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Sites to See:
Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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Near the end of World War II, on August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It was the first use of an atomic bomb. Three days later, a second bomb fell on Nagasaki. Whether the bombings were necessary acts of war or atrocities that should never be repeated, few people would dispute that the bombings profoundly affected the public consciousness and changed forever the way people look at warfare. Education World recommends some of the best sites on the World Wide Web for learning and teaching about this important historic event.


Atomic bombs have been used only twice in warfare, both during World War II. On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped a 4.5-ton uranium bomb--nicknamed "Little Boy"--on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Almost instantaneously, tens of thousands of people died or sustained serious injury.

Three days later, a plutonium bomb nicknamed "Fat Man" fell on Nagasaki, with equally destructive results.

In the years since, people have credited the bombings with hastening the end of World War II and/or condemned them as inhumane and militarily unnecessary.

The Web sites listed below are intriguing, captivating, educational, and occasionally controversial. Education World recommends that teachers preview the sites before using them in the classroom. Some include photographs that may disturb children.

Nuclear Weapons -- History: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
This site is a great place for primary source material relating to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The site also includes photographs, and more. It is part of the Nuclear Files Web site maintained by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, which was founded in 1982 to study critical issues of peace and global survival and to prepare and distribute educational materials related to these issues.

General Paul Tibbets, World War II and the Enola Gay
This is the official Web site of Paul W. Tibbets Jr., the pilot of the Enola Gay. The B-29 bomber made history on the morning of August 6, 1945, when the United States dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Tibbets has been credited with helping bring about a quick Japanese surrender and a reduction in the loss of Allied lives. He has been enshrined with honor in the National Aviation Hall of Fame. This site includes interesting material on Tibbett's life and background, the secrecy surrounding the mission, and technical information about the Enola Gay.

Project WhistleStop: The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb

Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, Japan and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British "Grand Slam," which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.
            --President Harry S. Truman
             August 6, 1945
            Official Releases

Check out this site for lesson plans and classroom activities that explore the United States decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Included are copies of such primary source materials as the minutes of a June 18, 1945, White House meeting attended by President Truman and select government and military officials; press releases; and selections from Truman's diaries. This site is part of Project WhistleStop. The project goal is to enable educators to work with original source material from the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library

The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School
This site is a meticulously detailed report of all aspects of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In addition to first-person accounts, it contains information about the reasons behind the selection of the two targets, life in Hiroshima and Nagasaki before the bombings, and the aftermath of the bombings. The Manhattan Project Atomic Bomb Investigating Group was formed two days after the bombing of Nagasaki to secure scientific, technical, and medical intelligence from within Japan as soon as possible.

Atomic-Bomb WWW Museum
This site offers a wealth of information, including stories about survivors, the effects the bombings had on the generation born after the war, messages from the current mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and more.

Hiroshima Archive
This Web site offers stirring photographs of the Hiroshima bombing and its aftermath. Also included here are links to related sites.

Voice of Hibakusha

... At times I have thought I should have died then, it would have been better. But I must live for the sake of the people, all the people who lost their lives then. So I relate my experiences hoping that my talk would discourage people from making war. Our experience must not [sic] forgotten. What we believed in during the war turned out to be worth nothing. ... Hiroshima should not be repeated again. That is why I keep telling the same old story over and over again. And I'll keep repeating it."
    -- Ms. Toshiko Saeki, age 26 at the time of the Hiroshima bombing

Hibakusha is the Japanese word for the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. These translations of more than a dozen eyewitness accounts of the Hiroshima bombing are from the videotape Hiroshima Witness, produced by the Hiroshima Peace Cultural Center and NHK, the public broadcasting company of Japan.

Remembering Nagasaki
As part of its recent investigation into the nature of memory, the Exploratorium, a San Francisco museum of science, art, and human perception, invited people to share their recollections of learning about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This site contains dozens of such entries in addition to comments about other aspects of the bombings and a moving photographic exhibit. At the age of 28, photographer Yosuke Yamahata was one of three men assigned to document the effects of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

Rare Film Documents Devastation at Hiroshima
On August 10, 1996, CNN announced the public release of this rare footage of the aftermath of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima, three years after its discovery in a Tokyo film vault. The black-and-white film, consisting of three hours of unedited footage, was shot around the city center during a Japanese Education Ministry fact-finding mission a month after the bombing.

Radiation Effects Research Foundation
This is a very useful site for scientific information about the health effects of radiation exposure. The Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) is a cooperative Japan-United States organization to research the medical effects of radiation on humans and diseases that radiation may affect.

Lauren P. Gattilia
Education World®
Copyright © 2009 Education World

Originally published 10/26/2001
Links updated 04/29/2010

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