Forgetting to Remember

‘I apologised for human sinfulness, to nobody in particular’–   Shinsaku Koguchi, A-bomb survivor (account of August 6th, 1945)

Paul TibbetsYou probably haven’t heard of Paul Tibbets, but you’ve heard of his plane. Growing up in the Midwest, he moved out to Florida, where he flew regularly as a teenager and became a Lieutenant-Colonel in the US Air Corps. He articulated an uncomplicated view of American exceptionalism, and of his mission: ‘well my thought was, the damn thing worked’.

He was matter-of fact, unapologetic, even cold in interviews; little trace shows of the tenderness which led him to name his plane after his mother, Enola Gay Haggard. He defended his actions to the last: and even advocated using nuclear weapons against al-Qaeda: ‘I wouldn’t hesitate if I had the choice. I’d wipe ‘em out’.

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Ten Thousand Lanterns

At 8:15 AM on August 6th, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, killing 80,000 people in minutes and levelling the city. I won’t bore you with a treatise on the morality or otherwise of the decision, but I will share an eye-opening revelation- before the bomb was dropped, Stalin had planned to occupy Hokkaido after the war. Whether America’s attack was primarily intended to intimidate the Soviet Union is still hotly debated.

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