At exactly fifteen minutes past eight in the morning, on August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was the first city targeted by a nuclear weapon when a US Air Force B-29 Superfortress, the Enola Gay, dropped the atomic bomb “Little Boy”. Its pilot was Paul W. Tibbets Jr., who led a crew of 12 men on a mission that would change the history of the world.
A blast equivalent to the power of 15,000 tons of TNT razed and burnt around 70 per cent of all buildings in the Japanese city and immediately killed 80,000 people.
Another 35,000 were injured. At least another 60,000 would be dead by the end of the year from the effects of the fallout while thousands more were hit with generational defects that are plaguing the country to this day.
The second atomic bomb, dubbed ‘The Fat Man”, was dropped in Nagasaki by the US on August 9, 1945.
Six days after the bombing in Nagasaki, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced his country’s unconditional surrender in World War II in a radio address citing the devastating power of “a new and most cruel bomb.” World War II officially ended on September 2, 1945 when Japanese ministers signed the formal Instrument of Surrender onboard the battleship USS Missouri.
Together, the two nuclear attacks killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people. In the years that followed, many of the survivors would face leukemia, cancer, or other terrible side effects from the radiation.
In commemoration of these tragedies, Hiroshima Day serves as a day of remembrance and focus for anti-war and nuclear disarmament groups around the world.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which was adopted by the United Nations on 7 July 2017 but still today trillions are spent upgrading and maintaining the world’s nuclear arsenals while the basic needs of billions of people in the world are not met.
Capt. Theodore van Kirk, the navigator of Enola Gay that day, told an interviewer in 2005. “We unleashed the first atomic bomb, and I hope there will never be another.”
He added: “I pray that we have learned a lesson for all time. But I’m not sure that we have.” Have we?