Two Historical Narratives Name Source: Excerpts from “Three Narratives of our Humanity” by John W. Dower,1996. The following is from a book written by a historian about how people remember wars. John W. Dower explains the two different ways that the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is remembered. Hiroshima as Victimization Japanese still recall the war experience primarily in terms of their own victimization. For them, World War II calls to mind the deaths of family and acquaintances on distant battlefields, and, more vividly, the prolonged, systematic bombings of their cities. If it is argued that the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima was necessary to shock the Japanese to surrender, how does one justify the hasty bombing of Nagasaki only three days later, before the Japanese had time to investigate Hiroshima and formulate a response? Hiroshima as Triumph To most Americans, Hiroshima—the shattered, atomized, irradiated city – remains largely a symbol of triumph – marking the end of a horrendous global conflict and the effective demonstration of a weapon that has prevented another world war. It is hard to imagine that the Japanese would have surrendered without the atomic bomb. Japanese battle plans that were in place when the bombs were dropped called for a massive, suicidal defense of the home islands, in which the imperial government would mobilize not only several million fighting men but also millions of ordinary citizens who had been trained and indoctrinated to resist to the end with primitive makeshift weapons. For Japanese to even discuss capitulation (surrender) was seditious (against the law).
Guiding Questions 1. In 1-2 sentences each, explain the two narratives (stories) about Hiroshima. Story 1: Hiroshima was a vistimization. Before the Japanese had time to recover and formulate a response, Nagasaki was also bombed. Story 2: The Japanese were not going to surrender without the bomb. They had already been prepping asuicidal defense of their homeland and to surrender was considered against the law. 2. Which narrative do you agree with more? Why? I agree with the first story because while, yes the first bomb was awful, the US could just threaten Japan.