After the Japanese refused to the Potsdam Conference’s demand for unconditional surrender, US President Harry S. Truman decided to use the atom bomb on Japan to end the war. According to him, this would prevent an even greater loss of life if the U.S. attacked Japan.
Today on Hiroshima Day, we bring ten facts that have gone down in history about the bombings:
• The US scientists who were working on the Manhattan project were successful in detonating the first-ever nuclear explosion on July 16, 1945. This was in preparation of using these nuclear arms on the Japanese during the Second World War.
• Hiroshima means ‘Wide Island’ in Japanese. It is the largest island of Japan and became the first city in world history to be attacked by a nuclear weapon.
• Code-named ‘Little Boy’, the nuclear bomb was transported in the belly of ‘Enola Gay, an American B-29 bomber.
• As soon as it dropped, the bomb instantly killed eighty thousand people within a kilometre of its dropping. Within a year, according to estimates the death toll reached around one lakh sixty-six thousand. The population of Hiroshima was an estimated 340,000 before the bombing but was reduced to just 137,000 after it.
• The Oleander was the first flower to bloom after the explosion. It was chosen as the official flower of Hiroshima as it showed the first signs of renewed life after the explosion.
• The six Ginkgo trees, which were just one kilometre away from the blast site, were one of the few things to survive the explosion. These trees speedily recovered and are there even today. They are also called living fossils.
• The trams in Hiroshima too survived the blast and were one of the means of transportation to be used to transport the injured from the blast site. They are still in use and a mark of pride for the Japanese.
• Another survival of the explosion was the Bank of Japan building, around 400 metres from the explosion site. It survived the attack because of its thick walls and even saved those who had taken shelter inside.
• The Hiroshima bombing inspires the 1954 film Godzilla. The nuclear bomb has been personified as Godzilla whose atomic breath is in the form of a radioactive heat released from its jaw.
• A Peace Flame was lit at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in 1964. It will continue to burn till all the nuclear weapons are destroyed the world over.
Text by Tasneem Dhinojwala