In what amounted to the last act of World War II, US forces dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and another on Nagasaki three days later. Ever since, controversy has swirled around the decision to drop those bombs and annihilate those two cities. But exactly who made that decision, and how did it come about?
On a mid-July day in 1939, Albert Einstein, still in his slippers, opened the door of his summer cottage in Peconic on the fishtail end of Long Island. There stood his former student and onetime partner in an electromagnetic refrigerator pump, the Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard, and next to him a fellow Hungarian (and fellow physicist), Eugene Wigner. The two had not come to Long Island for a day at the beach with the most famous scientist in the world but on an urgent mission.
Just before dawn on July 16, 1942 the French Police began Opération Vent Printanier, or “Operation Spring Breeze.” That morning over 13,000 Jews were forcibly removed from their homes and trudged through the streets of Paris to the Vélodrome d’Hiver, the Winter Bicycle Racetrack, on the rue Nélaton in the city’s fifteenth arrondisement.
Order 227 called for dramatically expanding the number of penal battalions. Penal battalions were sent to the most dangerous sections of the front to perform semi-suicidal missions such as frontal assaults on the enemy or walking across minefields.
Demnig’s project asks Germans to take an active role in the reconstruction of the Nazi past of their own cities and localities. Demnig sets stumbling stones in the pavement only on the invitation of local organizations or groups of citizens who have developed an interest in his project and who have researched the histories of the victims who are to be remembered with these stones.
The Pacific is in vogue. After years of attracting little but scholarly attention, the Pacific Theater of the Second World War has captured the popular imagination in a string of books, feature films and an Emmy-award winning television series, aptly called “The Pacific” and written in part by University of Texas and Plan II graduate Robert Schenkkan.
“They did it. Not us!” According to historian Tony Judt, this was the way Europeans tried coming to terms with the fate suffered by their Jewish neighbors during the Second World War
On August 6, 1945, the United States of America became the first (and so far only) nation to use atomic weapons against an enemy. Since then, the world has wrestled with questions about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Did the A-bombs save American and Japanese lives by hastening Japan’s surrender?