelt presidential museum and library in hyde park, new york, following a career as a documentary filmmakers and the seni senior executive and paul has been directing the roosevelt library and museum since 2015 and he'll be talking obviously about fdr and the manhattan project. and our second guest is clifton truman daniel, who is the eldest grandson of president harry truman. he is also a truman scholar. he's spent quite a bit of time studying the life and career of his grandfather and he currently serves as honorary chairman of the board of trustees at the
harry truman presidential library and museum in independence, missouri. so today will give a great opportunity for question and answers. please weigh in with lots of questions. we've already been talking quite a bit off camera about our topic today and i guarantee there is going to be a lot of interesting ideas and discussions. so i will begin and introduce paul to begin us in our program. thank you. >> thank you, ed. and thank you clifton for being part of this today. i'm very excited. this is one of the those topics that has generated enormous amount of debate throughout the years. the back ground for franklin roosevelt, of course, is that he was struggling in the late 1930s to convince americans who were very isolationist, that they have to take an interest in the problems going on in europe. and some of the things that he
understood about the spread of fascist nazi germany and the threat from japan, many americans disagreed with and didn't want to see the american public get involved. so one of fdr's big issues was rebuilding the military. hundreds of new ships were constructed, there was a peace time draft instituted and so he was very focused on how america would respond to the threat from nazi germany. so i'm just going to share a powerpoint here that has a few images in it. that is the king and the queen and the president. and then this is on the left, albert einstein on the right. they started drafting this letter to the president to try to convince him in the united states needed to get involved. now, although leo's log was a forld famous physicist, he doesn't have the same status that albert einstein did. so the letter was drafted under
einstein's name and here is a copy of the letter in which you could see was sent in august of 194 1939. so the war in europe has not started yet. germany doesn't invade poland until september but this is the lead up to it. and here is an excerpt that may it become possible to set up a nuclear clain reaction in a large vast amount of power and new raidum like elements would be generated. new phenomenon would lead to the construction of bombs and it is conceivable that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may be constructed. a single bomb of this type carried by a boat and exploded in a port might destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory. and then of course just a few weeks later, germany invades poland and we are in the start of world war ii. on october 19th, fdr responds
back to professor einstein and he said i found that data of such import that we will thoroughly investigate the possibilities of your suggestion regarding the element ofure anum. over the next several years, there is different committees that are formed but on june 28th, 1941, the office of scientistic research and development is created which oversees the whole project and a man named dan bush is put in charge and this is the point at which the whole project gained momentum. there is a sense now there is a cohesive coherent objective. they need to develop a bomb and beat the germans to it and then of course a few months later the japanese attack pearl harbor
which gives even greater impetuous to the development of this bomb. so the two men who were sort of responsible for the development on the left there, you see leslie groves and in charge of the entire operation. and on the right you see the famous scientist robert oppenheimer. now they're in los alamos location, but there are 20 different facilities across the country. more than 100,000 people involved in this from extracting uranium and building munitions and recruiting scientists and all done under top secrecy. and meanwhile at the same time, the british had been developing a similar nuclear bomb development which they called the tube alloys and when the germans were bombing, they decides that the british and americans should work together and britain shared a lot of their data and their science
with the americans and several british scientists came over. but by 1943 this photograph was taken at what is now camp david what fdr called shangri-la and cut the british out of the development of the bomb and the manhattan project. and this was done for a variety of reasons. but churchill was very upset about this and wanted the british to get back involved in this partnership. and then a few months after this photo was taken in august of 1943, right before the quebec conference, there have been tremendous tensions between the americans and the british regarding the plans for d-day. the americans wanted to go ahead and get a date and make d-day happen and churchill and the british military were reluctant, dragging their feet coming up with alternative strategies. so at this meeting in august of 1943 before the quebec conference, roosevelt and churchill are applying a quid
pro quo here. roosevelt saying to championsur we'll bring you back into the nuclear project and that is what happened. both agreements were signed on the same day before the quebec conference the quebec conference started. in 1944, this was taken at the -- right after the democratic convention. it's one of the few times the radios very well got together with his at this point vice presidential candidate. there was very little communication going on. at this point it's really one of the fdr's i think failings as a leader, that he did not fully brief truman on the development of the nuclear bombs, his plans for the united nations, a whole range of topics, and this was a critical part. this photograph was taken on april 11th, just the night before fdr died. you can see he is a very sick
man here when he died, there was a tremendous sense of loss, as people saw him as a champion and fighter for independence, and against fascist nazi germany. a few months later they had completed development of the first -- this is the scaffolding for the test of the -- finity test, in which they were going to test this bomb. then you see here, this is the explosion in trinity. at this point truman president, and i'll turn it over to cliff to talk about the process they were having internal to the truman administration, but there was never any question in the roosevelt administration if they were going to use. bomb. they were going to drop that
bomb as soon as it was ready. >> thank you, paul. i'm going to -- years ago when i met david roosevelt, fdr's grandson for the first time we were talking about our grandfathers' relationship. before we went upstairs, i said, david, your grandfather didn't tell my grandfather a damned thing, and next morning i said, how are you? and he said, i'm not going to tell you. my grandfather never spoke to me about the bomb. that's my fault. i could have asked him, but i didn't. had i asked him, he would not
have told me anything that he had nonwritten or said publicly. he made the decision to use the atomic bomb to shorten the war and save lives, both american and japanese. he did not find out about the atomic bombs until secretary of war stinson told him right after his swearing-in on april 12th, 1945, but he only told him the rudements, the bare minimum. we have a new, very powerful new weapon i need to brief you on it. it was almost two weeks later that they gave my grandfather a full briefing on the manhattan project. not long after grandpa formed the interim committee, scientists, leaders in the field, including some of the scientists who had worked on the bomb, including dr. open -- open
haimer, and i never learned 1/2 this about this from grandpa. i learn about this from school just like everyone else. for me the dropping of the bomb has been much of more of a it's what you do afterwards. it's how grandpa felt about it, how we deal with the legacy. as paul said, this continues to be debated people still write books about it, and it goes back and forth. my son wesley -- this is must have been in 2003 or '04 when my son wesley was 10 years old. he brought home a book from school, and sedako was a real little girl who survived
hiroshima, but she was diagnosed with radiation-induced leukemia. she followed a tradition if you fold 1,000 japanese cranes you were granted a wish s she folded 1300 cranes, but sadly she died of leukemia at the age of 12r in 1955. there's a monument to her and all the children who were killed or sickened or wounded by the beautiful. bomb. that was the first human story i had ever seen. everything up to that point had been in my stokesbooks or from my mother talking about my grandfather's decision. this was the first human story. the teacher didn't just give the kids the book, but taught them culture. they had a tea ceremony in class. they folded cranes.
i found wesley in the living room room wearing a kimono. so i mention this about every five years japanese journalists on the anniversaries call the truman library and ask if they can speak to a family member. it's usually me. i mentioned to a japanese journalist that i had read the story with my son. i got a call from sedako's older brother, and he just said can we meet someday and do something together? i said yes. we net five years later 2010 at the 9/11 tribute center, and masah. rhythm o was donated one of her cranes.
he had a plastic box and removed a tiny crane, and said that's the last juan she folded before she died. at that point he and his father asked if i would go for the memorial ceremonies in hiroshima. i took as my lead for that, i took my grandfather. in 1947, he made a state visit to mexico, and during that visit he placed a wreath at the tomb of six mexican army cadets who had fought to the death against u.s. forces in 1847. of course, a reporter asked my grandfather afterwards why would you place a wreath to a monument to our enemies. my grandfather said, because they had courage. courage does not belong to any one country. you recognize and honor courage wherever you find it. likewise i thought that suffering in war universally does not belong to any one country. if you recognize it, you acknowledge it. so we went to japan in 2012, my
wife polly and my sons wesley and gates and i attended both ceremonies, and in between we spoke to more than two dozen survivors, just to let them tell us their stories. if we have the powerpoint, that is me and masahiro in the peace park at the start, getting ready to go in for the memorial events on august 6th, 2012. the next one, please. that's our interpreter. you can see behind her the dome, which was the industrial production hall in hiroshima, that was nearly directly below the blast and was spared because of its steel and stone
construction. it withstood the bomb, and stands as a mem yayale. the first question i was asked in japan, are you here to apologize? my answer to that was, no, i am here to honor the dead and listen to the living, in the hopi hoping that nobody ever on this planet does this again. it came up again, and masahiro jumped ahead of the question, and say if we asked clifton for an apology, he can ask us forren a apology for pearl harbor, and where do we go from there? then it becomes a blame game. next slide, please. i'm placing the wreaths at the back of an office building. the it used to be the site of the military police headquarters where 12 american prisoners of war of were being held.
all 12 of them died. they were interned, buried with the japanese victims of hiroshima. a japanese gentleman spent 25, 30 years and a lot of his own money finding out, doing the research to find out exactly what happened to the 12 servicemen. those families back here in the states did not know. the secrecy around the bombing and the war, destruction records were destroyed. he found out for families, and reported on the fate of every one of those men. right after we went to japan in august, uji flew to hawaii, and donated that crane to the "uss arizona" memorial.
next, please. those are seedlings at the gardens in kansas city. those are seedlings from trees that survived the bombing, and some of them will be planted at the truman library when we reopen hopefully later this year. next. that's the japan society. she was one of the maidens, and she came here for reconstructive surgery. and next to her is the woman whose father worked on the -- she's been dealing with radiation sickness since she was a child. she's in some respects, and next to her is also a survive of hiroshima. this is speaking to high school students i did this on and off for four years, again in the
interest of peace and disarmament. that's orville. he was a military marine artillery captain. he brought that sword home. he didn't really want to take it ubs but the quartermaster was telling him to take the swords. finally after 67 years, through the nagasaki/st. paul, minnesota, sister city, he found the son of the officers who had to surrender the sword. he gave it back to him in a ceremony in st. paul in 2013 on the left-hand side of the photo is a ward and shrine to his family. it was a wonderful gesture, on both parts.
so those are the kinds of things i've been interested in since the bombings. the a -- i've also held in my hand that also girl's crane. the object for me is to honor both. >> thank you, clifton. very moving and powerful presentation. there's so much to discuss with respect to two of the most important and towering personalities in relation to the manhattan project, and the dropping of the bombs and
consequences of japan, the united states and the world. we have a number of questions. i'm going to start off with a couple of my own. paul, fdr stood in charge through the first several years of the manhattan project. it was his administration that brought it to fruition. one of the most important things that he accomplished was the funding correct me if i'm wrong, it cost $2 million to bring the project to completion. that's $2 billion in 1945 money. you can imagine it was by astronomically more now. can you say something about how fdr made that happen? this was something that was concealed from congress.
fdr was a master of the mechanics of government. as he famously said, if it doesn't work, try something else, just make it happen. during this period, prior to the start of the war, prior to pearl harbor, he had been consistently raising military budgets, building up a relationship with both democrats and republicans on capitol hill, both his secretary of navy and secretary of war were republicans that he appointed in 1940. so he had a pretty strong coalition. after pearl harbor, really it was unlimited checkbook. one of the things he was really very astute on was the ability to keep everything compartmentalized. as the manhattan project grew, it became this black box project that literally only a handful of
people in the administration knew what it was about. i always felt one of the reasons that fdr brought truman on as hi vice president at that point is truman headed the truman commission, which was investigating expenditures, military expenditures, looking for corruption and profittaking. when he discovered this massive outflow of cash to this manhattan project, and he asked about it. he was told to just leave it alone. he did. he didn't make it a focus of his investigation though it was close to $2 billion at the time, it might have been more or less, there were a lot of ancillary projects that fed into it, 50, 60 billion in today's dollars,
and it was his effort, because he was so terrified that hitler was going to get the atomic bomb before we did. actually, during the battle of the bulk, he asked, is the bomb ready? can we use it in europe to stop this offensive? there's no question that he was willing to use the bomb. >> it's an interesting contrast, too, you mentioned that hitler, the contrast between him and fdr, the nazis did pursued an atomic weapons program. it's arguable whether they had made the right decisions, they might have reached a point of achieving that power by the end of the war, but hitler scoffed at his scientists and scoffed at the whole concept. it was not something he was willing to take seriously.
of course, many of the greatest scientists that lived in germany were jewish. they had fled nazi persecution before the war, but hitler was very cynical toward the whole thing. you put by contrast, fdr, took the whole thing seriously from the have i beginning. it was something where his stewardship really did play just a massive role in making it happen, as well as winston churchill. >> he truly believed in the power of the bias. with hitler, he had his own -- he refused to fund the navy, but funded submarines. he would fund rockets, things like that, but he essential, you know, early in the war duty the finding for the nuclear program. he didn't like the fact so many jewish scientists were involved in the physics. that was one of his issues. you look at the resource in the
death camps and concentration camps, he could have easily funded the weapons research. >> of an observation which had been made in a previous program we did with saul david about okinawa and the atomic bombs some weeks ago. this is from rob eisenberg. he says, i mentioned this as a prior museum briefing. i'm a museum docent at the smithsonian. we had a museum guest some years back who had been a japanese pilot during the war. when seeing the 'nola gay in our museum, he referred to it as saving his life, bringing a rapid end to the war, which is an interesting perspective. did you hear any similar perspectives from the japanese who you met in your tours?
>> i have heard that. i've heard it secondhand. i've not had a survivor tell me that firsthand, but the survivors i worked with and the survivors that i know, we are -- on the subject of disarmament, toward peat and disarmament. they and their american counterparts tend to sort of steer away from -- i don't want to say steer away from anything good, but they want to keep the focus on the destruction, the devastation, the horror, the bombings, so we don't on which when wee talking to kids, we don't often let those stories n in, but they do exist. there are former pilots, even survivors, who will say that. the survivors, as heart wrenching as their satirtory ar they will also tell you they
were gearing up for the invasion. they were drilling with bamboo poles, sharpened sticks, civilian units were attacked to military units. they were told to fight to the death against american soldiers. so those stories i have heard. they go hand in hand with the destruction. >> i think it's fair to say that if "operation olympic" had taken place, not only would there have been tremendous casualties for american and alied forces conducting the invasion, but the devastation in japan would have been astro nnomical. he says -- by mid 1945, the usa had only had three he to five atom bombs.
how did this fact into into trum truman's decision, and did fdr realize we would have so few weapons? >> i think, jim, we only had three. we had done the test at alma gou almagordo, and little boy and fat man, little boy bus urain numb. fat man being a plutonium. i think we had one more. i don't know as much research as i've done on this what the plan was. i know that grandpa was exhorted by senator russell -- i want to say from alabama -- senator russell wrote him a long telegram, you know, use those bombs. if you run out, use conventional
bombs. bomb the japanese until there's nothing left. he was very angry. grandpa did not want to do that and responded that he did not like having to use those weapons, did not like the idea of destroying japan. he was taking the steps he thought he had to take. his plans beyond -- i know he was a bit taken aback that the second bomb had been used as quickly as it had. it was then that grandpa took control of the atomic weapons. it was after nagasaki that he took control back from the military and put it back in the office of the president where it resides today. his sort of flippant comment was i don't want a dashing lieutenant colonel to be making the decision. it was a serious and horrible weapon. he wanted a lot of thought to go into that. i honestly don't know, maybe paul does, what the plan was if they had to use the third one and the japanese had still
resisted. >> well, the third bomb actually wasn't ready yet. it was going to be at least another week after the dropping of nagasaki, and then it would be several additional weeks before number four and five would be operational. so, you know, thereon wasn't -- they couldn't just drop another bomb at that point. i think it's hard for people to understand the perspective in august of 1945. the world had been at war for almost six years. the level of destruction that had been inflicted on allies and axis powers, particularly germany. the bombing of dresden, population centers in both germany and japan, the fire bombing of tokyo. more people died in tokyo than hiroshima. the scale of violence, the
horror that was being inflicted across the world, to be honest, the atomic bomb was not a massive escalation. it was simply a more powerful weapon that is just part of this horrific world that had descended into this chaos. you know, there is a problem in understanding what the perspective was for people who had lost family members, all these soldiers are ready for an invasion that a million americans might die, easily 5 to 10 million japanese would have died in the invasion. was there a plan? you know, the plan was all-out war and they were going to use whatever weapons were available. >> and world war ii build toward a crescendo of violence in the end, and these were just a culmination of what was already happening. we have a couple questions on
facebook, and i will personally field the first one, then open it to you gentlemen for comments. david asks, he says my understanding is that german scientists intentionally dragged their feet to delay or prevent the completion of an atomic weapon. is this true? this relates in particular to a german scientist named verner highsen berg, who was probably the leading german scientist in 1942, who called a number of meetings in that year in conferences where he made the argument to albert schveer, as well as others that an atomic bomb was feasible, with the right resource he could make it happen, but he and others pressed him on that, he suddenly backed off and instead are indeed suggested there was a question that an atomic
detonation may follow unendlessly until the whole world was blown up, which is what something that many of the scientists worried about. there's a lot of debate whether highsenberg really meant what he said, whether he on purpose was trying to hold back the program, or whether he really was afraid and really was uncertain after all on whether he could do it. i would suggest, and we can't get inside his head, i would suggest that there was probably more an element of fear in him, as well as he was accused by nazis of being a quote/unquote white jew for carrying on this program. the nazis, as you said, paul, were extremely suspicious of scientist to say begin with. so it's a tricky question that
hasn't been answered. i would rather err on the side that they were incompetent rather than necessarily trying to hold back the nazis. do either of you have any comments on that? then i'll move on. jim on facebook asks -- what was the relationship with truman and radios very well with general gross. >> i'll just say real quick, back to my grandfather not being told anything about the atomic bomb, not being told much of anything about anything while he was vice president, i believer the first time he met general groves was when secretary of war henry stimp son brought the general to the white house a little less than two weeks after grandpa was sworn in, to tell him everything they could about the manhattan project and the atomic bombs. grandpa even wrote in "where the
buck stops" he wrote his memoirs and wrote "after the presidency" which my mother edited and put into a book, but he wrote that general groves had struck in by the back door, so no one would see him. that's how top secret it was. >> yeah. fdr had a specific management style, particularly regarding military operations. admiral leahy was his chief of staff. george marshall was the army chief of staff. he dealt with them almost exclusively with the way he would communicate what he needed down out on the operational side of things. he did meet with groves, but again he really wanted the operations to be managed -- all being done by the military as military operations. he had tremendous input on strategy, technique, where we should be focusing but similar
with eisenhower, he had very little contact, even though he was the supreme commander, most of the communications went through either general marshall or admiral leahy. >> and just, paul, i don't -- i keep sounding like fdr didn't tell my grandfather anything, like it was a crabby family problem. it was simply a difference in management styles. i don't mean to suggest that roosevelt was intentionally holding things back. >> following on that, tom of chicago asks -- was there ever a list compiled of who knew what? but was not disclosed until stinson told truman. >> about the bombs? >> yeah, about the manhattan project. >> um, they tried to -- i know they tried to keep that list as small as possible. just as an aside, years ago i visited -- after we went to
japan, i visited oak ridge, tennessee, to tour the facilities where they refined the uranium. one of the chilling facts that came out, of course there were scientists. they had families. they brought their kids with them. they had a high school and the high school had a football team. the high school football team never played a home game, never had their names on their jersey, and never were allowed to talk to kids on the other team. they came, they played, they left. so a lot of secrecy. i don't know about a list of who knew what, but they kept it as small as possible. that tube alloy term was used in oak ridge as well. they were making tubal allow rather than refining uranium. even the young women who were using -- who were calibrating the machines that refined the
uranium. they did not know what they were doing. i think one was even told it was an ice cream maker. so they tried to keep a lid on it. the lid murph small, but probably bigger than we think it was. >> there was only about a dozen people in the administration who really understood what the manhattan project was. first of all, the science was fairly complicated, and somewhat unknown. i mean, there had been lots of articles in "popular mechanics" and others, but it was not something that people readily understood. even the people in los alamos underskewed they were working on a bomb and weapon, but they didn't even understand what they were working on. if you were in the department working on the explosives that would compress the uranium, you were focused entirely on how you
create spherical forms, but they didn't even know what they were trying to ignite. so i think the left of secrecy was pretty exceptional. >> was there anything fdr could have done to have prevented that infiltration? is there any blame to be laid anywhere? >> remember that the soviet union was our ally. so some of this idea that, you know, that they were the bad guys here. they were the allies. they lost more than people than the germans. so it was a different perspective. yes, you know, there were multiple penetrations of the operation, secrets were smuggled
out, designs were smuggled out. a lot of the espionage was not discovered until the '50s or even later, but again, at the same point america was conducting espionage against the soviets. the whole world was at war, and you trusted your alies only as far as you had to. grandpa famously set -- they found out the bomb work the day after he arrived in potsdam. he told stalin about the bomb and took it lightly, i hope you make good use of it. grandpa got suspicious right then and there that he was very nonchalant about that. >> that leads into a question from jeff -- i'm curious about the reaction and response that the soviets had in regards to
the dropping of the bombs. it's my understanding that stalin was hoping to become involved in the invasion of japan, in the hopes of splitting it into separate spheres. was there any communication between truman and the soviets or any of the other allied powers before or after the dropping of the bombs? >> that, jeff, is a question that comes of when they start -- when they go on discussing whether or not the bombs were necessary, or whether it was cruel, or specifically whether or not it was a gambit to keep the soviets from gaining influence in japan. the soviets had agreed to go to war with japan. they were fighting the japanese on the mainland, and the bombs were set off in china, in -- not china, i'm spacing. anyway, they were engaging the
japanese army on the continent, and the bombs were dropped on the japanese islands. some of the latest i believe has it that the war was brought to a split conclusion because of the double whammy of the bombs on the home islands of japan and the soviet armies coming in and engaging troops on the contin t continent, that they were just -- that it was just too much. it was overwhelming. my grandfather did not -- and this is the charge that's made -- because of the relationship with the soviets that we just talked about, it was complicated, they were allies, and we knew good and well what stalin would try to do and eventually tried to do in moving into various -- taking over various territories during and after the war. but grandpa i don't think used
the weapons to stove the soviets from coming in. that was not a major point in his thinking. if it happened, great, that we kept them out of japan, but he did not make the decision to keep the soviets out of the japan. he made the decision to stop the war and save lives. >> fred asks, did truman and marshall inform douglas mcarthur in advance that the bomb would be dropped, and if yes, how many weeks or days in advantage was he informed? i'm going to build on that. this is something we had discussed separately before when we were arranging this about informing eisenhower, in eisenhower's opinion. do we know if mcarthur was informed or not? >> i have not heard that he was told ahead of time. they kept that bombing under wra
wraps. >> eisenhower's opinion on the bombing afterwards? >> yes. was he informed before this took place? >> again, i don't know if eisenhower was told before. i don't know how secure that we thought our communications were to let them know far afield what was going on although, you would think they would. they were on the ground. you would think they would let him know. >> i think nimitz in the pacific was probably informed, of course, because they had to transport the bombs among the "uss indianapolis" and the
trigger mechanisms were flown into the pacific. there's no way they could not have informed the naval supreme commanders out there. i would assume that nimitz probably knew about it, as leahy. >> and eisenhower was critical of the bombings. does that ring true with both of you, that it was an honest criticism? that if he had been consulted or been in charge, that he wouldn't have dropped the bombs? or does that seem more like a benefit of hindsight from his perspective? >> there was some hindsight on the part of president eisenhower and others after the bombings, after the true nature of the destruction and the radiation and the illness was beginning to be lendearned.
people did back off. i don't remember whether or not ike was for it inn the beginnin or not. however, given the projections of the invasion, i would have thought he would have agreed with anything that would have stopped that or forestalled that. the projections keep coming down on, i think, the one telling fact is that we minted this country, made hall a million purple heart medals in advance, medals i believe we're still using today. i think we're still using that original cache of purple hearts. they understood it was going to be a bloodbath on both sides. >> i honestly don't call.
he felt it was a mistake do to it, first of all because of the civilian casualties, but secondly he thought the united states was ceding the moral high ground. but whether this was a case of him advising truman not to do it ahead of time or whether it was something he felt afterwards was a mistake is not entirely clear. >> militarily grandpa was getting the go ahead from his advisers. >> right. >> general marshall included. >> i would just saying that eisenhower approved of the fire bombing in dresden. he had some kind of moral qualms against the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians -- again, this was total war, i think many people after the bombs were dropped in
hindsight said this was a horrific bomb, we should have found another way, but at the time there wasn't another way other than the invasion of mainland japan, which would have resulted in many, many more casualties on both sides. gus on facebook, age 11 -- how did they choose the targets? emplgts request the help of that interim committee they selected targets they knew to be primarily military targets. hiroshima and they had the port they're training soldiers and shipping them out.
nagasaki was a ship-building center. of the mitsubishi shipworks. those were considered military targets also this was unfortunately a factor they factored in whether or not the places had been bombed already, because the scientists and military wanted to know what kind of destruction the bombs would have they wanted a pristine target. i'm not sure how much that figured in, but they were trying to choose military targets that would cripple some industry and do a lot of damage i6r789s. >> i do know that kyoto was listed as a target, and it was taken off the list, because it was felt to be such a cultural
icon for the japanese, and it had very little military value, so there was a consideration of the sites from a cultural perspective, but again, at that point they understood they might have to literally bomb the entire country in order to be successful in the invasion. >> yeah, there was -- i met years ago one of the former docents of the truman library, lana white. she lived in kokura, the secondary target, but the weather was cloudy that day, planes circled for a time looking for a break in the weather, couldn't find one, and flew on to nag sack ir. at the age of 12, she remembered the planes overhead and she
learned later that nagasaki had had been bombed, she knew her town had been a target. >> do you think they would have considered using them against germany? >> i believe he would have. he even asked if the bombs were ready, again, during the battle of the bulge. again, i think it's so hard for people today to understand what toll the war had taken on a leadership. it was horrible, horrible war, and fdr wanted to end the war. there was tremendous pressure to find a way to save the,.
jews who were being killed in the death camps. the only way to save the jews was to end the war. he felt by if dropping the bomb could end the war with germany and save the jews, he would have done it. we have time for one more question, i think, and i'll hope open it up for closing comments. this one is from fred -- how many did colonel tibbetts and the crew of the enola gay know the potential of the bomb? how did the captain and crew of boxcar know of the destructive power of the atomic bomb that was dropped on nagasaki? >> from what i know, they could see it and feel it. not only they got the shockwave,
but i think they believed they said they could taste -- it tasted like metal, the air was filled -- i assume that's due to the radiation or some other effect of the bomb, but they could all taste metal as they flew away. they dove to get away from hiroshima. one of the survivors was on a school yard just before the bomb sit, she remembered seeing a curved contrail, so the enola gay dropped the bomb, turned and dove to get away as soon as possible. that was the last thing she saw before the bomb exploded wasn't it the pilots of boxcar who went on i believe on "what's my line?" later in the '50s and med the
reverend from hiroshima? he felt bad about the bombing. i think the pilots had been told they were going to drop it, but other than the small number of people who had witnessed the test at trinity, no one understood what they bombs were capable of i think everybody was shocked. they knew. they certainly understood what they were about to do, but i think all the of the people on enola gay were stunned when they saw the explosive power of one bomb. many of these were experienced
air force pilots who had flown more missions where you would drop hundreds of bombs on a target and not get anywhere near the same effect. >> that being said paul tibbetts i think was unapologetic is not the right word. it was not that he was happy to do this, but he felt it was a matter of duty do you have any final comments? i would say just broughtly to start, with paul and then move to clifton, on the lessons to be bernd? one of the most important decisions of the 20th century. >> i think it goes to fdr's dying wish, the crazy of teatio
united states. if there was another world war, it will destroy the planet. hi focus was on creating this international entity that could find ways that were diplomatic for solutions. it was all he really cared about at the very end. when we went to warm sprijs to try to recover, is because at the end of april there was going to be the first meeting to draft a charter for how this international institution would work. i think we have to look back and say, 75 years later, he was right the united states is a flawed organization, but it has prevented us from going into another world war i do think the important of countries, learns, having a venue, is really the positive legacy and perhaps the
only positive legacy of the tragedy of the atomic bombs. >> thank you. >> i'll just piggyback on what we are talking about a minute ago, colonel tibbetts. when my grandfather met colonel tibbetts, he asked, has anybody been given you a hard time about using that weapon? tibbetts told him that, no, he had not had that experience, but grandpa said, if you do, you tell them that was my decision, not users, so he kept it alone to himself. five years later he was getting ready to meeting mcarthur, and had had with him a photographer, who had taken some of the first photos of the destruction. o'donnell was very shaken by that. he had my grandfather alone and asked him, did you ever have any regrets about using that weapon?
my grandpa said, hell yes, you don't use something without regretting to have to do it. he said he would do the same thing under the same circumstances, but regretted having to do it. and a survive said says, i think the basic idea of peace is to have some idea of other people's suffering, so that going forward, we can debate the use of the bomb and whether or not it was just or right, but i think we all have to look with eyes wide open on what those bombs did, and who it happened to and prevent it. >> thank you. i think that's an appropriate ending to what has been a wonderful and i think very enlightning conversation. paul spirito, clifton truman daniel, thank you very much. >> thanks, ed. >> thank you, ed, and thank you,
clift clifton. i appreciate the opportunity to talk with you. >> likewise, paul. it was great. you're watching american history tv. every weekend on c-span3, explore our nation's past. created by america's cable television companies, brought to you today by your television provider. weeknights this month, we're features american history tv programs tonight, a look at the "uss indianapolis. "on july 30th, 1945, two japanese torpedos surf the "uss indianapolis"? shark-infested waters. they were not rescued for several days. on the 75th anniversary, congress awarded the entire crew the congressional gold medal, the