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Es hat Widerstand gegeben gegen den Atombombenabwurf auf japanische Städte

Greg Mitchell erzählt in "The Nation" die Geschichte von Leo Szilard / When Leo Szilard Tried to Halt the Use of the Atomic Bomb Against Japan

Am 4. Juli 2012 erinnerte die US-Wochenzeitung "The Nation" an ein Dokument, das hier zu Lande weitgehend unbekannt ist: Es handelt sich um eine Petition an den amerikanischen Präsidenten Truman, die von dem Ungarn-stämmigen Atomwissenschaftler Leo Szilard Anfang Juli 1945 entworfen worden war und von zahlreichen Kollegen des US-Atomprojekts unterzeichnet wurde. Diese Petition [siehe unten im Kasten] beschreibt die Atombombe als ein Mittel zur "gnadenlosen Vernichtung von Städten". Der US-Präsident als Oberbefehlshaber wird aufgefordert, auf die im Juli 1945 vorgesehenen Atomwaffentests und vor allem auf den Atomwaffeneinsatz in Japan zu verzichten.

Da die Unterzeichner der Petition darauf bestanden, dass sie über den offiziellen, also den Dienstweg zu Truman geschickt werden sollte, hatten die Gegner genügend Zeit, den Präsidenten abzuschirmen und gegen die Petenten vorzugehen. Wie Szilard später erzählte, hat die Petition Truman nie erreicht (siehe Interview in: U.S. News & World Report, 15.08.1960). Ob sich Truman hätte umstimmen lassen, ist aber mehr als zweifelhaft.

Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir:
  1. den kurzen Artikel von Greg Mitchell in The Nation;
  2. den Begleitbrief, den Szilard an Kolleginnen und Kollegen schrieb, um Sie zur Unterschrift unter die Petition zu bewegen,
  3. die Petition selber [Kasten]
  • Greg Mitchell: ATOMIC COVER-UP: Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made [Kindle Edition], 2011
  • Robert J. Lifton, Greg Mitchell: Hiroshima in America. Fifty Years of Denial, Putnam's (New York City), 1995

A July 4 Protest: When Leo Szilard Tried to Halt the Use of the Atomic Bomb Against Japan

Greg Mitchell *

It's well known that as the Truman White House made plans to use the first atomic bombs against Japan in the summer of 1945, a large group of atomic scientists, many of whom had worked on the bomb project, raised their voices, or at least their names, in protest. They were led by the great Leo Szilard. On July 3, he finished a petition to the president for his fellow scientists to consider, which called atomic bombs "a means for the ruthless annihilation of cities." It asked the president "to rule that the United States shall not, in the present phase of the war, resort to the use of atomic bombs."

The following day he wrote this cover letter (below). The same day, Leslie Groves, military chief of the Manhattan Project, wrote Winston Churchill's science advisor seeking advice on how to combat Szilard and his colleagues. The bomb would be tested two weeks later and dropped over Hiroshima on August 6. For more see my recent book Atomic Coverup and my book with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.

* The Nation, July 4, 2012; www.thenation.com

July 4, 1945 **

Dear xxxxxxxxxxxx,

Enclosed is the text of a petition which will be submitted to the President of the United States. As you will see, this petition is based on purely moral considerations.

It may very well be that the decision of the President whether or not to use atomic bombs in the war against Japan will largely be based on considerations of expediency. On the basis of expediency, many arguments could be put forward both for and against our use of atomic bombs against Japan. Such arguments could be considered only within the framework of a thorough analysis of the situation which will face the United States after this war and it was felt that no useful purpose would be served by considering arguments of expediency in a short petition.

However small the chance might be that our petition may influence the course of events, I personally feel that it would be a matter of importance if a large number of scientists who have worked in this field went clearly and unmistakably on record as to their opposition on moral grounds to the use of these bombs in the present phase of the war.

Many of us are inclined to say that individual Germans share the guilt for the acts which Germany committed during this war because they did not raise their voices in protest against these acts. Their defense that their protest would have been of no avail hardly seems acceptable even though these Germans could not have protests without running risks to life and liberty. We are in a position to raise our voices without incurring any such risks even though we might incur the displeasure of some of those who are at present in charge of controlling the work on "atomic power".

The fact that the people of the people of the United States are unaware of the choice which faces us increases our responsibility in this matter since those who have worked on "atomic power" represent a sample of the population and they alone are in a position to form an opinion and declare their stand.

Anyone who might wish to go on record by signing the petition ought to have an opportunity to do so and, therefore, it would be appreciated if you could give every member of your group an opportunity for signing.

Leo Szilard

** The Nation, July 4, 2012; www.thenation.com

Dokumentiert: Die erste Petition an den Präsidenten

July 3, 1945


Discoveries of which the people of the United States are not aware may affect the welfare of this nation in the near future. The liberation of atomic power which has been achieved places atomic bombs in the hands of the Army. It places in your hands, as Commander-in-Chief, the fateful decision whether or not to sanction the use of such bombs in the present phase of the war against Japan.

We, the undersigned scientists, have been working in the field of atomic power for a number of years. Until recently we have had to reckon with the possibility that the United States might be attacked by atomic bombs during this war and that her only defense might lie in a counterattack by the same means. Today with this danger averted we feel impelled to say what follows:

The war has to be brought speedily to a successful conclusion and the destruction of Japanese cities by means of atomic bombs may very well be an effective method of warfare. We feel, however, that such an attack on Japan could not be justified in the present circumstances. We believe that the United States ought not to resort to the use of atomic bombs in the present phase of the war, at least not unless the terms which will be imposed upon Japan after the war are publicly announced and subsequently Japan is given an opportunity to surrender.

If such public announcement gave assurance to the Japanese that they could look forward to a life devoted to peaceful pursuits in their homeland and if Japan still refused to surrender, our nation would then be faced with a situation which might require a re-examination of her position with respect to the use of atomic bombs in the war.

Atomic bombs are primarily a means for the ruthless annihilation of cities. Once they were introduced as an instrument of war it would be difficult to resist for long the temptation of putting them to such use.

The last few years show a marked tendency toward increasing ruthlessness. At present our Air Forces, striking at the Japanese cities, are using the same methods of warfare which were condemned by American public opinion only a few years ago when applied by the Germans to the cities of England. Our use of atomic bombs in this war would carry the world a long way further on this path of ruthlessness.

Atomic power will provide the nations with new means of destruction. The atomic bombs at our disposal represent only the first step in this direction and there is almost no limit to the destructive power which will become available in the course of this development. Thus a nation which sets the precedent of using these newly liberated forces of nature for purposes of destruction may have to bear the responsibility of opening the door to an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale.

In view of the foregoing, we, the undersigned, respectfully petition that you exercise your power as Commander-in-Chief to rule that the United States shall not, in the present phase of the war, resort to the use of atomic bombs.

Leo Szilard and 58 co-signers

Source for number of signers of July 3 petition: Szilard to Frank Oppenheimer, July 23, 1945, Robert Oppenheimer Papers, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.; www.dannen.com

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