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George Weller’s Firsthand Accounts of Nagasaki’s Aftermath

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The firsthand accounts of American reporter George Weller’s stories on the aftermath of the atomic bomb drop on Nagasaki, Japan were published today. A summary can be found here on Yahoo. More detailed and complete entries can be found here. There are four complete entries there.

The entries include much detail about the scarring of the island due to the bomb. But what’s striking is the amount of buildings still left intact after the bomb. “All around the Mitsubishi plant are ruins which one would gladly have spared. The writer spent nearly an hour in 15 deserted buildings in the Nagasaki Medical Institute hospital.” We have all assumed that atom bombs leave nothing but debris, but the fact that the bomb isn’t THAT destructive might be reason why MacArthur, head of Japan’s occupation, wanted Weller’s stories “squashed.”

Weller’s investigations on the “disease X” is very intriguing as he tries to find out why so many people were dying after the initial bomb drop. “According to Japanese doctors, patients with these late developing symptoms are dying now a month after the bombs fall, at the rate of about 10 daily.” Even American POWs were affected by this “disease X”, and I’m not sure that the government ever fully researched its cause and its effects.

The descriptions of the sick and injured are very disheartening. I’ve never read such detail on the aftermath of the bomb drops. Most of the history books I’ve read mentioned the politics of the war and the rationale behind the drop. The effects of the war were censored to both the American and Japanese public. I don’t think they ever knew how the war went as much as we don’t really know. One of the best war films that I’ve ever seen is Isao Takahata’ Grave Of The Fireflies and even though it is an animated picture, it gives an inspiring and passionate look on the effects that the war has on the average Japanese civilian during WWII.

It would be great if Weller’s son publishes all of his stories and accounts. It would be a respected addition to more accurate accounts of not only WWII, but also of our perspective on nuclear energy and weapons of mass destruction.

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About Tan The Man

I am a proud dork and loser.
  • Jeff Partridge

    I thought I’d mention that any attempt to get to the original George Weller dispatches on Mainicihi fails witha ‘File not found’ error. I guess censorship is alive and well in the new millennium.