[lit-ideas] A Great Nuclear-Age Mystery Solved
- From: Eric Yost <Mr.Eric.Yost@xxxxxxxxx>
- To: Lit-Ideas <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 17 Jun 2005 11:00:22 -0400
SPECIAL REPORT: A Great Nuclear-Age Mystery Solved
By Greg Mitchell
Published: June 16, 2005 11:45 PM ET
NEW YORK One of the great mysteries of the Nuclear Age was solved today:
What was in the censored, and then lost to the ages, newspaper articles
filed by the first reporter to reach Nagasaki following the atomic
attack on that city on Aug. 9, 1945?
The reporter was George Weller, the distinguished correspondent for the
now-defunct Chicago Daily News. His startling dispatches from Nagasaki,
which might have affected public opinion on the future of the bomb,
never emerged from General Douglas MacArthur's censorship office in
Tokyo. Carbon copies were found just two years ago when his son, who
talked to E&P from Italy today, discovered them after the reporter's death.
Four of them were published today for the first time by the Tokyo daily
Mainichi Shimbun, which purchased them from Anthony Weller. He old E&P
he hopes to put them and others together into a book.
The articles published in Japan today reveal a remarkable and wrenching
turn in Weller's view of the aftermath of the bombing, which anticipates
the profound unease in our nuclear experience ever since. "It was
remarkable to see that shifting perspective," Anthony Weller says.
The first article that George Weller filed, on Sept. 8, 1945 -- the day
after he reached the city, before any other journalist -- hailed the
"effectiveness of the bomb as a military device," as his son describes
it, and makes no mention of the bomb's special, radiation-producing
But later that day, after visiting two hospitals and shaken by what he
saw, he described a mysterious "Disease X" that was killing people who
had seemed to survive the bombing in relatively good shape. A month
after the atomic inferno, they were passing away pitifully, some with
legs and arms "speckled with tiny red spots in patches."
The following day he again described the atomic bomb's "peculiar
disease" and reported that the leading local X-ray specialist was
convinced that "these people are simply suffering" from the bomb's
unknown radiation effects.
Anthony Weller, a novelist who lives near Gloucester, Mass., told E&P
that it was one of great disappointments of his father's life that these
stories, "a real coup," were killed by MacArthur who, George Weller
felt, "wanted all the credit for winning the war, not some scientists
back in New Mexico." Others have suggested that the real reason for the
censorship was the United States did not want the world to learn about
the morally troubling radiation effects for two reasons: It did not want
questions raised about the use of the weapon in 1945, or its wide scale
development in the coming years. "Clearly," says Anthony Weller, "they
would have supplied an eyewitness account at a moment when the American
people badly needed one."
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