“At the conclusion of the screening there was utter silence.”
About the Youtube Video: Uploaded on Dec 11, 2009
“In 1970, when I was the Manager of the “Center for Mass Communication,” (CMC), at Columbia University, we received an amazing letter from Japan. CMC was the branch at Columbia which produced and distributed educational and documentary films. The letter was from a professor of law at Tokyo University, and informed us that nine Japanese newsreel cameramen went to Hiroshima the day after the atomic bombs had been dropped and took several hours of 35mm film of the devastation.
They did the same after an atomic bomb was dropped over the city of Nagasaki. When General MacArthur and his staff occupied Japan, they screened this footage and felt that the actual shots of the results of the damage of the two cities, and in particular the injuries suffered by the survivors, was so horrible that it should be marked top secret, and withheld from the public indefinitely.
Immediately upon learning of this, we at CMC asked the US Government to allow us to screen this footage, and the government denied that this film ever existed. Month after month we persisted and finally the Government admitted that the footage did exist, and was kept in the National Archives in Washington. It took many more months, and after the intervention of both of our Senators from New York, the National Archives agreed to screen this footage for us.
I asked my writer/editor, Erik Barnouw to accompany me to Washington, and we sat transfixed for four hours as we watched what the two cities looked like immediately after the bombing, and also what happened to the survivors who were afflicted with what was then called, “radiation sickness.” Again, after many delays, we finally were able to procure an internegative and workprint, as well as some printed notes.
I asked Erik to supervise the production of a short film, and hired Paul Ronder as the editor, and Geoff Bartz (who is now chief editor at HBO), as assistant editor to create a short, sixteen minute documentary. When it was completed, I booked a five hundred seat auditorium at Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), and invited the entire staff of the United Nations Foreign Press Association to a screening. At the conclusion of the screening, there was utter silence.
The following day, newspapers world-wide described the film and its incredible effect on viewers. The film was deemed too horrifying to be shown on television, but after months of criticism, the Public Broadcasting Service finally showed it nationwide. For the first time, some quarter of a century after the bombs were dropped, the American public was able to see exactly what the effects of an atomic bomb on a city, and on human beings, actually were.
Sumner Jules Glimcher, Professor Emeritus, New York University”
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
Many anniversaries happening — WW I beginning, WW II beginning to end, Nixon resigning, but none so terrible as the incineration of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the first atomic bomb.
It’s not a well discussed fact but the government still, in all the wars since, used up the half a million purple heart medals they minted just for the casualties expected in the invasion of the japanese mainland. That’s right, a guy gets shot in afghanistan today gets a 70 year old medal intended for his great grandfather.
The japanese were given a chance to surrender. They coulda, they shoulda, and according to some of them in hindsight, they woulda. But they didn’t.
The nuclear bombings on their own seem horrific indeed but when one takes into consideration the nature of the empire, the brutality of their ways, the way they treated allied POWs, it’s kind of hard to express regret when it wasn’t our side that started that war.
Then there is the consensus of many that demonstrating this prevented a far more destructive exchange with the Soviets.
It was a different time and wars were complete and absolute. Perhaps becausr of this horrific chapter in history we don’t worry so much about repeating it?
Typo. The government has NOT yet used up the purple hearts minted in 1945.
Everything you said is true, however keep in mind that there were thousands of every day Japanese civilians that were killed who were not part of the empire and themselves were victims of it. Not saying we should deaminize the individuals (the crew of the Enola Gay) who took part in it but it’s still something to think about.
Before you make up your mind on the innocence of civilians google “fukuoka vivisections” and know those pows were rounded up by civilians and tortured and killed by civilians.
Regardless of that it wasn’t done as punishment but to save American and Japanese lives in the carnage expected in an invasion. Our experience in Okinawa gave us an idea what to expect and it sure was ugly.
The populace of Tokyo for instance had endured fire bombing campaigns for an extended period of time. In those conditions people look around and say “well this is bad but my neighbors made it through alive so so could I” and thus there is little purpose for their surrender. Demonstrating the complete destruction of the bomb forced them to face the fact that surrender was the only option.
Of course others feel differently about this whole issue I simply accept historical events as they are knowing regret is rather pointless.
Anna Daniels says
John, In August of 1945 the United States did what no other country has done before or since– dropped an atomic bomb a civilian city. A hundred thousand people were incinerated in Hiroshima alone. Vaporized. Another hundred thousand had radiation sickness.
Sixty nine years later your take on this in your first comment was that the civilian casualties were maybe unfortunate but necessary. In this comment you feel compelled to circle the wagons and question the idea of “innocent” civilians because of …something.
Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were vaporized in seconds by a weapon with long term effects that we did not understand, not the least of which was setting off a frenzied international pursuit of nuclear armament. Every August, people of conscience make an appeal to the international community to make the future of this planet nuclear arms free.
You have made it manifestly clear John that you do not belong to that group.
Anna perhaps it would be best if you and I avoid replying to each others comments on this blog, as it seems the entire purpose of your screed was to portray me as a person with no conscience and completely fabticate my position on unstated issues.
After your complaints that calling you a homeowner and gov’t employee was a personal attack I officially LOL at the hypocrisy and previous attempt to drop the victim card in lieu of an argument.
However I have little desire for another internet pissing contest so let’s just avoid each other for the peace and harmony of the blog, okay?
Anna Daniels says
John, if you continue to leave the kind of comments which you have at SDFP and expect to do that without any push back, you are at the wrong place.
Can you explain what part of the comments policy that last topically relevant reply was in violation of? If you want people to follow rules it helps if you follow them yourself.
Lori Saldana says
I visited Hiroshima in 2010, 1 year before the earthquake and devastating tsunami destroyed so many coastal towns in Japan.
Japan’s troubles with radiation continue to this day. Our research vessel, the Pt. Sur, is collecting deep ocean water in previously untested regions in the north pacific, to look for cesium- a marker from the radiation leaking from Fukushima.
As I write this over 1 ton of ocean water has been collected and stored in 20 liter collection containers that now sit on the deck across from me. The samples are so heavy the captain has tranferred fuel away from the starboard tank to adjust for the added weight.
Despite the time, money and effort expended to gather these samples no one questions the value of the information we will carry back, 20 liters at a time.