Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-Up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World by Lesley M. M. Blume

Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-Up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World by Lesley M. M. Blume

Author:Lesley M. M. Blume
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: 20th Century, Biography & Autobiography, Editors; Journalists; Publishers, History, Military, Military Science, Nuclear Warfare, Technology & Engineering, World War II
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: 2020-08-04T03:00:00+00:00

Chapter Seven Aftermath


General MacArthur’s SCAP offices had approved Hersey’s entrance into Japan and given him access to Hiroshima. FBI officials in both Tokyo and Washington had known of his presence in the country. Hersey had stayed with U.S. military police while in Hiroshima. General Groves had complete pre-publication knowledge of the contents of the article. Even so, “Hiroshima” blindsided officials at the very highest levels of government. They quickly and painfully discovered, along with the press, that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not yesterday’s news; nor had their efforts at spinning and supressing that news succeeded after all.

“We all exhausted ourselves” reading the article, McGeorge Bundy, former assistant to U.S. secretary of war Henry L. Stimson, admitted later.

“Hiroshima” undid over a year of work on two continents to cover up the truth about the aftermath of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. General Groves’s right-hand man, General Thomas F. Farrell—who had first inspected those cities for residual radiation a year earlier and declared both safe for incoming occupation troops—was incensed by Hersey’s story, apparently unaware that his own wartime boss had greenlighted it.

“America forgets so quickly,” General Farrell wrote in a letter to Bernard Baruch, the U.S. representative to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission. Farrell said he was “much more moved by starved American soldiers who had been continually beaten by baseball bats than I was by the wounded Japanese in Hiroshima.”

Baruch personally knew Ross and Shawn and New Yorker publisher Raoul Fleischmann; General Farrell now urged him to tell the magazine’s principals to run a similar article on six Allied prisoners of war. These POWs should be able to describe their brutal treatment by their Japanese captors and be allowed to give their thoughts on the use of the atomic bombs.

General Groves made no public statement about his unlikely role in bringing “Hiroshima” to the masses. He did, however, find immediate practical applications for Hersey’s article. Not long after the issue came out, William Shawn received a letter from a War Department public relations officer informing him that General Groves had just mentioned Hersey and “Hiroshima” in a speech to the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Among the general’s topics that day: the future of nuclear warfare and the United States’ need for preparedness for possible atomic war with new enemies. The Army needed to ready itself for a new role if the United States were ever attacked with nuclear weapons; American ground forces now needed to study the nuclear attacks on Japan to learn how to “aid and control the populations of our own atomically bombed cities.”

“The catastrophe of an atomic attack, I am afraid, has never fully been brought home to us,” General Groves stated.

To that end, he declared, all present ought to read John Hersey’s “Hiroshima.” In fact, the article should, in his opinion, be required reading for all American officers, for its depiction of nuclear aftermath would be an invaluable tool in helping to prepare a highly trained and equipped military response to future attacks.


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