According to Yohei Goto of the Ashi Shimbun, an original photo showing the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima split into two parts, one on top of the other, has been found at an elementary school located near ground zero.
Apart from this piece, only one other photo, shot by the U.S. military, is known to show the mushroom cloud from the atomic bombing clearly divided, according to officials at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum,
The photo, preserved at Honkawa Elementary School in the city’s Naka Ward, is 16 centimeters tall and 11.5 cm wide. A memo on the back of the photo says the scene was shot from the neighborhood of the town of Kaitaichi, part of present-day Kaita, some 10 kilometers east of downtown Hiroshima two minutes after the bomb was dropped on the city on Aug. 6, 1945, according to the Ashi Shimbun.
The atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan were conducted by the United States during the final stages of World War II in 1945. These two events represent the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.
Following a firebombing campaign that destroyed many Japanese cities, the Allies prepared for a costly invasion of Japan. The war in Europe ended when Nazi Germany signed its instrument of surrender on 8 May, but the Pacific War continued. Together with the United Kingdom and the Republic of China, the United States called for a surrender of Japan in the Potsdam Declaration on 26 July 1945, threatening Japan with “prompt and utter destruction”. The Japanese government ignored this ultimatum, and the United States deployed two nuclear weapons developed by the Manhattan Project. American airmen dropped Little Boy on the city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, followed by Fat Man over Nagasaki on 9 August.
Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day. The Hiroshima prefecture health department estimated that, of the people who died on the day of the explosion, 60% died from flash or flame burns, 30% from falling debris and 10% from other causes. During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness. In a US estimate of the total immediate and short term cause of death, 15–20% died from radiation sickness, 20–30% from burns, and 50–60% from other injuries, compounded by illness. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizeable garrison.
On 15 August, six days after the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan announced its surrender to the Allies, signing the Instrument of Surrender on 2 September, officially ending World War II. The bombings led, in part, to post-war Japan’s adopting Three Non-Nuclear Principles, forbidding the nation from nuclear armament. The role of the bombings in Japan’s surrender and their ethical justification are still debated.
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