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  1. 18 Mar '13 02:56 / 3 edits
    Some writers here have argued about the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima
    and Nagasaki. Here's what a Soviet history textbook (written for the
    equivalent of British sixth form students) stated:

    "This was a barbaric example of the use of an atomic weapon, not provoked
    by military necessity. By dropping the bombs on the Japanese cities, the
    US imperialists were trying to frighten the whole world, especially the Soviet
    Union. It marked the beginning of the aggressive course steered by the USA
    toward the establishment of world domination."
    --Istoriya SSSR (by Bekhin, Belenkii, and Kim, translated by Marjorie Vanston)

    First of all, Soviet history textbooks obviously have a strong nationalistic bias,
    though probably not more so than the textbooks in most Western countries.

    Were the atomic bombings 'barbaric'? Compared to what? Toward the end of
    the war in Europe, the USSR encouraged the UK and USA to bomb Dresden.
    The USSR had not condemned the US fire-bombing of Tokyo as 'barbaric'.
    It seems inconsistent to condemn only the atomic bombings as 'barbaric'
    while approving of non-atomic bombings that had killed more civilians.

    Moreover, the Soviet textbook implies that the USA was more 'barbaric' than
    the USSR would have been in the same position. If Stalin had possessed an
    atomic bomb in 1945, does anyone believe that he would have refrained from
    using it on account of his moral concerns? On the contrary, Stalin's USSR had
    quite a reputation for its barbarous cruelty toward its enemies, foreign and
    domestic (such as the Ukrainians), as well as some of its allies. When the
    Soviet Army liberated Japanese-occupied China, Soviet soldiers tended to treat
    (looting, rape, and casual murder) their Chinese allies hardly any better than
    their Japanese enemies.

    Were the atomic bombings 'not provoked by military necessity'? This is a
    complex question, which is too long to discuss in detail here. I respect some
    historians on both sides of answering this question. I would say this:
    1) Japan still had sustantial military capability remaining in August 1945
    2) The atomic bombings did not greatly reduce Japan's military capability.
    3) Japan's decision to surrender seems motivated more by the USSR's entering
    the war and fears of eventual Soviet occupation than by the atomic bombings.
    4) The atomic bombings were a custom-made face-saving excuse for Japan.

    Did the USA decide to employ atomic bombs in order to intimidate the USSR?
    In part, yes. Another reason was that, given the great expense of developing
    the atomic bombs, the US government was worried about domestic political
    consequences if the atomic bombs never were used for their intended purpose.

    To sum up, the Soviet history textbook's commentary on the atomic bombings
    seems to contain some truth, some half-truth, and some self-serving hypocrisy.
  2. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    18 Mar '13 03:25
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    Some writers here have argued about the US atomic bombings Hiroshima
    Nagasaki. Here's what a Soviet history textbook (written for the equivalent
    of British sixth form students) stated:

    "This was a barbaric example of the use of an atomic weapon, not provoked
    by military necessity. By dropping the bombs on the Japanese cities, the
    US imperialists ...[text shortened]... seems to contain some truth, some half-truth, and some self-serving hypocrisy.
    The text may be simplistic (bearing in mind it is meant for sixth graders that is hardly surprising) but is basically accurate. At best the atomic bombings were militarily expedient but the textbook is surely correct that they were " not provoked
    by military necessity".(emphasis added).
  3. 18 Mar '13 03:43 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    The text may be simplistic (bearing in mind it is meant for sixth graders that is hardly surprising) but is basically accurate. At best the atomic bombings were militarily expedient but the textbook is surely correct that they were " not provoked
    by military [b]necessity
    ".(emphasis added).[/b]
    "The text may be simplistic (bearing in mind it is meant for sixth graders..."
    --No1Marauder

    'British sixth form' (which I wrote) used to refer to the last two years of
    secondary school in England and Wales (Scotland has a separate system),
    though many secondary schools no longer have an integral sixth form.
    Now there are many separate sixth form colleges or schools.

    So the Soviet history textbook was written for the equivalent of (British
    sixth form) American high school juniors and seniors (11th-12th grades).

    If you are making a careful distinction between 'military necessity' and
    'military expediency', then I would be inclined to concur with your view.
  4. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    18 Mar '13 03:45
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    "The text may be simplistic (bearing in mind it is meant for sixth graders..."
    --No1Marauder

    'British sixth form' (which I wrote) used to refer to the last two years of
    secondary school in England and Wales (Scotland has a separate system),
    though many secondary schools no longer have an integral sixth form.
    Now there are many separate sixth form ...[text shortened]... valent of (British
    sixth form) American high school juniors and seniors (11th-12th grades).
    Sorry that was careless of me.

    If that is the totality of the treatment in the textbook, then it is overly simplistic. If it's a summary, then it is not.
  5. 18 Mar '13 03:55
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    Sorry that was careless of me.

    If that is the totality of the treatment in the textbook, then it is overly simplistic. If it's a summary, then it is not.
    I don't have the Soviet history textbook (its title means 'History of the USSR'
    in front of me. I have some excerpts that were selected and translated by
    some British writers. The Soviet textbook was published at least forty years
    ago and would be extremely hard to find even in Western university libraries.

    "The Soviet (textbook) version is nearer the truth than most versions
    current in the West."
    --A.J.P. Taylor

    "They (the Soviets) also claim, in my view rightly, that it was they who
    defeated the Germans with rather minimal help from the Western allies."
    --Robert Skidelsky
  6. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    18 Mar '13 04:02 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    I don't have the Soviet history textbook (its title means 'History of the USSR'
    in front of me. I have some excerpts that were selected and translated by
    some British writers. The Soviet textbook was published at least forty years
    ago and would be extremely hard to find even in Western university libraries.

    "The Soviet (textbook) version is nearer eated the Germans with rather minimal help from the Western allies."
    --Robert Skidelsky
    I agree with statement #1 since virtually all US high school textbooks at the time asserted that absent the atomic bombs a bloody ground invasion of Japan would have been necessary.

    "Minimal" is a tough word to justify; Western Lend-Lease was rather important in some critical areas like transportation and ammunition. Personally, I think the evidence suggests that the USSR would have prevailed in the long run over the Nazis without Western aid, but that is debatable. Certainly during the war the Soviets pressed for material aid from the West from the first day of the German invasion so Stalin didn't think such aid was of "minimal" importance.
  7. 18 Mar '13 04:36
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    I agree with statement #1 since virtually all US high school textbooks at the time asserted that absent the atomic bombs a bloody ground invasion of Japan would have been necessary.

    "Minimal" is a tough word to justify; Western Lend-Lease was rather important in some critical areas like transportation and ammunition. Personally, I think the ...[text shortened]... rst day of the German invasion so Stalin didn't think such aid was of "minimal" importance.
    There was a Soviet saying that, in order to defeat the Axis in Europe,
    the British bought time, the Americans provided goods, and the Soviets shed
    their blood. Soviet casualties greatly outnumbered Western casualties.

    What the USSR wanted more than Lend-Lease aid from the UK and the USA
    was the earliest practicable opening of the 'second front' in western Europe.
    Most Soviets seemed to suspect that the UK and the USA intentionally delayed
    D-Day in order that the USSR and Germany could keep fighting, bleed each
    other, and become weaker. Soviet writers tend to play down the importance of
    Lend-Lease to the USSR, while Western writers tend to play up its importance.

    In my view, American and British Lend-Lease was of major importance in
    many ways to the USSR, particularly given the reality that the Axis had
    conquered much of the western USSR. It's true that the Soviets had
    managed to relocate many western factories to the East, but there was
    an inevitable lag in production. The most valuable contributions of
    Lend-Lease were in areas where the USSR lagged. Most of the Soviet
    Army's trucks were not made in the USSR. In contrast, supplying (usually
    inferior) American or British tanks was of much less value, given that the
    tank production was a great strength of the Soviet war economy.

    But Lend-Lease to the USSR did not reach its peak until 1943-44.
    The USSR had to survive the difficult challenges of 1941-42 with modest
    support from Lend-Lease. For example, the Battle of Stalingrad was won by
    the USSR with minimal aid from Lend-Lease. So I would say that Lend-Lease
    was not responsible for the USSR's survival. Without Lend-Lease, however,
    the USSR would have taken much longer and many more casualties to advance
    into Germany. Would the USSR still have prevailed? As long as Germany still
    had to commit major resources to other fronts, it would have been hard to
    stop the Soviet Army. It's possible, however, that a different German
    defensive strategy could have inflicted enough casualties upon a less mobile
    (than historically) Soviet Army (without its Lend-Lease trucks) to persuade
    Stalin to settle for less than unconditional surrender.
  8. 18 Mar '13 10:49
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    There was a Soviet saying that, in order to defeat the Axis in Europe,
    the British bought time, the Americans provided goods, and the Soviets shed
    their blood. Soviet casualties greatly outnumbered Western casualties.

    What the USSR wanted more than Lend-Lease aid from the UK and the USA
    was the earliest practicable opening of the 'second front' in w ...[text shortened]... ts Lend-Lease trucks) to persuade
    Stalin to settle for less than unconditional surrender.
    Pretty sad when ya gotta go to the Ruskies for the truth.
  9. 18 Mar '13 12:07
    Wonder what the world would look like today if Stalin had the bomb first and nobody else did for 4 years after the war?
  10. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    18 Mar '13 12:19 / 2 edits
    "Barbaric" is the sort of moral judgment you wouldn't generally see in most western textbooks over controversial historical events. Dogmatism being taught to high schoolers is, in my mind, a pedagogical flaw. I would rather see the facts presented and leave it to the teachers and students to make that sort of moral judgment.

    To this day, when I see a news article with that sort of judgment, I get annoyed and the source is instantly discredited in my mind.

    "World domination" is tripe, and especially hypocritical coming from a Soviet source. We didn't impose our will on western Europe and bloodily put down reactions against us as the USSR did in eastern Europe.

    As for the substance, the Japanese were hardly pragmatists, they were dug in for the long haul in mid-1945. Could they have been coaxed into surrendering based on the threat of a Soviet invasion? Possibly. But in judging military necessity, and especially in making that sort of moral judgment, you need to put yourself in the minds of the decision-makers at the time. What we know from the distant future is irrelevant. Was Truman reasonable in believing that using the bomb was a military necessity? What is a much closer question.
  11. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    18 Mar '13 12:29 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    There was a Soviet saying that, in order to defeat the Axis in Europe,
    the British bought time, the Americans provided goods, and the Soviets shed
    their blood. Soviet casualties greatly outnumbered Western casualties.

    What the USSR wanted more than Lend-Lease aid from the UK and the USA
    was the earliest practicable opening of the 'second front' in w ts Lend-Lease trucks) to persuade
    Stalin to settle for less than unconditional surrender.
    Discussing what would have happened without the western powers is an interesting academic exercise, but very difficult to determine with any degree of confidence.

    For example, exactly what would the role of the west have been? If the UK and France were friendly neutrals from Day 1, Hitler probably never has to make a pace with Stalin over Poland. There is no Battle of Britain. Maybe Barbarossa happens in June of 1940 from the original eastern Polish border (200 miles closer to Moscow) and the entire Luftwaffe is intact and the Soviets are one fewer year removed from the great purge. Can the Soviets survive Barbarossa in June of 1940 against a completely intact Luftwaffe? Anthony Bevor describes in detail how a weakened Luftwaffe hurt the Germans so badly at Stalingrad and Herman Wouk says that the Blitzkrieg "ran out of blitz in Russia because it had dropped too much of it on the fields of Kent and Surrey." (Winds of War, Ch. 30).
  12. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    18 Mar '13 12:48 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sh76
    "Barbaric" is the sort of moral judgment you wouldn't generally see in most western textbooks over controversial historical events. Dogmatism being taught to high schoolers is, in my mind, a pedagogical flaw. I would rather see the facts presented and leave it to the teachers and students to make that sort of moral judgment.

    To this day, when I see a news ar elieving
    that using the bomb was a military necessity? What is a much closer question.[/b]
    It's historical ignorance to claim that the Japanese "were dug in for the long haul in mid-1945." In fact they were seeking terms and realized the war was lost. In judging "military necessity" one might look to the military officials at the time and they were virtually unanimous in believing that the A-Bombs weren't necessary to force a Japanese surrender.http://www.colorado.edu/AmStudies/lewis/2010/atomicdec.htm

    Note that Admiral William Leahy described the atomic bomb as a " barbarous weapon".
  13. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    18 Mar '13 13:04
    Originally posted by sh76
    "Barbaric" is the sort of moral judgment you wouldn't generally see in most western textbooks over controversial historical events. Dogmatism being taught to high schoolers is, in my mind, a pedagogical flaw. I would rather see the facts presented and leave it to the teachers and students to make that sort of moral judgment.

    To this day, when I see a news ar ...[text shortened]... elieving
    that using the bomb was a military necessity? What is a much closer question.[/b]
    Gee, can a textbook say the Holocaust was "not nice" without raising your righteous outrage?
  14. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    18 Mar '13 13:07
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    Gee, can a textbook say the Holocaust was "not nice" without raising your righteous outrage?
    Please don't feign that you're incapable of seeing the difference between making a judgment on the morality of the Holocaust vs. the morality of Hiroshima. It's beneath you.
  15. Subscriber kmax87
    You've got Kevin
    18 Mar '13 13:08 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sh76
    Discussing what would have happened without the western powers is an interesting academic exercise, but very difficult to determine with any degree of confidence.
    What impressed me the most after seeing the movie "Reds" (Beatty and Benning) was the threat to the established order the Soviets presented, and the widespread fear the Bolshevik revolution provoked in the stately homes of the elite at that time. It always struck me as odd Hitler's deciscion to turn North when he did, and I've always wondered given the backing the Nazi Party received from some pretty important Western banks and individuals, that the real reason that they were bankrolled into power, was for them, as quid pro quo, to inflict as much damage as they could to the Soviets. Given the perspective fleshed out in that textbook, I tend to agree that the West was advantaged by a protracted unwinnable war between the Nazi's and the Soviets. Was it barbaric? Even without the use of the A Bomb, the fire bombing of Dresden alone would have you concur that the Allied response during WW2 skirted the edge of barbourous actions in many of the thigs they did. That the Nazis were worse does not excuse the West's behaviour.