09 March 2010

Hiroshima and the fall of Berlin - getting the timeline right

In lecture 29 I said: "Hiroshima and Nagasaki had shown that the USA had the bomb. It soon became clear that before long they would also have long range missiles that could reach the Soviet Union without the need of bombers flying over it." The next two paragraphs then go into a discussion of the reasons why Stalin wanted the Red Army to enter Berlin before any other allied forces could reach the city.
Some have interpreted my text as saying that the motivation for Stalin's move towards Berlin was the release of the atomic bombs over Japan. As one reader wrote: "You say that 'Hiroshima etc had shown that the USA had the bomb'. Wasn't the Fall of Berlin in April–May 1945 and the bombing of Hiroshima in August of that year?"
This is of course correct: The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred after the Red Army had reached Berlin and the war in Europe had ended. But the Soviet Union had been well aware of progress with the Mahattan project for quite some time and did not need the proof of actual bombs falling on cities. My text muddles the timeline and can be misleading.
Because my policy with the lecture notes is to leave them standing as they are and use this blog for updates I only added a link to this note in the original lecture 29.

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