GreenPolicy360 & Strategic Demands
Snapshot of Reviews the Day After Oppenheimer’s Premiere
(with a personal memory of a father’s flight over the Trinity site days after
‘the Bomb’ was first tested by Los Alamos scientists)
The Story Of The Journalist Who Exposed The ‘Hiroshima Cover-Up’
Hersey’s 31,000-words recall the August 6th bombing through the stories of six survivors.
At exactly fifteen minutes past eight in the morning, on August 6, 1945, Japanese time, at the moment when the atomic bomb flashed above Hiroshima, Miss Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in the personnel department of the East Asia Tin Works, had just sat down at her place in the plant office and was turning her head to speak to the girl at the next desk. At that same moment, Dr. Masakazu Fujii was settling down cross-legged to read the Osaka Asahi on the porch of his private hospital, overhanging one of the seven deltaic rivers which divide Hiroshima; Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura, a tailor’s widow, stood by the window of her kitchen, watching a neighbor tearing down his house because it lay in the path of an air-raid-defense fire lane; Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, a German priest of the Society of Jesus, reclined in his underwear on a cot on the top floor of his order’s three-story mission house, reading a Jesuit magazine, Stimmen der Zeit; Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, a young member of the surgical staff of the city’s large, modern Red Cross Hospital, walked along one of the hospital corridors with a blood specimen for a Wassermann test in his hand; and the Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, pastor of the Hiroshima Methodist Church, paused at the door of a rich man’s house in Koi, the city’s western suburb, and prepared to unload a handcart full of things he had evacuated from town in fear of the massive B-29 raid which everyone expected Hiroshima to suffer. A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb, and these six were among the survivors. They still wonder why they lived when so many others died. Each of them counts many small items of chance or volition—a step taken in time, a decision to go indoors, catching one streetcar instead of the next—that spared him. And now each knows that in the act of survival he lived a dozen lives and saw more death than he ever thought he would see. At the time, none of them knew anything…
“I believe Mr. Hersey has given a true picture of the appalling effect on human beings. . . .
And this picture has implications for the future of mankind which must deeply concern all responsible men and women.”
— Albert Einstein
Recalling My Father’s Nuclear Flyover and Training Mission
Steven J. Schmidt, Strategic Demands Editor
My father, Joseph Schmidt, in World War 2 was a bomber pilot who toward the war’s end was trained to fly “secret missions.”
He spoke to me, on rare occasions, about his training and B-17/29 “special” assignments in New Mexico.
One day and one story stands out in my memory, a day he recalled flying his crew over “White Sands” and a “crater in the middle of nowhere”.
Posterity tells me to share his story as my dad has passed away. These are war stories of a young man from a Kansas farm, now a skilled construction engineer in Los Angeles. My father was talking to me of bomber training… flights across Texas and New Mexico to Marfa, Roswell and then there was Ardmore/Clovis/Alamogordo — B-17s and B-29s — and he spoke of missions to the Pacific…
It was in July 1945. At that time my father was a Lieutenant based in New Mexico’s Clovis Army Air Field. He was scheduled, as I look today at his yellowing papers with orders in his Army Air Force trunk, to transfer to Alamogordo on July 23rd.
Curiously, I see a number of destinations on his orders are blank. I remember how he told me that he knew and his crew knew, in their own way, about the first test of a nuclear weapon.
They knew it had happened not far from their base and on July 17th newspapers in New Mexico had reported that a “munitions storage depot” had exploded. This was the official line to explain the bright flash in the sky at dawn on July 16th, south of Albuquerque.
The initial testing of the first nuclear weapon was at Trinity [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_(nuclear_test)] in a barren area of New Mexico known as Jornada del Muerto (“Journey of the Dead Man”). The desolation made it the choice of the Army and scientists who had secretly developed the bomb at the isolated nuclear physics laboratory at Los Alamos.
The B-17 crew that flew that week from Clovis decided (in a departure from the official planned flight path) to veer “off course” and to take a look at the area where the bomb went off… not a good decision, but in those days many of the pilots and crews were strong willed to put it mildly. This crew chose to go where they thought the site of the blast was… They scanned the horizon and in the distance they saw a bright glistening spot in the desert.
They flew over it. He told me it was both frightening and beautiful. It was a crater scattering radiating beams of light up.
The crater from the blast shocked them into silence he remembered. The sand had turned liquid then fused and fallen back to earth. The crater was coated with a ‘glass’ that would be called “Trinitite”.
Now they knew what their bomber group, their B-29s, and their special runs with unusual maneuvers were being equipped to do. The military covered over the crater and evidence of the blast.
Then they heard the news, August 6th and 9th, 1945, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.
Seventy+ years on and I remember how my father told me of his relief there were to be no more atomic bombings — and hopefully no more wars with nuclear weapons.
He had trained as a warrior with nuclear weapons. He said it had gone too far. He was, we were, fortunate to not suffer the consequences as others have, even as a sword of a Damocles or worse continues to hang over our heads as a result.
Generations in the future have to deal with the potential consequences of the nuclear age.
The words of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the head of the atomic weapons project for the U.S., continue to echo…
“I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
The Legacy of the Bomb
Via the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
Fighting a nuclear war is equivalent to national suicide. Make that planetary omnicide.
In the words of Daniel Ellsberg, who passed away last month:
“What is missing—what is foregone—in the typical discussion and analysis of historical or current nuclear policies is the recognition that what is being discussed is dizzyingly insane and immoral:
in its almost-incalculable and inconceivable destructiveness and deliberate murderousness, its disproportionality of risked and planned destructiveness to either declared or unacknowledged objectives, the infeasibility of its secretly pursued aims (damage limitation to the United States and allies, “victory” in two-sided nuclear war), its criminality (to a degree that explodes ordinary visions of law, justice, crime), its lack of wisdom or compassion, its sinfulness and evil.”
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