Photos Of The Hiroshima Aftermath That Reveal The Bombing’s True Devastation
Photos Of The Hiroshima Aftermath That Reveal The Bombing’s True Devastation
These haunting images of Hiroshima before and after the atomic bomb reveal a city razed and a people traumatized by unprecedented devastation.

Air-raid sirens were a familiar sound for the approximately 280,000 Hiroshima residents that remained in the city in August 1945.

At the time, American B-29 bombers regularly soared over the nearby coast en route to Lake Biwa, a strategic rendezvous point about 220 miles northeast of the city. Hiroshima was one of the few major Japanese cities that had been spared the wrath of United States airstrikes, though air-raid sirens sounded nearly every morning anyway.

What the residents of Hiroshima did not know was why they had so far avoided any airstrikes. They did not know they had been specially selected as the pilot site for an unprecedented weapon of mass destruction.

The aftermath in Hiroshima following the detonation of the first atomic bomb used in warfare was also unprecedented, which made it all the more difficult for its citizens to rebuild.

Whu was Hiroshima bombed?

Hiroshima was an important military base for the Japanese, it was a hub of communications, and it was fortified by anti-aircraft guns. There were also an estimated 40,000 Imperial soldiers stationed there. As far as war strategy was concerned, it was an optimal headquarters to cut off. Also, as it had so far been spared bombing and airstrikes, the full effects of the atomic bomb itself could be studied.

But there was another reason the United States targeted Hiroshima in particular. As a cosmopolitan hub on flat land, the sheer devastation of the atomic bomb could be witnessed by the world.

"Hiroshima is compact," Alex Wellerstein, a historian at the Stevens Institute of Technology told NPR in 2015. "If you put a bomb like this in the middle of it, you end up destroying almost the entirety of the city."

And the States wanted to show off that power in order to bring a swift end to World War II. Thus, Hiroshima was chosen to be the guinea pig for the first use of a nuclear weapon in warfare.

That weapon was dubbed "Little Boy," a gun-style bomb that would blow when a uranium projectile was fired through a gun barrel at another uranium target. Once the two collided, they formed an unstable element and the nuclear reactions that followed resulted in an atomic explosion.

Little Boy was not tested before it was detonated over Hiroshima, but its creators were confident it would work — and it did.

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