In your June 14 issue you feature an interview with the WWII veteran Nathan Shapiro (“Nathan Shapiro: Boy cantor at 10, active senior and ‘lucky guy’ at 95”). Mr. Shapiro is quoted as saying that the U.S. “would have lost hundreds of thousands of men” more in the war if we hadn’t dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Only dropping the atom bombs forced the Japanese to accept defeat.
In fact, there is abundant documentation that the Truman administration was well aware that the Japanese government had been ready to surrender months before the bombs were dropped. They only wanted assurance that their emperor would not be harmed. This assurance Truman refused to give.
There is further clear evidence that what forced Japan’s hand was not the atom bombs but the Russian invasion of Manchuria on Aug. 8, 1945. The Japanese well knew that they couldn’t fight a two-front war against both the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
So why were the bombs dropped? In all likelihood, to intimidate the Russians. The bombs were the first act of the Cold War.
For the exhaustive details of the above, I refer Mr. Shapiro to the book “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb” by Gar Alperovitz.
—David E. Steinberg