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Censored Atom Bomb Reports Resurface

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George Weller, correspondent for the Chicago Daily News, was the first foreign reporter to enter Nagasaki following the US atom bomb attack on the city on August 9th, 1945. He wrote a series of articles and submitted them to Gen. Douglas MacArthur's office. The articles never found their way into print – until now.

A Japanese newspaper, the Japanese newspaper Manichi Shimbum has begun serializing George Weller's articles from 1945, also available in English on their website. Some excerpts:

The railroad station, destroyed except for the platforms is already operating. Normally it is sort of a gate to the destroyed part of the Urakame valley. In parallel north and south lines? here the Urakame river, Mitsubishi plants on both sides, the railroad line and the main road from town. For two miles stretches a line of congested steel and some concrete factories with the residential district "across the tracks. The atomic bomb landed between and totally destroyed both with half (illegible) living persons in them. The known dead-number 20,000 police tell me they estimate about 4,000 remain to be found.

The reason the deaths were so high — the wounded being about twice as many according to Japanese official figures — was twofold:

1. Mitsubishi air raid shelters were totally inadequate and the civilian shelters remote and limited.

2. That the Japanese air warning system was a total failure.

He goes on to explain the placement of an Allied prison camp and multiple armament factories nearby. Later, he describes Japanese expectations from him as a journalist

Showing them to you, as the first American outsider to reach Nagasaki since the surrender, your propaganda-conscious official guide looks meaningfully in your face and wants to knew: "What do you think?"

What this question means is: do you intend saying that America did something inhuman in loosing this weapon against Japan? That is what we want you to write.

He describes in graphic detail Disease X, the strange wasting disease that affected the indirect victims of the bomb.

The atomic bomb's peculiar "disease," uncured because it is untreated and untreated because it is not diagnosed, is still snatching away lives here.

Men, woman and children with no outward marks of injury are dying daily in hospitals, some after having walked around three or four weeks thinking they have escaped.

The doctors here have every modern medicament, but candidly confessed in talking to the writer – the first Allied observer to Nagasaki since the surrender – that the answer to the malady is beyond them. Their patients, though their skin is whole, are all passing away under their eyes

Political commentary is absent from the pieces. George Weller was a noted journalist of the time, having won a Pulitzer prize in 1943, and been through much of the American fighting in Europe, even being captured by the Gestapo.

The articles have been authorized by his son, Anthony Weller, a novelist, who plans to publish the entire set of articles as a book. He says his father was furious at the censorship, feeling that it denied the public's right to know.

The Nagasaki bomb killed more than 70,000 people instantly, with ten thousands dying later from effects of the radioactive fallout.

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  • very interesting read also very sad.

  • RJ

    “Aaman, by that argument Germany should have been nuked way before Japan . Their war crimes against the Jews were equally heinous.”

    Jews, yes, and many others…

    But the Germans surrendered before we had the atom bomb ready for delivery. So it would have been rather pointless to nuke a nation that had already surrendered to us…

  • RJ

    “Since when has taking the lives of innocent civilians been neccesary?”

    If the choices are:

    1 – Kill a couple hundred thousand civilians in order to end a war that has killed tens of millions, and allow for a peaceful occupation and democratization…


    2 – Send hundreds of thousands of young American men to their deaths in “liberating” a hostile nation who engages in guerrilla warfare for years, while killing possibly millions of them in a war of attrition until order is restored, and allowing the Soviets a free hand while we are occupied in Asia to possibly make further advances in Europe…

    Well, I gotta go with (1) every time…

    Like I said: HORRIBLE. But NECCESARY…

  • Duane

    …by that argument Germany should have been nuked way before Japan.

    That was the plan. But,

    The Trinity test took place July 16, 1945.

    V-E Day was May 8, 1945.

  • Aaman, by that argument Germany should have been nuked way before Japan . Their war crimes against the Jews were equally heinous.

    I wonder about the ‘innocent civilians’.
    Also its a known fact that during genocides children are killed as they are seen as future enemies.

    Somewhere a line has to be drawn

  • Ah, but were Japan’s civilians really civilians? Again from the /. discussion,

    The Japanese imperial government forced elementary-school children to drill with bamboo spears and take on military rank as preparations to ‘defend the homefront’. Men unfit for military duty, as well as most women, were forced to work in factories making war materiel. The entire civilian population had been forcibly mobilized by the government into joining a military war effort. The entire population of Japan over age twelve were essentially military draftees. This is called “total war”. Today, total war is considered by political thinkers to be a crime against one’s own populace, because it makes the entire population a legitimate military target.

    Also, the Nagasaki bomb squarely hit the Mitsubishi arms factory

    Even in Europe, the “Home Front” was the entire population – everyone was tasked to the war effort, making them legitimate targets in the eyes of some.

    Though I myself find this weapon abhorrent, I wonder about the ‘innocent civilians’.

  • Horrible. But neccesary…

    Since when has taking the lives of innocent civilians been neccesary?

    The strategy to bring a nation down to its knees by nuking it should never be seen as a viable alternative nor be excused.

  • Would Japan have been justified in wiping out a couple of major US cities if it had developed the capability to do so? (From slashdot’s discussion)

  • Numerous pros and cons – but Kurt Vonnegut’s reasoning in Timequake says it interestingly:

    “The decision to bomb Nagasaki only a few days after Hiroshima raises separate issues. Some people hold that most of the arguments for the use of the atomic bomb do not justify dropping the second one on Nagasaki. In his semi-autobiographical novel Timequake, Kurt Vonnegut said that while the Hiroshima bomb may have saved the lives of his friends in the U.S. armed forces, Nagasaki still proved that the United States was capable of senseless cruelty”
    (taken from wikipedia)

  • RJ

    Three words:

    Horrible. But neccesary…