No more Hiroshima! No more Nagasaki! 75 years since the atomic tragedy
In Russia, the year 2020 marks a joyful and glorious date: 75 years since the end of the Great Patriotic War. However, it is also a tragical milestone for the 75 years since the first and only uses of nuclear weapons – the tools so destructive and deadly that they render useless any further military actions, plunging their owners into an endless and paranoid nuclear race, and the whole other world – into an abyss of fear and mistrust.
In memory of the victims of the tragedy of August 1945, Volgograd, a sister-city of Hiroshima and an Administrative City of the “Mayors for Peace” international organization, begins a series of thematic articles dedicated to the A-bombing.
On the 9th of May 1945, the very Day of Victory, the whole World War II was several more months from being over. After the fire was ceased in Europe, the anti-fascist coalition was left against the last adversary – the Imperial Japan.
The President of the United States Harry Truman decided to put to use his “Manhattan project”, which was dedicated to the development of a brand new type of weapon – an atomic bomb. This project was top-secret, known only to a narrow circle of high commandment, and several European countries were less than convinced about its efficiency. Although the project was carried out by the top scientists in their field, the level of technical progress still would not allow for precise enough calculations, and even the most prominent specialists were unable to predict the scale of destruction the explosion would cause and the consequences it could bring.
The strategy for testing the new weapon was to choose several Japanese cities that were big enough and had in their territory military headquarters or the factories producing military equipment, and the destruction of which would produce the maximal psychological effect.
Their first target was the city of Hiroshima.
Here, we will allow ourselves a little digression.
In June 2019, the “Chernobyl” TV-series was recognized as the most popular one in the history of its industry. The story about an explosion at the atomic power station, which resulted in 70 tons of dangerous substances disseminated all over the planet, 4 thousand people dead and more than 70 thousand disabled, brought its spectators into the state of hypnotic horror. Bear in mind, though, that this catastrophe was caused by the so-called “peaceful” atom, the life of which was supposed to take place under strictly controlled conditions, with minimal dangers to nature and humans.
The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 500 time less powerful, but its atomic energy was specifically tailored to destruct – with utmost speed and efficiency.
Hiroshima is a city in the South-West of Honshu Island, founded in 1589 in the place where the Ota River flows into sea. It was a bridge over this river, forming a cross on the earth’s surface, that served as a bull’s eye for the bombers.
At 8:15 am on the 6th of August 1945, a US military plane dropped on Hiroshima the “Little Boy” atomic bomb to the catastrophic consequences. A scalding fiery storm with a temperature over 4 thousand degrees Celsius and the air wave caused by the explosion transformed the city into charred ruins. Various sources indicate that the number of people who perished immediately during the explosion was up to 80 thousand.
The Soviet intelligence officers Mikhail Ivanov and German Sergeyev, who came to Hiroshima on the 16th of August 1945, were shocked. Within the kilometer’s radius from the epicenter, there was nothing but scorched land. The flash of light from the explosion left the silhouettes of perished people imprinted on the walls of the buildings. It is said even that the chief coordinator of the USSR’s own atomic project at first refused to believe their report – claiming that his intelligence workers were sawing panic and exaggerating the power of the bomb. The most troubling discovery, though, was yet to come.
Emphasizing the power of the atomic weapon, its creators denied its radioactivity. Less than a month after their visit to Hiroshima, German Sergeyev died of radiation sickness. This disease, caused by the radiation exposure, destroys a human body at the cell level – but regular people had no idea of the danger and died without understanding why. Such was the fate of thousands: Hiroshima residents who continued to live in the contaminated territory, drink the contaminated water and plant vegetables in the contaminated soil; the medics and emergency workers who came to the city to offer their help; the journalists and reporters.
The consequences of the atomic bombing – manifesting in the diseases of bones, eyes and internal organs, as well as malevolent tumors of all kinds – are still showing both in the survivors of the bombing and their descendants.
It is not by accident that Hiroshima became the headquarters of the “Mayors for Peace” international organization. In cooperation with the United Nations, this organization aims to conserve the trust and mutual understanding и between nations. Its primary goal is for the humanity to abandon the very idea of atomic weapon and achieve a nuclear-free world.
Volgograd is also a member and one of the Vice-Presidents of “Mayors for Peace”, as one of the most powerful instruments for the cementing of peace and mutual understanding is people’s diplomacy, which is carried out by the residents of the cities themselves, especially sister-cities, who do it by participating in joint projects and initiatives.
It was the tragic fate that once brought together Volgograd and Hiroshima and laid the foundations for the Agreement on Cooperation that united them in 1972. What brings our cities even closer, though, is the history of their recovery from rubble and their transformation into prospering metropolises, made possible through the stamina and hard labor of their residents. And finally, are brought together by our cities’ work for the sake of supporting and cementing peace on the planet.
For this reason, "Mayors for Peace" have launched a call that united 23 prominent officers of international organization, A-bomb survivors and the organization's own members to record a video with an appeal never to allow the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to repeat itself.