Translation of

For the seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of World War II


commemoration on the WJLF      


02/09/2020 18 h.



Tibor Péter Nagy:


We celebrate the Day of Liberation in Europe in May 1945, but we must not forget that for hundreds of millions of people, the war lasted until the end of the summer. In May 1945, Japan still occupied several times its territory and kept the peoples of East Asia and North Oceania under unimaginable oppression. Japan was responsible for the deaths of nearly six percent of the Indonesian population, nearly four percent of the Chinese population, four percent of the Indochina population, nearly two percent of the Burmese population - twenty-five million people (civilians and soldiers) - declared  enemies of Japan, and Japan itself lost six percent of its population.  Months after the defeat of Nazism in Europe, Japan managed millions of more heavily fanatized armies that had not yet suffered a decisive continental defeat, fighting primarily the U.S. military, and by the end of the summer soldiers from the entire anti-fascist coalition, Japan rejected the capitulation offer.

Seventy-five years ago, with the experimental bombing in Los Alamos, the most powerful scientific enterprise in world history ended in July 1945, the two atomic bombs were deployed in August, forcing Japan to capitulate, saving millions of casualties in potential civilian areas of continental and Japanese life in the coming months. preventing losses comparable to those of the European war between Allied armies and soldiers of the Japanese army.

Contary these facts, however, historians and politicians have been debating the correctness of developing and deploying atomic bombs ever since, and there is no consensus that nuclear weapons have made the world after 1945 better or worse.

A more livable world has emerged in most of the territories liberated from Japanese occupation, although this region is also associated with the worst genocide in post-1945 history, and billions of people still live in dictatorships today. Japan has become part of the democratic world, but there, as in post-2010 Hungary, there are still memory politicians who would like to remember the country's role in World War II in a positive way.

John Wesley Theologian College shares the grief caused by the Asian allies of Nazism, pays tribute to all those who actively opposed totalitarianism, and pays special tribute to the memory of soldiers who sacrificed a lifetime of indivisible human freedom very far from their homeland.

Those interested in the issues of the end of the Second World War, those committed to remembrance, experts and lay people are welcome to have a quiet conversation on Capitulation Day on 2 September 2020 at 6 pm.


Comment by Ferenc Laczó:


Glare: For the 75th anniversary of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima


Atomic bombs dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, in the final phase of World War II, opened a new era in human history: the Cold War rivalry in the second half of the 20th century, in the spirit of the irrational spiral of nuclear weapons unfolded in the shadow of fear.

In light of all this, it is also surprising that the fact that the atomic bomb attack by the Americans can be said to be well known is an event that is rarely and rather superficially discussed these days. Compared to many other topics, the historical literature on the use and consequences of the atomic bomb is rather small, and its memory has been declining in recent decades - paradoxically, just as the memory of the Holocaust, this other major catastrophe of World War II, increased significantly.

The sometimes heated debate in the past 75 years over the deployment of atomic bombs, characterized by characteristic euphemism as a little boy and a fat man, has revolved mainly around the issue of effectiveness. To what extent can the deployment of this terrible and previously unimaginable means of destruction against Japan be considered useful, especially in view of Japan's capitulation in mid-August 1945? To what extent did the dropping of the two atomic bombs shorten the final phase of the war, thus saving the lives of how many American and (so to speak) Japanese soldiers, and how does this relate to the devastation they caused?

While Western public debates have often revolved around such scaling questions, the discussion of the issue of efficiency obscures the basic fact:

the two atomic bombs completely deliberately caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, thus clearly exhausting the notion of both war crime and crimes against humanity.

Efficiency is therefore also a misleading criterion. It is worth distinguishing, at most, between the German use of poison gases in World War I and the use of the atomic bomb in World War II in terms of the magnitude of the human life extinguished and the damage caused. It is morally impossible. By analogy, we can also think of the recently discussed example of torture, which, while it may prove effective in some cases, is also a terrible and clearly condemnable crime.

It is important to clarify that while Hiroshima was indeed a significant city for the Japanese military, its destruction to the dust thus had tactical purposes, not even in the case of Nagasaki. The latter city was chosen by the Americans almost randomly, in part because of current weather conditions. The facts also include the fact that, on top of 9 August, an even more devastating plutonium bomb was dropped from high altitude in Nagasaki. The number of victims in Hiroshima exposed to the uranium bomb attack was ultimately higher, however, because American criminals found the latter’s downtown virtually full, while flying over Nagasaki they failed to target similarly accurately.

A typical addition is that the first experimental nuclear bombing of the Americans took place in mid-July in the New Mexico desert, just three weeks before the bombing of Hiroshima. The impact of the deployment of the atomic bomb on crowded cities - the killing of masses - could be enveloped in advance after this attempt, but the multifaceted dire consequences were impossible to assess in advance. Based on these, it is clear that the brutal crime was also of an experimental nature.

The result of the deployment of the atomic bomb 75 years ago was mass anonymous death. The brutal attempt at hundreds of thousands, mostly civilians, led to the immediate burning of masses of people and then to the mass deaths of those who had just escaped as a result of the radiation effect - it was often not possible to identify the former victims.

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is thus a landmark example of nonhuman death in the twentieth century, in this respect most comparable to the Nazi extermination camps of the Holocaust, the Vernichtungslagerei.

As the main crime of the Nazis, in the case of the Holocaust, is to say that millions were killed by rather primitive means in a few years, the Americans practically killed hundreds of thousands by standing on top of contemporary (by the way, mostly immigrants, well-known immigrants from Hungary) science. from one moment to the next, taking into account most victims of radiation in just a few months.

Undoubtedly, the fact that almost all local hospitals, along with their doctors, were almost all victims of the unexpected attack also played a role in the many tens of thousands of the latter.

Assessing the means of mass murder is also a source of particular shock to Hiroshima and Nagasaki: the two bombs, which detonated their kilometers to thousands of degrees Celsius and thus destroyed virtually everything within that radius, were only a few cubic meters per head. (The little boy and fat man bombs differed little in size, but rather in shape.) After the shadow of the people who died the monster burned in several places on the remains of Hiroshima and Nagasaki's buildings, only wildflowers grew among human bones and building ruins for weeks.

The deployment of the two atomic bombs, meanwhile, is worth considering as the end point of two processes. Perhaps the most obvious context is the escalation of the World War II bombings, which the Germans began on the European stage of the war with the brutal bombing of Rotterdam, Coventry and many other cities, and of which German cities later became the main victims.

By 1945, for example, there was little left of Cologne city center outside the world-famous Duomo. Dresden is perhaps most popular with Hungarian readers from Kurt Vonnegut's popular novel The British-American Carpet Bombing of Slaughterhouse No. 5 - which, by objective standards, also falls into the category of war crimes, but which is still sharply politicized and sadistic in Germany. a place of remembrance maintained by the right - the Japanese capitulation was preceded just half a year ago. The unprecedented tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the extreme end of this process of war escalation, which extended to the islands of Japan.

American perpetrators from the island of Tinian, about 2,500 kilometers from Hiroshima, with B-29 bombers have already bombed people and their cities in many places and on many occasions in the past. By 1945, mass murder from the sky had obviously become a special routine for them: their contemporary interviews showed that they did not really perceive a difference between their earlier actions and the August 1945 deployment of the atomic bomb.

The other relevant context is, in short, a decade and a half of Japan’s brutal expansion.

As a result of the Japanese aggression against China, which began with the invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and then expanded in 1937, the event we call World War II actually began in Asia years earlier than in Europe.

In short, I have just mentioned a decade and a half of Japanese expansion, as Korea, for example, has been officially under Japanese rule since 1910 and, in an inseparable way, has also suffered many Korean victims of American nuclear bombings.

Thus, August 1945 is the culmination of this massive history of Japanese expansion and repression, which still largely determines the battles of memory politics in the Far East, a milestone in modern Japanese history — despite the reign of Emperor Hirohito announcing his capitulation on August 15. is over.

Japan’s catastrophic defeat, which brought an end to Japanese imperialism and militarism, also proved to be the beginning of democratization under American umbrella and economic prosperity. In view of all this, Japan's defeat in the war can be called not only deserved, but in a sense (so to speak, following the German example) lucky. The terrible crime of August 1945 by the conquering-liberating Americans, who are still in close alliance with the Japanese, could not, at first, and later would not have been able to make it one of the central elements of Japanese history.

A comparable loss of significance has also occurred in the United States, where the European war sinks of World War II and the crimes of the main enemy, the Nazis, have been remembered more regularly in recent decades than the Japanese battlefield. Although, since entering the war following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Pacific region has been at least as central to American warfare. It’s also easy to find arguments that the title of America’s main enemy of the war years belongs to the Japanese rather than the Germans - just think of the resettlement and internment of Japanese-Americans in the United States, a policy that had no systematic counterpart to those of European descent.

If we are to make a brief prediction, in the light of American foreign policy, which is increasingly focusing on Far Eastern relations (this shift in emphasis was under the key concept of pivot to Asia under Barack Obama's presidency), the history of this massive Pacific front is expected to be rediscovered in the near future. it will be from World War II that the then main enemy is now an ally, and China, “raped” by the Japanese, is now America’s main rival.

In this respect, the Far Eastern formula for remembrance continues to be reminiscent of the Cold War European situation, where the main ally of the war years (the Soviet Union) became the main rival, while the former main enemy became the most important ally (West Germany).

What did the free public of the United States and the West more broadly begin with the unprecedented tragedy of the atomic bomb attack?

The most significant early attempt to reconstruct what happened in Hiroshima was made by John Hersey (1914–93), a popular American writer and experienced war correspondent. As a child of missionaries, Hersey, who spent the first ten years of her life in China and also received a Pulitzer Prize for her fact-based novel The Bell for Adano, which discusses the events of the war in Italy, worked primarily for Life and Time magazines during the war years.

The acclaimed and still only 32-year-old author had already visited Hiroshima in 1946 on behalf of the New Yorker magazine, typically as virtually the only American correspondent to report on the relatively short-term consequences of the world’s first nuclear attack. (It is a remarkable fact that the very first interviews with the survivors of the Nazi camps were conducted in parallel, including in Budapest.)

Hersey devoted a full number of her precise report, written with a sense of fiction, to a total of about 20,000 words, as a unique exception in the history of the magazine. The English-language report, which later appeared in book form, has since sold about three million copies. Thanks to one of the outstanding literary translators of the period, Endre Gáspár (1897–1955), the Hungarian translation of Hersey's work was completed by 1947, which has unfortunately been practically forgotten since then. So what advanced in the United States to become one of the best-known and most significant classics of the twentieth century could have had almost no effect in Hungary, despite its contemporary translation.

Although, with the exception of his most famous work, Hersey is probably still read by few on the other side of the Atlantic today, the author devoted six significant books to various aspects of World War II in the 1940s and 1950s. Consistent with Michael Rothberg's theory of multidirectional memory interactions, he was the author of The Wall (first edition: 1950), the first famous American novel about the Holocaust and, more specifically, the history of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Hersey, who could perhaps best be described as a solid moralist refraining from formulating explicit political messages, in his works of war, he firmly questioned the dominant American image of heroic efforts on the right side.

On the side of the victors, the war, which has often been mythical since then, has been portrayed as a contemporary human catastrophe, showing, among other things, Rutger Bregman's arguments about warfare, showing that most American soldiers were far from committed and enthusiastic warriors.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Hersey did not want to write about complicated mathematical formulas and epoch-making scientific breakthroughs in connection with the atomic bomb, but rather tried to examine the direct effect of atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities.

How to approach the unprecedented tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Is it possible at all to report an event that caused the unexpected death of hundreds of thousands?

In his account of Hiroshima, John Hersey primarily sought to portray what the relatively fortunate survivors of the attack went through. Arriving in the exploded city, he decided to show individual life paths, unfolding the intertwined personal stories of six survivors.

With this, he was able to bring the Japanese, who were strongly despised by many of them, closer to his American audience. By highlighting local doctors and Christians, he was also able to reduce the sense of cultural distance - although he clearly did not want to provide a representative pattern in this way. In addition to the fact that Hersey was indeed the first to elaborate on a topic of current and universal significance, the unparalleled success of his book was probably due to this humane decision, a close-to-person presentation of the shocking events.

In addition to the suddenness of the devastation and the inconceivable extent of the devastation, the hell of the first hours and days after the attack is also detailed in the pages of his carefully composed book, which presents the unparalleled drama in a lean style. The author, meanwhile, repeatedly shows that the bombed locals had no idea even after the incident what attack they had actually suffered.

“The hospital staff was convinced that the big bomb may have had some peculiar feature because on the second day, the deputy director of the hospital went down to the basement where the X-ray plates were kept and found that everyone was exposed,” he reports.

According to Hersey’s report, in 1946, the survivors - in Japanese their name, are faucets, the so-called individuals under the influence of an explosion - their reactions fluctuated between total shock and crippling depression. The flaws presented were typically either too busy saving their lives or too preoccupied to show more serious interest in almost incomprehensible events. In 1945–46, they were not even aware of the destructive effects of radioactive radiation - they were only able to assess the damage, which was still decades old or even newly felt, only gradually.

As John Hersey's forty-year report on Hiroshima: The Aftermath, which focuses on the stories of the same six people after 1945, reveals, in addition to the particular fortunes of survival that are often shamefully survived, miscarriages have to deal with a number of complicated troubles and general distress. . In post-war, increasingly prosperous Japan, they were also exposed to various forms of stigma and discrimination, as many of their fellow citizens found them unfit for regular work as well as marriage and succession.

It was not until 1957 that the Japanese state began providing free health care to the survivors of an unprecedented human disaster. The relevant law is the so-called classified the individuals affected by the detonation into four categories, distinguishing between those present at the time of the nuclear explosion, those who turned up there within fourteen days, those who came into direct contact with the victims, and those born to women in the first three categories immediately after the tragedy. Defective minions with irreparable and permanent damage only began to receive regular monthly benefits even later.

The dust-torn city of Hiroshima, meanwhile, has been rebuilt - by 1945, its population had swelled to about a third of the number before August. On the fourth anniversary of the bombing, this rebuilt city, which has almost without exception destroyed the rubble, was called by the so-called peace. It was designated as a memorial city, establishing a memorial park with several elements, which has been open to the public ever since (perhaps the most spectacular part of this complex is one of the ruins left as an exception anyway).

It is astonishing, yet true, that Hiroshima has virtually regained its former importance within the Japanese urban network since 1945 - with more than one million inhabitants, it is now the 11th largest city in Japan. August with its sixth annual commemorations and numerous, “never again!” with its international event in the spirit of the city, the city is, among other things, a center of peace activism in the (at least nominally) demilitarized country.

The shocking story of the deployment of the atomic bomb 75 years ago has shed a blinding light on the dual nature of man — his unprecedented inventiveness and unparalleled cruelty.

Hiroshima is also a symbolic gate through which humanity has entered the age of nuclear warfare. Perhaps it is worth thinking of this gate that this is where the final destruction of the human world began.

There is so much doubt that by the time this really proves, there will be no more who will write it.




Answer by Tibor Péter Nagy:

I am glad that my excellent colleague Ferenc Laczó shared this article of Mérce, with which, although only marked For your information, he obviously agrees somewhat. I myself pointed out in the original post that there are debates about the real purpose, utility, and legitimacy of the development and deployment of the atomic bomb. That’s why what I posted is not simply an entry - but also a suggestion for a quiet Saturday night conversation for someone who wants to be more comfortable on Dankó Street in front of their computer screen worldwide. There is no doubt that countless excellent books, studies, articles and documentaries have been written to support the gut of our own kind: the fact that we are horrified by the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people and, of course, the protracted health effects of nuclear explosions decades later. they also took their victims. But the human mind still works in such a way that a single tragic event with many casualties is more shocking than an event with many fewer casualties - plane crashes, high-speed train collisions are always leading news - while the number of car accident victims per hundred thousand passenger kilometers is incomparably higher. The tens of thousands of innocent victims of the two atomic bombs are part of a longer series of historical events in which tens of millions of innocent people died, with more than twenty-seven thousand victims each day of the nearly 2,200-day story. People of our kind hate war as much as they are averse to military solutions, as do most American and British citizens of the 1930s who believed that by not interfering, they would preserve peace and freedom for their own territory and their own lives for their own generation. It turned out that they were wrong to start defending freedom earlier, with tens of millions more innocent people worth the fall of 1945. But without sacrifices, there is never a better world - and it has been no different since then. It's hard to accept that. That is why, I think, we need to not only remember but also talk