As we reflect on the anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, 6 and 9 August, it is crucial to recognise and honour the untold stories that the “Oppenheimer” movie made a point to ignore.
Survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, known as hibakusha, which translates literally as “bomb-affected-people”, faced not only unimaginable pain on the days of the bombings but also lifelong health challenges, including radiation-related illnesses and birth defects. Furthermore, the bombings caused severe environmental damage, impacting the affected regions for generations to come. The film falls remarkably short in fully conveying the harrowing magnitude of human loss caused by the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In reality, an estimated 140,000 people perished in Hiroshima, and another 70,000 lost their lives in Nagasaki, with countless others experiencing enduring health issues and trauma as hibakusha. But the movie appears to sanitise these profound tragedies, focusing instead on glorifying the scientific “achievements” of the white men who built the bomb and leaving the audience with an incomplete understanding of the far-reaching devastation caused by nuclear weapons.
Explore a series of videos featuring powerful firsthand accounts shared by hibakusha and their families and delve into a deeper understanding of the harrowing magnitude of human loss and the lasting impact of nuclear weapons.
In this context, peace organisations such as WILPF are fervently emphasising the importance of critically exploring the film’s omissions. Experts like Ray Acheson, anti-nuclear activist and director of WILPF’s disarmament programme, published a Twitter thread providing an insightful review of the aspects overlooked by the movie and shining a light on the crucial missing information regarding the human toll of nuclear weapons production and use. It becomes evident that the film manipulatively conveys the fallacy that showing force and resorting to violence are necessary measures to bring about peace, a message that warrants continued scrutiny and challenge.
One of the gravely overlooked aspects that require recognition is the impact of the Trinity Test’s radioactive fallout on various communities. The film’s selective focus neglects to portray the dire consequences borne by local Indigenous, worker communities and those living near the test site in New Mexico. The lingering effects of the radioactive fallout extend beyond the immediate vicinity of the bombings, affecting generations to come and leaving a lasting scar on the environment and the lives of those residing in the surrounding regions.
By amplifying the voices and experiences of these marginalised communities, Ray Acheson’s thread highlights the necessity of acknowledging the broader ramifications of nuclear weapons. It is through more comprehensive narratives, such as Indigenous Action’s article “Architect of Annihilation: Oppenheimer’s Deadly Legacy of Nuclear Terror,” that we can begin to comprehend the true cost of these catastrophic weapons and the urgency to work towards a world free from their destructive potential.
As we commemorate the anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, we carry the weight of history and the obligation to make a difference. Understanding the past empowers us to shape a better tomorrow, where the horrors of nuclear weapons become confined to history books and the collective resolve of humanity prevails over the spectre of nuclear annihilation. By embracing comprehensive narratives and taking action against nuclear weapons, we can pave the way for a safer and more peaceful future. Acknowledging the devastating consequences wrought by these deadly weapons is not only a duty to the past but also a responsibility to shape a safer future for generations to come.
These alternative stories serve as poignant reminders of the irreversible suffering caused by nuclear weapons and compel us to reckon with the lasting health challenges, environmental degradation, and intergenerational trauma that continue to cast a shadow on affected communities.
However, merely acknowledging the past is not enough. Promoting disarmament must be an integral part of our collective mission. Striving for a world free from the ever-looming threat of nuclear annihilation demands proactive measures and a united global effort. By advocating for disarmament, we embark on a path towards peace, justice, and security for all.