DATE OF EVENT: Monday, Aug. 6, 1945
DATE PUBLISHED: Monday, Aug. 6, 1945, in The Kansas City Star
Washington, Aug. 6 (AP) — An atomic bomb, hailed as the most terrible and destructive force in history and as the greatest achievement of organized science, has been loosed upon Japan.
President Truman disclosed in a White House statement at 11 a.m. today that the first use of the bomb — containing more power than 20,000 tons of TNT and producing more than 2,000 times the blast of the most powerful bomb ever dropped before — was made sixteen hours earlier on Hiroshima, Japanese army base.
The atomic bomb is the answer, President Truman said, to Japan’s refusal to surrender. Secretary Stimson predicted the bomb will “prove a tremendous aid” in shortening the Japanese war.
Mr. Truman grimly warned that “even more powerful forms (of the bomb) are in development.”
“If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the like of which has never been seen on this earth.” The War department reported that “an impenetrable cloud of dust and smoke” cloaked Hiroshima after the first atomic bomb crashed down. It was impossible to make an immediate assessment of the damage.
President Truman said he would recommend that Congress consider establishing a commission to control production of atomic power within the United States.
Following is the text of President Truman’s statement:
“Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. It had more than 2,000 times the blast power of the British ‘Grand Slam’ which is the largest bomb even yet used in the history of warfare.
“The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet. With this bomb we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. In their present form these bombs are now in production and even more powerful forms are in development.
“It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.
“Before 1939, it was the accepted belief of scientists that it was theoretically possible to release atomic energy. But no one knew any practical method of doing it.
“By 1942, however, we knew that the Germans were working feverishly to find a way to add atomic energy to the other engines of war with which they hoped to enslave the world. But they failed.
“We may be grateful to Providence that the Germans got the V1s and the V2s late in limited quantities and even more grateful that they did not get the atomic bomb at all.
“The battle of the laboratories held fateful risks for us as well as the battles of the air, land and sea, and we have now won the battle of the laboratories as we have won the other battles.
“Beginning in 1940, before Pearl Harbor, scientific knowledge useful in war was pooled between the United States and Great Britain, and many priceless helps to our victories have come from that arrangement. Under that general policy the research on the atomic bomb was begun. With American and British scientists working together we entered the race of discovery against the Germans.
“The United States had available the large number of scientists of distinction in the many needed areas of knowledge. It had the tremendous industrial and financial resources necessary for the project and they could be devoted to it without undue impairment of other vital war work.
“In the United States the laboratory work and the production plants on which a substantial start had already been made would be out of reach of enemy bombing while at that time Britain was exposed to constant air attack and was still threatened with the possibility of invasion.
“For these reasons Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt agreed that it was wise to carry on the project here. We now have two great plants and many lesser works diverted to the production of atomic power. Employment during peak construction numbered 125,000 and over 65,000 individuals are even now engaged in operating the plants. Many have worked there for two and a half years. Few know what they have been producing. They see great quantities of material going in and they see nothing coming out of these plants for the physical size of the explosive charge is exceedingly small.
“We have spent 2 billion dollars on the greatest scientific gamble in history and won.
“But the greatest marvel is not the size of the enterprise, its secrecy, nor its cost, but the achievement of scientific brains in putting together infinitely complex pieces of knowledge held by many men in different fields of science into a workable plant. And hardly less marvelous has been the capacity of industry to design, and of labor to operate, the machines and method to do things never done before so that the brain child of many minds came forth in physical shape and performed as it was supposed to do.
“Both science and industry worked under the direction of the United States army which achieved a unique success in managing so diverse a problem in the advancement of knowledge in an amazingly short time.
“It is doubtful if such another combination could be got together in the world. What has been done is the greatest achievement of organized science in history. It was done under high pressure and without failure.
“We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan’s power to make war.
“It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth. Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such numbers and power as they have not yet seen and with the fighting skill of which they are already well aware.
“The secretary of war, who has kept in personal touch with all phases of the project, will immediately make public a statement giving further details.
“His statement will give facts concerning the sites at Oak Ridge near Knoxville, Tenn., and at Richland near Pasco, Wash., and an installation near Santa Fe, N.M. Although the workers at the sites have been making materials to be used in producing the greatest destructive force in history, they have not themselves been in danger beyond that of many other occupations, for the utmost care has been taken of their safety.
“The fact that we can release atomic energy ushers in a new era in man’s understanding of nature’s forces. Atomic energy may in the future supplement the power that now comes from coal, oil, and falling water, but at present it cannot be produced on a basis to compete with them commercially. Before that comes there must be a long period of intensive research.
“It has never been the habit of the scientists of this country or the policy of this government to withhold from the world scientific knowledge. Normally, therefore, everything about the work with atomic energy would be made public.
“But under present circumstances it is not intended to divulge the technical processes of production or all the military applications, pending further examination of possible methods of protecting us and the rest of the world from the danger of sudden destruction.
“I shall recommend that the Congress of the United States consider promptly the establishment of an appropriate commission to control the production and use of atomic power within the United States. I shall give further consideration and make further recommendations to the Congress as to how atomic power can become a powerful and forceful influence towards the maintenance of world peace.”
The raid on Hiroshima, located on Honshu island on the shores of the Inland sea, had not been disclosed previously, although the 20th air force on Guam announced that 580 Superforts raided four Japanese cities at about the same time.
The base that was hit is a major quartermaster depot and has large ordnance, machine tool and aircraft plants.
The city of 318,000 also contains a principal port.
Stimson said in his statement that the explosive power of the bomb is such as to “stagger the imagination.”
Stimson said that security requirements do not permit disclosing of the exact methods of producing the bomb or the nature of its action. He did say, however, that uranium ore is essential to the production of the bomb.
Stimson promised that further statements will be released in the future to give additional details concerning scientific and production aspects.
He disclosed that development of the bomb was carried out by thousands of persons “with the greatest secrecy.” The work has been so divided, he said, that no one has been given more information concerning the bomb than was absolutely necessary to his particular job.
Three plants to produce the bombs were started in December 1942. Two of these are located at the Clinton Engineer Works in Tennessee and a third at the Hanford Engineer Works in Washington state. The Clinton Engineer Works is located on a government reservation eighteen miles west of Knoxville, Tenn. The Hanford Engineer Works is located on a 430,000-acre reservation fifteen miles northwest of Pasco, Wash.
In addition, a special laboratory to deal with the technical problems has been established near Santa Fe, N. M. The laboratory is directed by Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer whose “genius and inspiration,” Stimson said, has been largely responsible for development of the bomb.
Stimson said that the fact that atomic energy can now be released on a large scale in an atomic bomb raises the prospect that such energy may have a big place in peacetime industrial purposes. The secretary added:
“Already in the course of producing one of the elements much energy is being released, not explosively but in regular amounts.
“This energy, however, is in the form of heat at a temperature too low to make practicable the operation of a conventional power plant. It will be a matter of much further research and development to design machines for the conversion of atomic energy into useful power.”
Stimson disclosed one of Denmark’s great scientists — Dr. Neils Bohr — was whisked from the grasp of the Nazis in Denmark and later helped in development of the bomb.
Initially, Stimson said the project was placed under the direction of the Office of Scientific Research and Development with Dr. Vannevar Bush, director of the OSRD, in charge. At the same time the President named a general policy group composed of former vice-President Wallace, Stimson, General George O. Marshall, chief of staff; Dr. James B. Conant, president of Harvard University; and Dr. Bush.
This group in 1942 recommended a great expansion in the project and at its suggestion supervision of the work was assumed by the War department. Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves, an army construction engineer, was placed in complete control.
Stimson said that General Groves’s performance in developing the weapon in such a short period of time “has been truly outstanding and merits the very highest commendation.”
In 1943, a combined policy committee was established for the project. This group, at the outset, included Stimson, Dr. Bush and Dr. Conant for the United States; Field Marshal Sir John Dill and Col. J. J. Llewellin, for the United Kingdom, and G. D. Howe for Canada. Colonel Llewellin later was replaced by Sir Ronald I. Campbell who in turn was succeeded by the earl of Halifax. Field Marshal Dill was succeeded by Sir Henry Maitland Wilson. Scientific advisers to the group included Dr. Richard T. Tolman for the United States members; Sir James Chadwick for the British, and Dean C. J. Mackenzie for the Canadian.
To handle the problems arising from the control of the weapon and its implications for the peace of the world, Stimson said, he has named a committee on which he will serve as chairman.
Other members of the committee are Secretary of State Byrnes; Ralph A. Bard, former undersecretary of the navy; Will L. Clayton, assistant secretary of state; Dr. Bush; Dr. Conant; Dr. Karl T. Compton, chief of the office of field service in the office of scientific research and development, and George L. Harrison, president of the New York Life Insurance company and special consultant to Secretary Stimson.
Assisting the interim committee as a scientific panel are Dr. Oppenheimer, Dr. E. O. Lawrence, Dr. A. H. Compton, and Dr. Enrico Fermi.