May 18, 2024
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A-Bomb Developed Primarily for Use Against Nazi Germany, Not Japan

The new blockbuster movie “Oppenheimer” has sparked renewed interest in World War II. But rather than just portraying one incident like in “Saving Private Ryan,” or even a major operation like in “Dunkirk,” the movie “Oppenheimer” calls into question the very essence of warfare itself, especially America’s use of the atom bomb. Almost 80 years after that event, many people are still critical of America for being the only country ever to use an A-bomb, especially against a civilian population. It is therefore important to review the history and put that event in context.

Japan had conquered large swaths of the Pacific region and initiated the war against America by bombing Pearl Harbor. However, the primary focus of America and her allies early in the war was the European theater. Here, Germany, under the leadership of the tyrannical madman Adolf Hitler, had conquered most of Europe, large parts of North Africa, much of Russia and was knocking at the gates of Moscow, and as Jews know, brutally slaughtered 6 million of our brethren.

Germany also had a reputation for technical and military expertise and put them to good use in this war. Further, it was known that Germany was working on a nuclear weapon. The thought of Hitler having a nuclear bomb before the Allies was too terrifying to contemplate. It would have enabled him to virtually control the world. This was the impetus for the Allies, under the primary leadership of the United States, to race to develop an A-bomb before Germany did.

Germany in the early part of the 20th century was the font of nuclear science, and the incubator of many of the world’s leading nuclear experts. Many of these scientists, including those working on the American Manhattan Project, were of German origin themselves or were associated with German institutions and scientists. They were aware of the unspeakable brutality that Hitler inflicted on his subjects, and that was one of their motivations for working on the project.

Germany was eventually defeated by overwhelming Allied forces using conventional weapons, and America then turned its full attention to Japan and the Pacific theater. America was horrified at the appalling cost of liberating Japanese-held islands like Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and the prospect of an additional 2 million American casualties projected for the invasion of the Japanese home islands. Because of this fear, an A-bomb strike to end the war became a possibility. Many of the Manhattan Project scientists objected to this, but military necessity prevailed and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took place, which did end the war.

Those critical of America’s action also seem to overlook the fact that throughout history, the world has suffered many thousand-fold or possibly million-fold times the death toll by A-bombs, through the use of spears, arrows, swords, gunpowder and gas. During WWII alone, Hiroshima and Nagasaki accounted for about 200 thousand deaths, but deaths by non-nuclear means were over 50 million.

The main problem is really the propensity of humans to slaughter each other, and not the methods they use to do it.

Max Wisotsky
Highland Park

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