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  Library Correspondence Kenneth Hechler: Memorandum, January 2, 1953

Memorandum on costs of dropping the Bomb
From: Kenneth W Hechler,
To: David D Lloyd
Date: January 2, 1953

January 2, 1953


There are two points in the President’s draft which should be changed. On page 2, it is stated: "I asked Gen. Marshall what it would cost in lives to land on the Tokio plane and other places in Japan. It was his opinion that 1/4 million casualties would be the minimum cost as well as an equal number of the enemy." Stimson says in his book On Active Service, p. 619: "We estimated that if we should be forced to carry this plan to its conclusion, the major fighting would not end until the latter part of 1946, at the earliest. I was informed that such operations might be expected to cost over a million casualties, to American forces alone." I think it is important that the President’s casualty figure be changed to conform with that of Secretary Stimson, because presumably Stimson got his from Gen. Marshall; the size of the figure is very important.

On page 4, it is stated: "When it looked as if Japan would quit, Russia hurried into the fray nine days before the surrender so as to be in at the settlement." Actually, Russia announced her decision to enter the Japanese War on August 8, effective August 9; the surrender of Japan was tendered on August 14. Therefore, the statement should be amended to read "five days before the surrender" or "less than a week before the surrender."

In his letter to the President, Professor Cate calls attention to the directive of July 25, 1945 from Gen. Handy to Gen. Spaatz, containing an unqualified order to launch the atomic bomb attack. Professor Cate asks whether this directive does not contradict published statements that the final decision was made only after the Japanese refusal of the ultimatum.


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See Also
Hiroshima and Nagasaki Documents