by Russell Vandenbroucke
This commentary is unpublished.
The recent death (Nov. 1) of Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay, who dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima has prompted another round of comments on American decisions near the end of World War II. Despite the passage of 62 years, heated opinions are repeated as fact and myths become immortalized as truths. Beyond distorting the historical record, wishful thinking about it leads us to repeat past mistakes in new ways against new enemies.
Among the inaccuracies are these:
1) Japan was ready to fight to the end.
Facts: In an intercepted cable of July 12, 1945, Emperor Hirohito revealed his decision to intervene to end the war. In Truman’s journal he characterized the message as “telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace.” Tokyo was prepared to surrender unconditionally if the monarchy would be retained, the very position the Allies accepted after Hiroshima...
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Russell Vandenbroucke, Professor and Chair of Theatre Arts at the University of Louisville, is the author of Atomic Bombers, a play broadcast on public radio to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima.