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PORTSIDE  July 2012, Week 1

PORTSIDE July 2012, Week 1

Subject:

Leo Szilard's July 4th Protest

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Wed, 4 Jul 2012 23:47:52 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (103 lines)

A July 4 Protest: When Leo Szilard Tried to Halt the Use
of the Atomic Bomb Against Japan

Greg Mitchell 
on July 4, 2012 - 11:50 AM ET

http://www.thenation.com/blog/168725/july-4-protest-when-leo-szilard-tried-halt-use-atomic-bomb-against-japan

It's well known that as the Truman White House made plans
to use the first atomic bombs against Japan in the summer
of 1945, a large group of atomic scientists, many of whom
had worked on the bomb project, raised their voices, or at
least their names, in protest. They were led by the great
Leo Szilard. On July 3, he finished a petition to the
president for his fellow scientists to consider, which
called atomic bombs "a means for the ruthless annihilation
of cities." It asked the president "to rule that the
United States shall not, in the present phase of the war,
resort to the use of atomic bombs."

The following day he wrote this cover letter (below). The
same day, Leslie Groves, military chief of the Manhattan
Project, wrote Winston Churchill's science advisor seeking
advice on how to combat Szilard and his colleagues. The
bomb would be tested two weeks later and dropped over
Hiroshima on August 6. For more see my recent book Atomic
Coverup and my book with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in
America.

July 4, 1945

Dear xxxxxxxxxxxx,

Enclosed is the text of a petition which will be submitted
to the President of the United States. As you will see,
this petition is based on purely moral considerations.

It may very well be that the decision of the President
whether or not to use atomic bombs in the war against
Japan will largely be based on considerations of
expediency. On the basis of expediency, many arguments
could be put forward both for and against our use of
atomic bombs against Japan. Such arguments could be
considered only within the framework of a thorough
analysis of the situation which will face the United
States after this war and it was felt that no useful
purpose would be served by considering arguments of
expediency in a short petition.

However small the chance might be that our petition may
influence the course of events, I personally feel that it
would be a matter of importance if a large number of
scientists who have worked in this field went clearly and
unmistakably on record as to their opposition on moral
grounds to the use of these bombs in the present phase of
the war.

Many of us are inclined to say that individual Germans
share the guilt for the acts which Germany committed
during this war because they did not raise their voices in
protest against these acts. Their defense that their
protest would have been of no avail hardly seems
acceptable even though these Germans could not have
protests without running risks to life and liberty. We are
in a position to raise our voices without incurring any
such risks even though we might incur the displeasure of
some of those who are at present in charge of controlling
the work on "atomic power".

The fact that the people of the people of the United
States are unaware of the choice which faces us increases
our responsibility in this matter since those who have
worked on "atomic power" represent a sample of the
population and they alone are in a position to form an
opinion and declare their stand.

Anyone who might wish to go on record by signing the
petition ought to have an opportunity to do so and,
therefore, it would be appreciated if you could give every
member of your group an opportunity for signing.

Leo Szilard

|

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