Americans, and indeed most people within the contemporary Western world, receive a version of history that is, without a doubt, Americanized. This sanitized and whitewashed view of the past often brushes over the tragedies at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the fallout of history’s first, and to date only, atomic bombing of a populace. The dreadful atomic bomb aftermath the US Air Force left Japan to contend with is still somewhat celebrated in America as the event that brought an end to World War II. But much of the rest of the world considers it, more accurately, to be a brutal atrocity.
The bombings occurred on August 6 and 9, 1945, as the US dropped the Little Boy and the Fat Man on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively. The Japanese, who until that point refused to concede defeat, immediately surrendered. Given the horror stories from atomic bomb survivors now available to us, it should be pretty obvious why they surrendered so quickly. The effects of the atomic bomb still impact the psychology of Hiroshima today, as well as Nagasaki. With hindsight, we can confidently say the nuclear bombings were some of the most appalling moments in human history.
The term “ant-walking alligators” is already creepy before one knows what it means, and discovering the actual definition doesn’t make it better. The name was created by survivors of the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to describe hundreds of horrifically injured, but still alive, individuals seen after the event.
The ant-walking alligators were people who had been so burned by the explosion that their faces were completely obliterated, leaving no eyes and only a gaping red hole for a mouth. The usage of “ant” and “alligator” was in reference to their terribly blackened skin, which bore no resemblance to human flesh. Almost all of these victims died, but a few managed to survive – savagely disfigured – into old age.
Some People Were Completely Vaporized, Leaving Behind Nothing But A Shadow
Perhaps the most famous, and evocative, image from the aftermath of the nuclear attacks on Japan showed the human beings who left behind nothing but a shadow. These grim monuments to the tragedy came from those victims who were closest to the explosion, and were vaporized almost instantly.
The initial, bright flash of the bombs left their mark on everything in their path, and left “shadows” wherever something was in the way. All some people left behind was a dark outline, etched onto a sidewalk or a set of stone steps.
Patterns From Clothing Burned Onto Skin
Oddly enough, the clothing one wore on the day of the atomic bombings had a direct effect on how badly one could get burned by the explosion. Those wearing all white were fortunate, while those whose clothing had a pattern were not.
See, the heat and light of the nuclear explosions were so great, they burned patterns from clothing directly onto the skin of the people wearing it. A woman wearing a white dress with flowers on it, for example, found the shape of the flowers burned clearly into her skin, like some kind of gruesome tattoo.
Dried Husks Of Humans Littered The Streets
One of the outright grossest things left behind by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the “dried husks” of human beings found in various locations near the epicenter of the explosions. These unfortunate individuals were caught in the extreme heat of the bombs, and found themselves literally boiling from the inside out.
The heat was so intense, the victims’ blood boiled away, leaving them as little more than empty husks. They would crumble into ash whenever they were touched. It's difficult to imagine the horror they provided to would-be rescuers in the wake of the attacks.