Some Carried 'Own Eyeballs in Their Hands' in Hiroshima

The world, media reflect on the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2020 9:54 AM CDT
Some Carried 'Own Eyeballs in Their Hands' in Hiroshima
In this Aug. 6, 1945, file photo released by US Air Force, a column of smoke rises 20,000 feet over Hiroshima, western Japan, after the atomic bomb was released.   (George R. Caron/US Air Force via AP, File)

Its code name was "Little Boy," but its impact was anything but small. Thursday marks the 75th anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945. By the end of that year, 140,000 deaths—mostly of civilians—were tied to the blast and radiation-related injuries and illnesses. Media all around the world are marking the occasion with looks at the event from a variety of angles. Among the best reads:

  • For a refresher on the world's first nuclear attack, read this Q&A from the AP, which answers questions ranging from why Hiroshima was selected as the target (it was a military hub complete with factories and ammunition facilities) to the impact of the radiation on those who survived. One standout detail: The US chose not to fire bomb the city prior to the attack so it could better assess the bomb's impact.
  • The "morality and legality of those nuclear attacks was hardly the subject of public debate" when the bomb was dropped, reports NPR, which takes a look at the debate that dogs the mission today. Specifically, should it be considered a war crime? Under the current laws of war, absolutely, say experts, but in 1945, perhaps not. They explain why, and point out that those factories and military bases the US cited as the reason for selecting Hiroshima were located "quite far" from where the bomb was dropped. This article from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists digs even deeper into the question.

  • For a survivor's story, read this 2016 NPR interview with Setsuko Thurlow, who was 13. Among her recollection of the aftermath: "In the darkness, I could see some dark moving object approaching to me. They happened to be human beings ... they just didn't look like human beings. I called them ghosts, ghost-like people because their hair was standing up. They were covered with blood and burned and bludgeoned and swollen, and the flesh was hanging from the bones. Parts of their bodies were missing, and some were carrying their own eyeballs in their hands. And as they collapsed, their stomach burst open, intestines stretching out."
  • The Knoxville News Sentinel takes a look at the failed effort by some top Manhattan Project scientists in July 1945 to get President Truman to call off the bombings. Their effort didn't fail because Truman disagreed—it failed because their plea never reached him. "Two of the administration's top officials schemed to keep the president in the dark about objections raised by the scientists," the paper explains. Read the full story here.
  • As far as US coverage of the bombing's aftermath goes, it mainly focused on the destroyed landscape, not the people who survived and lived amidst it, reports the Wall Street Journal. One man wanted to change that and erode Americans' apathy to the reality of what had been done: World War II journalist/New Yorker writer John Hersey. The Journal explains how he managed to get into the country and "gathered the testimonies of six Hiroshima residents whose names and stories would soon become world-famous" thanks to his article "Hiroshima," which comprised the bulk to the magazine's Aug. 31, 1946, edition.
  • For a profile of one of the men involved, read the New York Times Magazine's piece on Maj. Claude Eatherly, who as a 26-year-old flew the advance weather plane that assessed visibility over the city. Per the piece, "one of the 90 servicemen who flew the atomic bombing missions," Eatherly was the only one who "came forward to publicly declare that he felt remorse for what he had done."
(More Hiroshima stories.)

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