Pharyngula

6 August 1945

History is not going to judge us kindly for this crime against humanity. Never again.

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In the following waves [after the initial blast] people’s bodies were terribly squeezed, then their internal organs ruptured. Then the blast blew the broken bodies at 500 to 1,000 miles per hour through the flaming, rubble-filled air. Practically everybody within a radius of 6,500 feet was killed or seriously injured and all buildings crushed or disemboweled.


Japanese doctors said that those who had been killed by the blast itself died instantly. But presently, according to these doctors, those who had suffered only small burns found their appetite failing, their hair falling out, their gums bleeding. They developed temperatures of 104, vomited blood, and died. It was discovered that they had lost 86 percent of their white blood corpuscles. Last week the Japanese announced that the count of Hiroshima’s dead had risen to 125,000.

I am completely unswayed by the argument that the bombing saved American lives by convincing the Japanese that their cause was hopeless. If that were true, why not bomb a nearby deserted atoll as a demonstration? Why bomb two cities over the course of several days? Why not pick a military target rather than a civilian center? This was an act of callous terrorism.


Still arguing? Go watch this fabulous dialog between AC Grayling and Christopher Hitchens, discussing Grayling’s book, Among the Dead Cities. Grayling makes the same argument I do, that the bombing of civilians was immoral and to little material effect. The surprising thing, though, is that I expected Hitchens to go all militaristic, but he doesn’t; he actually deplores the area bombing campaign. He draws a stronger conclusion — he thinks the complete and unambiguous defeat of Nazi Germany was necessary to allow rebuilding of the country, but he thinks the attempts to destroy the German culture with devastating firebombing was not a rightful act.