Today in History – The Bombing of Hiroshima (Aug 6, 1945)

Aerial Photograph of the Explosion at Hiroshima

At 8:16 am in the morning of August 6, 1945, the United States of America dropped the atomic bomb on the civilian town of Hiroshima. Three days later, the atomic bomb would be dropped on Nagasaki. On August 15, 1945 the Japanese would officially surrender, drawing the conflict in the Pacific to a close after four long and grueling years of battle.

The dropping of the bomb is one of the most controversial events in military history and Harry S Truman’s Presidency. The awesome power of the atomic bomb even haunted those that participated in its development – the famed “Manhattan Project.” Upon seeing the staggering destructive power of the bomb after its testing in New Mexico Kenneth Bainbridge, the testing director, leaned over and reportedly told his colleauges “Now we are all sons of bitches.” J. Robert Oppenheimer later recounted:

“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-GitaVishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”

The effects of the bomb were enduring and remains the only instance in which nuclear weapons were employed in armed conflict. The death toll in Hiroshima alone are estimated at between 90,000 – 165,000 people, half of whom died immediately from the explosion, approximately 25% within months after the blast from radiation poisoning, and the remaining (and hardest to determine accurately) from diseases (such as leukemia and other cancers) resulting from acute radiation exposure. It remains the most deadly single attack in military history.

To learn more about the bombing, check out the Wikipedia Article on the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the “This Day in History” Article via

4 thoughts on “Today in History – The Bombing of Hiroshima (Aug 6, 1945)

  1. Jim Wheeler

    A key point to be emphasized here, I submit, is the one you make about this being a “single” attack. One could argue that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were separate attacks of course, but that would be nitpicking. I think the larger point to be made is that WW II was history’s prime example of the horrors of all-out war, and that the use of nuclear weapons, horrific as it was, actually saved millions of lives, both allied and Japanese, that would have been lost in an invasion of Japan.

    The full scope of this all-out war is exemplified by the story of strategic bombing in WW II, and I think any discussion of nuclear weapons should encompass such as a vital context. For example, some 45,000 civilians were killed in the fire-bombing of Hamburg alone.

    There is an excellent article on Strategic bombing during World War II, complete with statistics, at the link below. I commend it especially to younger students who may be unaware of the realities of what war can become. We are one world and WW II is a lesson of what can happen if we think we can ignore what happens in other countries.


    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      Jim, I actually separated the two here in this article. The death rates I listed were for the bombing of Hiroshima only – Nagasaki’s death toll was significantly lower.

      You make an excellent point that dropping the bomb on Japan did prevent a land invasion of Japan – which would have been devastating for the Japanese and Americans.

  2. Pingback: Hiroshima (6 August 1945) « The Armed Historian

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