back to top

The U.S. Dropped The Atomic Bomb On Hiroshima 70 Years Ago

On Aug. 6, 1945, the United States detonated the world's first atomic bomb over Hiroshima. Seventy years later, we remember that fateful day.

Posted on

On July 26, 1945, the United States called for the unconditional surrender of Japan under threat of "prompt and utter destruction."

Two days later, newspapers reported that the Japanese government had officially rejected the proposed ultimatum. Soon after, the world's first atomic bomb was dropped over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 70,000 people instantly upon detonation.

Three days later, a second atomic bomb was dropped, on Nagasaki. With the effects of radiation, the total number of victims is thought to be approximately 340,000 people. On Aug. 15, 1945, the surrender of Japan was publicly announced and World War II was brought to an end.

Aug. 2, 1939: Albert Einstein writes to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, warning of the possibility of an atomic bomb.

MPI / Getty Images

Physicist Albert Einstein writes a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt raising the possibility that Germany could build an atomic bomb. The letter led to America building an atomic bomb in what was known as the top-secret "Manhattan Project."


July 16, 1945: America's first atomic bomb is tested at the White Sands Proving Ground.

Mpi / Getty Images

An atomic bombshell is hoisted to the top of a tower at Alamogordo, New Mexico. At the White Sands Proving Ground, code name "Trinity" would become the world's first-ever detonation of a nuclear weapon.

AP Photo/http://U.S. Army

In this sequence of photos, a mushroom cloud is recorded by an Army automatic motion picture camera six miles away as the first atomic bomb test was conducted at Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Keystone / Getty Images

Nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Los Alamos Laboratory during the development of the atomic bomb, and Major General Leslie Groves inspect the remains of the tower from which an atom test bomb was ignited.

"We knew the world would not be the same," Oppenheimer would later recall. "A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that one way or another."

July 1945: The decision is ultimately made to use the atomic bomb against Japan.

Mpi / Getty Images

After Roosevelt's death brought him to power during the last months of World War II, Harry S. Truman was forced to make the decision to end the war with Japan by dropping the atomic bomb.


August 5: The crew is briefed prior to the flight of the Enola Gay.

PhotoQuest / Getty Images

At a mission briefing, Captain William Parsons and Colonel Paul Tibbets go over last-minute data prior to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Afp / Getty Images

American bomber pilot Paul W. Tibbets Jr. stands with the ground crew of the bomber named the Enola Gay which Tibbets flew — and named after his mother — in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

The war department issued shoulder patches to approximately 3,500 Army officers and men assigned to work on the atomic bomb (left). Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay, waves from his cockpit before takeoff (right).


Aug. 6, 1945: The atomic bomb is detonated over Hiroshima.

Universal History Archive / Getty Images

An aerial photograph of Hiroshima, Japan, shortly after the "Little Boy" atomic bomb was dropped.

Galerie Bilderwelt / Getty Images

Damage in Hiroshima after the atomic bombing of Aug. 6, 1945. A few buildings are still standing, and some telephone and electricity poles remain intact.

Keystone / Getty Images

A man wheels his bicycle thorough Hiroshima, days after the city was leveled by an atomic bomb blast. The view here is looking west-northwest, about 550 feet from where the bomb landed.


For those who survived, the damage from the bomb's intense heat and radiation caused lasting damage.

HAJIME MIYATAKE / The Asahi Shimbun / via Getty

An atomic bomb survivor lies at Hiroshima Red Cross hospital in Hiroshima, Japan.


In the United States, the bombing was hailed as a triumph.

Chicago History Museum / Getty Images

Headline from the Chicago Daily News proclaiming the bombing of Japan with the atomic bombs.

Galerie Bilderwelt / Getty Images

Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day) celebration in Jackson Square in downtown Oak Ridge, Tennessee. When the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan on Aug. 6, 1945, the news reports revealed to the people at Oak Ridge what they had been working on all along.

Eugene Hoshiko / AP

Students from Sweden look at exhibits at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. The displays are intend to help understanding the damage caused by nuclear weapons.

Buddhika Weerasinghe / Getty Images

An elderly woman places flowers at the monument for atomic bomb victims at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on the day before the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.


Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!