Hiroshima Nuclear weapons, then and now. Friday, August 5,
Wall Street Journal Online
Today–or August 6 in Japan–is the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which killed outright an estimated 80,000 Japanese and hastened World War II to its conclusion on August 15. Those of us who belong to the postwar generations tend to regard the occasion as a somber, even shameful, one. But that’s not how the generation of Americans who actually fought the war saw it. And if we’re going to reflect seriously about the bomb, we ought first to think about it as they did.
In 1945, Paul Fussell was a 21-year-old second lieutenant who’d spent much of the previous year fighting his way through Europe. At the time of Hiroshima, he was scheduled to participate in the invasion of the Japanese mainland, for which the Truman Administration anticipated casualties of between 200,000 and one million Allied soldiers…
Mr. Fussell was writing about American lives. What about Japanese lives? The Japanese army was expected to fight to the last man, as it had during the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Since the ratio of Japanese to American combat fatalities ran about four to one, a mainland invasion could have resulted in millions of Japanese deaths–and that’s not counting civilians. The March 1945 Tokyo fire raid killed about 100,000; such raids would have intensified had the war dragged on. The collective toll from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings is estimated at between 110,000 and 200,000.