These Images Of The Hiroshima Nuclear Bombing Are Still Shocking 75 Years Later

The nuclear weapons were devastating in their destruction, and have served as a cautionary tale for decades.

On Aug. 6, 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima. The city was a strategic military target, and had been placed off-limits from earlier firebombing raids. The atomic bomb was intended as a tactic to end a long and extremely bloody conflict between the US and Japan in the Pacific. It is estimated that 140,000 people, or one-third of the population, had died as a result of the blast by the end of the year. Most of the casualties were civilians.

Despite repeated calls for Japan to surrender, they refused, and so three days later, on Aug. 9, 1945, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, a major seaport. The second bomb killed an estimated 70,000 people. On Aug. 12, Japan surrendered.

No reports about how local populations were affected by the bombs appeared in the American press until September, and stories about radiation sickness were dismissed as Japanese propaganda. While images of the mushroom cloud were published, photos showing the aftermath were suppressed until the American occupation ended in 1952, and even then they were not widely seen in the US. Seventy-five years later, the photos remain shocking, and important, historic documents of the unprecedented power of nuclear warfare.

A mushroom cloud seen from the air over the city of Hiroshima
Two rivers cut through a desolate landscape where a city once stood.
Two people, one carrying an umbrella, walk down a street of rubble.
A woman reveals severe burns in gridlike patterns on her back caused by radiation
A man lying on the ground has burns on his body
A young girl sits by four badly burned and bloodied women lying down on the ground
A man stands in a room packed with dozens of wounded people lying on floor mattresses
A person shows their back covered in bulbous keloid scars, and another person shows their forearms covered in keloid scars.
Three men tip over a stretcher, adding a corpse to a row of bodies on the ground.
Two broken buddha statues rise out from the debris
A man walks away from a car and toward a lone building standing amid rubble in a destroyed valley
A single building appears in the foreground of miles of landscape reduced to rubble
A man walks toward blackened trees towering over a mile of rubble
A line of people is seen walking down a desolate highway surrounded by rubble
A crowd of mostly men, some in soldiers uniforms, walk down a city street surrounded by destroyed buildings
Children and people with bandages sit at a cluttered table and are tended to by women and older men
A woman lies on the ground and reaches over to a child beside her, whose head is covered in severe burns
A man walks through rubble looking off to a still-standing building in the distance
President Harry Truman sits at a desk with papers in front of him and a radio next to him
A gigantic atomic mushroom cloud explodes over a bridge and railway station

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