Today is the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan: August 6, 1945. The below article is a great discussion of the US’ “Target Committee” and what cities they considered as the first “target” and why.
As the article says at one point: “The committee unanimously agreed that the atomic bombs should be used: (1) as soon as possible; (2) without warning; and (3) on war plants surrounded by workers’ homes or other buildings susceptible to damage, in order to make a spectacular impression “on as many inhabitants as possible.”
Government leaders, including Secretary of War Henry Stimson, Major General Leslie Groves who was the Army engineer in charge of the Manhattan Project, scientist Robert Oppenheimer, and others all had their preferred targets.
Groves fought hard for Kyoto and it was first on his “list” of targets, but Stimson wanted Kyoto removed for a purely sentimental, personal reason: Stimson and his wife had visited the beautiful city of Kyoto with its wooden bridges and structures in 1926. Eventually Stimson, as Groves’ boss and the senior member of the target committee, won out and Kyoto was off the table.
Hiroshima was ultimately picked as the target and that sealed its fate. On August 6, 1945, the US dropped a uranium gun-type atomic bomb known as “Little Boy,” virtually wiping Hiroshima from the Japanese landscape.
Three days later, a US bomber dropped an implosion-type bomb known as “Fat Man” on the city of Nagasaki. The two bombings killed an estimated up to one-quarter million Japanese people.
The Soviet Union declared war on Japan on August 15, 1945. Japan capitulated and surrendered on the deck of the USS Missouri September 2, 1945. Less than one month after the initial bombing of Hiroshima, World War II was over.