“Little Boy”, the world’s first nuclear weapon was dropped on this date in 1945. It killed 40,000 people in Hiroshima instantly, another 40,000 in the next month and then another 100,000 in the following six years. In both Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the overwhelming majority of the dead were civilians.


It was thought that Herman Goering the head of Hitler’s Luftwaffe created strategic bombing. Later it was credited to Curtis LeMay the head of the Air Force. Whatever you call it, strategic bombing is meant to attack the enemy’s ability to create commerce and fund their war effort.


That means that the people who build the war machines become targets. In other words Civilians. That’s what was meant by total war. If you sided with the combatants then you can be legally targeted.


My only point here is that it seems as horrific as war is, we all seem to forget the hardest part and concentrate on the strategic value of the action or the technical prowess. We forget the lives snuffed out in a moment. The memories, the friendships, the loves, the people with incredible talents, all of them become numbers in Wikipedia.


On June 22nd 1941, Germany invaded Russian. The operation was named after the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa who had a minor success leading the third Crusaders into the Mid East until he died on the way. Operation Barbarossa began with 3.2 million German soldiers and 1.4 million Axis Allies and 600,000 slaves, 600,000 vehicles, 300,000 horses. That battle ended at the German Chancellery on April 30th 1945, when Russians overran Berlin.


In between those two dates, 21 million people died in Barbarossa. One author says that when Barbarossa began, 11 people died a minute. 11 million people die a minute and the world forgets. 40,000 people died in an instant, and the entire affair is reduced to a square on a calendar and fluff piece on CNN.

The thing about war is that it doesn’t just kill people. It causes amnesia.





1 thought on “Numbers”

  1. I think you equate war with History. For most people there is so much History that it is easier to forget about it, then think about it. Also, if you, or people near you, are, or were, not directly involved, it is just so much text in a book, paper, or on a screen. I can assure you that the people who did expierence it, and the two, or three, generations after them, do know about it. As I was born on the battlefield of the Market Garden battle, in a house that still has small arms marks of that battle, and I now live in Nijmegen, in a house that survived the battle there, unlike the row on the opposite side of the street, which was damaged during the fighting, and then taken down after the war, I, and most people in the battle corridor of September 1944, are aware of what happened here, and there are numerous remembrance ceremonies during the september month.

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