The War in the Pacific Ends

Development of the Atomic Bomb


          Ida Noddack had the theory that if uranium was hit by neutrons that the atoms would burst. Her theory suggested the nucleus of an atom might fission and was considered absurd. But later her theory was proved true. With the theory was the thought that this process could create enormous amounts of uncontrollable energy that could be used in a bomb 

When American military leaders heard about the studies and power of nuclear fission they became afraid of its power.   Albert Einstein who was a refugee from Germany and one of the most famous scientists at the time sent a letter convincing President Roosevelt to increase funding and effort in the formation of the atomic bomb. 

         President Roosevelt then started the “Manhattan Project” which was a clever code name because nuclear fission was being studied by military engineers and scientists in New York City.  Scientists worked on developing the bomb at a lab in Los Alamos, New Mexico.  On July 16, 1945, scientists conducted the first test explosion of an atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert near Alamogordo.  The explosion was huge, much bigger than expected and vaporized everything it touched.


This mushroom cloud demonstrates the explosive power of an atomic bomb.




Hiroshima and Nagasaki


           On August 6th 1945 was just a regular normal day. Little did the citizens of Hiroshima know, but for thousands of them, life was about to come to an end. Hiroshima had been selected by the United States as the very first atomic bomb target. Nobody knew for certain what the effect would be. 

           The single atomic bomb weighed 4 tons, which is 3,600 kilograms. The person who dropped the bomb was Major Tom Ferebee from the aircraft, the “Enola Gay”. The pilot who was flying the “Enola Gay” at the time was Colonel Paul Tibbets.

           The dropping happened just after 8:00 a.m. Less than a minute after the dropping, the atomic bomb exploded. The explosion produced a temperature of 5,400 Fahrenheit, which is twice as high as the melting point of iron. Victims' skin began to peel off their faces, hands, and arms. It has been estimated that people living within 1,100 yards (1km) of the bomb site burned to death. 

           Survivors were in a state of shock. Dead and dying people lay all around Hiroshima. Hiroshima used to be a city of 245,000 people with only 150 doctors and 1,780 nurses. 65 doctors were killed and the rest were wounded, and 1,654 nurses were dead or wounded. At the biggest hospital, only 1 doctor out of 30 was uninjured and the nursing staff of over 200 was down to 10. 

          Nobody knows the exact number of people who died in Hiroshima. Official figures estimated 100,000 died. However, due to radiation sicknes the estimate rose to 140,000 by the end of 1945.

          After the bombing, Japan rejected the United States’ ultimatum to surrender unconditionally, so America dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.  It is estimated that the bomb killed 80,000 people.   Japan surrendered to the United States on August 14, 1945, eightdays following the first bombing.


Reaction to the Atomic Bomb


         Co-pilot Lewis-“I don’t believe anyone ever expected to look at a sight quite like that. Where we had seen a clear city two minutes before, we could no longer see the city. We could see the smoke and fires creeping up the side of the mountain.”


Flight Crew Member-“My God, what have we done?”


President Harry Truman-“[The atomic bomb was] the greatest achievement of organized science in history.”


Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer (director of atomic bomb project)-“[The atomic bomb was] a grievous error.” and “We have blood on our hands.”



Victims of the Hiroshima Bombing



Reenactment of the Atomic Bomb Detonation Over Hiroshima

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 V-J Day


On August 15, 1945 president Truman announced that the Japanese government had agreed to the surrender of Japan. On September 2, 1945 the commander of the Japanese forces and foreign minister signed the official unconditional surrender aboard the ship the U.S.S. Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay.   



President Harry S. Truman announced the victory over Japan.

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An American sailor kisses a nurse in Times Square to celebrate Victory in Japan Day.



American soldiers gather to celebrate V-J Day




The Proclamation of Celebration for the Surrender of Japan or V-J Day in Florida