Hiroshima is everywhere. The never-ending struggle

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/08/10/18851510.php

Hiroshima is everywhere – Or: The never-ending struggle
Hiroshima after the atomic bombing

by Leo Ensel
Hiroshima showed: Man is capable of wiping out all life on Earth. A world without nuclear weapons must be our goal.
[This article published on 8/6/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Hiroshima ist überall – Oder: Der niemals endende Kampf – infosperber.]

Hiroshima ist überall – Oder: Der niemals endende Kampf – infosperber

Hiroshima hat gezeigt: Der Mensch ist fähig alles Leben auf der Erde auszulöschen. Eine Welt ohne Atomwaffen mus…
77 years ago, on August 6, 1945, a Monday, at 8:16 a.m. local time, an atomic bomb was detonated for the first time over a living area – it exploded with a heat development of almost 4,000 degrees Celsius 580 meters above the Shima Hospital of the Japanese city of Hiroshima, where about 400,000 people lived on the day of the catastrophe and which had been spared from bombardments up to that point. It was released from the American B-29 bomber “Enola Gay” at an altitude of almost ten kilometers, after another bomber had already flown over the city three quarters of an hour earlier to check the weather conditions. It was a beautiful sunny day, quite clear skies. The bomb, comparable in its explosive power to a present-day ‘tactical’ nuclear weapon, had been christened “Little Boy” by the U.S. military.

Hundreds of thousands of “test victims

More than 70,000 people were killed instantly. The bomb killed 90 percent of the population within a 500-meter radius of Ground Zero. Most people were vaporized or burned up. Within a second, the blast wave destroyed 80 percent of downtown. A firestorm destroyed 11 square kilometers of the major city and drove the mushroom cloud characteristic of atomic bombs up to an altitude of 13 kilometers, which fell on the surrounding area twenty minutes later as highly contaminated radioactive fallout.

Dead: 282,000. 50 percent of them on the day the bomb was dropped, 35 percent in the following three months, 15 percent since November 1945. (The figures vary. But even if one starts from the lowest assumption, 170,000 victims, everything remains basically the same). Diseases of survivors (among others): Blood diseases (pernicious anemia, leukemia), skin growths caused by burns (keloids), liver disease, cataracts, post-traumatic stress disorder. To this day, people are dying from cancers caused by the bombing.

Three days later, on August 9 at 11:02 a.m., the U.S. detonated another atomic bomb – it was named “Fat Man” – over the port city of Nagasaki, located in southwestern Japan. Casualties: between 60,000 and 80,000. Injuries: around 75,000.

Months later, the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey sent doctors to the largely destroyed and contaminated cities. Their job, however, was not to provide medical assistance to the countless injured, highly traumatized people. Their job was to scientifically study the effects of radiation on the human organism. The hundreds of thousands of dead and injured in the two Japanese cities had been, from the U.S. point of view, “test victims,” “human guinea pigs.” The later spread claim that the atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to force Japan to surrender was a propaganda lie.1)

End Times and End of Time

August 6, 1945 was not a day of any terrible catastrophe. After all, human history teems with atrocities and gruesome crimes. What makes this date a caesura – and not only of human history, but also of the entire planet – is the fact that since that day humans are able to destroy themselves as a species, possibly even all life on this globe.

The philosopher Günther Anders (1902-1992), who was one of the very first to set himself the task of finding an appropriate language for this unprecedented possibility of man-made apocalypse – which had never been foreseen by any philosopher, even by any theologian – put this unheard-of circumstance into forceful sentences at the end of the 1950s:

Hiroshima as a world condition. With August 6, 1945, Hiroshima Day, a new age began. The age in which we can turn any place, nay our earth as a whole, into a Hiroshima at any moment. Since that day we have become modo negativo omnipotent; but since we can be annihilated at the same time in every moment, this means at the same time: since that day we are totally powerless. No matter how long, no matter if it will last forever, this age is the last: Because its characteristic, the possibility of our self-extinction, can never end – except by the end itself.

The consequence: according to Anders, human existence has since been defined as a “time limit”. We live as “just-not-yet-selves.” By this fact the moral basic question has changed: The classical question “How do we want to live?” has been subsumed by the question “Will we live?” In other words, “To the ‘how-question’ there is only one answer for us, who are just living in our time limit: ‘We have to see to it that the end time, although it could turn into end of time at any time, becomes endless; that is, that the turnaround never occurs.'”

Temporary resistance

The perceptive analyses of people like Günther Anders and Albert Einstein – “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything – except our way of thinking, and so we are drifting towards a catastrophe without equal. A new way of thinking is necessary if humanity is to continue to live.” – did not remain completely ineffective.

In July 1955, philosopher Bertrand Russell called for the outlawing of a future world war that would inevitably be fought with weapons of mass destruction. His appeal was signed, among others, by Nobel Prize winners in physics Max Born and Albert Einstein. At the end of the 1950s, the “Fight Atomic Death” movement and the “Easter March” movement emerged in the old Federal Republic as a reaction to the temporary plans to equip the Bundeswehr with tactical atomic bombs. In April 1957, 18 highly respected nuclear physicists of the Federal Republic of Germany (among them the Nobel laureates Otto Hahn, Max Born and Werner Heisenberg) also opposed a nuclear armament of the Bundeswehr, downplayed by the then Chancellor Konrad Adenauer as “further development of artillery”, in their joint “Göttingen Manifesto” and combined this with an unambiguous act of civil disobedience: “In any case, none of the signatories would be willing to participate in any way in the production, testing, or use of nuclear weapons. ”

The Easter March movement died off for a time in the 1960s – the SPD had cut off its funding under American pressure – but experienced a renaissance in the 1980s in the wake of the so-called NATO disarmament decision, along with the New Peace Movement. Never before had there been so many sensitive (and ready for action) groups of the population regarding the danger of a possible nuclear annihilation as in the 1980s in Western Europe, the USA and – under very different conditions – also in some states of the Warsaw Pact.

For a brief, beautiful moment, in the form of Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of “new thinking,” Einstein’s postulate from 1946 even reached the heights of world politics. And by no means in vain: thanks above all to the determination of the Soviet administration of the time, no less than 80 percent of all nuclear warheads worldwide were scrapped!

Two thousand five hundred times a second world war

Since then, however, times have changed considerably. In the past two decades, almost all disarmament and arms control treaties have been scrapped – exclusively on the initiative of the USA – including the most important disarmament treaty in world history, the INF Treaty signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at the end of 1987.

It is not only since Russia’s war against Ukraine that the Cold Warriors have regained the upper hand: nuclear bombs have long since become socially acceptable again, a new, even more dangerous nuclear armament spiral is imminent, scenarios for a possible first use – both in the USA and in the Russian Federation – and a supposedly limited and winnable nuclear war are already in the drawers. German politicians, especially among the once peace-moving Greens, are blathering about “nuclear sharing”. And this, although the atomic bombs stored at present world-wide still have together an explosive power of approximately 2500 second world wars!

Resistance against this development, for example in the form of the International Campaign for the Prohibition and Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017, the International Organization “Physicians against Nuclear War” (IPPNW) or the initiative “Justitia et Pax” 2), is only tentatively stirring.

The dark cloud

And the task that lies ahead is gigantic: The goal must not only be pursued with unprecedented tenacity, but also illusionlessly and – endlessly!

This, too, was masterfully summed up by Günther Anders as early as the end of the 1950s:

“As mighty as man may be – he cannot do one thing: He cannot revoke his own ability! And as great as the ability of his learning may be, he cannot learn one thing; namely to unlearn that what he can. The atomic weapons, which he has just now, he can abolish; but his knowledge of making them, he cannot get rid of.”

The necessary struggle for a physical destruction of all existing weapons of mass destruction – for which in recent years the now 91-year-old Mikhail Gorbachev 3) has repeatedly spoken out – must therefore, according to Günther Anders, be supplemented by measures of another category, by measures that prevent us from doing that which we can do, that is, from producing those devices whose mode of production we are incapable of forgetting.

“But this means that the transformation of man will have to be a transformation of his morality. The awareness that this is an absolute taboo will have to take such deep roots in each of us billions of people and will have to become so general that whoever would consider using these means to achieve his political ends would face the ostracism of all humanity.”

In short and without illusions: The struggle against the danger of nuclear self-destruction of mankind will have to be a never-ending one. For each of the generations yet to come – if there will be any – this danger will precede as a possibility like a dark cloud. – Let us leave the last word to the great philosopher of the atomic age:

“Every day gained will indeed be a day gained. But no day won will be a guarantee of tomorrow’s winning. We will never arrive. So what lies ahead is the endlessness of uncertainty. And our never-ending task will be that at least this uncertainty will have no end.”

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FOOTNOTES:

1) https://overton-magazin.de/hintergrund/politik/august-1945-atombomben-auf-japan/
2) https://ostexperte.de/die-schaerfste-kritik-der-atomaren-abschreckung-liefert-zur-zeit-die-katholische-kirche/
3) https://www.gorby.ru/presscenter/news/show_30157/

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