The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima

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President Harry Truman and Joseph Stalin had agreed to be allies in fighting against Japan. However, when Truman heard that the Trinity test was successful, his need for support from the Soviet Union greatly diminished. Truman and his advisors became uncertain of whether they needed Stalin’s help anymore because if they emerged victorious using the atomic bomb and with no invasion, accepting Stalin’s help would attract them into talks about the postwar outcomes of Japan. The Soviet Union would benefit a lot from the surrender agreement and because Truman did not see the need for their help, he decided to use the atomic bombs without the involvement of Stalin (Hasegawa, 2009).

            On 24th of July 1945, Truman went to speak with Stalin during the weeks of Allied discussions at Potsdam. Truman went to speak with Stalin with no interpreter and casually, he informed him that “The United States has a new weapon of unusual destructive force”. Truman became skeptical in telling him that the weapon they planned to use an atomic bomb. Stalin, on the other hand, did not show any interest, he brushed it off telling him that he trusted the United States will make good use of the weapon against Japan. Nonetheless, the reason for Stalin’s disinterest became clearer later: the Soviet had been receiving sufficient information about the Manhattan program even before Truman took the office of the president (Manhattan Project, 1945).

            The decision to drop the bombs, however, was not discussed with Stalin and the decision was made the following day. A directive approved by President Truman was issued ordering the Army Air Force 509th Composite Group to go ahead and hit Hiroshima, Niigata, Nagasaki or Kokura and other bombs would be delivered later as they became available to attack other cities in Japan that were in their preference list. On 26th July, Truman and Stalin received word that Winston Churchill had lost his reelection and they issued a warning to the Japanese telling then to surrender failure to which they would suffer a “prompt and severe destruction” (Walker, 2016). Just like the conversation between Truman and Stalin, there was no mention of an atomic bomb that they intended to use.

            President Truman was in a rush to drop the atomic bombs in Japan before Stalin could join with his forces through the Pacific. They had not discussed the date of the invasion and Stalin had not committed to any either. Nonetheless, Stalin moved up the invasion of Manchuria to the 8th of August and he did not inform the United States or Britain about the plan. The plan was prompted by Stalin’s knowledge that the United States was planning on using atomic bombs. Truman did not directly tell him about it but through his spies, he became aware of the decision but the implication was that Japan would surrender before Stalin made his invasion.

            Therefore, the consequences of the events led to the bombing of Hiroshima on 6th August, the Soviet Union invaded on the 8th of August and Nagasaki was bombed on 9th August. Russia had lost its territories during the Russo-Japanese War and the Treaty of Portsmouth and the US agreed to help Stalin recover the territories. The reason explains why Stalin was eager to join the war and the reason why Truman did not want to involve him anymore, if he let the Soviet Union enter the war, he would have to keep up the promise (Gar, 1994).


Hasegawa, T. (2009). Racing the enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the surrender of Japan. Harvard University Press.

Gar, A. (1994). Atomic diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam: the use of the atomic bomb and the American confrontation with Soviet power. Pluto Pr.

Manhattan Project: Potsdam and the Final Decision to Use theBomb, July 1945. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Walker, J. S. (2016). Prompt and utter destruction: Truman and the use of atomic bombs against Japan. UNC Press Books

November 13, 2023

History War World

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Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Japan

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