Skip to main content
Create interactive lessons using any digital content including wikis with our free sister product
. Get it on the
Pages and Files
My Philosophy of Education
Case Study-Smart board
Gifted and Talented Students
HARRY TRUMAN: WAR HERO OR WAR CRIMINAL??
"The end must justify the means."
TRUMAN AND THE DECISION TO DROP THE BOMB:
Was this decision to destroy the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima the "right" and "best" decision? Or was it a "war crime" that History will condemn?
This argument has raged ever since the tragic events which ended WWII in August 1945. Now we shall argue over it.
The argument has crucial importantance to us and our time, too, as ever since August 1945 humanity has lived nervously in the shade of the "nuclear shadow." The world would never be the same after the first detonation of an atomic weapon on July 16th, 1945 at 0529 HRS, in the Jornada del Muerto desert near the Trinity site in the southwestern New Mexico desert. As J. Robert Oppenheimer, the lead scientist on the Manhattan Project, claimed as he watched the first ever mushroom cloud:
"...now I am become Death [Shiva], the destroyer of worlds..."
World history was changed forever on that White Sands Missile Range desert floor that fateful morning.
But what about the decision to use the bomb in combat against imperial Japan? Think deeply about the dilemma that faced President Truman as a possible invasion of the Japanese home islands approached, and then consider the positions of the Imperial Japanese government and the Allies.
Was the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan the "right" one that ultimately saved more lives than it cost? Or were the atomic bombings "war crimes" that were unforgivable under any circumstances?
These are the we will attempt to answer.
Each of you have been placed on a team. Your are either the prosecution and will present evidence that the decision was the wrong decision or a member of the defense team and will defend the actions and decisions made by Harry Truman and the United States. You will select from amongst you the following roles: Attorney, U.S. Soldier, Japanese Soldier,Scientist, American Civilian, Japanese Civilian, and Wiki Page Designers.Each role will be represented by two students with the exception of the wiki page designers which will have three or more designers. You must research and prepare a speech from the perspective of the role you have chosen in support of your position. Each Team will have 20 minutes to present their case, see Rubric attached for guidelines A list of websites and articles from the differing view points are provided below...GOOD LUCK!!
by Setsuko Iwamoto, from Japanese Survivor point of view
"Thank God for the Atomic Bomb,"
by Paul Fussel, from American soldier point of view
And the debate has raged ever since:
"Thank God for the atom bomb -- or not?"
by William M. Burke
"Ugly History Hides in Plain Sight"
by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin
"Blood on Our Hands?"
by Nicholas D. Kristof
"Keep 1945 Sacred in Our Hearts,"
by Johann Christoph Arnold
"My Grandfather and the Bomb,"
by Jennet Conant
"The Myths of Hiroshima,"
by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin (August 2005)
"Why Feel Guilty About Hiroshima?"
by Max Boot (August 2005)
"World War II: Triumph or Tragedy?"
section of textbook
And, finally, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki not so much as history but for our time and the future:
"Atomic Bombs Still Stir Worries"
in March 2005
"The Future Depends on Us,"
by Walter Conkrite
"How to Prevent a 21st Century Hiroshima,"
by Brett Wagner
This article from Time Magazine focuses on the role of Henry Lewis Stimpson, the Secretary of War for the United States at the time the bombs were dropped
This website gives background on the issue, and gives arguments and debates concerning both sides of the issue (was the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki justified?)
This article goes over some of the questions that are still being debated today about the dropping of the atomic bombs during World War 2, and goes over the positions on both sides of the issue
This wedsite goes over the solid facts surrounding the incident, goes over the differences and similarities between both sides of the story, then goes over the "official" story backed by the United States
This site gives good background reguarding the issues of the impact of the bomb on Japan, the US decision to drop the bomb, provides some history about the nuclear arms race, as well as lists questions students should be thinking about
This Washington Post features a British historian arguing that the bombing were justified
This website offers an in depth look at the history behind the incident from a summary of initial damages and injuries to long term effects of the bombings
This BBC article written in 1945 offers a view of the kind of information that as being reported immediately after the bombings, giving a good idea of what the public was allowed to know about the incident
This website offers great resources such as statments made by President Truman, eyewtiness accounts, and videos of the bombings and an interview with a witness of the bombings
help on how to format text
Turn off "Getting Started"