That was a question I have had in mind almost as long as I had known about the Atomic Bomb blast over the city.
I finally came to Ground Zero, where the world entered the Nuclear Age, to take a look for myself.
In an instant, countless lives and cultural fixtures were wiped out at 08:15h on August 6, 1945, when the Atomic Bomb “Little Boy” detonated over the Shima Hospital in Hiroshima.
But of all the cities in Japan, why Hiroshima? Why not Tokyo?
As it turned out, the second general command of Japan’s army was based in the Hiroshima Castle. In order to observe the effects of the Atomic Bomb, the United States also needed a city of a specific size and population so it could conduct that study.
Prior to the Atomic Bomb blast, the indiscriminate carpet bombing of Hiroshima had stopped to preserve the city, along with three others on a short list, for the nuke.
Clear skies over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 sealed the city’s fate.
Unfortunately for the Japanese, the Franck report went unheeded by the United States government. James Franck, who was tasked with chairing a committee examining the social fallout of using such a weapon, advised against its unannounced use for the first time.
He correctly predicted an arms race and the difficulties of the United States to work with the international committee to control the weapon.
If the United States were to be the first to release this new means of indiscriminate destruction upon mankind, she would sacrifice public support throughout the world, precipitate the race for armaments, and produce the possibility of reaching an international agreement on the future control of such weapons.
~ Franck Report
Aside from the history leading up to the detonation, the museum contains personal stories of people like Sadako. She was a three-year-old child when the bomb detonated over her home city. Seemingly unscathed by the event, she grew up as a normal child until Leukemia took her life nine years later at 12-years-old.
Countless others also suffered the ill effects of the radiation fall out, resulting in cases of mutation and mental illness from survivors and children of survivors of the original event.
From personal stories like that of Sadako, to learning about the resolve of the Japanese people, who started rebuilding the city just days after the blast, Hiroshima represents humanity’s darkest hour as well as its shining light for hope and strength.
In a twist of irony, the day I visited the memorial, several meteorites detonated over Russia, causing a fair amount of damage. While we can’t begin to imagine the horrors the Hiroshima victims experienced that day, this video from the Russian meteorites provides a glimpse as to the devastating effects of the blast shockwave.