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The Blast from the Past

The Blast from The Past
We didn’t need to Drop the Atomic Bomb in Order to End World War Two.




D
id we need to drop the atomic bomb? It was 1945. American, Canadian, Britain, and Russian forces had already crippled Germany. Adolf Hitler, dictator of Germany, had committed suicide. And the Second World War was slowly drawing to a close. Now only Hideki Tojo, and the rest of Japan, stood in the Allies’ path to peace. After already investing years of research and billions of dollars into the development of the atomic bomb, America, after giving Japan several chances to surrender, decided the best way to coerce Japan’s surrender was to drop the atomic bomb on them. But, couldn’t they have ended the war without dropping the atomic bomb?

Help From the Other Side


In America, German scientist, Albert Einstein, whose theory of relativity made him an international scientific superstar, heard that Adolf Hitler, leader of Germany during the Second World War, had assembled a group of German scientists to build a super bomb. He then proceeded to write a letter to the President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In the letter, Einstein wrote to the President that Hitler was developing a super bomb intended to wipe out Allied opposition. Einstein also wrote that FDR should create a super bomb themselves in order to counter Germany’s efforts, and suggested a bomb which basis was that of atomic energy. Einstein also advised that FDR assemble his team of scientists quickly and efficiently, and to develop the bomb as quickly as possible.
With that suggestion in mind, FDR assembled the Manhattan Project, a group of scientists who volunteered their services in order to end the Axis terror. Command of the project was given to Major General Leslie R. Groves, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, a physicist whom Groves met on a trip to California, was made director. The project’s sole objective: To create the atomic bomb before the Germans. At the height of its research, the project consisted of 130,000 workers, scientists, and army officials, and also cost an estimated $2 billion. This in today’s world would translate to about $26 billion.

Development of the atomic bomb couldn’t start right away. The one of the only obstacles that currently stood in the Allies’ way was that they had no idea how to split an atom. Another immediate problem was that the people working on the Manhattan Project needed massive amounts of plutonium and uranium, two highly radioactive isotopes, in order to develop the core of the bomb. The Allies were able to solve the second issue with ease, by analyzing the ingredients of the two isotopes and setting up factories to manufacture the isotopes on a massive scale. The first issue, of actually trying to split an atom, which had originated from a Hungarian physicist named Leo Szilard, divided the Project’s workers.
Some believed that separating the isotopes could split the atom; some believed that gas could diffuse the atom and split it; many thought of a thermal separation using heat to break apart the atom. While all these options were being considered, the Manhattan Project’s scientists were also investigating the two main types of technology for nuclear reactors. The website, Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia explained the two branches of research, “Which were heavy water research, and using graphite as a ‘Neutron moderator’.” Finally, the Project came to a decision: They decided to incorporate all five different technologies into their atomic bomb research.
But while as dedicated and as focused as the Manhattan Project team was, their whole excursion was based on a rumor. The Manhattan Project was assembled to build an atomic bomb before the Nazis could finish construction of their own super-bomb. But the Germans weren’t building a super-bomb. They didn’t have the proper technology or means to even begin to construct something as devastating and as complex as the atomic bomb was. And Hitler didn’t care; he felt that the Axis power could win the Second World War without any gimmicks or secret weapons. Phillip Morrison, a scientist involved with the Manhattan Project, once wrote, “By December ’44, we learned unmistakably... that the Germans were not a threat. They could not make the atomic bomb. They were far behind and arrogant. They said, ‘we’re well ahead of the rest of the world. The Americans can’t do it. Even if Germany loses the war, we’ll win the peace, because we alone control this powerful weapon.’ ”.

“Oh, My God!”

After years of research and billions of dollars, an atomic bomb was completed and tested in the New Mexican desert on July 16, 1945. Most people realized immediately that, currently, this was the most powerful weapon in existence. Just the test-bomb completely decimated the surrounding area. After the bomb test was over, J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project said, “We waited until the blast had passed, walked out of the shelter and then it was extremely solemn. We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few cried. Most people were silent. I remembered a line from the Hindu scripture… ‘Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”
Before the Allies had even dropped the atomic bomb, American planes continuously bombed Japan with conventional air-to-ground bombs. The Allies had given them several chances to surrender with promises of ceasing the senseless civilian casualties. And all the while, even with America promising to uphold their end of the bargain, Japan refused to comply. Japan knew if that they surrendered to the Allies, they would lose the one thing they wanted to keep, which was their emperor.
After continuously having their generous offer refused, the Allies got tired of Japan, and decided that the only way to solve that problem was to unleash the atomic bomb on them. But, the Allies gave Japan one last chance to surrender and to not force America to unleash their endgame. American planes dropped 700,000 leaflets on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The leaflets read that if Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender, the Americans would not unleash their ultimate weapon. Failure to comply meant that Hiroshima would go up in flames. The Japanese, of course, shrugged this warning off; not believing the Americans would actually hit them with an atomic bomb.


The test proved the atomic bomb to be successful. Afterwards, Colonel Paul W. Tibbets Jr. piloted the Enola Gay and dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. His only words about the effects of the bomb were, “Oh, my God!” An estimated 90,000 to 166,000 died due to radiation burns and being crushed by rubble at Hiroshima. The mushroom cloud that was created by the blast could be seen for miles and stood thousands of feet in the sky. Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a Nagasaki-born Japanese man who actually survived both atomic explosions, spoke about the first bombing at Hiroshima. He recalled spotting the Enola Gay in the sky around 8:15 A.M. He then saw the atomic bomb being dropped and recalled that he saw a, “great flash in the sky, and I was blown over.”
While Japan was too busy licking their wounds, America prepared for their knockout punch. Another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan three days later. An estimated 60,000 to 80,000 died because of that dropping. The Colonel’s reactions to the effects of the bomb were that of shock and horror. He couldn’t believe that ordinary human beings were capable of creating such a small device that could cause so much death and destruction. In total, both atomic bombs killed an estimated 150,000 to 246,000. In the book, War Peace and All That Jazz, Joy Hakim, the author, described the bomb. She writes that it was, “more powerful than anything ever before devised by humans.”









An Unnecessary Bombing


While the atomic bomb droppings did push Japan in the direction, which led them to an unconditional surrender, the Allies had other, less savage, tools at their disposal. For instance, the Japanese people were extremely fearful of the Russian army; they did not want to be ruled by the Russian, and grow up in a Communist lifestyle. Instead of dropping the atomic bomb, the Allies could have sent the Russian troops into Japan, to coerce them into surrender. That decision could have saved thousands of lives and ended the war much quicker. Also, and this is perhaps one of the most talked about topics, the Japanese would have surrendered to the Allies, but all they wanted was to keep their emperor. And after both atomic bombs were dropped, and after Japan surrendered unconditionally, Japan still got to keep their emperor. If all they wanted was their emperor, and after both bombs, and all the fuss of surrender and rebuilding, they still got to keep their emperor, then why go through all the trouble of dropping the bombs in the first place?

Aftermath

While the atomic bombs were not the only method at the Allies’ disposal to coerce Japan into surrender, it was, perhaps, the most effective. Immediately after the bombs were dropped, Japan agreed, at last, to an unconditional surrender. As resourceful and helpful as the atomic bomb was, it has also
brought about a great many problems that have reached their breaking points, even in today’s world. The test of the atomic bomb was widely regarded as the day, which launched the world into what is known as the “Atomic age”. With everybody on the planet trying to crack the secret to unlocking atomic energy, and building an atomic bomb of their own. Another major problem, which is a derivative from the Manhattan Project, is that of nuclear energy. And countries all over the world stockpiling nuclear weapons and threatening to use them on each other. In conclusion, while the atomic bomb was extremely helpful, it was not the only war-ending option. And its creation has only resulted in a wealth of problems for the people of today to have to deal with.




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