Nagasaki 1945

uw assignment 1

Photographer: Hiromichi Matsuda 

Title: Nagasaki, 20 Minutes After 1945

Date: August 9, 1945

Format: Photograph

Source: Listverse


This image taken by Hiromichi Matsuda, showcases the dark and ominous point the world was in during World War II. The Americans destroyed the entire city of Nagasaki, which poses an interesting question for both the 20th and 21st centuries: how much power do individual countries have? Can America destroy the world if it wanted to? To continue, looking at the image in black and white really brings out the simplicity of such a horrific event. It is interesting to look at all of the elements captured just twenty minutes after the explosion. For example, the people in the bottom right hand corner are staring at the terrifying scene with looks of awe. Furthermore, due to the fact that this image was captured so quickly after the Americans dropped the “Fat Man” bomb, the remaining horror of the bomb is still looming in the air above the destroyed town. The lingering remnants of the destructive bomb have the ability to make us question how much danger is looming over us currently and what dangers will be present and lingering as our world continues to grow and more problems arise? Overall, this powerful image can be viewed from a reflective perspective, looking back on the horrors of the second world war and comparing it to how far we’ve come. However, Matsuda’s image can also be viewed from a more pessimistic angle, looking to see what danger will arise in the future, or rather questioning whether or not the danger ever left. 


4 thoughts on “Nagasaki 1945”

  1. It is difficult for our minds to wrap around the fact that this danger still exists today. Oppenheimer said “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” and nothing has changed in the past seventy years since he has uttered those words. When presented with this image, it is clear that this power is not meant to be used. While nuclear power is seen as advancement in human history, there is the danger of nuclear power causing regression of our society.

  2. “The horrors of the second world war and comparing it to how far we’ve come”, what do you mean when you say “how far we have come”. Do you think human nature has changed since the war. Look at what humanity has done since the beginning of time, we constantly develop more powerful weaponry and technology and whoever has that technology writes history. Do you think humanity will ever change? If so, what would be the catalyst?

  3. I think this photo really puts into perspective the power of an individual. It was one guy who learned how to split an atom and create this bomb. One person had the ability to end a war at the cost of 220,000 lives. It ended the war, yes. But it’s also scary how powerful one person can really be. Because of this bomb and this technology, the world changed completely. It’s why we were tense for the next 45 years. It’s why we’re still tense today. I think the above commenter hit it right on the head when he said, ” whoever has that technology writes history. “

  4. I agree that society has not advanced in terms of humanity that much. People still kill each other, and go to war, and strip other peoples of their basic human rights. From a present day stand point, this picture is a disturbing reminder of society’s capability of evil. To answer the question of whether or not the danger has ever left, I do not think so. There have been many genocides since WWII– Armenia, Rwanda, Darfur– and there will probably be many more. Human nature has not changed, but hopefully through this photograph, and other photographs of mass destruction, we can teach people society’s potential to destroy, and strive to curb any future destruction.

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