The truth about the bomb

Issue 

The truth about the bomb

Summer of the bomb


SBS, Sunday, August 6, 8.30pm (8 South Australia)


Previewed by Jennifer Thompson

This documentary will be aired on the 50th anniversary of the US Air Force dropping the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Nine days and the bombing of Nagasaki later, the war was over, many thanks to US President Truman. That's the official US story.

This British-made film presents the true story of the decision to bomb, based on memoirs, personal diaries and official US documents. Following closely the information uncovered by Dr Gar Alperovitz, author of Atomic Diplomacy, and other researchers, the film shows that the three men who decided — President Truman, Secretary of State James F. Burns and Secretary of War Henry Stimson — did so for entirely different reasons than securing a Japanese surrender.

Through a series of re-enactments, we find out that US officials knew of Japanese attempts to surrender, which would require neither use of the A-bomb, nor a US invasion of Japan. The bombing, which cost 210,000 Japanese civilians their lives, was instead about threatening the Soviet Union to curb the spread of its influence in postwar eastern Europe.

The US A-bomb heralded the new Cold War and an arms race that would impoverish and threaten humanity to this day. As the decision making process unfolded during summer 1945, people involved spoke up about the dangers of the struggle for nuclear dominance. Those people were ignored, and the bomb was dropped — a fact that the official story still denies. The film is recommended viewing, and will be followed by Shohei Imamura's acclaimed film about Hiroshima, Black Rain.