Sixty-six years ago this week, 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 Monday, and related to publication of my new book and e-book Atomic Cover-up, on that film 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:

–Two days after receiving word, the Japanese leadership formally rejected the Potsdam declaration calling for their "unconditional" surrender, or seemed to.  The official word was that it would ignore the demand  mokusatsu,  or "with silence."  Another translation, however,  is "to withhold comment." This not-quite-rejection has led some historians to suggest that the U.S. should have pursued the confusing Japanese peace feelers already circulating, especially with suggestions that unconditional terms were the main, or perhaps only, obstacles.

–Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal had breakfast with Truman at Potsdam  He had flown there at least partly to press the president to pursue Japanese peace feelers–especially concerning letting them keep their emperor– before using the bomb and killing countless civilians.

–Returning to Washington from Potsdam, Secretary of War Henry Stimson consulted with the top people at Los Alamos about the bomb (or "S-!" as it was then known) and wrote in his diary. "Everything seems to be going well."

–U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Joseph Davies wrote in his diary that Secretary of State James Byrnes was overly excited by the success of the bomb test vis-a-vis future relations with our allies, the Soviets:  "Byrnes’ attitude that the atomic bomb assured ultimate success in negotiations disturbed me more than his description of its success amazed me. I told him the threat wouldn’t work, and might do irreparable harm."  Four days earlier, Byrnes aide Walter Brown had written in his diary that Byrnes’ view was that "after atomic bomb Japan will surrender and Russia will not get in so much on the kill."  The Soviets were scheduled to enter the war on August 7, so there was some urgency. 

–A U.S. bombing raid on the small Japanese city of Aomori — which had little military significance beyond being a transportation hub — dropped 83,000 incendiaries and destroyed almost the entire city, killing at least 2,000 civilians.

–In other news, the U.S. Senate ratifie the United Nations charter by a vote of 89-2.

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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