Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Admiral Leahy and the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

August 6th marks the 61st anniversary of the first atomic bomb, which was dropped on Hiroshima by the U.S. in 1945, and resulted in the deaths of over one-third of the city's population of 300,000. The second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later, on August 9, causing the deaths of over 75,000 people and destroying most of that city.

Here are some of the thoughts and opinions of Admiral Leahy, Chief of Staff to Presidents F.D. Roosevelt and H. Truman, who thought that a Japanese surrender could be arranged without use of the atomic bomb and without an invasion of the Japanese mainland, and that the use of "this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan".


Admiral Leahy was the Chief of Staff to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and the unofficial co-ordinator of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A close advisor to both presidents, he thought a Japanese surrender could be arranged without use of the atomic bomb and without an invasion of the Japanese mainland. He felt that demands for unconditional surrender would only encourage Japan to fight on and cost American lives.

He was a staunch anti-communist and did not like the idea of having Russia enter the Pacific War, which could give the Russians more post-war control of Pacific territory.

Leahy believed the atomic bomb would probably not work. After the atomic bombings of Japan, Leahy condemned the use of the atomic bomb for practical reasons:

"It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons." (William D. Leahy, I Was There, pg. 441).

And on Aug. 8, 1945 he wrote in his diary:

"there is a certainty that it [the a-bomb] will in the future be developed by potential enemies and that it will probably be used against us."

He also objected to the a-bomb's use for moral reasons:

"in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages" (William D. Leahy, I Was There, pg. 441).

- Doug Long

For further information:

William D. Leahy, I Was There

Henry H. Adams, Witness to Power: The Life of Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy

The Papers of William D. Leahy. Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

To return to the Who's Who and What'd They Do? index, click Who's Who (

To return to the Hiroshima: Was it Necessary? home page, click Home Page (

(The above was reprinted from the Doug Long website.*



In August of 1945 nuclear weapons were exploded upon the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. Following these atomic bombings, Japan surrendered. But were the atomic bombings necessary to save Allied lives and end Japan's threat to world peace while avoiding a deadly invasion of the Japanese mainland? The following account summarizes the events that led to Japan's surrender in World War II and then considers other means of achieving Japan's surrender. The second half of this article, which also includes the bibliography, can be found in Part 2.

For some who are accustomed to the popular beliefs about this matter, this study may be discomforting, although that is not its intent. But if we learn from past occurrences, it may make our future decision-making abilities more capable of saving the lives of our soldiers and sailors and of people on all sides.

The Tide Turns

As the war with Germany drew closer to the end, the Allies waged an increasingly effective war against Japan. After the fall of the Mariana Islands, including Saipan, to the U.S. in July of 1944, the impending defeat of Japan became increasingly apparent to many Allied and Japanese leaders.

The Marianas had been a key area within Japan's defense perimeter; now Japan would be within range of bombing runs from Pacific Ocean locations that were superior to the China bases that had been used for bombing missions (Akira Iriye, Power and Culture: The Japanese-American War, 1941-1945, pg. 174; Michael Sherry, The Rise of American Air Power, pg. 176).


Read rest of this article here.

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2 comment(s):

WOW! I never knew one man stood up to say it was wrong at the time. Please re-publish this on August 6th!

By Anonymous macadavy, at 11:08 PM  

So the dropping of the bombs on innocent civilians did NOT need to happen, as Hirohito was already urging his people for a surrender. Only one word was holding this back, the word: "unconditional" required by the Americans in Japan's surrender. (The Japanese were afraid that that meant they would have to give up their Emperor. However, that word could have been clarified. As it turned out, Emperor Hirohito stayed emperor after the war anyway. So all those lives were wasted for NOTHING!)

That's another reason why all sane people should be fervently urging their governments for nuclear/WPM disarmament, and for global peace initiatives.

Just think of all that war machinery being turned into 'ploughshares'? Imagine how much of the world's hunger could be eliminated! Our world then would have a chance to survive. As it is, it's only a matter of time until we annihilate ourselves and our planet. Stupid, selfish, greed-driven, power-hungry morons!!

BTW, if I am home on the 6th of August, I will certainly republish the article. Thanks for the suggestion and your comment.

By Blogger Annamarie, at 7:15 PM  

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