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“Of 71 major Japanese cities, four had escaped major damage in the war—Kyoto, Kokura, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Because Kyoto housed sacred religious shrines, President Truman removed it from consideration as a site. In the end, the target that was chosen was Hiroshima, a manufacturing city of 350,000 residents, because of a vast military installation, a large T-shaped bridge that the bombardier could use as a target, and the supposed absence of Allied prisoner-of-war camps in the area. In the days preceding the bomb drop, U.S. bombers blanketed the city with leaflets warning the inhabitants to leave. . . . The bomb exploded 1,900 feet above Shima Hospital in Hiroshima’s midsection with a force equal to 12,500 tons of TNT. A blinding light brightened the sky, and a dark cloud spread for three miles in diameter. From the midst arose a white mushroom cloud. Within one second, four square miles of Hiroshima disappeared and 80,000 people died. City residents were vaporized by the intense 300,000-degree Centigrade heat, which imprinted their shadows on sidewalks and bridge structures. Shortly after the explosion, a radioactive black rain started falling on the city. . . . The copilot, Captain Robert A. Lewis, stared at the frightening explosion and muttered, ‘My God, what have we done?’ “ – “Dropping of the Atomic Bombs,” The World War II Desk Reference, Douglas Brinkley and Michael E. Haskew, eds.

Published inThe Second World War

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