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COUNTDOWN TO HIROSHIMA: August 3, 1945 (X Minus 3 Days) | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

COUNTDOWN TO HIROSHIMA: August 3, 1945 (X Minus 3 Days)

Sixty-six years ago at the end of July and early August, US policymakers and President Truman made fateful decisions that meant the use of two atomic bombs against Japanese cities was almost inevitable—virtually unstoppable. Then film footage and other evidence of the true effects of the bomb were suppressed for decades. We’ve been living with the nuclear after-effects ever since, from Hiroshima to Fukushima.

Starting July 25, and related to publication of my new book and e-book Atomic Cover-up, on that film’s suppression, I began offering a daily record of what transpired leading up the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. (For more, including video, see my personal blog.)

On this day in 1945:

-- On Tinian, Little Boy is ready to go, awaiting word on weather, with General LeMay to make the call. Taking off the night of August 5 appears most likely scenario.

--On board the ship Augusta steaming hom for USA after Potsdam meeting, President Truman, Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Leahy,  and Secretary of State James F. Byrnes--a strong A-bomb booster--enjoy some poker.  Byrnes aide Walter Brown notes in his diary that "President, Leahy, JFB [Byrnes) agreed Japan looking for peace. (Leahy had another report from Pacific.) President afraid they will sue for peace through Russia instead of some country like Sweden." 

Leahy would later question decison to use the bomb, writing: "[T]he use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.... [I]n being the first to use it, we...adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children."

--Our "Magic" intercepts show Japan monitoring the Soviets' military buildup in the Far East (prelude to the declaration of war in four days). Also, Japanese still searching for way to approach Molotov to pursue possible surrender terms before that happens. Another Magic intercept carried the heading, "Japnese Army's interest in pece negotiations." War Department intel analysts revealed "the first statement to appear in the traffic that the Japanese Army is interested in the effor tto end the war with Soviet assitance." A segment of Prime Minister Togo's message declared: "The Premier and the leaders of the Army are now concentrting all their attention on this one point." 

--Soviet General Vasilevskii reports to Stalin that Soviet forces ready for invasion from August 7.

Greg Mitchell’s new book (also out as an e-book) is Atomic Cover-Up: Two US Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made. He also co-authored, with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.

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