Let us not forget the horror of the atomic bomb

On 7 and 9 August, the whole world commemorates the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As the movie Oppenheimer has been filling cinema halls these days, we hear more than usual about it. That is why we and our Austrian comrades remembered in Vienna all those whose lives were destroyed by nuclear weapons.

Justifying horror

In Hiroshima, about 100 thousand people died in the first days there and 60 to 80 thousand died in Nagasaki. Others died in the following decades. They were mostly civilians who were not to blame for the crimes of the Japanese government. Among the victims were Koreans who had been taken for forced slave labour.

It is often said that this was necessary for Japan’s final surrender. However, a large number of historians believe to the contrary. The Japanese army did not really exist anymore, the islands were completely surrounded and bombed, and on 9 August the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. Many historians believe that not the civilian deaths in Hiroshima, but the above-mentioned facts persuaded the imperial government to capitulate to the Americans (it was expected the Soviests would take even harsher action, liquidate the monarchy and perhaps execute the emperor).

Today, it is well-known that the US government knew that Japan would offer surrender. The American President Truman feared that Japan (or a part of it) would be overrun by the Soviets and became one of the hardest-line supporters of the anti-Soviet course in politics.

Atomic mushrooms are terrifying in their own right. But even they do not give us a real picture of the suffering that weapons of mass destruction bring into the lives of innocent people.

There were already many dissenting voices in the Allied leadership itself at that time. Among those who saw the dropping of the bombs as unnecessary cruelty and assumed that it would have shortened the war by only a few days were military figures such as Dwight Eisenhower (the conqueror of Normandy), Curtis LeMay, Douglas MacArthur, and Chester Nimitz (the most famous American naval commander since Midway). A man as tough as Winston Churchill was of the same opinion. If someone tells you how sure they are that “it was inevitable”, they are obviously a military genius because they understand something that brilliant men like Eisenhower and Nimitz didn’t.

One more detail: The United States is not only the first but also the last state in history to use such a terrifying weapon since Nagasaki. Furthermore, they threatened other states with using it (Vietnam, Cuba, Korea…). In spite of it, it never stops convincing us what a threat atomic weapons are in the hands of others. There are states that clearly want them as a prevention of aggression (namely Iran). Of course, it does not mind atomic weapons in Israel’s hands.

Peaceful visit to Vienna

In cooperation with several international and Austrian organisations, our members participated in the Hiroshima Memorial Day on Sunday 6 August. The Vienna Peace Movement together with the Hiroshima Association Vienna organizes this event every year (since the beginning of the 1980s) to commemorate the victims of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Our members at Stephans Square in Vienna during Hiroshima Memorial Day. Such street art is prepared by Youth Fusion, an organization we had the pleasure to meet during the event.

Organisations such as Abolition 2000, ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Atomic Weapons) and the Austrian Red Cross participated in the event. The Japanese diaspora in particular was given space. Therefore, participants were able to listen to chilling stories or view period photographs.

In LYFS, we see the immense suffering that war has brought to the lives of ordinary people. It is practically always a tool of the bourgeois class by which the richest maintain their power. They pit working people against each other on the basis of the differences they made up. Meanwhile, they line their pockets through armaments, exploiting panics or cynically reconstructing destroyed countries. I dare not miss out the proxy imperialist wars that are being prepared in West Africa, for example.

The lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still relevant: abolish all nuclear weapons, stop militarism, end military blocs, make peace through disarmament, social justice and international solidarity. No more war!



Kristián Haulik and Jakub Rendvanský, members of LYFS West

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