“The new world: true terror-ridden peace”

This headline from Dorothy Thompson’s article in The Observer of 12 August 1945 (log in with your library card number for access) was, I felt, very apt for what had just occurred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki – not only for Japan but in a wider context. This week 70 years ago marked the end of one era of warfare and the beginning of a new, possibly more frightening time.

Atomic bomb mushroom clouds over Hiroshima (left) and Nagasaki (right) - images courtesy of Wikipedia

Atomic bomb mushroom clouds over Hiroshima (left) and Nagasaki (right) – images courtesy of Wikipedia

Were the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, destroying them completely in seconds, a ‘necessary evil’ to bring a war that had cost millions of lives to an end? Or were they one of many horrific crimes committed during the course of that war? Worse; something which could be used again?

As the newspaper pointed out, the bombs were not easy to create. Perhaps we were safe? But when some of the most powerful members of the Allies’ camp so firmly disapproved of each other, could there be the chance of another war on the way soon after? And with weapons like this just what could that mean?

Hiroshima aftermath - image courtesy of Wikipedia

Hiroshima aftermath – image courtesy of Wikipedia

Did the headline get it completely right? Read this story and many more through the days, months and years that were to come as the world learnt more about what had happened in the Second World War and began living with the underlying fear of the Cold War. Access to several online historical newspaper archives is a fascinating way to view history through the eyes of people actually there at the time. Westminster subscribes to several including the Times Digital Archive, the Guardian and Observer, the Mirror (see UK Press Online) and many more: Newspaper archives.

[Owen]

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