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Exhibiting the Enola Gay ReView of a National Controversy at the Smithsonian © by Mike Rein s chmidt.

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Presentation on theme: "Exhibiting the Enola Gay ReView of a National Controversy at the Smithsonian © by Mike Rein s chmidt."— Presentation transcript:

1 Exhibiting the Enola Gay ReView of a National Controversy at the Smithsonian © by Mike Rein s chmidt


3 I. CREATING THE BOMB Politicians Scientists Soldiers

4 Political Players & Antagonists Frank D. Roosevelt Harry S. Truman James F. Byrnes Henry L. Stimson The Soviet Factor: Joseph V. Stalin Emperor Hiroitho Kuniaki Koiso Kantaro Suzuki Marquis Kido Shigenori Togo Minister Shigemitsu

5 Scientific Competitors Albert Einstein Robert Oppenheimer Werner Heisenberg Niels Bohr Edward Teller

6 Ambitious Soldiers George C. Marshall Leslie R. Groves Carl Spaatz Paul W. Tibbets Charles Sweeney Douglas McArthur

7 II. DECISION TO USE IT The Ultra-secret Manhattan project Trigger rationale Selection of target cities Effect on the Soviets

8 The ultimate decision to use the atomic bomb was made by President Truman in Potsdam where in his diary Truman characterized the Japanese as “savages, ruthless, merciless, and fanatic” in the last hours before the actual bombing. Two days later he further justified his decisions by stating, “when you have to deal with a beast, you have to treat him as a beast.” (L&E 1996:86)

9 III. MISSION OF THE ENOLA GAY Aviation inexperience with A-bombs Building of the 509 th Composite Secrecy and training Moving to Tinian and Execution

10 IV. GROUND-LEVEL EFFECTS Hiroshima Nagasaki Secrecy of the Japanese government Medical (in)attendance Juxtapositions of Fate The long aftermath

11 Juxtapositions of Fate

12 Juxtapositions cont’d

13 Juxtapositions

14 Juxtapositions …

15 Juxtapositions

16 21 Nobel Prize Laureates from the Manhattan Project & Victims of their Work

17 Juxtapositions

18 Juxtapo …

19 Protestant Victory Service, Tinian Island, Aug. 7, 1945

20 Catholic Victory Service, Tinian Island, Aug. 7, 1945

21 Worship of the Warship p



24 Speaker Tibbets & Shadow Man

25 The Tibbets’! (4 generations of Pauls)

26 Popular home front slogan (1940s): “Remember Pearl Harbor: Keep “em Dying” Official artist’s title of this painting: “The Enola Gay dropping its egg.”

27 Studs Terkel in an Interview with Gen. Paul W. Tibbets at age 87 in 2002 ST: One last thing, when you hear people say, "Let's nuke 'em, let's nuke these people," what do you think? [referring to 9/11] PT: Oh, I wouldn't hesitate if I had the choice. I'd wipe 'em out. You're gonna kill innocent people at the same time, but we've never fought a damn war anywhere in the world where they didn't kill innocent people. If the newspapers would just cut out the shit: "You've killed so many civilians.” That's their tough luck for being there.

28 V. THE BOMB’S ROLE Forced end of the war? The new era and the Cold War American power Was the bomb keeper of the ice of the Cold War?


30 The Exhibition Plan A quiet and contemplative mood will be established The morality of the bombing will be addressed The exhibition will not attempt to impose any particular point of view The aircraft will be surrounded by large b/w photos of Hiroshima after the attack (excerpts, L&E 1996:18)

31 Objects Of The Game

32 Cancellation of the Exhibition Veterans insisted that any ambiguous feelings about the mission of the EG were rooted in the subversive cultural impulses located mainly in academia and among museum curators They wanted to remove the aircraft lest it be symbolically soiled They wished to punish those responsible for the exhibit and for altering the celebratory nature of the NASM They desired to expunge the exhibit script of anything that might faintly offend American commemorative sensibilities (L&E 1996:21)


34 Conservative Victory The fight over the EG exhibition was “over the reassertion by most Americans that they’re sick and tired of being told by some cultural elite that they ought to be ashamed of their country.” Newt Gingrich (in L&E 1996:187)


36 Sources Linenthal, Edward & Tom Engelhard (eds.) 1996 History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles For the American Past. NY: Holt Harwit, Martin 1996 An Exhibit Denied: Lobbying the History of Enola Gay. NY: Springer Verlag MacDonald, Sharon (ed.) 1998 The Politics of Display: Museums, Science, Culture. NY: Routledge Karp, Ivan & Stephen Lavine (eds.) 1991 Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Displays. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press Air Force Magazine and The American Legion Magazine (see pertinent issues, 1993-95)


38 Japanese Perceptions Immediate Japanese Reactions Total Un-preparedness Hibakusha Chosonjin Hibakusha Conception and Politicization of the Peace Park in Hiroshima Victim Representation On-going Controversy





43 VI. GLOBAL REACTIONS How did Europeans (gradually) react to the bombings? How did Asians (immediately) react to the bombings How have Americans gradually reacted to the bombings over time in the post-war era?



46 THANKS! I’d like to thank everyone for 4 very intense and rewarding weeks of seminar. Let’s stay in touch (seriously!) for more discussion but also to make good mutual use of our talents & resources. I believe that the opportunity to build such a network as ours does not come around very often, so let’s keep it up!

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