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Hiroshima: Before and After the Atomic Bombing

The United States, with the consent of the United Kingdom as laid down in the Quebec Agreement, dropped nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, during the final stage of World War II. The two bombings, which killed at least 129,000 people, remain the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in history. Check out these photos showing Hiroshima before and after the atomic bombing.

Also check: Rare Photographs Of 1917-1950 Japan

1. A pre-war photograph of Hiroshima’s vibrant downtown shopping district near the center of town, facing east. Only rubble and a few utility poles remained after the nuclear explosion and resultant fires.

Photograph of the downtown shopping district near the center of town, facing east. Only rubble and a few utility poles remained after the explosion and resultant fires. (U.S. National Archives)

2. Looking upstream on the Motoyasugawa, toward the Product Exhibition Hall building (dome) in Hiroshima, before the bombing. The domed building was almost directly below the detonation, which occurred in mid-air, about 2,000 feet (600 meters) above this spot. Today, much of the building remains standing, and is known as the Atomic Bomb Dome, or the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

Looking upstream on the Motoyasugawa, toward the Product Exhibition Hall building (dome) in Hiroshima, before the bombing

3. Looking northeast along Teramachi, the Street of Temples, in pre-war Hiroshima. This district was completely ruined.

Looking northeast along Teramachi, the Street of Temples, in pre-war Hiroshima

4. Looking north from the vicinity of the Aioi Bridge (the central T-shaped bridge targeted by the bomb). Wooden houses line the bank of the Otagawa, with traditional Japanese river boats in the foreground.

Looking north from the vicinity of the Aioi Bridge (the central T-shaped bridge targeted by the bomb)

5. Aerial view of the densely built-up area of Hiroshima along the Motoyasugawa, looking upstream. Except for the very heavy masonry structures, the entire area was devastated. Ground zero of the atomic bomb was upper right in the photo.

Aerial view of the densely built-up area of Hiroshima along the Motoyasu-gawa, looking upstream. Except for the very heavy masonry structures, the entire area was devastated. Ground zero of the atomic bomb was upper right in the photo. (U.S. National Archives)

6. Hiroshima Station, between 1912 and 1945.

Hiroshima Station, between 1912 and 1945

7. A pre-war photo of Ujina Harbor. This relatively small harbor was developed as the port for Hiroshima and was one of the principal embarkation depots for the Japanese Army during World War II.

A pre-war photo of Ujina Harbor

8. On August 6, 1945, a mushroom cloud billows into the sky about one hour after an atomic bomb was dropped by American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, detonating above Hiroshima, Japan. Nearly 80,000 people are believed to have been killed immediately, with possibly another 60,000 survivors dying of injuries and radiation exposure by 1950.

On August 6, 1945, a mushroom cloud billows into the sky about one hour after an atomic bomb was dropped by American B-29 bomber

9. Survivors of the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare await emergency medical treatment in Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945.

AP Was There Atomic Bomb

10. Shortly after the atomic bomb was dropped over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, survivors receive emergency treatment from military medics on August 6, 1945.

AP Was There Atomic Bomb

11. Civilians gather in front of the ruined Hiroshima Station, months after the bombing.

Civilians gather in front of the ruined Hiroshima Station, months after the bombing

12. Japanese troops rest in the Hiroshima railway station after the atomic bomb explosion.

Japanese troops rest in the Hiroshima railway station after the atomic bomb explosion

13. Streetcars, bicyclists, and pedestrians make their way through the wreckage of Hiroshima.

Streetcars, bicyclists, and pedestrians make their way through the wreckage of Hiroshima

14. One of several Japanese fire engines transferred to Hiroshima shortly after the bombing.

One of several Japanese fire engines transferred to Hiroshima shortly after the bombing

15. Hiroshima after the bombing.

Hiroshima after the bombing. (U.S. National Archives)

16. A Japanese woman and her child, casualties in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, lie on a blanket on the floor of a damaged bank building converted into a hospital and located near the center of the devastated town, on October 6, 1945.

Japan Hiroshima Atom Bomb Victims

17. The devastated landscape of Hiroshima, months after the bombing.

The devastated landscape of Hiroshima, months after the bombing

18. “Direction of blast” chalk marks and outlines of the feet of a victim caught in the explosion. The intense heat of the initial flash of the detonation seared every nearby surface, leaving inverted “shadows,” like those seen on this bridge left by the railings and by a person who had been standing in this place.

Direction of blast chalk marks and outlines of the feet of a victim caught in the explosion

19. Post office savings bank, Hiroshima. Shadow of window frame left on fiberboard walls made by the flash of the detonation. October 4, 1945.

Post office savings bank, Hiroshima. Shadow of window frame left on fiberboard walls made by the flash of the detonation. October 4, 1945

20. In Hiroshima, gas tanks showing shadowing effects of the flash on asphalt paint.

In Hiroshima, gas tanks showing shadowing effects of the flash on asphalt paint

21. Two Japanese men sit in a makeshift office set up in a ruined building in Hiroshima.

Two Japanese men sit in a makeshift office set up in a ruined building in Hiroshima

22. The shattered Nagarekawa Methodist Church stands amid the ruins of Hiroshima.

The shattered Nagarekawa Methodist Church stands amid the ruins of Hiroshima

23. A huge expanse of ruins left after the explosion of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

HIROSHIMA

24. An aerial view of Hiroshima, some time after the atom bomb was dropped on this Japanese city. Compare this with pre-war photo number 5 above.

HIROSHIMA DESTRUCTION 1945

25. A Japanese soldier walks through a completely leveled area of Hiroshima in September 1945.

A Japanese soldier walks through a completely leveled area of Hiroshima in September 1945

Source: U.S. National Archives and AP

Share your thoughts about these photos and check out New Guinea during World War II [18+].

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