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The Luftwaffe's lack of Strategic Bombing Initiative....

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IMHO the impact of strategic bombing in WWII is always an interesting and contentious one.  If you look at the productivity of the Allied strategic campaign there are any number of metrics that indicate it was not terribly effective.  Blew up lots of cities and did take the Luftwaffe off of the front, but it didn't really impede production of war material.  German industry never ceased production.  Arguably the most significant impact was oil and even in that case there are metrics that indicate that taking back the oilfields is what really stopped production, not bombing.the fields.

 

Western allied tactical superiority was crushing.  I have always though that the armor kill numbers were inflated but the impact on logistics and freedom of movement was not, and those aspects were far more important than killing tanks.  

 

Now take it from the German perspective in the east.  The Germans never had the numbers or the equipment.  Given the Allies success or lack thereof, I really can't second guess the German decision not to even try.

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Blew up lots of cities and did take the Luftwaffe off of the front, but it didn't really impede production of war material.  German industry never ceased production.

 

Yup.. huge waste of time/resources/lives if you ask me. German war production reached its peak in 1944 IIRC when a lot of cities had been reduced to rubble. There were also lots of instances where factories were bombed and resumed production within a few days of the attack. Plus of course factories that were moved completely underground, making bombing them impossible.

 

Now, bombing/strafing of infrastructure is another matter - like attacks on railroads or railroad stations, etc.

 

But attacking cities and factories? You might even argue that especially the bombing of cities actually helped the government to stay in power for longer, since it enraged German civilians against the Allies who were bombing their cities to crap. Sure: They should've blamed the Nazis who started this war, but people aren't always 100% rational.. :)

 

The one thing that can be said for the strat-bombing (as you've pointed out) is that it forced Germany to devote valuable assets and resources to defend against the raids. Not just LW units but also infrastructure and people to run the early-warning-systems, FlaK-emplacements, development of new weapons to counter the bombers (Me 163, guided A2A/G2A missiles, etc).

 

 

 

 

S.

Edited by 1Sascha

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whaaaa...? there is not a single colored picture in that article! how am I supposed to read that? (wanna guess where I learned that from?)

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@Sasha. German production remained high due to many factors. Main being slave labour from occupied countries and underground factories.

 

Remember that Germans did the same to towns and cities in 1939 Poland, and most noticeably in Soviet Union. It is just that Germans didn't have good enough bombers to fly far enough and good enough fighters to escort them.

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With the exception of the air attacks against the UK the Germans did not try to destroy their enemies will to fight (like the RAF did) nor did they try to destroy their enemies capability to fight (like the USAAF did) by air attack on a strategic scale.

This is not 'just' down to lack of equipment, but also a consequence of the ground war focussed doctrine the Germans had. Even if they had had the perfect equipment, a strategic bombing campaign of Western Allied scale just doesn't make sense in a strategic situation like on the Eastern Front.

 

That said, I've read that the whole bombing campaign wasn't cost effective. It was a good read, and I tend to agree. Until very late in the war (~1945), when Germany's defences had already been overwhelmed and the Allies could efficiently and effectively deliver the bombs, the strategic bombing cost the Allies more than the damage they did with it. Had they instead of bombing gone for important things, the war might have been over sooner. Just think how helpful another 100 convoy escorts would have been in 1941, available at a fraction of the bomber costs.

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Where was the steel to come from to build these convoy escorts and where were they to be built?

 

The Canadian Flowers had to use steel that wasn't properly 'seasoned' and caused all kinds of problems later.

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In mid war by 1942 german Luftwaffe command again looked at the possebilities for a strategic bomber delivering bombs (for example the recently developed nuclear bomb) deep into russian territory ("Uralbomber") and even to America. The Me-264 project was the result of that ambition but failed to impress due to unsufficient range and payload.

 

There were different plans to keep the project going like creating a prop/ jet hybrid bomber or even letting Dornier flying boats refuel and rearm by u-boats in mid Atlantic to than deliver it to New York and even further (don't know in which article I've read this nor if it was ever done).

 

With the ground war and the fight for aerial supremecy over Europe gaining increasing importance the poject never really took off even though some strategic bombers were still in developed till the war's ends.

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Where was the steel to come from to build these convoy escorts and where were they to be built?

The aluminium used to built the bombers didn't exactly grow on trees, as you know. And they still figured out a way to get it where it was needed. 2 million tons of it. The 100 thousand tons of steel necessary to built 100 Flowers is nothing in comparison. But, in the worst case, you could always use the steel of 100 other ships you do not need to build because they aren't being sunk by the U-boats.

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Numbers of ships arriving and losses in North Atlantic convoys inbound to Britain (ships arriving/losses)
1939 700/5 (7.1%)
1940 5,434/133 ((2.5%)
1941 5,923/153 (2.6%)
1942 4,798/80 (1.7%)
1943 5,667/87 (1.5%)
1944 7,410/8 (0.1%)

 

British and Canadian merchant ship construction 1942 1.8 million GRT
US merchant ship construction 1942 5.433 million GRT

losses 6,158,473 GRT

 

US merchant ship construction 1943 13.081 million GRT

losses 2,510,304 GRT

 

US merchant ship construction for 1944 12.257 million GRT

losses 663,308 GRT

 

US merchant ship construction for 1945 (through 1 May) 3.548 million GRT
losses 284,476 GRT

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With the exception of the air attacks against the UK the Germans did not try to destroy their enemies will to fight (like the RAF did) nor did they try to destroy their enemies capability to fight (like the USAAF did) by air attack on a strategic scale.

This is not 'just' down to lack of equipment, but also a consequence of the ground war focussed doctrine the Germans had. Even if they had had the perfect equipment, a strategic bombing campaign of Western Allied scale just doesn't make sense in a strategic situation like on the Eastern Front.

 

That said, I've read that the whole bombing campaign wasn't cost effective. It was a good read, and I tend to agree. Until very late in the war (~1945), when Germany's defences had already been overwhelmed and the Allies could efficiently and effectively deliver the bombs, the strategic bombing cost the Allies more than the damage they did with it. Had they instead of bombing gone for important things, the war might have been over sooner. Just think how helpful another 100 convoy escorts would have been in 1941, available at a fraction of the bomber costs.

Are you crazy? Germany started the whole terror bombing campaigns in 1939, attacking Polish cities and towns. Starting with Wieluń 1st of September 1939. A purely civilian target.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Wielu%C5%84

 

German bombings of Eindhoven from 19th September 1944 and 1944 bombing of Warsaw proves that their method has not changed over the years.

 

Have you seen how human losses compare between allies and axis? And big part of it is due to Luftwaffe bombings of cities in Poland, Britian, Soviet Union, Greece etc. Germany just didn't have aircraft that could fly far enough and take a big enough bombload. Even Hitler wanted everything to be a bomber, even Me262 was suppose to be the 'Blitzbomber'. Just because Germany never bulit as mighty and powerful bomber force as the USAAF, that doesn't mean they didn't do terror bombings and didn't wanted to brake the will of people!

 

 

WorldWarII-DeathsByAlliance-Piechart.png

Edited by =LD=Solty

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With the exception of the air attacks against the UK the Germans did not try to destroy their enemies will to fight (like the RAF did) nor did they try to destroy their enemies capability to fight (like the USAAF did) by air attack on a strategic scale.

This is not 'just' down to lack of equipment, but also a consequence of the ground war focussed doctrine the Germans had. Even if they had had the perfect equipment, a strategic bombing campaign of Western Allied scale just doesn't make sense in a strategic situation like on the Eastern Front.

 

Sure they didn't bomb enemies cities to break their will to fight, they just bombed enemies cities to outright exterminate the people.

 

Edited by GrapeJam

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Solty, the Germans launched a ground campaign against Poland and the air strikes happened as direct or indirect support of the ground action. Germany did not have the ground troops stay at home and bomb Poland into surrender. And because they were usually supporting ground troops, a strategic bombing campaign does not make sense. Neither do you want or need to bomb the territory your forces will move into, nor do you need to bomb the territory your forces have withdrawn from, nor do you need to bomb the territory you already have conquered. All the damage an air force can do is much more efficiently done on the ground. Scorched earth strategy, for instance, is typically done by ground forces. Less effort, more destructive than bombings would be. That's not crazy, it's the sad truth.

 

There were 20+ million civilian casualties in Europe. Germany's most lethal strategic bombing campaign (against the UK) caused about 60 thousand civilian deaths. They killed a million in Auschwitz alone.

 

Sickening but recommended presentation of the Fallen of WW2:

https://vimeo.com/128373915

Edited by JtD
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You have completely ignored the truth and facts I have presented and repeated your mantra.

 

Wielun, London, Warsaw, Eindhoven etc were not tactical targets connected to ground support. Those were atrocities by Luftwaffe on allied civilians. No real military goals were achieved.

 

The fact that Germany has conquered those places with terror on the ground doesn't help. Luftwaffe on many occasions was just a prelude and moved on to another target. It changes nothing because Luftwaffe was still part of those atrocities. And civilian population was targeted.

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I don't think you're getting the point I am making, not the first time, not now that I've explained it in more detail a second time. At least your replies are completely missing it.

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JtD, if I may. What you are stating is that Luftwaffe launched operations solely on purpose of supporting ground operations without an intention to target civilian population - so without terrorist intentions ? And that while civilian population of Poland was hit, it is not similar as when German population was directly targeted by RAF and USAAF to break the will of German nation ?

 

I'm sorry for asking, but just wanted to have absolutely clear ground on this. 

Edited by =LD=Hiromachi

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No, that's exactly what I am NOT stating, while Solty appears to be understanding that.

 

The core of what I am stating is that even with more suitable equipment for the task the Luftwaffe would not have been flying a strategic bombing campaign of Western Allied scale. In particular not in the east. Because the resources Germany had were much better spend on weapons more suitable to that front.

 

Would the Germans have been more successful with invading Poland, had they had a large force of four engined bombers instead of the weapons they used? Likewise, 1940 against France, 1941 in the desert or on the Eastern front? In my opinion no, because the strategic bomber is the wrong weapon for this kind of war.

 

I'm therefore disagreeing with Solty in that it was not 'just' lack of quality equipment.

 

Edit:

 

In my opinion, the difference between the German bombing and the Western Allied bombing was not the terror. That's in fact what both had in common. However, one was a strategic effort aimed at winning the war, completely separate from ground war. The other were attacks in support of the ground war, which was supposed to win the war (exception: attack against UK).

Edited by JtD

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Alright, I see your point. I was just asking due to this:

 

 

With the exception of the air attacks against the UK the Germans did not try to destroy their enemies will to fight (like the RAF did) nor did they try to destroy their enemies capability to fight (like the USAAF did) by air attack on a strategic scale.
 

 

It wasnt all that clear, particularly with first part of the quoted sentence as Wehrmacht tried to achieve their goals (conquer Poland in this scenario) also by means of terrorist attacks intended to break the will of Polish nation. This is openly or indirectly emphasized in words of Herman Goering addressing Luftwaffe on September 1st, 1939 and also in Albert Kesselring speech to members of Luftwaffe flight schools. However not on a strategic scale if compared to Western Powers, albeit still on a big scale considering amount of bombers directed against targets in Poland. 

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So I should have put more emphasis on the last couple of words "strategic scale" to avoid the miscommunication, and probably explained that further after the first hick-up. Even "... predominantly by air attack on a strategic scale" would most likely have been a lot clearer.

 

I hope it is clear now.

Edited by JtD

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IMHO reducing the ability of country to import war materials, and attacking the infrastructure has a far greater effect than the bombing of factories.

Bombing of factories only really works if combined with a "boots on the ground" offensive that is driving into the enemy country (provided that you can get good accuracy) and so the enemy has reduced output from the factores, combined with having to constantly relocate them (like Russia had to do in the early stages of the war)

 

General Curtis Lemay for example could see that against Japan the bombing of factories wasn't having the desired effect (due to a number of factors), so he changed the bombing offensive to wiping out cities.

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You have completely ignored the truth and facts I have presented and repeated your mantra.

 

Wielun, London, Warsaw, Eindhoven etc were not tactical targets connected to ground support. Those were atrocities by Luftwaffe on allied civilians. No real military goals were achieved.

 

The fact that Germany has conquered those places with terror on the ground doesn't help. Luftwaffe on many occasions was just a prelude and moved on to another target. It changes nothing because Luftwaffe was still part of those atrocities. And civilian population was targeted.

 

Lol,

 

Funny how when the Germans bomb Allied cities it is considered atrocities but when the US drops 2 atomic bombs onto civilian targets it is considered a necessary and heroic act to save lives! 

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Maybe by some, but for any reasonable person it is the same. Atomic bombs carried same purpose, to destroy and kill as many people as possible to spread terror among civilian population forcing country to surrender. By the very intention it fits a war crime when you aim directly and intentionally at civilians. Some might call it revisionism, I'd just call it a decency. 

 

However it cannot be forgotten who started it, in which case both Germany and Japan were the first. 

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Lol,

 

Funny how when the Germans bomb Allied cities it is considered atrocities but when the US drops 2 atomic bombs onto civilian targets it is considered a necessary and heroic act to save lives! 

 

For me, every bomb drop is an atrocity. 

Every death is tragic and war is war, the history is written by the winners.

 

There is no good or bad side when your home is destroyed and you seek vengance or if your mind is full of ideas that mean you must destroy the others.

Edited by ManuV
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Funny how when the Germans bomb Allied cities it is considered atrocities but when the US drops 2 atomic bombs onto civilian targets it is considered a necessary and heroic act to save lives! 

 

There would have been no Hiroshima, if there hadn't been a Pearl Harbor.  

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There would have been no Pearl Harbour, if there hadn't been Perry. The blame game is pointless.

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There would have been no Hiroshima, if there hadn't been a Pearl Harbor.

 

Lol ... here you go, justifying the killing of thousand of civilians by the attack of a military target. Way to go JtD ...

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Lol ... here you go, justifying the killing of thousand of civilians by the attack of a military target. Way to go JtD ...

I stand by what I say. Japan started the war in the Pacific, and America ended it.

Edited by LukeFF

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America ended it.

To be fair its Soviet Union that ended it. With Soviets rolling Manchurian front in a matter of days Japanese were seriously afraid of a direct threat to Hokkaido. If Soviets would land on Japanese soil and take one of the big islands a whole integrity of nation was in danger. The main reason for surrender was that fear of Soviets getting to Japan.

At the same time atomic bombs changed little to nothing, Tokio was already burnt to the ground and so was Osaka and many other cities. Atomic bombs were just a cruel act to show the might in front of Stalin (who was seen more as a threat by Trumman than ally at given time) and spread terror over Japanese society.They were simply unnecessary.  

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I love revisionist history. The Marines who found the 1000+ civilians at Saipan who committed suicide at the behest of the Emperor might disagree with us, though. 

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Not sure how Marines are related to this topic, but there is no such thing as revisionist history. Of course we can happily say that all modern historians are damn revisionists when they try to reevaluate already described topics, but that would lead to acceptance of Soviet version of events in a year of 1939 when they crossed Polish borders on September 17th and claimed liberation of the eastern part of country. Or those bloody historians who reevaluate the aerial victories of pilots, how dare they. I guess biggest revisionist (albeit in different area) in our history was Nicolaus Copernicus when he placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe. He should not do that ...

 

Reality is that there is absolutely no proof of a relation between dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and decision-making by the Japanese Government and Imperial General Headquarters. In fact there are multiple accounts from the shelter beneath the Imperial Palace which indicate that it did not cause any reaction in discussions over surrender :

An hour before the second atomic bomb fell on Nagasaki the Big Six met in the shelter beneath the Imperial Palace. A tedious debate about how to surrender in light of the Russian invasion proceeded in the hot little room; the leaders sank deep in their chairs and the usual hopeless divisions emerged. ‘We can’t get anywhere by keeping silent forever,’ noted the unusually outspoken Navy Minister Yonai. The ‘peace’ and ‘war’ factions were split equally over whether: (1) to surrender in line with the terms of Potsdam on condition that the Emperor be preserved; or (2) to surrender with four conditions attached: that the Imperial House remain intact; that Japanese forces be allowed voluntarily to withdraw; that alleged war criminals be tried by the Japanese government; and that Japan’s mainland territory remain free of foreign occupation. In short, fantasy vied with delusion for a claim on their minds.

 

Moderates Suzuki, Togo and Yonai supported the first path; hardliners Anami, Umezu and Toyoda the second. The latter controlled the armed forces, whose officer class continued ferociously to resist any talk of surrender. Nothing of great moment had occurred in Hiroshima to persuade them of the futility of further defiance; the militarists scorned the weapon as a cowardly attack on defenceless civilians. Towards the end of the interminable discussion – now into its third hour – a messenger arrived with news of the destruction of Nagasaki – by another ‘special bomb’. The Big Six paused, registered the news, and resumed their earlier conversation. The messenger, bowing apologetically, was sent on his way. ‘No record … treated the effect [of the Nagasaki bomb] seriously,’ noted the official history of the Imperial General Headquarters.

P. Ham, "Hiroshima-Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath", 2012, page 345 of digital version.

 

The Soviet Union, the loss of Manchuria, the collapse of the Kwantung Army: these were the threats and disasters that governed debate; these were the forces on which Japanese destiny hinged – in the minds of her leaders. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was scarcely mentioned. The wretchedness of the Japanese people impinged little on the samurai elite, spellbound by the whisper of their ancestral exhortation to die with honour: ‘The sudden death of ten key men would have meant more than the instant annihilation of ten thousand subjects,’ noted the historian Butow. ‘Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in another world.’

 

A long interrogative refrain by the President of the Privy Council revealed the low priority the meeting attached to the atomic bombs. Near the end of a great list of questions about the Soviet invasion and the state of Japan’s food supply, between his concerns about air raids in general and the paralysis of public transportation in particular, Baron Hiranuma asked: ‘And are you confident in our defense against atomic bombs?’
Poker-faced Umezu, a stranger to understatement, replied, in all sincerity: ‘Though we haven’t made sufficient progress so far in dealing with air raids, we should expect better results soon since we have revised our tactics. But there is no reason to surrender to our enemies as a result of air raids.’

P. Ham, "Hiroshima-Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath", 2012, page 347 of digital version.

 

The meeting resumed. Reality loitered like an unwelcome ghost, laying a chill hand on the more sentient officials: Togo grasped the point of the Byrnes Note insofar as it preserved a shadow of the Emperor – at the people’s pleasure; Yonai agreed: ‘To much regret … there is no option left to us but to accept.’ Anami’s ears pricked up: accepting the Byrnes Note would destroy the Kokutai, he snapped. The weight of his conflicting loyalties – to Emperor and army – now plunged the War Minister into a state of incoherent bluster: ‘We are still left with some power to fight! … We should do what we should do.’

 
Suzuki moved to break the stalemate. Having recovered from his apostasy and regrouped with the peace faction, the Prime Minister felt disposed to accept the Byrnes Note – which, he conceded, changed ‘little of substance concerning the Emperor’ and offered a ‘dim hope in the dark’. In this spirit he resolved to ask Hirohito, again, for another goseidan. Mere mortals, helpless in Japan’s hour of crisis, appealed for further divine intervention.
In a last desperate bid to buy time, Anami tried to stall the process: he urged Suzuki to delay the next Imperial conference by two days; he needed time to consult with the armed forces. The Prime Minister refused: ‘Now is the time to act … there is no more time to waste,’ Suzuki warned. Anami abruptly left the room.

Suzuki’s doctor, who happened to be present, asked the Prime Minister why he could not wait a few days.
‘I can’t do that,’ Suzuki said. ‘If we miss today, the Soviet Union will take not only Manchuria, Korea, Karafuto, but also Hokkaido. This would destroy the foundation of Japan. We must end the war while we can deal with the United States.’
'You know that Anami will commit suicide?’ the doctor replied.
‘Yes, I know, and I am sorry.’
That night six officers subjected Anami to a detailed outline of their plan; Anami listened and reserved judgment: if he endorsed the coup they plotted, he defied his Emperor in the act of a traitor; if he tried to stop it, he lost his soldiers’ faith and risked assassination.

P. Ham, "Hiroshima-Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath", 2012, page 353 of digital version.

 

As for the post war arguments for using it:

Stimson’s least persuasive claims were that the atomic bombs ended the war and prevented up to a million American casualties. While the bombs obviously contributed to Japan’s general sense of defeat, not a shred of evidence supports the contention that the Japanese leadership surrendered in direct response to the atomic bombs. On the contrary, Tokyo’s hardline militarists shrugged as the two irradiated cities were added to the tally of 66 already destroyed, and overrode the protests of the moderates. They barely acknowledged the news of Nagasaki’s destruction. Nor would a nuclear-battered Japan consider modifying its terms of ‘conditional surrender’: the leaders clung stubbornly to that central condition – the retention of the Emperor – to the bitter end. In fact, state propaganda immediately after Hiroshima and Nagasaki girded the nation for a continuing war – against a nuclear-armed America.

A regime that cared so little for its people except insofar as they served as cannon fodder in a last miserable act of national seppuku; a nation so fearful of the Soviet Union that it sent message after message imploring their intervention in the dying months of war; a people so steadfast in their refusal to yield that they actually prepared to defend their cities against further atomic bombs – this was not a country easily shocked into submission by the sight of a mushroom cloud in the sky (and it is worth remembering that, the day after, Tokyo had no film or photographs of the bomb; only US pamphlets and military reports claiming it had been used).

 

A greater threat than nuclear weapons – in Tokyo’s eyes – drove Japan finally to accept the surrender: the regime’s suffocating fear of Russia. The Soviet invasion on 8 August crushed the Kwantung Army’s frontline units within days, and sent a crippling loss of confidence across Tokyo. The Japanese warlords despaired. Their erstwhile ‘neutral’ partner had turned into their worst nightmare. The invasion invoked the spectre of a communist Japan, no less.
Russia matched iron with iron, battalion with battalion. This was a war that Tokyo’s samurai leaders understood, a clash they respected – in stark contrast to America’s incendiary and atomic raids, which they saw as cowardly attacks on defenceless civilians.
Americans are not alone in seeing the past through their national prism; their pervasive power, however, enables them to project a decidedly American impression of what happened – or should have happened – onto the rest of the world. Photos of the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima impressed most Americans, who could readily imagine the pulverisation of St Louis or Dallas or Chicago. How on earth would the little yellow people endure such a fate? Other realities, however, prevailed in Tokyo and Moscow – a ground war of immense military dimensions and far-reaching political implications, which had a more exacting influence on Tokyo’s decision to surrender than the death of two more cities.

P. Ham, "Hiroshima-Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath", 2012, page 426 of digital version.

 

 

I can keep quoting the materials to point that there simply is no proof of any relation between usage of bombs and change of policy among Japanese leaders. I can also bring quotes about the lack of any serious considerations in regard to alternatives of using A-bombs, as there were none. No deep investigation over different targets, over invasion or diplomatic solution was taken. You may try to open mind for different perspective and read different than usually quoted accounts, as even post war USSBS survey argued that it was absolutely unnecessary :

In 1945 Truman extended the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS) to the Pacific, in order to record the effectiveness of the air war over Japan. Its findings, which appeared in July 1946, diametrically opposed Truman’s case for the bombs. The USSBS argued that the weapons were unnecessary, and that Japan had been effectively defeated long before their use. That much the military commanders already knew. But the study went further, speculating that Japan would have surrendered ‘certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945 … even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, (...)

Or you may believe in what you believe. 

Edited by =LD=Hiromachi
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Interesting reading Hiro,thanks for sharing.

Edited by Brano

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Or you may believe in what you believe. 

 

Or I can simply read government reports.

 

 

 

Date of Nagasaki bombing: Aug 9 1945

Date of Japanese intention to unconditionally surrender: Aug 15 1945

 

Date of planned invasion of Kyushu, Operation Olympic: Nov 1 1945 - by which time 7 more nuclear weapons would have been ready.

 

US military ground forces committed to invasion of Kyushu, Operation Olympic: 766,700

Japanese military ground forces committed for defense of Kyushu, Operation Ketsugō: 900,000

Japanese civilian ground forces under "Patriotic Citizens Fighting Corps" program, mobilized for defense of Kyushu, Operation Ketsugō: 2,000,000

 

Estimated US casualties in first 90 days Operation Olympic: 514,072

Estimated US dead & missing in first 90 days Operation Olympic: 134,556

 

Estimated US casualties for conquest of entire Japanese mainland: 1.7-4,000,000

Estimated US dead & missing for conquest of entire Japanese mainland: 400,000 - 800,000

Estimated Japanese dead for conquest of entire Japanese mainland: 5-10,000,000

 

Purple hearts manufactured for anticipated American casualties in invasion of Kyushu: 500,000  (still being used for US casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq)

"A single death is a tragedy; a milliion deaths are a statistic." Joseph Stalin

 

*edited for typos

Edited by Venturi

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Venturi, American documents don't make much of a case for what happened in the headquarters of the Japanese Empire and Armed Forces.

 

It's worth noting in addition to Hiromachi's excellent post (learned a lot, thanks!) that the Kwantung Army was an elite unit, so seeing it overran in a surprise attack was a big blow.

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However, as the war situation began to deteriorate for the Imperial Japanese Army on all fronts, the large, well-trained, and well-equipped Kwantung Army could no longer be held in strategic reserve. Many of its front line units were systematically stripped of their best units and equipment, which were sent south against the forces of the United States in the Pacific Islands or the Philippines. Other units were sent south into China for Operation Ichi-Go.

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Date of Soviet Invasion:  August 9th, 1945

Date of Japanese issued formal surrender via the Swiss Chargé d’Affaires in Berne: Aug 15th, 1945

 

And in face of quoted above direct recollections of events happening those days and opinions of cabinet and His Majesty, there seems to be little connection between atomic bombs and surrender but huge in relation to Soviet invasion which in a week managed to conquer most of Manchuria. 

 

Another interesting date to bring is July 12th, 1945 :

 

On 12 July, Togo sent another ‘very urgent message’: while it may ‘smack a little of attacking without sufficient reconnaissance’, he ordered Sato to go ‘a step further’ and arrange a meeting between Special Envoy Prince Konoe and Stalin. This was the first Sato had heard of the special envoy’s mission; astonished, he read that Konoe intended personally to deliver the following statement from the Emperor, no less:

 
His Majesty the Emperor, mindful of the fact that the present war daily brings greater evil and sacrifice upon the peoples of all belligerent powers, desires from his heart that it may be quickly terminated. But so long as England and the United States insist upon unconditional surrender the Japanese Empire has no alternative but to fight on with all its strength for the honor and the existence of the Motherland …

Here at least was an expression of Japan’s desire to end the war, the relieved ambassador felt – which clearly identified the one obstacle, unconditional surrender, preventing it. Sato was asked to prepare the ground for Konoe’s arrival, the date of which depended on Stalin’s availability.
The Emperor’s apparent intervention astonished American intelligence officers, who immediately advised their Washington superiors. Truman and Byrnes received the news in Potsdam. They ignored it: ‘Telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace,’ Truman noted, after talks with Churchill. In the eyes of the President and Byrnes, the Potsdam meeting and the forthcoming Trinity test had eclipsed a putative, conditional offer to share a peace pipe with the Emperor.

P. Ham, "Hiroshima-Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath", 2012, page 174 of digital version.
Togo -  Minister of Foreign Affairs

Naotaki Sato - Japanese Ambassador to the Soviet Union

 

Japanese tried to organize a diplomatic solution, though with their conditions and very limited, but still there were moves to at least seek for peace. And all this was ignored.

 

Date of planned invasion of Kyushu, Operation Olympic: Nov 1 1945 - by which time 7 more nuclear weapons would have been ready.

You mean the operation that was dropped even before the test of first atomic bomb was executed in New Mexico ? 

Invasion of Japan and Atomic bombs were simply NEVER an alternative, hopes for invasion were dropped even before Trumman and his advisers knew of the results of Trinity. 

 

 

Truman called on Marshall, as the senior soldier, to begin. The general outlined the forces and strategies being prepared for the invasion. It earmarked 1 November 1945 for the Kyushu landing (as MacArthur had proposed). The circumstances, he said, were similar to those that applied before D-day. By November, Marshall added, American sea and/or air power will have:

 

‘cut or choked off entirely Japanese shipping south of Korea’;

‘smashed practically every industrial target worth hitting’ and ‘huge areas in Jap cities’;

rendered the Japanese Navy, ‘if any still exists’, completely powerless;

‘cut Jap reinforcement capabilities from the mainland to negligible proportions’.

 

The weather and the helplessness of the enemy’s homeland defences further recommended a November invasion, Marshall said. ‘The decisive blow’, however, may well be ‘the entry or threat of entry of Russia into the war’ – Russia’s invasion of Japanese-occupied Manchuria, the ‘decisive action leveraging [Japan] into capitulation’.
 

Marshall turned to the likely losses, which aroused intense discussion – most of it inconclusive and hypothetical. The Pentagon estimated that American casualties – dead, missing and wounded – during the first 30 days of an invasion ‘should not exceed the price we have paid for Luzon’, where 31,000 were killed, wounded or missing (compared with 42,000 American casualties within a month of the Normandy landings). Several caveats qualified this relatively low body count: the invasion of Kyushu would take longer than 90 days, and the figures did not include naval losses, which had been extremely heavy at Okinawa. In any case, Marshall insisted ‘it was wrong to give any estimate in number’. The meeting fixed on 31,000 – a far cry from Marshall’s later estimate of 500,000 battle casualties, which Truman claims the general gave him after the war, and which has bedevilled debate ever since.
 

Marshall and King concurred that invasion was the ‘only course’ available: only ground troops could finish off the Japanese Empire and force an unconditional surrender. There must be no delay, King said; winter would not wait. ‘We should do Kyushu now,’ he urged (his sudden enthusiasm for the attack on Japan marked a departure from his earlier proposal to invade Japanese-occupied China). ‘Once started, however,’ King remarked, with words Truman dearly wanted to hear, ‘[the operation] can always be stopped, if desired.’

 

A dissenting voice was Leahy, who, at Truman’s invitation, questioned the surprisingly small casualty estimates, citing America’s 35 per cent casualty rate in Okinawa. In what numbers were we likely to invade Japan, he asked; ‘766,700’ US troops were projected, Marshall replied. They would face about eight Japanese divisions or, at most, 350,000 troops and, of course, a deeply hostile people. The dreadful mental arithmetic rattled the room: that left 270,000 Americans dead or wounded. King protested, however, that Kyushu was very different from Okinawa, and raised the likely casualties to ‘somewhere between Luzon and Okinawa’ – or about 36,000 dead, wounded or missing. In this instance, King’s arithmetic was almost as dubious as his geography – Kyushu is a mountainous land riven with caves and hilly redoubts, rather like Okinawa.
 

Clearly, for Truman, the invasion plan was fading rapidly from the list of possible alternatives. He authorized the continued planning of the operation, but did not, and would never, approve its execution. The collapse of the Japanese economy, the total sea blockade and ongoing air raids had ‘already created the conditions in which invasion would probably be unnecessary’. Indeed, Truman had convened the meeting precisely because he hoped to prevent ‘an Okinawa from one end of Japan to another’. If the invasion of Kyushu and later Honshu was the ‘best solution’ of ‘all possible alternative plans’, demons of doubt lingered between the lines of the President’s reluctant imprimatur.

 

In the days following, estimates of dramatically higher casualties further doomed the invasion plan. Nimitz, King and MacArthur all warned of a greater number of dead and missing than presented at the 18 June meeting. Even MacArthur ratcheted up his modest estimate, to 50,800 casualties in the first 30 days. No one could provide accurate projections, of course, and Truman never received a clear or unanimous calculation of likely losses, as King later said. Since the war, estimates of 500,000 to one million casualties have been crudely cited to justify the use of the atomic bomb – a classic case of justifying past actions using later information which was not applied at the time. At the time, nobody in a position of influence officially projected such astronomical numbers. The bomb, in any case, would not ‘save’ these hypothetical lists of dead and wounded: in late June and early July Operation Downfall lost the support of Truman and the Joint Chiefs not because the atomic bomb offered an alternative, but because the invasion plan was seen as too costly and, given Japan’s military and economic defeat, ultimately unnecessary – regardless of the success or failure of the atomic test.

P. Ham, "Hiroshima-Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath", 2012, page 178 of digital version.

 

 

The land invasion plans were dealt a terminal blow in early July. Further reports, based on Ultra intercepts, of mounting Japanese strength in Kyushu, turned a blowtorch on the case for Downfall. The horrific example of Okinawa focused American minds on the growing presence of Japanese troops, and armed civilians, in Kyushu. On 8 July, the Combined Intelligence Committee released an ‘Estimate of the Enemy Situation’ – sourced to Ultra, military appraisals and interrogation of prisoners. Prepared for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it stands as one of the most authoritative assessments of Japan’s military capability in the dying days of the war. By July 1945, the report states, Japan expected to be able to field 35 active divisions and 14 depot divisions – a total of two million men (many of them worn-out or poorly trained conscripts, or civilians pressed into uniform) – in defence of Kyushu and Honshu. There were, however, qualifications. Most of these men had not been deployed as of 21 July, due to service elsewhere and transport delays, leaving 196,000 Japanese troops and perhaps 300,000 male civilians fit for military service stationed in southern Kyushu, according to US Sixth Army estimates. However, Ultra updated these estimates throughout July, with evidence of further homeland divisions moving to Kyushu. General MacArthur, ever anxious to lead the invasion, dismissed the figures as misinformation, or simply ignored them. Meanwhile, the Olympic Medical Plan (published 31 July) estimated 30,700 American casualties within 15 days of the invasion of Kyushu (requiring 11,670 pints/5520 litres of blood); 71,000 casualties after 30 days (27,000 pints/12,770 litres); and 395,000 casualties after 160 days (150,000 pints/71,000 litres). In each case about a third of the projected casualties were listed as battlefield dead and wounded; the rest would be general illness and non-battle injuries.
 

Regardless of the quality of the enemy troops – and the evidence suggests they were badly equipped, relying more on spirit than any tangible factors (like adequate air cover and artillery) – their huge numbers unsettled and ultimately helped to shelve the US invasion plans. That was not because America feared it would lose the encounter; rather, hurling American lives at a defeated nation, at a people intent on their own destruction, made little sense: why expend American lives playing to the samurai dream of a ‘noble sacrifice’, a national gyokusai? Why assume the role of executioner to a regime determined to inflict martyrdom on its people? And at what cost? The unrelenting roll call of the American dead was politically intolerable at a time when the sea blockade and air war – precision and incendiary – were grinding the enemy under. And there was the wild card of the Soviet Union, whose entry into the conflict Truman continued publicly to encourage, and privately to question. Washington could not overlook the gift of Soviet arms assistance, which, the intelligence chiefs concluded, would ‘convince the Japanese of the inevitability of complete defeat’.
 

The atomic bomb, if it worked, was not seen as a direct alternative to the invasion: the invasion and the bomb were never mutually exclusive; nobody presented the case in terms of ‘if the bomb works, the invasion is off’. These events advanced in tandem, in a complex interplay between threat and counter-threat, setback and opportunity. Indeed, some in the Pentagon believed that the bomb, if it worked, made the invasion more likely – as a supporting weapon: ‘In the original plans for the invasion,’ General Marshall later wrote, ‘we wanted nine atomic bombs for three attacks’ – on three fronts. The risk of irradiating the advancing army did not recommend the strategy.
 

By early July 1945, regardless of whether the bomb worked or not, Japan’s pathetic state, the likely casualties of Tokyo’s death wish, and Truman’s political sensitivity made it almost inconceivable that MacArthur’s invasion plan would proceed. Ultra confirmed Washington’s fears – and those of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – that Japan’s leaders had not only correctly identified where the proposed invasion would start; they had made the defense of the southern half of Kyushu their ‘highest priority’. These developments led to the decision to set aside, if not yet completely cancel, Olympic – MacArthur’s cherished invasion plan – a week before the momentous developments in the New Mexican desert.

P. Ham, "Hiroshima-Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath", 2012, page 183 of digital version.

 

 

Japanese military ground forces committed for defense of Kyushu, Operation Ketsugō: 900,000

Japanese civilian ground forces under "Patriotic Citizens Fighting Corps" program, mobilized for defense of Kyushu, Operation Ketsugō: 2,000,000

Source for below: "THE JAPANESE PLANS FOR THE DEFENSE OF KYUSHU" by HEADQUARTERS SIXTH ARMY Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 31, December 1945.

 
"Information secured since the occupation of JAPAN reveals that the overall total strength on KYUSHU of Japanese units of all services and types as of the final day of hostilities totaled approximately 735,000, including fourteen divisions and seven independent mixed brigades. However, this total includes units on the islands off-lying KYUSHU, which were not included in the Sixth Army estimate of the situation. Strength on these islands totaled approximately 25,000 and included three independent mixed brigades." 
 
However the preparations were not complete by the end of hostilities and were only expected to be completed by October (on August 15th the main shore defense lines were complete in 70%), however it is a theoretical expectation as the continuing decrease of supplies and resources would hinder any further actions. Furthermore blockade and mines placed in Shimonoseki Straits separated the main islands of Honshu and Kyushu reducing any ability to reinforce the islands. 

 

 

 

Estimated US casualties in first 90 days Operation Olympic: 514,072

Estimated US dead & missing in first 90 days Operation Olympic: 134,556
Estimated US casualties for conquest of entire Japanese mainland: 1.7-4,000,000

Estimated US dead & missing for conquest of entire Japanese mainland: 400,000 - 800,000

Estimated Japanese dead for conquest of entire Japanese mainland: 5-10,000,000

Those estimates never had any real base, the numbers were only given when politicians were pressed about the decision after the war.

 

Years after the war the President sourced his casualty estimates to General Marshall who, Truman said, had privately warned him that invading Japan would cost ‘as much as a million’ dead and wounded ‘on the American side alone’ (despite the fact that Marshall had predicted 31,000 casualties at the meeting on 18 June 1945). Truman appears to have drawn on several other sources – not least former President Herbert Hoover’s warning in a memo on 15 May 1945 that an invasion would cost between ‘500,000 and 1,000,000’ American fatalities – a death rate of such astonishing scale as to discredit this analysis, regardless of Hoover’s access to ‘intelligence briefings’. US military experts – notably General George Lincoln – derided Hoover’s calculation as deserving ‘little consideration’; Hoover’s upper limit in fact implied total casualties (that is, including wounded and missing) of between three and five million. That the comparatively weak and dispirited Japanese might kill or wound virtually every American soldier several times over was ludicrous: the US commanded the air over Japan and ringed the islands in steel; their armies were well trained and equipped and the enemy in an abject state.

 

Nonetheless, the American press and public fixed on the magic number – 1,000,000 American dead – as a monument to the justification of the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

P. Ham, "Hiroshima-Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath", 2012, page 426 of digital version.

 

 

 

"A single death is a tragedy; a milliion deaths are a statistic." Joseph Stalin

I'm not sure if Stalin is a proper person to quote. Not to mention that this quote is so immoral, put here Adolf Hitler instead in reference to Jewish population and it fits perfectly as well. 

 

All this number play and rhetoric's appeared only after the Surrender when American population received the actual pictures of the attacks as well as stories brought by journalists, based on interviews with some of those who survived. Such narration vastly criticized the use of weapons and in response to that Washington prepared its own version : 
 

 

The result was a long article, in Stimson’s name, sourced to a memorandum from his assistant, Harvey Bundy, and written largely by Bundy’s precociously clever son, McGeorge. Groves, Conant and several senior officials edited the draft. The article first appeared in the February 1947 issue of Harper’s Magazine, reappeared in major newspapers and magazines, and was aired on mainstream radio. It purported to be a straight statement of the facts, and quickly gained legitimacy as the official case for the weapon. The Harper’s article (and a parallel piece in the Atlantic Monthly by Karl Compton) reinforced in the American mind the tendentious idea that the atomic bomb saved hundreds of thousands (perhaps several millions, Compton claimed) of American lives by preventing an invasion of Japan. The article’s central plank was that America had had no choice. There was no other way to force the Japanese to surrender than to drop atomic weapons on them. By this argument, the atomic bombings were not only a patriotic duty but also a moral expedient:

 
In the light of the alternatives which, upon a fair estimate, were open to us I believe that no man, in our position and subject to our responsibilities, holding in his hands a weapon of such possibilities for accomplishing this purpose and saving those lives, could have failed to use it and afterwards looked his countrymen in the face.
The decision to use the atomic bomb brought death to over a hundred thousand Japanese. No explanation can change that fact and I do not wish to gloss over it. But this deliberate, premeditated destruction was our least abhorrent choice. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki put an end to the Japanese war. It stopped the fire raids, and the strangling blockade; it ended the ghastly specter of the clash of great land armies.
 
Editors and the public warmly approved: here, they felt, was an honest justification for this horrific weapon; the A-bomb did good, in the end. The Harper’s article put the American mind at ease, slipped into national folklore, and the Stimsonian spell appeared to tranquillise the nation’s critical faculties on the subject. Only the Washington Post made a serious attempt at a critique. It trenchantly argued that, contrary to Stimson’s claim, clear evidence was available of Japan’s terminal weakness before the bombs; and that his ‘apologia’ would ‘not altogether remove the feeling that the use of the bomb put upon us the mark of Cain’.
 
The Harper’s article was profoundly flawed. Stimson had not intended to deceive the American public, but the omissions and selective use of facts deployed in his name had that effect. The essay made no mention of the long debate over the role of the Emperor and Japan’s last (and only persuasive) offer to surrender on condition that the Emperor be preserved (a condition Washington, in the end, accepted). Nor did it mention the opposition of senior officials to bombing a city without warning – a target that only the most wilfully self-deceived could construe as ‘military’; or the Soviet Union’s role in the timing of the bomb; or the USSBS’s (contested) claim that a defeated Japan would have surrendered without the bomb or an American invasion. Most erroneously it argued that a land invasion of Japan and the atomic weapons were mutually exclusive – a case of ‘either-or’.

This flawed nexus ignored the fact that Truman and senior military advisers had all but abandoned the land invasion by early July 1945, irrespective of whether Trinity bathed Alamogordo in neutrons.
 
Basic errors of fact compounded these sins of omission. The article was plain wrong, for example, to claim that the ‘direct military use’ of the bomb had destroyed ‘active working parts of the Japanese war effort’. Nobody on the Target Committee pretended that ‘working men’s homes’ were military targets whose destruction would seriously hamper the enemy’s fighting ability. In any case, more than 90 per cent of Hiroshima’s war-related factories were on the city’s periphery. On Conant’s nod, the committee had clearly recommended that the bomb be dropped on the heart of a city – that is, on noncombatants. The priority was not the destruction of ‘workers’ homes’ (though their presence served a useful public relations role); it was to shock Japan into submission by annihilating a city.
 
As to Stimson’s claim that America used the bomb reluctantly – ‘our least abhorrent choice’ – suggesting that Washington and the Pentagon had wrestled painfully with alternatives, the facts demonstrate precisely the opposite. Everyone involved expected, indeed hoped, to use the bomb as soon as possible, and gave no serious consideration to any other course of action. The Target and Interim Committees swiftly dispensed with alternatives – for example, a warning, a demonstration, or attacking a genuine military target. Indeed, Byrnes rejected these over lunch in the Pentagon – arguing that a warning imperilled the lives of Allied POWs whom the Japanese would move to the target area (the US Air Force had shown no such restraint in the conventional air war, which daily endangered POWs). As well as this, he argued, a demonstration might be a dud (unlikely, given Trinity’s success, and the fact that Manhattan scientists saw no need even to test the gun-type uranium bomb used on Hiroshima); that they had only two bombs (untrue – at least three were prepared for August, and several in line for September through to November); and that there were no military targets big enough to contain the bomb. In fact, Truk Naval Base was considered and rejected; no other military target was seriously examined; only Kokura, a city containing a large arsenal, came close to that description, and the attempt to bomb it was abandoned due to the weather.
 
The nuclear attacks were an active choice, a desirable outcome, not a regrettable or painful last resort, as Stimson insisted. The administration never seriously considered any alternative; its members focused on how, not whether, to use atomic weapons. Every high office-holder believed the bomb would be dropped if Trinity proved successful. I never had any doubt it should be used,’ Truman said on many occasions. ‘The decision,’ wrote Churchill later, ‘whether or not to use the atomic bomb to compel the surrender of Japan was never an issue.Groves dismissed Truman’s role as inconsequential. ‘Truman’s decision,’ the general wrote, ‘was one of non-interference – basically a decision not to upset the existing plans.
 
In this frame, a complete Japanese surrender at an awkward time – that is, after Trinity’s success and before the bombs arrived on Tinian – would have frustrated any hope of using the weapons. This is not to impute sinister motives to any man, whose heart and mind we may never truly know; simply to assert that Washington and the Pentagon were absolutely determined to use the two atomic bombs. ‘American leaders did not cast policy in order to avoid using the atomic weapons,’ in the historian Barton Bernstein’s view. The phrase ‘our least abhorrent choice’ grossly misrepresents a gung-ho, indeed diabolically zealous, enterprise.
Stimson’s least persuasive claims were that the atomic bombs ended the war and prevented up to a million American casualties.

The President knew the script well. On 6 August he told Eben Ayers, his impressionable White House press official, that military advisers had warned a million men might be needed to invade Japan, with casualties of 25 per cent. Truman estimated that if Hiroshima’s population were 60,000 then ‘it was far better to kill 60,000 Japanese than to have 250,000 Americans killed’. He added: ‘I therefore ordered the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In fact, Truman had approved a decision that had been made for him in the extraordinary confluence of American industrial wealth, European scientific brilliance, Japanese war crimes, Russian imperialism, the incendiary campaigns over Germany and Japan, and the acute geo-political pressures of the last year of the war, which met in the minds of Churchill and Roosevelt at Hyde Park. Only a character of unearthly will, vast authority and transcendent moral vision could have resisted the fatal momentum of the atomic project. However great a president, Truman was not that character.
 
The President never lost any sleep over ‘his’ decision, he often claimed; he would have done it again, he said on several occasions. He told a Mrs Klein, years after the war, that the bomb saved a quarter of a million American and Japanese boys. As a result, ‘I never worried about the dropping of the bomb. It was just a means to end the war.’ He told a 1958 CBS See It Now TV report that he had ‘no qualms’ about ordering the use of the atomic weapon on Japan – prompting a letter of protest from Hiroshima City Council, in reply to which Truman attempted to justify the use of the bomb as revenge for Pearl Harbor.
 
The council responded: ‘Do you consider it a humane act to try to justify the outrageous murder of two hundred thousand civilians of Hiroshima, men and women, young and old, as a countermeasure for the surprise attack [on Pearl Harbor]?’ Nagasaki Municipal Assembly weighed in: ‘We deeply regret the war crimes committed by our nation during the last World war … Nevertheless, we cannot remain silent in the face of your persistent attempt to justify the atomic raids.
Again on 5 August 1963, in a letter to Irv Kupcinet of the Chicago-Sun Times, Truman claimed that the bomb saved 125,000 American and 125,000 Japanese ‘youngsters’, and avenged Pearl Harbor. Oddly, lower down in the same letter, he doubled the number of lives he reckoned he saved: ‘I knew what I was doing when I stopped the war that would have killed a half a million youngsters on both sides if those bombs had not been dropped. I have no regrets and, under the same circumstances, I would do it again.’ He protested too much, it seems. He later told Paul Tibbets not to lose any sleep over the mission. ‘It was my decision. You had no choice.’ Selflessly determined to shoulder the burden alone, Truman moved to silence the worm of conscience in others.
The simple fact is, Truman never presented the bomb as an alternative to invasion until after the war. He had always resisted the invasion of Japan regardless of whether the bomb worked. The prospect of several hundred Okinawas on the shores of Kyushu horrified him. He expected the naval blockade, the air war and – at least until mid-July – the Russians would together finish the job. Marshall, Stimson, Leahy, Eisenhower and Halsey all came to believe this, to a greater or lesser extent.

P. Ham, "Hiroshima-Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath", 2012, page 421-426 of digital version.

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It's worth noting in addition to Hiromachi's excellent post (learned a lot, thanks!) that the Kwantung Army was an elite unit, so seeing it overran in a surprise attack was a big blow.

That was not the case anymore, Kwantung Army was used throughout the war as strategic reserve and the skilled and trained units were continuously moved overseas leaving only under-trained and not well supplied forces.  Though numerically strong, their combat effectiveness was at a nadir; and their equipment woefully outclassed. Russian tanks outnumbered the Japanese five to one (5556 to 1155, noted the historian Richard Frank) and the Japanese Air Army had just 100-200 first-line aircraft.

The Japanese troops were neither warned of, nor equipped to meet the Russian juggernaut, despite Tokyo’s knowledge of the Soviet deployment across Siberia; the Kwantung Army were told only of a slight possibility of an attack in August. 
 
Though for politicians it was a big blow as they were not aware of the state of Kwantung Army. As usual IJA was unwilling to share details of its own situation unless pressed by the events. 

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