World War Two was a global conflict which began in 1939, and ended in 1945. The belligerents of the war were Germany, Italy, and Japan. These three countries were called the Axis. The opposing side consisted mainly of the United States, France, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China. There were over forty to fifty million deaths worldwide from 1939-1945, making World War Two the deadliest war in history. Other than the main countries, almost every country in the world was either directly or indirectly affected. World War Two marked the first use of nuclear bombs against humans. On August 6th 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on the major Japanese city of Hiroshima. On August 9th of the same year, a second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. The first bombing killed around ninety percent of the city’s population, which was an estimated 80,000 people. The second bombing killed an estimated 40,000 people. The surrender of Japan came soon after, marking the end of the deadliest period in history. The president at the time, Harry S. Truman, had been notified of a successful testing of the atomic bomb in July of the same year. The atomic bomb is attributed to thousands of hours of research as well as billions of dollars of governmental funding. Since 1940, the United States had been working on developing an atomic weapon, after having been warned by Albert Einstein that Nazi Germany was already conducting research into nuclear weapons.
Many people question Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bombs. The main argument is that firebombing and more air raids would have forced the Japanese to surrender. According to Truman however, “Despite their heavy losses at Okinawa and the firebombing of Tokyo, the Japanese refused to surrender.” This refers to the Battle of Okinawa where the Allies won a major battle. Further defending his decision, Truman stated, “The firebombing of Tokyo was one of the most terrible things that ever happened, and they didn’t surrender after that although Tokyo was almost completely destroyed.”
The other options Truman had were to either continue conventional bombing Japan or to invade Japan. The least logical option was to invade Japan, and the most logical would have been to continue firebombing Japan. As stated earlier however, firebombing had not been enough to force a surrender on Japan. The effects of the atomic bomb still affect Japan today. High doses of radiation were affecting all survivors, and the areas hit became wastelands.
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