“Love looks back at the area where the atomic bomb was dropped,” he read the headline for the Atlanta Daily World on October 5, 1945, two months after the ruins of Hiroshima.
In the world of black newspapers, the name alone was enough to attract readers.
Charles H. Loeb was a war correspondent whose World War II articles were distributed to US open treatises by the NAACP. In the article, Loeb talked about how the deadly radiation explosion sickened and killed city dwellers. His view, calmly analyzing, shed light on the major obscurations during the war.
The one-page article contradicted the fierce controversy between winners and losers with the Ministry of the Army, the Manhattan Project, The New York Times and its star reporter William L. Lawrence. Japan claimed that the invisible rays of the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused a wave of sudden death and protracted illness. Emphasizing, the United States denied the charges.
But science and history will prove that Mr. Loeb is right. His report not only challenged official government policy, but also reflected the skepticism of many black Americans. Black clergy and activists could openly sympathize with the victims of the bomb.
“They questioned the main story,” said historian Alex Wellerstein, who glimpsed this skepticism while studying his recent book, Limited Data: The History of US Nuclear Secrets. ..
Mr. Loeb’s question did not get the recognition it deserves. While being welcomed as a civilian leader in his hometown of Cleveland, and as a broader pioneering black journalist, he was not valued for exposing the stealth danger of bombs at the dawn of the atomic era. His insight has so far been lost in history.
Radiation tells a lie
In his article, Loeb talked about a press tour of Hiroshima across the road in a military investigation of atomic victims by American scientists and doctors. The study was ordered by Major Leslie R. Groves of the United States Army, who directed the production of the bomb and was led by his adjutant Brig. General Thomas F. Wilson. One scientist was surprised to hear that General Farrell told the investigative team at an early briefing that his mission was “to prove that there was no radiation.”
According to historians, General Groves wanted the bomb to be seen as a deadly form of traditional warfare, rather than a new inhumane type. An international treaty of 1925 banned the use of biological and chemical weapons. The Manhattan Project director did not want to portray the atomic bomb as a unique and horrifying thing, nor to publicly discuss what became known as a radiological weapon.
According to historians, General Groves understood the problem of radiation as early as 1943, but was so partitioned that it was not well known to top U.S. officials, including Harry S. Truman. .. According to scholars, President Truman knew very little about the effects of the bomb’s radiation when he approved the bombing of Hiroshima. Later he talked about regret.
General Groves and his aides were found to be speaking only half of the story, as Mr. Loeb detailed in his report.
An exploding atomic bomb emits two types of radiation. In the first few seconds, the expanding fireball speeds up the air for miles and still delivers huge bursts of neutrons and gamma rays that are powerful enough to penetrate steel, concrete, and the human body. They destroy chromosomes, disrupt the body’s cellular machinery, and cause disease, cancer, and death. These disruptors disappear instantly and are difficult to measure directly.
Atomic detonation also produces a second, more persistent and detectable wave. The split atoms of nuclear fuel produce hundreds of different types of radioactive fragments, including strontium-90 and cesium-137. They can emit their own deadly rays for years. The particles fly into the sky on a stirring mushroom cloud, travel hundreds of miles on the wind, and rain on Earth as fallout. It’s easy to detect them. A click on the Geiger counter reveals the radiating particles.
In Hiroshima, American scientists have found detectable fallout, but not at Ground Zero. Downwind, they found that it created a minor path of weak radioactivity leading to the edge of the city and the dense bamboo grove.
Nonetheless, General Groves and his aides turned their attention to low readings on the Geiger counter as evidence of little or no radiation hazard during the press tour of the atomic detonation sites in New Mexico and Japan. I did.
“You could live there forever,” Times Lawrence said of Hiroshima, citing the general.
In contrast, Loeb dealt with the first burst of fireballs, rather than the fallout that does not exist at ground zero. He did so by reporting the findings of Colonel Stafford L. Warren, who was a professor of radiology at the University of Rochester before the war.
Colonel Warren was the best doctor in the Manhattan Project. His state’s job was to protect bomb makers from the dangers of radiation and, in Japan, to lead the medical assessment of Japanese victims. As detailed in his 2020 book, Atomic Doctors, he gathered out what information he could get from hospitals, their patients, and the surviving Japanese doctors. Repeatedly, he saw the destruction of the bomb’s radiation: fever, diarrhea, hair loss, oozing blood. Patients who appear to be mild cases will die suddenly.
James J. Nolan Jr., author of “Atomic Doctors,” said Colonel Warren cautioned his medical report to downplay the illness. “Gloves was his boss,” Nolan said in an interview. “He knew his audience.” The subtitle of Mr. Nolan’s book is “Conscience and Accomplice.”
Mr Loeb’s education probably helped him to tell the truth. Howard University, one of the Historically Black Colleges of Historical Black Colleges, attended the medical curriculum in advance before turning to newspaper work, physics and chemistry, anatomy and pathology, X-rays and lead. I was familiar with the basics of shielding. What prevented him from going on to medical school was the lack of tuition fees, which he remembered in his later years, and was not of interest.
It is unknown where Mr. Loeb met Colonel Warren. It could have been a press conference, a social event, or both. In Tokyo, two men frequently went to the First Hotel, a billet for military officers and civil correspondents.
In October, Loeb’s article appeared not only in the Atlanta Daily World, but also in other black-owned newspapers such as the Baltimore African-American, Philadelphia Tribune, and Cleveland Cole and Post, who worked before the war and returned later. it was done. .. These treatises were part of the Black Press Group, founded by 22 publishers early in the war, and saw a huge surge when Black Leaders tried to learn about soldiers.
Loeb said he was “totally indignant” at the correspondent returning from Hiroshima. In contrast, his own article was not emotional. He numbered the conclusions as if he were writing a scientific treatise. Radiation was his third point after the blast and damage.
Former medical students ignored the Geiger counters and official denials that appeared in the Times and other treatises. Instead, he said military research was “designed to lie down to calm barbaric speculation” about radiation victims …