Atomic Bombing

Content warning: Description and map of wartime destruction and atomic bomb aftermath. Viewer discretion is advised.

In August 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, the first on Hiroshima and the second on Nagasaki. These bombs killed hundreds of thousands of people, caused massive damage to the cities, and left the two cities in ruins with untold suffering by those who survived the horrific attacks. The maps below show the severity of the damage to the buildings in Hiroshima and display Nagasaki prior to the bombing. The map of Kokura was created in preparation for bombing that city, as it was originally selected as the second city to be bombed. However, Kokura was spared that day due to cloud cover and Nagasaki was bombed instead. Each year the citizens of Kokura gather to remember those who lost their lives in Nagasaki. These maps serve as a remembrance of all who lost their lives on that day and thereafter due to the bombings.

Hiroshima, Japan

The Hiroshima map is dated September 1946, a year after the uranium bomb was dropped on the city on August 6, 1945. The data on the map was compiled from guidebooks, street plans, residential surveys, hydrographic surveys, land surveys, railway timetables, intelligence data, and vertical aerial photography. The built-up area is almost completely covered in pink stripes (“bombed area, completely destroyed”) or pink dots (“bombed area, partially destroyed”). The scale of devastation is staggering with almost nothing remaining untouched except for the rice fields, other cultivated areas on the outskirts of the city, and the industrial complex to the east of the city that included the munitions works and aircraft plants. Underneath the pink stripes are schools, athletic fields, temples, markets, hospitals, factories, and the military installations of the 2nd Army Headquarters, all obliterated by the bomb.

Kokura, Japan

Kokura was selected as the second city to be bombed after Hiroshima using a plutonium bomb. In the months prior to the August date, the city was not bombed using conventional weapons as the United States military wanted to be able to more accurately measure the impact of the atomic bomb. The city was spared due to cloud cover on August 9, 1945. When one reviews the map, it is possible to speculate as to why this place was chosen. The center of the city is dominated by the "Korkura Arsenal" which included production of light tanks, small arms, shell casings, ammunition, receiving castings and forgings. Ceramics works, paper and rice mills, steel works, barracks, and the railroad terminus surround the Arsenal. The data was compiled in 1945 from aerial photography collected by three sorties all dated June 1944 as well as from other sources dating back to 1931.

Nagasaki, Japan

Nagasaki was bombed using a plutonium bomb on August 9, 1945 resulting in the death of an estimated 100,000 people. It was chosen after cloud cover obscured Kokura earlier that day. Nagasaki is depicted as a port city surrounded by green hills. Shipping played a large role in the life of the city as can be seen by the size of the dockyards, the dry docks, and the railyards terminating at the water. Aerial photography was used repeatedly in 1944 and in March of 1945 to compile the most up-to-date information. Compilation methods and the exact sorties are noted. This map was printed in August 1945 prior to the bombing as it shows no signs of the destruction that followed.