Reactions to Hiroshima

The news of the use of the first atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagsaki on August 6 and 9, 1945 evoked a range of different meanings. In addition to the material form the two books by Paul Boyer contained in the reader, here are a few others:

President Harry Truman:

President Harry Truman was on board the U.S. Augusta, returning from the Potsdown Conference in occupied Germany when he was told of the destruction of Hiroshima. The President told the ship's crew: "This is the greatest thing in history."


A poll taken on August 8, 1945 found that only 10% of population opposed the use of the bombs on Japanese cities; 85% approved.

Another poll taken in September 1945 reported that 64% of Americans believed that atomic bomb had made war less likely.

A December 1945 Fortune magazine poll asked whether Americans approved of their government's use of the atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

53.5% approved what had been done.

13.5% believed that there should have been a demonstration of the weapon's power at an isolated site before it was used against a city

4.5% believed that the atomic bomb should not have been used at all.

22.7% wished more atomic bombs had been dropped before Japan had an opportunity to surrender

One woman reported: "I have no feeling of guilt whatever in the use of atomic bombs on Japan. I only regret that atomic bombs were not used to blast the four Jap islands into oblivion. There may be innocent women and children, but they only in my opinion breed moreof the same kind of soldiers to make us trouble in the future."

The poll found that the welltodo and well educated respondents were less favorable towards the bombing, as were African-Americans regardless of their economic level.

Other Reactions:

On August 9, 1945 Reverend Bernard Iddings Bell, declared at noonday services at Trinty Church in New York, that a victory won through the use of the atomic bomb would be "at a price of world-wide moral revulsion against us."

Congressman Charles A. Plumley of Vermont sent a telegram congratulating Secretary of State James Byrnes on the bombing: "The American people are backing you and the president to the limit, determined that now is the time to exterminate the Yellow Peril for all time.... Let the rats squeal."

An atomic scientist wrote: "I am happy that the bomb was used to end the war and to save the lives of millions of Japanese as well as Americans."

Nuclear scientist Luis Alvarez wrote to his son: "What regrets I have about being a party to killing and maiming thousands of Japanese civlians this morning are tempered with the hope that the terrible weapon we have created may bring countries of this world together and prevent further wars."

On March 1946 the Federal Council of Churches announced: "As American Christians, we are deeply penitent for the irresponsible use already made of the atomic bomb."

Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas: "Reason has made it clear that war is no longer usable as an instrument of foreign policy, and that war in the future would be senseless."

Truman "We can't stand another global war. We can't ever ave another war unless it is total war, and that means the end of civilization as we know it. We are not going to do that."

In 1945 Robert M. Hutchins wrote in "The Atomic Bomb Versus Civilization" that "only one subject of really fundamental importance at the present moment, and that is the atomic bomb. Although it is not a cheerful subject, we must consider it, for the issue is survival, to which all other issues are secondary."

In 1946 H. G. Wells wrote that "It is the end."

Gandhi wrote that "Unless now the world adopts nonviolence, it will spell certain suicide for mankind."