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tv   C-SPAN Cities Tour- The Atomic Bomb  CSPAN  August 9, 2020 4:27pm-5:33pm EDT

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hogan on his life and career with his book still standing. watch book tv on c-span 2 this weekend. ♪ >> a short time go, an american airplane dropped one bomb on hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. that bomb has more power then -- than 20,000 tons of tnt. with this bomb, we have added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction. it is an atomic bomb. it is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. what has been done is the greatest achievement of organized science in history. >> on august 6, 1945, the u.s. detonated the first nuclear
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weapon in history over hiroshima, japan, followed by a second detonation over the city of nagasaki. six days later, japan surrendered, bringing an end to the second world war. >> i have received this afternoon a message from the japanese government. this is a full acceptance as of the potsdam declaration. the unconditional surrender of japan. >> through the work of c-span's cities tour, we will share stories of people who contributed to this world altering event. we begin in new orleans. the national world war ii museum. >> we are here on the road to tokyo exhibit. that will take us through the war in the pacific from 1941 to 1945. one of the interesting aspects is how quickly the turning point came in.
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the bombing of pearl harbor was 1941 and about six months later, after the japanese ran wild through the pacific, the battle of midway was fought. at the battle of midway, dive bombers destroyed no fewer than four japanese aircraft carriers in a brief battle. that was a major portion of japan's naval strength. whatever chance that japan had of winning the pacific war probably disappeared in 1942. that really into the war, the pain of pearl harbor to the big victory at midway. about six months. it is a big ocean. that is a relatively brief time. the war would go on for over three years after midway from june of 1942 through august of 1945. i think most japanese naval officers across the world realize that the war was probably lost. they took a gamble to launch a war on the united states a , country that was 10 times
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larger than their own. what was there to do now? but simply hang tough and hope for some kind of miracle. i think that is what japanese officers in particular were doing. it was often couched in terms of loyalty to the emperor. we cannot let the emperor down. i think it is more about the corporate culture of the japanese officer corps. they found no way out other than to hang tough and realize that it was a big ocean, maybe something would happen. maybe the americans would tire of the struggle. maybe we japanese could take such a toll of u.s. casualties that an american president would be forced to end the war. of course that was never to be. , clearly, the japanese military power was broken. but on individual islands, they could defend tenaciously. studies were done. they were out of the ballpark in the hundreds of thousands. unbeknownst to most, a top-secret military program had been going on for sometime in the united states.
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research and development program of a sort that had never been seen. it was of course, the invention of atomic weaponry. the manhattan project. the father of the atomic bomb directed the laboratory during the manhattan project. under his leadership, he directed nobel prize-winning scientists, engineers, military personnel, and civilians who worked on the atomic bomb project. >> in 1938, two german physicists working in berlin bombarded this lump of material called uranium. they got a curious result. it released a lot of heat and it created a different element. an element that was farther down on the table of elements.
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the word about this spread through the nuclear physics world like a forest fire that scientists had split the atom. and that it was science in nazi germany that had split the atom. there was a lot of knowledge that germans had split the atom. england was working on splitting the atom and harnessing that into a military weapon. it was not until pearl harbor that the manhattan project was created. then a lot of these sources, under the control of the army corps of engineers, was devoted to create this new weapon. the head of the manhattan project had just finished building the pentagon. groves talked to different physics department and asked who would be a good leader. oppenheimer was probably not high on the list. he had not even been in charge
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of his physics department in berkeley before he was chosen to be the head of the central laboratory. it was something about him that groves likes. groves saw he was hungry, there were nobel prize winners that were being considered. but they already accomplished the nobel prize. groves someone just wanted someone who would work harder. also on a train trip across the country, oppy was able to describe what was needed to be done that a layman could understand. the other thing was where to locate the laboratory. he could not have it in chicago. what happens if an accident happens? it would also be easy to breach the top security. you are walking down a street involved in it, a colleague who was not involved set, what are you doing? there would be an easy way to
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break top secrecy on that. so they looked around, they picked some places in the west. mexico toome to new recover from an illness when he was 18 years old and fell in love with new mexico. at one point, he said he wished he could marry the two loves of his life, physics and new mexico. that was before he got married. i want to be clear about that. this was an opportunity for him to do that. so he showed groves places around new mexico and they settled on this boys school in los alamos. after that was chosen in november of 1942, oppy started recruiting people. he could not tell them what he was doing. he said, i would like you to join me on this project but i cannot tell you what you are going to be doing the right it is going to be essential for the war effort. people who knew oppy knew the work that was being done in germany.
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they knew this would be something important. a lot of people did sign on. they were given an address in santa fe to report to. they went to that palace address right near the plaza in santa fe. than they were told, you are not quite there, it is another 40 miles. here is your temporary security pass to get into los alamos. they got in there. scientists assembled in 1943. they decided that they needed to do multiple ways of trying to make this weapon. part of the problem was the nuclear material, the uranium, plutonium, it was minuscule. plutonium is totally man-made. a reactor in washington was created to manufacture this plutonium. uranium is naturally made but the part that is used for bombs is about 1% of what occurs in nature.
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how do you refine that, how do you extract that 1% out? that is why the industrial complex at oak ridge was made, to separate this isotope of uranium from the rest of it and assemble it in a big enough quantity that it can be used for a bomb. >> oak ridge national laboratory is a major research institution. oak ridge national lab has been around since the second world war. this was set up originally in 1943 as clinton laboratories. it did not have the name oak ridge at the time. the purpose of clinton laboratories was to learn how to produce plutonium. which was a radioactive development that could split and
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release fasten of an energy like some uranium can but they did not know much about plutonium. it was an artificial element. it had to be created by man. they knew nothing about the characteristics of plutonium. started in february of 1943, this facility was started in the spring of 1943, completed by november of 1943. it came online as the world's first operating nuclear reactor. in this case, used specifically to produce tiny amounts of plutonium, which were recovered and then shipped up to the metallurgical laboratory in chicago so that they could be characterized up there. other bits of plutonium were
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shipped out to los alamos laboratory in new mexico, where the bombs were actually designed and built by robert oppenheimer and other famous physicists. ultimately tested out there in new mexico. the purpose of oak ridge national laboratory was originally to serve as a test reactor, which is where we are right now to reduce trace , amounts of plutonium for the nuclear weapon. the government realized fairly quickly in 1943 that oak ridge and east tennessee were not the places to produce vast amounts of plutonium. plutonium is a highly toxic elements. it is very carcinogenic.
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very dangerous, if not handled properly. east tennessee was not the place to be producing large amounts of plutonium. this reactor was not called a reactor, it is called a pile. it was designed simply to learn how to produce plutonium, not to produce large amounts of it. eventually, after a year or two, it actually began to produce some enriched uranium. that enriched uranium was carried out of here in a handbag, on the train, it went out to los alamos. somebody just carried normally. small amounts of plutonium were shipped to chicago where they could characterize it. los alamos, where they could learn how to build a bomb using plutonium. everything was coming in, train loads and train loads.
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as far as anybody could tell, nothing with going out. this is a very ultrasecret undertaking. no one knew what was going on except the managers until the inbs were dropped in japan august of 1945. >> recruitment was very challenging at times because they could not say a lot about what the end goal of the project was. you had -- one of the women i profiled in my book was recruited right out of the halls of her high school during her senior year. i interviewed other women who were recruited out of college. i talked to a woman who was recruited out of a diner where she was working. they went all over the place looking for smart, capable, young women who followed instructions very well be read they were very capable of following instructions. they also had to recruit a lot
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of men. construction-wise turnover was a , very big challenge. they didn't want a lot of turnover. that slowed production, slowed the construction rates. they scoured everywhere, getting as many people as they can. from a military standpoint, certain soldiers who had a background in engineering or science might be literally taken right out of line as they were getting ready to board a ship to go overseas because they had a certain skill set and redirected to one of the other sides. -- sites. a couple of my women were right out of high school. if you had a nobel prize-winning scientist, he might live in one of the two or three bedroom houses that had been built
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, housing was assigned depending on how many children you had, things of that nature. they might actually have a lovely house, standalone house. a 19 or 20-year-old young woman who was recruited out of high school or a 22-year-old woman recruited out of college would probably live in one of the dorms. there were dormitories and cafeterias and dances, quite similar to college. she would have a roommate and pay rent for her dorm. if you are african-american, you are living in the huts. these were mostly plywood structures that you would share with three or four other people. in the case of katie, the african-american woman i profiled, oak ridge was
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completely segregated and facilities were segregated, the kinds of jobs she was available to have were limited. live witht allowed to her husband, she was not allowed to bring her children with her. when i interviewed her i said, what made you decide to do this? she said, the pay that i was getting was more than double the best i had ever been offered back in auburn, alabama. for her and her husband, it was an economic motivation to endure what they were enduring. there was a real need for bodies. that is underlying all of this. but competence, absolute competence. what went into organizing the manhattan project was something they referred to as compartmentability. you don't need to know anything more than what you need to know to perform your job as well as you can.
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you might be sitting next to somebody who has a different job than you do. you don't know what they know, they don't know what you know, and you two don't know what this other guy knows. you guys all know the minimum you need to know to perform your job. that's it. for example, some of these women were operating electromagnetic separation calutrons. this involved operating knobs and dials to keep a specific needle within a certain range. this is exactly how they were trained. way turne goes this , the knob this way. if this sparking happens, call the supervisor. that was it, they did not know what the machines were for. they did not know what the end product of the project was.
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they just knew everything they needed to know to be able to perform their specific task. that was something that was throughout the manhattan project. you were only given enough information to do what you needed to do to the best of your ability. there was a level of -- most of the people -- this vary from person to person -- most people had a certain level of curiosity but it was also drilled into , them that if you got too curious and asked any questions, you could lose your job. people did not get too curious too often. some people did. many people saw people get physically taken out of work in the middle of the day with zero explanation and never saw them again. so there was this idea that i am not supposed to ask any questions, so i am not going to ask any questions. there was also a fair amount of what i might call self-censorship that happened.
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everybody was told this is a very important project for the war. they were not told what the project was but that it was important to the war effort and it was important that they did not talk about what they did. if you ever talked to anyone who lived through world war ii, everybody knew somebody away fighting. most people knew someone who died. the idea that they were supposed to -- if they were told they were not supposed to talk about things because it was good for the war effort, that was enough for a lot of people. that is what i mean when i talk about self-censorship. nobody wanted to be the person who inadvertently or accidentally caused a problem with the war effort or let out the piece of information even though they did not know what it meant. nobody wanted to be that person who actually caused the problem for what they were trying to accomplish.
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>> in september of 1940, a company was commissioned to build a plant specifically at office feel for drug. by june of 1942, the plant was in full production. that production continued with the b 26. the plant built over 1500 of these medium-sized bombers to help contribute to the war effort. it was after that that production assembly for the b-29 was put into place. how this fits into the war history, the b-29 became the atomic bomber in the pacific.
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>> carry it farther and faster than any plane before. >> those particular airplanes were manufactured at the martin nebraska bomber plant. colonel tibbets came and chose his bomber that would be named after his mother. it would become the first b-29 aircraft to drop an atomic bomb. >> we are at the national museum air-powered gallery. this is at the tail end of the world war ii story. the first thing we will look at is mark three atomic weapons, known as the fat man atomic bomb. the reason this is significant is because it is a signal of the
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beginning of the atomic age, the end of world war ii and it is a marker of the supremacy of american military and scientific and industrial power at the end of world war ii. the reason it is called fat man is obvious, it was a big round bomb. its shape was mainly because of its method. it is round because it is an implosion weapon. there is a sphere of explosives that compress a smaller sphere to create a chain reaction to release tremendous energy resulting in an atomic , explosion. the weapon we have on display is real. it is a mark three atomic weapon. it has been restored to look like the fat man bomb that was
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dropped on august 9 of 1945. this was one of many mark threes that were manufactured up until 1949. they were withdrawn from service in 1950. this was an iteration of that first design used during the war. of course, nuclear weapons design progressed quickly after the war. this was obsolete within only a couple of years after it was designed and built. thereafter, the shape was stored. it was displayed for the first in -- first time in a museum 1965. we reshaped it so that it looked like fat man from world war ii. the lettering on the front is a curiosity. we think it stands for joint army navy combined foul up.
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these guys who put this together where young men doing a tough job. wordsimes, you will see and pictures and so on that are kind of nonstandard. i guess you could say this was one of them. the other little stencil m inside the bomb shape is fat man. the stuff above it is about army navy cooperation to get a tough job done and done well. >> we want people to think about what happened at hiroshima, nagasaki, and why. 80,000 lives were snuffed out in a millisecond. on august 6, when the atomic bomb was detonated over hiroshima, three days later, an atomic bomb of a different type was detonated over nagasaki. we have the flight record, the
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watch of tibbets junior, the pilot, dropped the bomb on hiroshima. we have the logbook from the enola gay. the copilot of the primitive computer of the day which was a computing the true airspeed, which is essential to flight and to bombing. as we walk over here, we have examples of glass bottles taken from the wreckage of nagasaki. the intense heat literally melting glass not so far from ground zero. nagasaki was not the original target. the cloud cover was too difficult to drop the bomb, so the mission was changed to nagasaki. i have been saying this to students for 30 years. this is the most unlucky city on earth by nothing more than a bit of chance.
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nagasaki received the second atomic bombing. thehe battleship missouri, 53,000 ton flagship of the fleet becomes the scene of an unforgettable ceremony. marking the complete and formal ceremony of japan. -- surrender of japan. the u.s. brings representatives of the alliance powers to witness the final capitulation. the general of the army, douglas macarthur, boards the missouri. the fleet commander and admiral halsey welcome them aboard. the admiral escorts general macarthur to the veranda. a 20 minute ceremony is to take place. it is september 2, 1945. ♪
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>> we are on the battleship missouri. it is also known as the veranda deck. since then, it is called the surrender deck. this is where september 2, 1945, the japanese signed their surrender of world war ii. this is where the table sat that day. the ship looked different. the canopy was not installed. the territory's rotated to make more room for the officials that would be on board. if you looked around above us, you would have seen thousands of members of the crew, crews from other ships, hanging onto anything they could trying to , get a glimpse of what was about to occur on this deck. at 9:00 in the morning, when the ceremony was supposed to start, members of the japanese delegation were making their way on board. there were 11 of them, they made their way up the ladder and on this deck at 9:02 in the morning, general douglas macarthur and admiral halsey
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descended to start the ceremony. after a few opening words, the first person to sign the documents would have been on behalf of the japanese delegation. would've been on behalf of the japanese military. the third was general carter himself. he signed as the allied commander. he did not represent the united states. that would be the fourth person to sign. following them is the rest of the allies that signed. china, great britain the ussr, , the netherlands each in turn. there are two copies of the surrender documents. one was to be kept by the united states and one by japan. we do not display the original for obvious reasons. we have replicas on board. the originals are in washington gnu c--in washington, d.c. and tokyo.
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macarthur used six pins for douglas macarthur, then macarthur on the second document. he did this for a simple reason and one that we still do today if you look at lawmakers when they sign important laws. what you wanted to do after was give these pins away as souvenirs. following the signature, macarthur said, these proceedings are closed. allied a signal and 1000 aircraft flew in formation. at the beginning of the ceremony to the end, 23 minutes. the is all it took to end bloodiest conflict in human history. >> at the end of the war, the united states would emerge as the world's first nuclear power. soon afterward, the soviet union would join the arms race. that led to a protracted cold
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war with each country adding to their nuclear arsenals. in the united states, testing of these weapons would take place at a site just outside of las vegas. the national atomic testing museum shares how the atomic age which began on august 6, 1945 would capture the imagination of americans. >> the museum focuses on atomic testing over a period from the early 1950's. to me, the interesting story occurs right after world war ii. between the development of the cold war, there was a question of what to do with nuclear weapons. president truman worked hard to develop some sort of international control or consensus over nuclear weapons. he was dismayed over -- dismayed early on. what truman did, he assured the department of nuclear weapons. was not in charge he established
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the energy commission, they were the ones in charge of nuclear weapons. this is a big surprise to people. the military in those early days could not get their hands on the nuclear weapons. when they would test the nuclear weapons, that was overseen by the atomic energy commission not , the military. >> the test site was established in 1951. there was no stateside testing after world war ii. the first atomic bomb was exploded in the trinity site in new mexico. all of the tests after the war were done in the pacific. that was a big, logistical nightmare. it cost thousands of millions of dollars to move scientists and equipment to the pacific. they really needed something closer and stateside. it was rather controversial to establish a test site in the
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it became an ideal place as far as consideration for a very remote location to explode nuclear weapons. over a period of years, there were 928 nuclear tests at the site. 100 of those were above ground. the rest were done underground in the tunnels. >> the so-called atomic age had a great effect in pop culture, not just in the 1950's, but after that, it went earlier than that.
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many will tell you the term atomic bomb, atomic was prevalent in the 1920's and 1930's in the flash gordon and buck rogers radio series. it was a concept in science fiction, uses of the atomic bomb. of course they had no concept of what the atomic bomb was until it was developed and used in world war ii. but in the 1950's when they started testing atomic weapons, they really came into popular american culture. you can see examples of atomic fuel boxes and icons of the atomic image and chemistry sets and this sort of thing. in las vegas, it was overwhelming because there was a miss atomic bomb beauty contest in the 1950's. every casino and lounge and bar had an atomic cocktail recipe book.
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it was quite the rage. in those days of the 1950's when they were doing above ground testing, you could go outside a local casino at a given time and see a mushroom cloud out in the distance. it got to a point in the mid to late 1950's that there were so many aboveground tests that the atomic energy commission started advertising in advance so people could come to las vegas and plan a nuclear blast, because las vegas was only about 60 miles from the test site. there were many believers that nuclear testing helped keep the peace during the cold war. announcer: c-span's cities tour travels the country exploring the american story. with the support of local cable providers, we bring you histories on book tv and american history tv. to watch videos of any of the places we have been, go to
5:02 pm tour and follow us on twitter at c-span cities. announcer: we visit hiroshima nagasaki atomic bomb exhibit at american university in washington dc. this american artifacts program was recorded in 2015. >> hi, i am peter because nick, professor of history at american university and director of american university's nuclear studies institute. and i began our institute back in 1995. the institute was born in the midst of the controversy around the enola gay, which was going to be held at the air and space museum at the smithsonian institution but it got canceled. this was an attempt by the smithsonian to do an honest and balanced exhibit about the decision to drop the bomb and the consequences of the atomic bombing. this was in 1995, the 50th anniversary. that, in one of
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my students whose grandmother and mother survived the atomic bombing, they were going to do something special to commemorate the 50th anniversary. we are going to teach two courses on campus and bring students to kyoto and hiroshima. thee we were planning, exhibit got canceled. so the victims of hiroshima and nagasaki asked us to bring some artifacts to american university and do exhibit here. it was the first time the bombhima nagasaki a museums ever did in exhibit outside of japan. this is the 20th anniversary now of our exhibit, and the 70th anniversary of the original bombing, so we decided to do it again here at american university. we combine artifacts from hiroshima and nagasaki with 15 panels.
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be compared ton other classic paintings of that sort. this is the first time to have been to the united states anywhere since 1995. so we brought them here and put them together with these artifacts. with children's drawings from an elementary school in hiroshima. that is the origin of our exhibit in 1995. 20 years later, we have a more elaborate exhibit. i am pretty sure it is the most elaborate exhibit of the atomic bombing that has ever been held in the united states. it is overwhelming. i cannot tell you how many people have seen it over the years. most famousof the images out of nagasaki. this is a young girl.
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she is holding arise ball and a rescue party has given her. there is blood on her face, she has such a look in her eyes such as a forlorn distant gaze, like so many other people, she did not know what happened. she did not know what occurred. some people who lived to the bombing said they were sure the bomb have landed on their house, and they figured that is what had happened. they went outside and they saw that all of nagasaki was ablaze and the fires were coming towards them. you'll see one of the panels called fire, what it was like for the survivors who were engulfed in flames. -- to this we have a crucifix and there are a lot of crucifixes that are symbolic, especially at nagasaki. because in nagasaki, the bomb missed the original target
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almost 2 miles and landed above the cathedral. nagasaki had not been bombed before this. there was a small bombing in 1934 put it preserved the condition because the americans wanted to have a pristine target to show the effects of the atomic bomb. people in nagasaki thought they had not been bombed because it was the christian capital of japan anti-christian capital of east asia. so they were in for a big surprise. the bomb dropped right above the cathedral. you see the stopwatch there , a pocket watch showing 8:15. that is a very popular image inside hiroshima. at 8:15 a.m. in hiroshima. so everything stopped.
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it dropped at 11:02 in nagasaki. in our first exhibit, many of those replicas were the original artifacts. but many of them were so fragile that the museum decided not to let them out of japan anymore. we have got the replicas instead of the originals. almost everything is the original artifacts. what we've got here are the famous mushroom clouds, photographs of the mushroom cloud in hiroshima on august 6, 1945, and nagasaki on august 9, 1945. the descriptions of them from people on the plane, like a pillar of flame shot up into the air and kept expanding. from the top of the column, the pillar, you see these additional bursts and they just keep going up. estimates of 40,000 feet into the sky. enormous.
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the crew of the enola gay said they could see the cloud from four hours away. they could still see the cloud looking back, it was so high. there was a lot of radioactive debris that was swept up in the cloud. some of that comes down as black rain on the victims of the bombing. here, we have got the view of hiroshima city. the target for the bomb was here, the t-shaped bridge. they thought the pilots would be able to see that very, very clearly from the sky. the bomb drifted and it missed the target and landed over here above shima hospital. this is probably the most famous symbol, the old industrial prefecture building, now called the atomic bomb dome. and this has been preserved. there was debate about whether to preserve it. if you go back now, this has all been built up.
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this part here and here have been preserved as a peace park. you can see that everything is devastated. they estimated that almost two miles in each direction was totally destroyed. if you were two miles away, you would be badly burned. your house could have been destroyed. and you have to remember that this was, by modern standards, a tiny, primitive little bomb. the bomb that dropped on hiroshima we estimate to have been 16 kilotons. the bomb that dropped on nagasaki was 21 kilotons. we've developed bombs that are so much bigger. by 1954, we were holding congressional hearings in project sundial with plans for bombs 700,000 times as powerful as the hero shima bomb.
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it seems insane, but this is what we knew. this is what this little bomb did at hiroshima. let's take a look at what the bomb did at nagasaki. this bomb was a little bit bigger, but the casualties were actually smaller. because nagasaki was surrounded by mountains on both sides. so the effect of bomb was contained by the mountains. nagasaki was in the valley in between the mountains. the hiroshima bomb, estimates are 200,000 dead by 1950. the estimates for nagasaki are 70,000 dead by the end of 1945. 140,000 dead by 1950. hiroshima bomb was a uranium
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bomb, and the nagasaki bomb was a plutonian bomb. so they were different kinds of bombs. now here, we've got some of the more human artifacts, in a way. you've got the shoe of a young student, 13-year-old boy who was killed in the bombing. we've got the hat of a junior high school student who was killed. you have got the water bottle of another young boy, 13-year-old who was killed when the bomb exploded. but here, we've got one of the replicas. and it is a replica of the lunchbox from that 12-year-old girl who totally disappeared. no trace was ever found of her. inside, you've got carbonized rice and tea. her mother was able to identify that as her, even though they
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could not find a trace of her daughter. few of us95, a suggested that if they wanted to cancel the big enola gay visit, we suggested two artifacts. the enola gay and this lunchbox. we thought that that would send the message about what the atomic bombs were really about. of course that was the last thing in the world that they were ever going to display. they wanted none of the artifacts about the victims, the photographs of the victims, the statements by american military leaders condemning the bombing. they did not want that controversy. here was a more historical panel. as a historian, i would like a whole exhibit about the context about the decision to drop the bomb. it would have made for a boring exhibit, probably, but this has
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some of the important information about the manhattan project that we started to build a bomb as a deterrent against the possibility that the germans would get a bomb. american scientists were terrified at the prospect of hitler getting a bomb. we built the bomb as a deterrent against germany. they did not anticipate the bomb might be used against japan. because everyone knew that japan did not have the capability of building a bomb during the war. this is a survey of the bombing targets. these are potential targets. but you have to remember that the united states had been firebombing japanese cities since march 9 through march 10 when we firebombed tokyo. by the end of the war, three quarters of our bombs were incendiary. overall, we bombed over 100 japanese cities. when we ran out of important major cities, we started bombing secondary cities.
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they had no military significance. the destruction leads to 99.5% of the city. some of the american leaders were appalled. the secretary of war said to president truman, i do not want the united states to get the representation that we are outdoing hitler in atrocities. another top general described this as one of the most ruthless and barbaric killing of noncombatants in all history. but that was policy, to target and burn down the cities, to kill civilians. this is about the decision to drop the bomb. we have got a section here about the reasons for using the bomb. the official narrative says the united states made the decision to drop the bomb was to expedite the end of the war. truman said an american invasion would cost a half million lives. he claims --
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there is no record of that anywhere. there would have been a lot of americans lost in an invasion. a lot of japanese killed. that is the official narrative. that we dropped the bomb to avoid an invasion. that the bomb ended the war in the pacific. there is no truth to that. maybe a little truth to that in terms of truman's mind, but no basic truth to that. the japanese from the battle of saipan onward knew they cannot win. but they hoped to get one more victory for better surrender terms. the big obstacle was the emperor. they wanted to make sure they could keep the emperor. they issued a briefing in the summer of 1945 that said the hanging of the emperor to them would be like the crucifixion of christ to us. all would fight to die like ants. so that was what macarthur understood. and almost every advisor of truman urged him to change the surrender terms.
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let the japanese know they can keep the emperor. that was in america's interest. america planned all along to let them keep the emperor, but we refused to signal that. we were calling for unconditional surrender. so then what else was going to possibly end the war? in february of 1945, roosevelt finally got a promise from stalin that three months after the end of the war in europe, a that the big massive red army was going to come to the work against japan. truman went to potsdam in july and met with churchill and stalin to make sure the soviets were coming in. he got agreement from the soviets the first day of the conference. he writes in his journal that night, stalin will be in the japanese war by august 15. he writes home to his wife the next and says the russians are coming in, the war will end a year sooner now. think of all the boys who will not be killed. he described the intercepted july 18 telegram as the telegram
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from the japanese emperor asking for peace. we knew that. they all knew the japanese are finished. and american intelligence reported repeatedly that the entry of the soviet union into the war will convince all japanese that complete defeat is inevitable. it will lead to the end of the war. so the confusing thing is then why truman, who is not bloodthirsty, he did not take pleasure in killing people, why did truman use the atomic bomb knowing that the japanese were defeated in trying to surrender, knowing they were not militarily necessary? what we assume, as historians, is that a big part of his motivation was that he was sending a message to the soviets. that if the soviets interfered with american plans in europe or in asia, then this is the fate they would get. the soviets interpreted it that way.
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a physicist, said suddenly, the day of judgment was tomorrow. and has been ever since. and that is the reality we have been confronted with. that is what makes the atomic bombing so important, not just that hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children were killed unnecessarily. but the fact that the human species has lived with this sort of damocles hanging over our head ever since. and still today. we still have 16,300 nuclear weapons in the world. we've had this conflict with the russians over ukraine. u.s. and russia still have thousands of nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert pointed at each other. we are not playing games here. the threat is still real, which is why we wanted to do this exhibit. there were apparently several people carrying cameras in hiroshima on august 6. but only one is known to have
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taken any photos. he was a photographer with hiroshima's newspaper. and he had enough film to take 24 photos, but he said it was too horrible. so he ended up taking seven photos and five of them had been preserved. and he was very respectful. he did not want to show close-ups, he did not want to show horrible burns or horrible suffering. but he showed the people at the relief stations who escaped from the fire downtown. you can see the fire in the background, the destruction everywhere. this was 1.5 miles from the hypo center. he says it was like walking through hell. he says we could not take photos, it was just too horrific and too intrusive on people's suffering.
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no medical supplies. almost all of the doctors were killed. the hospitals were destroyed, the nurses were killed. and so what you see here are just people in these relief stations. there was no medicine, there was nothing to treat them. they sometimes put oil on the burns. within days, people were reporting maggots coming out of the wounds. just awful. a shot from nagasaki, people lying there dying on the clothes on the ground, on the mattresses. a woman breast-feeding her baby. there were lots of stories about women carrying around dead babies on their backs. trying to nurse their dead babies. you have images of charred corpses of some of the victims. and what they said is that people who were near the hyper center, their internal organs
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boiled away and they quickly turned into charcoal and became carbonized. you just see the bodies, clothes burned off the bodies. lying there, the charred corpses. some of the people who wore their kimonos had patterns burned into their skin. the shadow of somebody, completely disappeared. i am pretty sure that is the steps of a bank on hiroshima. he was sitting there. i have one friend in nagasaki who speaks to our group. and he survived, obviously. and he writes down the names of all of his family members and how far they were. and not a single one was affected by the bomb, was scarred by the bomb, was injured or burned by the bomb. he has their names and how far
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away they were from the center. one by one, he crosses them out. this is over the next couple weeks. one by one would die of radiation poisoning. you would get these purple spots all over your body, you get terrible diarrhea, your hair would start to fall out. you would become sick. i know of many cases in which family members or friends came into hiroshima after the bombing looking for relatives or friends days after,everal and they would die of radiation sickness. some experts say the effects of radiation were gone very quickly. there's a lot of evidence to suggest that was not the case. this is the shima hospital. the shima hospital where the bomb detonated when a missed its original target. this is the elementary school in nagasaki. here, almost all the teachers and students were killed. only .3 of a mile from the
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center. every year on the morning of august 9, we go to a private ceremony at the elementary school. all the children who now attend the elementary school come there and have this special peace commemoration ceremony, a very moving ceremony with this school filled with elementary school students. you realize that is who the victims of the atomic bomb were. after the war, congregants of all souls church, unitarian church here in washington d.c. , sent art supplies to students at the elementary school in hiroshima. and the students there used the art supplies at a time when there were very little supplies of any sort in hiroshima or nagasaki after the bombing.
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you see so many reports of students living as street urchins, basically. they were orphaned. they did not have shelter. they had makeshift shelters. the fact of just getting art supplies was a huge thing for these kids. and so in gratitude, they sent back drawings and paintings to the congregation at all soulds church. i understand these were lost for a long time and then rediscovered. now the members of the church, some of them went back to hiroshima recently and met with some of the kids. there is a nice book and documentary about this. >> [speaking japanese] mr. kuznick: i thought it would add a nice touch to the exhibit.
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you know, more of a human side in a different way of americans who reached out to the people of hiroshima, and of the gratitude on the part of the children who received those gifts. the narukis were famous japanese artists who came into the city of hiroshima three days after the atomic bombing and saw the horrors, and decided to do a series of panels that would depict the horrors of hiroshima. the first one was called ghosts. and what it shows is the image of hiroshima afterwards. people who experienced it said that they felt as though they were walking through hell. with fires everywhere, with people naked, walking with their
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arms held in front of them to lessen the pain a little bit, often their skin hanging down. people's clothes were burned off. people are walking in this procession of naked people. you could not tell men from women as they were walking. you see this image here, the shock, the horror, the suffering in hiroshima after the bombings. the second panel we have here is called fire. and the reality was that the fire was everywhere and spreading rapidly. and people tried to escape the fire. what escape in the fire meant, and this is a reality for so many of the survivors, it meant that they would have to leave others behind. they would have to ignore their cries for help, the pleas of
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who were people trapped in their houses, people who were trapped under beams. people who were injured, in order to escape. there are so many tragic stories about children leaving their parents behind, or parents leaving their children behind in order to escape because the flames were encroaching. there are stories of people staying with relatives or friends rather than leave. the folks at the gallery told me i can choose any six of the 15 panels that i wanted. i decided i wanted to complicate the narrative. not just portray the japanese as victims of the atomic bomb, but to put it into a different context and show that it is possible for the japanese to be victims of the atomic bomb, but also victimizers at the same time. so i want the two panels that are going to show that. the first one here is called crows. this one, you have to realize that in hiroshima that day,
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3000t 6, there were citizens, 43,000 japanese soldiers, and 45,000 korean slave laborers. and the koreans were badly treated by the japanese and had been decades. and they were discriminated against in japan and also discriminated against after the atomic bombing. they got almost no medical treatment, no aid at all, and many of them just died in the streets. and what this one shows is the crows -- this one is called crows -- and it shows the crows coming down and plucking out the eyeballs of the dead korean victims here. it is very controversial inside japan, still. right now, abe, shinzo abe the prime minister and his administration is doing everything they can to cover up the history of japanese atrocities toward the koreans. the other victims across asia of
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japanese colonialism and japanese oppression. so i want to show that part of it, too. to to this one, complicate it further, this was about the american pow's. there were pow's in a camp in hiroshima, 23 of them at least in the bombing. many of them survived the bombing only to be beaten to death by enraged japanese citizens. and this shows the americans were beaten to death on the japanese after the bomb dropped. there is something, and i am not sure exactly why, but they depicted several women among the american pow's. there were actually no women there, so this to me is somewhat baffling why they chose to do so. but what we are seeing here is a progression in their thinking. in the beginning, they focused just on japanese victims in hiroshima. then their consciousness began
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expanding, and they start to show the japanese as also victimizers. they have panel on the rape of one nanjing, one on auschwitz. so they are trying to make this a broader human story. this one was done later in 1968. the title is "floating lantern." if you go to hiroshima, as i do with my students, we participate on the evening of august 6 in the floating lantern ceremony. the river is very symbolically important, because so many of the people jumped in the river in order to try to escape the flames or cool their bodies if they had been badly burned. and many of them died. and all of these descriptions of the river that night was that it was a sea of floating corpses. and what the people did in hiroshima to commemorate, they hold the lantern ceremony every year.
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and we are now able to participate. it is no longer restricted to the families of the victims. you make a you do is you paper lantern, you put a candle inside and on the lantern, you write a message of peace or anything you would like to write. and you go down and take your turn and put your floating lantern into the water there. it is a very beautiful at night. one year i went there, yo-yo ma was playing. that made it even more special. and this is a depiction of the lanterns as they are floating in the river. ♪ [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] announcer: weeknights this month, we are featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c-span 3.
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monday night, a look at the uss indianapolis. two japanese torpedo sunk the uss indianapolis in shark infested waters. crewmembers of 1196 survived. they were not rescued for several days. on the 75th anniversary of the sinking, congress awarded the entire crew the congressional gold medal, its highest civilian honor. watch monday night getting at 8:00 eastern and enjoy american history tv this week and every weekend on c-span 3. . -- into the war quickly. host: richard frank is the author of "downfall: the end of imperial japan." welcome.


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