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The Second World War & Hiroshima
The Second World War and Hiroshima
The Second World War began in September 1939. Initially it was a European war with Germany, the aggressor, invading Poland and subsequently Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium and France before attacking to the East again in 1941.
Japan entered the war when she sent Japanese pilots to bomb American warships in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December 1941. The subsequent land, sea and air battles fought by the Japanese were some of the most brutal of the War. British soldiers dreaded being sent to SE Asia to fight the Japanese Imperial Army. The Japanese soldiers were told that if they died in battle they would join the Emperor as gods, and to surrender was a disgrace. The Japanese Army did not respect opposing forces who surrendered and the stories of atrocities committed against British, American, Dutch, Australian and New Zealand prisoners of war, POWs, were known and reported at the time - stories ranged from starvation of the POWs, to slave labour, cannibalism, and gratuitous torture.
Hiroshima was a city with a military and naval presence. Built on seven rivers it became a major site for shipbuilding for the Japanese Navy. It was also a city of 300,000 civilians. In 1945, after Tokyo had suffered severe conventional bombing and subsequent uncontrolled fires, the 12 and 13 year olds in Hiroshima schools were mobilised to help demolish buildings to create wider streets that would serve as firebreaks in the event of similar bombing on Hiroshima. In fact, before the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima the city had experienced relatively few bombing attacks compared with other Japanese cities.