Tuesday: Hili Dialogue

by Grania

Good morning, I’m filling in for Jerry again, as he returns to Dobrzyń today. He will be joining us later on.

Today is the anniversary of two appalling events in history: the bombing of Nagasaki in 1945 and the infamous Manson Family murders of Sharon Tate and others were committed. Jerry recently wrote about Leslie Van Houten who is still in jail after 45 years for her part in the crime.

As for the devastation wreaked upon Japan, the debate still continues as to whether such weapons should ever have been used. Certainly the wholesale massacre of civilians cannot be countenanced, and one can only hope that humanity never sees its like again.


Over in Poland, Hili is missing someone.

A: What are you doing upstairs?
Hili: I’m lying down and longing for absent friends.
In Polish:
Ja: Co tu robisz na górze?
Hili: Leżę i tęsknię.


  1. Dominic
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    It is St.Lawrence’s day – good day for grilling! :0

  2. Posted August 9, 2016 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    When I was a kid, we were taught that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings were unalloyed good things. (Probably from the US standpoint at the time, they were. It was an intent of those in charge to defeat Japan with as few allied casualties as possible.)

    I think it’s an open question as to whether and how they were to be used. And it’s an open question as to which path would have caused fewer civilian casualties (and combatant casualties).

    At the time, the US was fire-bombing Japanese cities as well (and otherwise laying waste to Japan from the air), with tens of thousands of casualties for each one. A homeland island invasion would surely have generated huge numbers of civilian and combatant casualties.

    Another option would have been to negotiate a peace without surrender; but at the time, no one had nay appetite for that.

    I think that seeing the actual effects of atomic weapons may have been s significant factor in preventing their use over the last 70+ years, though we danced on the brink a few times.

    So yes, horrible to see. And we hope to never see it again. But not a clear-cut black-hat/white-hat story.

    • Kevin
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      In 1000 years will it have mattered? I think this illustrates that having not dropped bombs would make little difference. I would prefer no bombs dropped and in the end I suspect that life would not be significantly different had the bombs not been dropped.

    • Posted August 9, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      At that time, the USA, when in war, had as its priority to win the war. Today, it has as its priority not to inflict significant harm on the enemy. I do not think the change is for the better.

    • Mike Cracraft
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      A couple of thoughts:
      It was standard warfare in WWII to obliterate civilian populations to force surrender through sheer terror. Think of what Allied bombers did to the cities of Germany and Tokyo. From this view the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki can be seen in this way.
      The atomic bombs seem to split people into 2 camps. I think there are some valid arguments on both sides.
      I’ve always wondered why they didn’t drop the bombs outside of Tokyo harbor as a demonstration as to what the alternative to surrender would be. This would have saved many lives.

      • Kiwi Dave
        Posted August 9, 2016 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        An A-bomb demonstration was briefly discussed, though not at the highest level IIRC.

        With hindsight, it’s extremely difficult to believe that a demonstration would have had any effect whatsoever. The bomb was used over Hiroshima without weakening Japanese resolve at all – the army minister dismissed it as a one-off stunt.

        Even after the second bomb, the Japanese war cabinet split 3-3 on accepting allied terms, and that was with the knowledge that the USSR had declared war and invaded Manchuria, increasing the odds against them and, more importantly, wrecking the Japanese delusion that a compromise peace could be negotiated via the USSR.

        • Kingasaurus
          Posted August 10, 2016 at 6:31 am | Permalink

          Kiwi Dave is correct. In addition, even after the second bomb, there was an attempted coup against the Emperor by hard-line militarist junior officers, who used violence to try to intercept the Emperor’s surrender message before it could reach the radio station where it would be broadcast.

          With such reckless and fanatical beliefs high up in the Japanese government, the idea that a “demonstration” bomb could have forced Japan’s surrender is a dangerously naive opinion, given the historical context.

          The A-bomb was the least bad of many bad options. The alternatives would have either resulted in vastly more casualties on both sides than the bombs caused (invasion), or would have left a settlement where the hard-line militarists were still in control of Japan (conditional surrender).

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Like jblilie, I grew up hearing my parents’ generation insist on the necessity of dropping the atomic bombs on Japan to end the war — especially from guys like my dad who were serving in the Pacific at war’s end and knew that they would have been on the front lines of any invasion. They were convinced to a man that they would have died on Japan’s beaches but for the dropping of Fat Man and Little Boy.

      There are now two schools of thought on this matter — the traditional and the revisionist. I’ve tried to sort through them by reading from both camps. Unfortunately, however, both sides seem to have settled on their conclusions first and then to have scoured to justify their conclusions after. The factual record pertaining to Japan’s surrender is so vast, and the counterfactual scenarios so numerous, that both sides can cite ample evidence. This is an argument, I suppose, that historians will be hashing through for generations to come.

      • Historian
        Posted August 9, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        You are right that the many issues related to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan will be debated for generations to come with little resolution. For me, the most important question is this:

        Did Truman genuinely believe, based on the best information he had on hand, that the dropping of the bombs was the only action that would shorten the war and save both American and Japanese lives by inducing the Japanese to surrender without the necessity of an invasion of the home islands? If the answer is no then Truman could be considered a monster because he caused the death of hundreds of thousands for political motivations. If the answer is yes then Truman should not be faulted for taking an action he considered in the best interests of the United States and ultimately Japan. It is irrelevant to the morality or wisdom of his decision if later information should reveal that Japan would have surrendered without the use of the bombs and without a substantial increase in American casualties.

  3. rickflick
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    We need some good news from this day in history: In 1854 Henry David Thoreau published “Waldon Pond” about his time spent living in his little hut in the woods. I used to visit the pond when I lived in the area. There was a nice little beach where you could take a dip in the pond and contemplate the contemplative author. Hili would have loved the place.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Probably no one can clearly judge today, decisions made in War 70 years ago. The demand for unconditional surrender and even the concept of total war first applied during the civil war can be debated. When you let the fanatics take over as Germany and Japan had done the results will not be pleasant but go back and fully understand the people and the time before you decide and make your judgments.

  5. eliz20108
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I was in college when the big bombs dropped. One thing missing in current debates is that nobody knew what they were doing when they dropped the bomb. I had never heard of atomic bombs until I read in the paper we had dropped one. The men who built the bomb did not realize what they were doing. I think they were just solving math equations.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      I’m sorry but that hardly is true. It had been tested you know, in New Mexico. But surely we all know, those who built it, were not the ones deciding who dropped.

      • Posted August 9, 2016 at 8:43 am | Permalink


      • Jeremy Tarone
        Posted August 9, 2016 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        The Japanese command were well aware their soldiers literally raped, murdered and tortured civilians as they conquered their way across the Pacific.

        In some ways the Japanese made the dreaded SS look like angry boy scouts. The Japanese armed forces brought unimaginable death and suffering where ever they went. Most of it was simply gratuitous, violence for the sake of violence to show superiority. Japan used genocide as a method of pacification throughout the Pacific. It’s why so many Chinese still hate Japanese.

        Japan of that time was very much of the mindset of the Nazis. In many ways they were worse.

        In China and the Philippines live pregnant women were used as bayonet dummies for practise. Horrific medical experiments every bit as bad and worse than those committed by Josef Mengele took place all over the Pacific. In one place they tested biological agents then dissected the living victims who screamed until they tore their vocal cords and could scream no more, eventually dying of blood loss.

        As the Japanese fled before the allies they murdered every person they came across, men, women children and babies and burned the cities behind them.

        Like the Nazis the Japanese used slave labour, often working the victims to death. During the day girls and women worked as slaves, in the evening they worked as ‘pleasure girls’ for Japanese soldiers, serving 15 to 20 soldiers a night.

        It’s estimated by some the Japanese murdered as many as 4 million civilians. Japan had committed the equivalent of 40 Hiroshima’s and Nagasaki’s with bayonets, rifles, fire and slavery.

        Even as Japan’s leaders knew the end was forgone they fought, they committed entire battleships and legions of men on suicide missions against the Americans. Plans were set to do the same on the Japanese Islands.

        Nuclear weapons are not intrinsically a worse weapon, no more than napalm or fuel air bombs or the firebombing of cities. A single fuel air bomb can destroy a small city. As pointed out, many cities were completely destroyed by conventional means in Japan, indeed, all over Europe, Philippines, China.

        Weapons of war leave scarred people and damaged survivors. Nuclear weapons leave radiation and cause future generations to damage, but so does destroying power plants and dams. Starvation, lack of water, disease caused by destruction of city systems also hurt future generations.

        The difference is nuclear weapons can easily cause the destruction of most if not all our cities fairly easily. On the other hand, a committed super power could destroy every city with conventional weapons. It just takes more time.

        Germany almost wiped out two races of people using just guns and gas.

        Weapons of war are terrible. All weapons of war. Sometimes they are necessary, as much as we dislike them.

        • Kingasaurus
          Posted August 10, 2016 at 6:42 am | Permalink


          Imagine if Truman went ahead with the land invasion of the Japanese mainland, which conservatively would have resulted in at least a hundred thousand American combat deaths and the deaths of millions of Japanese – mostly civilians.

          Now imagine if the American public learned that Truman had a super-weapon in his back pocket that would have destroyed 2 Japanese cities but also would have ended the war without an invasion. But he never used it.

          Truman could have easily been impeached for that, if not jailed.

          The arithmetic of war is terrible – trading one person’s life for another. But the war in the Pacific was so hideous and deadly, and the impetus for ending it as soon as possible so strong, I’m convinced the decision was correct, and the best possible outcome.

  6. bluemaas
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    For me, the pacifist, at the least, it is of importance .without measure. to know and to utterly comprehend during (nearly) ALL of the entire World’s previous decades’ and centuries’ worth of warring countries’ governments and agencies and armies, that is, over … … All of Time that: until these most recent very few decades’ spars, ALL of these gargantuanly impacting – upon – Us All – decisions and – choices that involve hurting others have not been made by Not Male – Adults.

    Reports and the media should reflect this fact, but .that. does not happen and never (of which I know) has. For shame. As it is, indeed, misinformation. At its least.

    At 5:30am and alone inside my brain, I hung upon its exterior fixtures our family’s American flag, for the second time again this month, at its half – staff.


    • Jeremy Tarone
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Falklands War – had some decisions made by Margaret Thatcher. I’m pretty sure she was a ‘Not Male – Adult’.

      And Golda Meir made a lot of decisions concerning the Yom Kippur war.

      During World War one young women walked the cities of Canada and handed out white feathers to men. It was a symbol of cowardice, an attempt to shame them into signing up for war.

      If we look at this page:
      We will see many ‘Not Male – Adult’ people who made decisions of war that effected, and hurt many, in ancient history and European history. Just one example is Catherine the Great.

  7. bluemaas
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    O yeah. Here it comes.

    And one more time yet again thus, Mr Tarone, for all of the women and for all of their children killed and maimed by men’s pogroms’ – perpetrating decisions, I state: https://goo.gl/38397G .


  8. Posted August 13, 2016 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    With reference to Jeremy Tarone’s post on August 9, 2016 at 10:56 am
    I would like to cite two paragraphs:
    ….Japan of that time was very much of the mindset of the Nazis. In many ways they were worse. In China and the Philippines live pregnant women were used as bayonet dummies for practise. Horrific medical experiments every bit as bad and worse than those committed by Josef Mengele took place all over the Pacific. In one place they tested biological agents then dissected the living victims who screamed until they tore their vocal cords and could scream no more, eventually dying of blood loss …..


    …..Nuclear weapons are not intrinsically a worse weapon, no more than napalm or fuel air bombs or the firebombing of cities. A single fuel air bomb can destroy a small city. As pointed out, many cities were completely destroyed by conventional means in Japan, indeed, all over Europe, Philippines, China…..

    On my 10th birthday, 7 December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, relatively near my home in Jakarta, Indonesia. When the terrible A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, our first reaction was of immense joy because it meant the end of the war, specially in Indonesia, where I lived in those years. It was only years later when I became conscious of the other side of the coin, the consequences for victims, longer-lasting than ever before; no comparison with the, equally monstrous, Allied bombings of German cities. I found it very well phrased by Ken Kukec, posted on August 9, 2016 at 11:43 am:
    …..There are hundreds of thousands of hibakusha today …..

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