The First Atomic Bombs

Atomic bomb exploding in a city. (The image is a photo montage.)
Cracked versions of the U.S. and the Soviet flags.

Information during World War II that Germany was close to developing an atomic bomb caused an anxious U.S. government to react. Hastily and in secret, the U.S. government now began work to develop the same mighty explosives, clearly unwilling to fall behind their wartime enemy. Subsequently though, when the Americans had their atomic bombs ready, in 1945, Germany had already capitulated, without completing the bomb.

Atomic bombs dropped over Japan

Instead of using the new weapon to intimidate Germany, the United States turned their attention to Japan, another Axis power. Japan was still defiantly resisting the Allied powers in the world war, but the Americas dropping two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced them to surrender. Because Japan had been the last Axis power left fighting, the use of atomic bombs, in effect, ended World War II.

However, the same actions that ended the world war also started the Cold War. The reason for this is that the Soviet Union began building their own atomic bombs as soon as they saw how much power the United States could wield by using theirs. Thereby began the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, which soon became a race for world dominance.

The world’s most powerful bomb

At a rapid pace, after 1945, new and stronger nuclear weapons were being developed. Before long, both the U.S. and the USSR had developed mighty H-bombs, and the Soviets, in detonating “Tsar Bomba” in 1961, showed the world explosive power that made the nuclear drops on Japan in 1945 look weak in comparison. Clear for everybody to see, there now existed weapons arsenals that had the potential to wipe out all or much of humanity, and the world, therefore, could only hope that the two superpowers would never go to war with each other. Appallingly, though, events in Cuba, described in the next chapter, were already building up to a Cold War nuclear nightmare.