這是美國退休空軍將領 Charles Sweeney 在 1995 年國會聽證上準備的稿子，他也是唯一一位參加了兩次對日本轟炸原子彈的飛行員。在二次大戰結束 50 週年的時刻，他出席聽證會呼籲大眾重視二戰當時的歷史背景與戰爭結束的正面意義。這些話語在 20 年後的今天，依然發人深省。
[Statement of Major General Charles W. Sweeney, U.S.A.F. (Ret.) delivered before the United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration—hearings on the Smithsonian Institution: Management Guidelines for the Future, May 11, 1995.]
I am Major General Charles W. Sweeney, United States Air Force, Retired. I am the only pilot to have flown on both atomic missions. I flew the instrument plane on the right wing of General Paul Tibbets on the Hiroshima mission and 3 days later, on August 9, 1945, commanded the second atomic mission over Nagasaki. Six days after Nagasaki the Japanese military surrendered and the Second World War came to an end.
The soul of a nation, its essence, is its history. It is that collective memory which defines what each generation thinks and believes about itself and its country.
In a free society, such as ours, there is always an ongoing debate about who we are and what we stand for. This open debate is in fact essential to our freedom. But to have such a debate we as a society must have the courage to consider all of the facts available to us. We must have the courage to stand up and demand that before any conclusions are reached, those facts which are beyond question are accepted as part of the debate.
As the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki missions approaches, now is an appropriate time to consider the reasons for Harry Truman’s order that these missions be flown. We may disagree on the conclusion, but let us at least be honest enough to agree on basic facts of the time, the facts that President Truman had to consider in making a difficult and momentous decision.
As the only pilot to have flown both missions, and having commanded the Nagasaki mission, I bring to this debate my own eyewitness account of the times. I underscore what I believe are irrefutable facts, with full knowledge that some opinion makers may cavalierly dismiss them because they are so obvious — because they interfere with their preconceived version of the truth, and the meaning which they strive to impose on the missions.
This evening, I want to offer my thoughts, observations, and conclusions as someone who lived this history, and who believes that President Truman’s decision was not only justified by the circumstances of his time, but was a moral imperative that precluded any other option.
Like the overwhelming majority of my generation the last thing I wanted was a war. We as a nation are not warriors. We are not hell-bent on glory. There is no warrior class — no Samurai — no master race.
This is true today, and it was true 50 years ago.
While our country was struggling through the great depression, the Japanese were embarking on the conquest of its neighbors — the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. It seems fascism always seeks some innocuous slogan to cover the most hideous plans.
This Co-Prosperity was achieved by waging total and merciless war against China and Manchuria. The Japanese, as a nation, saw itself as destined to rule Asia and thereby possess its natural resources and open lands. Without the slightest remorse or hesitation, the Japanese Army slaughtered innocent men, women and children. In the infamous Rape of Nanking up to 300,000 unarmed civilians were butchered. These were criminal acts.
THESE ARE FACTS.
In order to fulfill its divine destiny in Asia, Japan determined that the only real impediment to this goal was the United States. It launched a carefully conceived sneak attack on our Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor. Timed for a Sunday morning it was intended to deal a death blow to the fleet by inflicting the maximum loss of ships and human life.
1,700 sailors are still entombed in the hull of the U.S.S. Arizona that sits on the bottom of Pearl Harbor. Many if not all, died without ever knowing why. Thus was the war thrust upon us.
The fall of Corregidor and the resulting treatment of Allied prisoners of war dispelled any remaining doubt about the inhumanness of the Japanese Army, even in the context of war. The Bataan Death March was horror in its fullest dimension. The Japanese considered surrender to be dishonorable to oneself, one’s family, one’s country and one’s god. They showed no mercy. Seven thousand American and Filipino POW’s were beaten, shot, bayonetted or left to die of disease or exhaustion.
THESE ARE FACTS.
As the United States made its slow, arduous, and costly march across the vast expanse of the Pacific, the Japanese proved to be a ruthless and intractable killing machine. No matter how futile, no matter how hopeless the odds, no matter how certain the outcome, the Japanese fought to the death. And to achieve a greater glory, they strove to kill as many Americans as possible.
The closer the United States came to the Japanese mainland, the more fanatical their actions became.
Saipan — 3,100 Americans killed, 1,500 in the first few hours of the invasion.
Iwo Jima — 6,700 Americans killed, 25,000 wounded.
Okinawa — 12,500 Americans killed, total casualties, 35,000.
These are facts reported by simple white grave markers.
Kamikazes. The literal translation is DIVINE WIND. To willingly dive a plane loaded with bombs into an American ship was a glorious transformation to godliness — there was no higher honor on heaven or earth. The suicidal assaults of the Kamikazes took 5,000 American Navy men to their deaths.
The Japanese vowed that, with the first American to step foot on the mainland, they would execute every Allied prisoner. In preparation they forced the POW’s to dig their own graves in the event of mass executions. Even after their surrender, they executed some American POW’s.
THESE ARE FACTS.
The Potsdam Declaration had called for unconditional surrender of the Japanese Armed Forces. The Japanese termed it ridiculous and not worthy of consideration. We know from our intercepts of their coded messages, that they wanted to stall for time to force a negotiated surrender on terms acceptable to them.
For months prior to August 6, American aircraft began dropping fire bombs upon the Japanese mainland. The wind created by the firestorm from the bombs incinerated whole cities. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese died. Still the Japanese military vowed never to surrender. They were prepared to sacrifice their own people to achieve their visions of glory and honor — no matter how many more people died.
They refused to evacuate civilians even though our pilots dropped leaflets warning of the possible bombings. In one 3-day period, 34 square miles of Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka were reduced to rubble.
THESE ARE FACTS.
And even after the bombing of Hiroshima, Tojo, his successor Suzuki, and the military clique in control believed the United States had but one bomb, and that Japan could go on. They had 3 days to surrender after August 6, but they did not surrender. The debate in their cabinet at times became violent.
Only after the Nagasaki drop did the Emperor finally demand surrender.
And even then, the military argued they could and should fight on. A group of Army officers staged a coup and tried to seize and destroy the Emperor’s recorded message to his people announcing the surrender.
THESE ARE FACTS.
These facts help illuminate the nature of the enemy we faced. They help put into context the process by which Truman considered the options available to him. And they help to add meaning to why the missions were necessary.
President Truman understood these facts as did every service man and woman. Casualties were not some abstraction, but a sobering reality.
Did the atomic missions end the war? Yes… they… did.
Were they necessary? Well that’s where the rub comes.
With the fog of 50 years drifting over the memory of our country, to some, the Japanese are now the victims. America was the insatiable, vindictive aggressor seeking revenge and conquest. Our use of these weapons was the unjustified and immoral starting point for the nuclear age with all of its horrors. Of course, to support such distortion, one must conveniently ignore the real facts or fabricate new realities to fit the theories. It is no less egregious than those who today deny the Holocaust occurred.
How could this have happened?
The answer may lie in examining some recent events.
The current debate about why President Truman ordered these missions, in some cases, has devolved to a numbers game. The Smithsonian in its proposed exhibit of the Enola Gay revealed the creeping revisionism which seems the rage in certain historical circles.
That exhibit wanted to memorialize the fiction that the Japanese were the victims — we the evil aggressor. Imagine taking your children and grandchildren to this exhibit.
What message would they have left with?
What truth would they retain?
What would they think their country stood for?
And all of this would have occurred in an American institution whose very name and charter are supposed to stand for the impartial preservation of significant American artifacts.
By cancelling the proposed exhibit and simply displaying the Enola Gay, has truth won out?
In one nationally televised discussion, I heard a so-called prominent historian argue that the bombs were not necessary. That President Truman was intent on intimidating the Russians. That the Japanese were ready to surrender.
The Japanese were ready to surrender? Based on what?
Some point to statements by General Eisenhower years after the war that Japan was about to fall. Well, based on that same outlook Eisenhower seriously underestimated Germany’s will to fight on and concluded in December, 1944 that Germany no longer had the capability to wage offensive war.
That was a tragic miscalculation. The result was the Battle of the Bulge, which resulted in tens of thousands of needless Allied casualties and potentially allowed Germany to prolong the war and force negotiations.
Thus the assessment that Japan was vanquished may have the benefit of hindsight rather than foresight.
It is certainly fair to conclude that the Japanese could have been reasonably expected to be even more fanatical than the Germans based on the history of the war in the Pacific.
And, finally, a present-day theory making the rounds espouses that even if an invasion had taken place, our casualties would not have been a million, as many believed, but realistically only 46,000 dead.
Can you imagine the callousness of this line of argument? ONLY 46,000 — as if this were some insignificant number of American lives.
Perhaps these so-called historians want to sell books.
Perhaps they really believe it. Or perhaps it reflects some self-loathing occasioned by the fact that we won the war.
Whatever the reason, the argument is flawed. It dissects and recalculates events ideologically, grasping at selective straws.
Let me admit right here, today, that I don’t know how many more Americans would have died in an invasion— AND NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE!
What I do know is that based on the Japanese conduct during the war, it is fair and reasonable to assume that an invasion of the mainland would have been a prolonged and bloody affair. Based on what we know — not what someone surmises — the Japanese were not about to unconditionally surrender.
In taking Iwo Jima, a tiny 8 square mile lump of rock in the ocean, 6,700 marines died — total casualties over 30,000.
But even assuming that those who now KNOW our casualties would have been ONLY 46.000 I ask:
Which 46,000 were to die?
And, yes, I am focusing on American lives.
The Japanese had their fate in their own hands, we did not . Hundreds of thousands of American troops anxiously waited at staging areas in the Pacific dreading the coming invasion, their fate resting on what the Japanese would do next. The Japanese could have ended it at any time. They chose to wait.
And while the Japanese stalled, an average of 900 more Americans were killed or wounded each day the war continued.
I’ve heard another line of argument that we should have accepted a negotiated peace with the Japanese on terms they would have found acceptable. I have never heard anyone suggest that we should have negotiated a peace with Nazi Germany. Such an idea is so outrageous, that no rational human being would utter the words. To negotiate with such evil fascism was to allow it even in defeat a measure of legitimacy. This is not just some empty philosophical principal of the time — it was essential that these forces of evil be clearly and irrevocably defeated — their demise unequivocal. Their leadership had forfeited any expectation of diplomatic niceties. How is it, then, that the history of the war in the Pacific can be so soon forgotten?
The reason may lie in the advancing erosion of our history, of our collective memory.
Fifty years after their defeat, Japanese officials have the temerity to claim they were the victims. That Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the equivalent of the Holocaust.
And, believe it or not, there are actually some American academics who support this analogy, thus aiding and giving comfort to a 50-year attempt by the Japanese to rewrite their own history, and ours in the process.
There is an entire generation of Japanese who do not know the full extent of their country’s conduct during World war II.
This explains why they do not comprehend why they must apologize —
- for the Korean comfort women,
- for the Medical experimentation on POW’s which match the horror of those conducted by the Nazi’s,
- for the plans to use biological weapons against the United States by infecting civilian populations on the West Coast,
- for the methodical slaughter of civilians,
- and for much more.
In a perverse inversion, by forgetting our own history, we contribute to the Japanese amnesia, to the detriment of both our nations.
Unlike the Germans who acknowledged their guilt, the Japanese persist in the fiction that they did nothing wrong, that they were trapped by circumstances. This only forecloses any genuine prospect that the deep wounds suffered by both nations can be closed and healed.
One can only forgive by remembering. And to forget, is to risk repeating history.
The Japanese in a well orchestrated political and public relations campaign have now proposed that the use of the term “V-J Day” be replaced by the more benign “Victory in the Pacific Day”. How convenient.
This they claim will make the commemoration of the end of the war in the Pacific less “Japan specific.”
An op-ed piece written by Dorothy Rabinowitz appearing in the April 5 Wall Street Journal accurately sums up this outrage:
The reason it appears, is that some Japanese find the reference disturbing — and one can see why. The term, especially the “J” part, does serve to remind the world of the identity of the nation whose defeat millions celebrated in August 1945. In further deference to Japanese sensitivities, a U.S. official (who wisely chose to remain unidentified) also announced, with reference to the planned ceremonies, that “our whole effort in this thing is to commemorate an event, not celebrate a victory.
Some might argue so what’s in a word — Victory over Japan, Victory in the Pacific — Let’s celebrate an event, not a victory.
I say everything is in a word. Celebrate an EVENT!
Kind of like celebrating the opening of a shopping mall rather than the end of a war that engulfed the entire Earth — which left countless millions dead and countless millions more physically or mentally wounded and countless more millions displaced.
This assault on the use of language is Orwellian and is the tool by which history and memory are blurred. Words can be just as destructive as any weapon.
Up is Down.
Slavery is Freedom.
Aggression is Peace.
In some ways this assault on our language and history by the elimination of accurate and descriptive words is far more insidious than the actual aggression carried out by the Japanese 50 years ago. At least then the threat was clear, the enemy well defined.
Today the Japanese justify their conduct by artfully playing the race card. They were not engaged in a criminal enterprise of aggression. No, Japan was simply liberating the oppressed masses of Asia from WHITE Imperialism.
Liberation!!! Yes, they liberated over 20 million innocent Asians by killing them. I’m sure those 20 million, their families and the generations never to be, appreciate the noble effort of the Japanese.
I am often asked was the bomb dropped for vengeance, as was suggested by one draft of the Smithsonian exhibit. That we sought to destroy an ancient and honorable culture.
Here are some more inconvenient facts.
One, on the original target list for the atomic missions Kyoto was included. Although this would have been a legitimate target, one that had not been bombed previously. Secretary of State Henry Stimson removed it from the list because it was the ancient capital of Japan and was also the religious center of Japanese culture.
Two, we were under strict orders during the war that under no circumstances were we to ever bomb the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, even though we could have easily leveled it and possibly killed the Emperor. So much for vengeance.
I often wonder if Japan would have shown such restraint if they had the opportunity to bomb the White House. I think not.
At this point let me dispel one of many longstanding myths that our targets were intended to be civilian populations. Each target for the missions had significant military importance — Hiroshima was the headquarters for the southern command responsible for the defense of Honshu in the event of an invasion and it garrisoned seasoned troops who would mount the initial defense.
Nagasaki was an industrial center with the two large Mitsubishi armaments factories. In both Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Japanese had integrated these industries and troops right in the heart of each city.
As in any war our goal was, as it should be, to win. The stakes were too high to equivocate.
I am often asked if I ever think of the Japanese who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
I do not revel in the idea that so many on both sides died, not only at those two places but around the world in that horrible conflict. I take no pride or pleasure in the brutality of war whether suffered by my people or those of another nation. Every life is precious.
But it does seem to me such a question is more appropriately directed to the Japanese war lords who so willingly offered up their people to achieve their visions of greatness. They who started the war and then stubbornly refused to stop it must be called to account. Don’t they have the ultimate responsibility for all the deaths of their countrymen?
Perhaps if the Japanese came to grips with their past and their true part in the war they would hold those Japanese military leaders accountable. The Japanese people deserve an answer from those that brought such misery to the nations of the Far East and ultimately to their own people. Of course this can never happen if we collaborate with the Japanese in wiping away the truth.
How can Japan ever reconcile with itself and the United States if they do not demand and accept the truth?
My crew and I flew these missions with the belief that they would bring the war to an end. There was no sense of joy. There was a sense of duty and commitment that we wanted to get back to our families and loved ones.
Today millions of people in America and in southeast Asia are alive because the war ended when it did.
I do not stand here celebrating the use of nuclear weapons. Quite the contrary.
I hope that my mission is the last such mission ever flown.
We as a nation can abhor the existence of nuclear weapons.
I certainly do.
But that does not then mean that, back in August of 1945, given the events of the war and the recalcitrance of our enemy. President Truman was not obliged to use all the weapons at his disposal to end the war.
I agreed with Harry Truman then, and I still do today.
Years after the war Truman was asked if he had any second thoughts. He said emphatically, “No.” He then asked the questioner to remember the men who died at Pearl Harbor who did not have the benefit of second thoughts.
In war the stakes are high. As Robert E. Lee said, “it is good that war is so horrible, or we might grow to like it.”
I thank God that it was we who had this weapon and not the Japanese or the Germans. The science was there. Eventually someone would have developed this weapon. Science can never be denied. It finds a way to self-fulfillment.
The question of whether it was wise to develop such a weapon would have eventually been overcome by the fact that it could be done. The Soviets would have certainly proceeded to develop their own bomb. Let us not forget that Joseph Stalin was no less evil than Tojo or his former ally Adolf Hitler. At last count, Stalin committed genocide on at least 20 million of his own citizens.
The world is a better place because German and Japanese fascism failed to conquer the world.
Japan and Germany are better places because we were benevolent in our victory.
The youth of Japan and the United States, spared from further needless slaughter, went on to live and have families and grow old.
As the father of ten children and the grandfather of 21, I can state that I am certainly grateful that the war ended when it did.
I do not speak for all veterans of that war. But I believe that my sense of pride in having served my country in that great conflict is shared by all veterans. This is why the truth about that war must be preserved. We veterans are not shrinking violets. Our sensibilities will not be shattered in intelligent and controversial debate. We can handle ourselves.
But we will not, we cannot allow armchair second guessers to frame the debate by hiding facts from the American public and the world.
I have great faith in the good sense and fairness of the American people to consider all of the facts and make an informed judgment about the war’s end.
This is an important debate. The soul of our nation, its essence, its history, is at stake.