Dropping of the Atomic dbq name April 28, 2010 Chimeri/Freund/Larkin ss/8 Per

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Dropping of the Atomic DBQ
Name April 28, 2010

Chimeri/Freund/Larkin SS/8 Per Last DBQ of the Year

HISTORICAL CONTEXT: With the dropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese surrendered signaling the end of WWII. Historians, however, are still debating whether the dropping of the atomic bomb was necessary to end the war quickly.
TASK: In a well-written essay, you must:

  • Decide whether or not the United States was justified in dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • Give at least three (3) historically accurate facts to defend your position.


  • Use at least 4 documents in your essay. This will require you to utilize a document that does not help your argument. You must be able to take a document and spin it to explain how it actually is incorrect in your opinion.

  • When selecting documents, be sure that you do not simply list them, but accurately analyze them (this is what separates a “4” paper from a “5” paper).

  • Your outside knowledge on this subject is extensive. Think of everything that we have learned over the past 3 weeks and use it to your advantage. When taking a stand, be sure to use as much evidence as possible to explain your point.

  • Stick to your point. When writing an argumentative DBQ paper, be sure to avoid telling both sides of the argument. A Defense lawyer does not explain the Prosecution’s side she simply makes her client look innocent.

  • Cite the documents after the sentence and try to quote at least one document in your paper.

  • If you believe that the United States was not justified in dropping the atomic bomb, you should offer what you believe was the best alternative. Choosing nothing is not a choice.

DOCUMENT #1: Rape of Nanking
In 1936 and 1937 the Japanese army entered the city of Nanking, what happened there over six weeks is known as The Rape of Nanking.

  1. How might the photograph influence the American president into believing that the atomic attacks on Japanese civilians were justified?

DOCUMENT #2: League of Nations International Law

Protection of Civilian Populations Against Bombing From the Air in Case of War, League of Nations, September 30, 1938

Unanimous resolution of the League of Nations Assembly,
September 30, 1938.

The Assembly,

Considering that on numerous occasions public opinion has expressed through the most authoritative channels its horror of the bombing of civilian populations;

Considering that this practice, for which there is no military necessity and which, as experience shows, only causes needless suffering, is condemned under the recognised principles of international law;…

I. Recognizes the following principles as a necessary basis for any subsequent regulations:

1) The intentional bombing of civilian populations is illegal;

2) Objectives aimed at from the air must be legitimate military objectives and must be identifiable;

3) Any attack on legitimate military objectives must be carried out in such a way that civilian populations in the neighbourhood are not bombed through negligence;

  1. What is the date of this document?

  1. What international organization passed this law?

  1. Identify one way the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were illegal according to this law.

DOCUMENT #3: Japanese Kamikaze Pilots

As the war progressed and it became obvious that American technology was superior to Japan’s, the Japanese began utilizing kamikaze pilots to attack Allied ships in the Pacific to balance the power. The Japanese pilots became “guided” missiles taking out American ships.

  1. How might the Japanese use of Kamikaze pilots influence Harry Truman to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

DOCUMENT #4: Letter of Scientists opposed to nuclear weapon in war

To the President of the United States:

We, the undersigned scientific personnel…believe that the worldwide political and social consequences of the power of the weapon being developed…(require the United States to have that power to be) made known by a demonstration to the peoples of the world…Therefore we recommend that before this weapon be used without restriction…its powers should be…demonstrated, and the Japanese nation should be given the opportunity to consider the consequences of further refusal to surrender.

  1. According to this letter, why are these scientists opposed to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japanese cities?

DOCUMENT #5: Invasion of Japan-

The following are the estimates of casualties, made by US military personnel, in the invasion of Japan.
Approximately 500,000 Purple Heart medals (awarded to those wounded or killed while serving with the US military) were manufactured in anticipation of the invasion. However, nobody knows for sure how many Allied or Japanese casualties an invasion would have resulted in. There have been many estimates over the years (some of the estimates below do not include losses at sea).


US/Allied Casualties

Japanese Casualties

Joint Chiefs of Staff
(April 1945)

Olympic Wounded: 347,000
Olympic Dead/Missing: 109,000
Coronet Wounded: 744,000
Coronet Dead/Missing: 158,000
TOTAL: 1,200,000


Admiral Nimitz's Staff
(May 1945)

First 30 Days: 49,000


General MacArthur's Staff
(June 1945)

First 120 Days: 125,000


General MacArthur's Staff
(Revised Estimate)

First 120 Days: 105,000


General Marshall



Admiral Leahy



Admiral King

31,000 to 41,000


William Shockley

Wounded: 1,300,000 to 3,200,000
Dead: 400,000 to 800,000
Total: 1,700,000 to 4,000,000

Dead: 5,000,000 to 10,000,000

Kyle Palmer

Dead: 500,000 to 1,000,000


Harry S. Truman

Dead: 500,000 to 1,000,000


  1. How many casualties did Harry S Truman believe would occur in an invasion of Japan?

  1. How would this influence his decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japanese cities?

DOCUMENT #6: Effects of Atomic Attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The following are visuals and a graph of the after-effects of the attacks.

TABLE A: Estimates of Casualties



Pre-raid population









Total Casualties



  1. What was the Pre-raid Population of Hiroshima?

  1. What was the Total Casualties number of Hiroshima?

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