Analyses, after Marcel Junod, how “Hiroshima had ceased to exist” in “The First Atom Bomb”: Brutal Destruction of Hiroshima Pains us and Makes us Aware of the Great Dangers of a Nuclear War

Marcel Junod’s essay The First Atom Bomb describes the terrible destruction of practically everything of the once prosperous city of Hiroshima in Japan on 6th August, 1945 as a result of the atom bomb, used for the first time in warfare. Though the Second World War ended soon after, it revealed the great danger of a war in future. The whole essay may be divided into three sharp sections on the three following points

(a) The description of the prosperous Hiroshima,

(b) The detailed account of the destruction of the city by the atom bomb,

(c) MacArthur’s speech on the futility of war.

The First Atom Bomb, full of vivid and pictorial descriptions, throbs with emotion. It reveals Marcel Junod’s (a French pacifist who visited the devastated city as a member of the International Red Cross just after its destruction) deep sympathy for the casualties, his bitter hatred of brutal wars and his great anxiety for our posterity in view of the emergence of the deadly modern weapons.

Nagasaki Bomb
The First Atom Bomb begins with accounts of The two Japanese interpreters who went with the investigation commission of the International Red Cross, were Miss Ito, who was born in Canada and a journalist who lived in the United States for twenty years.  According to Miss Ito, Hiroshima, which means ‘the broad island’, was a busy prosperous town on the delta of the river Ota. It was the seventh biggest town in Japan and seven branch rivers of the Ota enclosed it in a perfect triangle. It had many factories, warehouses, oil refineries, a harbour and an arsenal. Read More Essay It had a population of 2, 50,000 people. There was also a garrison of 1, 50,000 soldiers.  Professor Tsusuki was one of the leading surgeons’ in Japan. He led Marcel Junod and other members of the investigation commission of the International Red Cross to the centre of the atomic explosion in Hiroshima.

In an excited, loud voice Professor Tsusuki told the writer and other members that they must open their mind to understand everything. His sentences were becoming disjoined out of excitement. He then pointed to the remnants of a base-wall and said that it was once a hospital with two hundred beds, eight doctors and twenty nurses. All of them including the patients had been killed by the explosion and he concluded that that was what an atomic bomb could do.

The Japanese journalist also described the main official buildings of Hiroshima. They were built of reinforced concrete and towered over the countless low-roofed houses which extended over miles upto the wooded hills. Hiroshima was subjected to two minor air-raids---- one on March 19, by a squadron of American naval planes, and another on April 30, by a Flying Fortress. But it was not much damaged by them.

  On 6th August 1945 after 7-31 in the morning one of the four American B-29 planes suddenly appeared over Hiroshima and hurled an atom bomb on the wretched city. Read More EssayWithin a few seconds after the explosion, thousands of people outside were burnt to death. Many others were twisting, and shrieking from intolerable pain. Walls, houses, factories and other buildings were all demolished.  Trains were also thrown off the rails. Men under the debris6 were either killed or wounded, and those who miraculously escaped, found themselves encircled8 by fire and were burnt to death. Horses, dogs and cattle too were not spared. Trees and plants were also burnt to ashes. Some reinforced concrete buildings still remained standing, but their interiors9 were completely gutted.  After half an hour there was a sudden rain of over-heated air followed by a violent storm which completely burnt everything. The bright, busy town of yesterday thus wore a desolate and bizarre look of the necropolis. By the evening Hiroshima ceased to exist.

    General MacArthur was addressing the delegates of the International Red Cross. He had been in the army throughout his service career. He became the supreme commander of the Allied Powers in the Eastern front in 1945. It is clear that he was a soldier by profession. Read More Essay A professional soldier, as he was, must have used force either in the defence or in the offence. But here General MacArthur spoke of the value and dignity of human life. He also spoke against the application of force. His words were apparently against his professional character. That is why the general thought that his words might appear to be strange    to the delegates.

General MacArthur, ‘the chief architect of victory in the Pacific’ did not conceal   that peace still lay far ahead in future. He continued that there had been too much destruction  and physical exhaustion  in the War (the Second World War) and as a result there would not be another war during the next twenty or twenty five years. And after that another World War would leave nothing worthy of mention on earth. He regretted that there was so little chance of achieving peace in the world. General MacArthur expressed his concern and anguish for the sacrifice of human life and above all the dignity of man. He emphatically said that force was not a solution of human problems and as such could never be the last word. He said that it was true, though it might hear strange that he, a professional soldier, should say like that.

He further said that after the exhaustion of the Second World War it might take 20-25 years for the tired nations to be strong enough for the Third Great War. If that could not be prevented by all efforts, nothing worthy of human achievements and civilization would survive after that war. General MacArthur expressed his apprehension that the atom bomb had only stopped the war for the time being but had not brought about permanent peace. He also apprehended that force could not bring the required peace, which only friendly discussion and understanding among nations could. Read More Essay As there was no sign of that amity and understanding, the danger of war and consequent death and destruction would be there to reappear after the exhaustion of the Second World War had been over. That would surely bring about a total destruction of the world, leaving nothing behind worthy of mention’. So everything possible’ must be done in the interval to save mankind from the danger of war and destruction.

  It is right that a Third World War with the recently invented nuclear weapons will annihilate the world with all its acquired achievements up to now. So a Third World War must be avoided by all means. MacArthur’s views on war and peace are genuine. He realizes that war can solve nothing and so can never be the last word. The terrible devastation caused by the first atom bomb has made him feel so. Indeed, true solution lies in peaceful negotiations and mutual understanding.

An unnatural earthquake and a wave of suffocating heat swept the city Hiroshima. Within a few seconds after the appearance of the ‘glaring whitish pinkish light’ in the sky, thousands of people were burnt to death. People were twisting and shrieking from the intolerable pain of their burns. A little off from the place of the explosion upto a distance of three miles, men who were under the debris were either killed or wounded. Those who miraculously escaped found themselves in a ring of fire and were burnt to ashes. A few who did not die immediately, died twenty or thirty days after from the delayed effects of the deadly gamma rays. This was the fate of the people of Hiroshima after the ‘glaring whitish pinkish light’ had appeared in the sky.

  General MacArthur was the speaker. He said this to the delegates’ of the International Red Cross during a reception he gave in their honour. Read More Essay Through Brigadier-General Baker General MacArthur informed the delegates of the investigation commission that he wished to receive them in his office in Tokyo. Accordingly, the delegates met the General who made the above remarks during this reception. When pointing to the ruins of a hospital at Hiroshima, Professor Tsusuki, a leading surgeon in Japan and guide of the international investigation commission, made this remark in an excited, loud voice. He wanted to mean that the commission must approach the whole question with an unbiased mind to understand all aspects of such devastating’ wars in general, and atomic war in particular.

The ruined centre of the blasted ‘Hiroshima seemed to be a zone of utter death, where complete silence of a cemetery prevailed’. Read More EssayNone survived the attack of the atom bomb, and the horses, dogs and cattle too suffered the same fate as human beings. Not a single bird or animal was seen. Every living thing was petrified in an attitude of unspeakable suffering. Even the vegetation did not escape trees went up in flames, the rice plants lost their greenness, and the grass burned on the ground like dry straw. Everything standing upright on the way of the blast was annihilated. When the writer went to visit this central zone of utter death, a few soldiers were clearing the debris and only little grasses were sprouting amidst the ruins. And this might be the everlasting hope of humanity!