Almost 80 years later, we are still talking about the decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When they did a showing of different World War 2 planes at the Smithsonian, the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki was still so controversial they had requests not to share or showcase the Enola Gay or the events. With all of that, that means of course when we went through our World War 2 unit, of course, we had to have a Hirshoima debate for this WW2 history lesson.
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Background for this WW2 history lesson
Germany had fallen, and now the United States and the rest of the allies have turned their attention to Japan. So far the United States has been following an island-hopping plan. They conquer one island and move on.
It’s working, but it’s slow going. Very slow going, and it has a heavy death toll.
For both sides. Japan has dug in, the islands are covered in caves, and the whole thing is a death trap.
Japan is starving for resources (if you want to bawl your eyes out, there is a heart-rending picture book about the elephants in the Tokyo zoo, that was an example of a book you really should read ahead of time, it’s apparently no longer at my library because it’s pretty horrible).
FDR has recently died, and President Truman is now in charge. He’s been briefed with all of the information FDR has, and he has a decision to make.
This video does a pretty good job of giving all of the information Americans had at this time, and why America wanted World War 2 over. It was brutal.
Should the United States use the nuclear bomb?
That was the question I put to the kids. We covered modern history when they were in 6th grade, so it’s been a few years since they came up with their theories.
I’m rather curious what their answers will be when we cover this material again next year.
Here are the requirements for this assignment:
You need to present your plan for ending World War 2 to President Truman. With your plan, you need to explain why your plan is the best plan.
With that information, they set out to research and present their plans.
Surprisingly, none of the kids were in favor of dropping the bomb, and all had very similar suggestions of alternate plans.
I’m still debating about uploading the videos of their debates with all of the changes going on over at YouTube.
Long and short, they all decided not to bomb, and instead, we should, “Targeted bombing of specific military installations, and that would cause the Japanese to surrender.”
Princess even gave the specific bombs she would suggest using instead of the nuclear bomb, which quite impressed me.
Side note, on this WW2 history lesson looking back now
It’s amazing to me the difference in what I expected then, versus what I would expect from them now as a high school student. If the kids did this now, I would expect a lot more. Here are the standards I would put to make this a high school WW2 history lesson.
- Specific details, estimates of lives saved, timelines, and resources to back this up.
- 3-5 minute presentation, their presentations when they did this in 6th grade were about a minute long.
- Visual aids, Superman used some Legos to explain what he would do, but none of them used effective visuals.
- Practice their presentations ahead of time. In reality, this is something I should have required then, but they were still working on presentations then.
What actually happened, the ending for this WW2 history lesson
Okay, I really have no clue how people might look this topic up, I mean, I mentally title this, “Why drop the bomb lesson.” But that doesn’t make sense to explain much, so I’m calling it a WW2 history lesson, it’s not super great, but kind of funny.
Back to this lesson.
As you know, the United States dropped the bomb and ended World War 2 in the Pacific Theater.
Personally, I agree with the decision. It may not be correct, but with the information they had, and the information I’ve read, it’s the decision that saves the most lives, for both sides.
It’s a terrible decision, and I’m glad I didn’t have to make it. From the reports I’ve heard, Truman did not lose one bit of sleep from his decision.
I don’t think I would be able to say that.