The Great Hiroshima Cover-Up—And the Greatest Movie Never Made via Japan Focus

Greg Mitchell
This article introduces and draws on Greg Mitchell’s new book Atomic Cover-up. Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made. This is a detective story that weaves the profiles of two U.S. military officers, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the official suppression of the most important film footage of the human consequences of the bombing, created by the American military and a Japanese newsreel team.

In the weeks following the atomic attacks on Japan 66 years ago, and then for decades afterward, the United States engaged in airtight suppression of all film shot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings. This included footage shot by U.S. military crews and Japanese newsreel teams. In addition, for many years, all but a handful of newspaper photographs were seized or prohibited not only in the United States, but also in occupied Japan.

Meanwhile, the American public only got to see the same black and white images: a mushroom cloud, battered buildings, a devastated landscape. The true human costs –a full airing of the bomb’s effects on people – were kept hidden. The writer Mary McCarthy declared that Hiroshima had already fallen into “a hole in history.”

The public did not see any of the newsreel footage for 25 years, and the U.S. military film remained hidden for more than three decades. In fact, the Japanese footage might have disappeared forever if the newsreel team had not hidden one print from the Americans in a ceiling. The color U.S. military footage was not shown anywhere until the early 1980s, and has never been fully aired. It rests today at the National Archives in College Park, Md., in the form of 90,000 feet of raw footage labeled #342 USAF.

Continue reading at The Great Hiroshima Cover-up

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