Paul Smith, deputy editor of Australian Doctor, writes:

Next week marks the 70th anniversary of the Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Some 80,000 people, the vast majority civilians, were killed instantly.

At Australian Doctor we thought the bomb was worth writing about. So that is what we’ve done, with The Fallout – a multi-media project we’ve made available on a dedicated website.

No doubt the anniversary will prompt more fraught debate about whether the bomb was justified.

The main argument, particularly in the West, has always been that it brought the war to an early end, the utilitarian calculation applied in catastrophic times.

And the argument, its moral dimensions, are important. But by telling the story of the medical aftermath, you can capture the very real human cost so often smothered by the sheer numbers of dead and injured.

These are some of questions we looked at: what happened in the moments after the bomb fell, how were the injuries treated, and what was known about the effects of radiation?

Then there is the story of long-term consequences. Japan feared the radiation would lead to genetic mutations in survivors, who were discouraged from marrying and from having children because of fears of deformity.

There is also an Aussie at the centre of the story, the controversial journalist Wilfred Burchett, who revealed to the wider world the horrors of the Atomic Plague in the weeks after the bomb fell.

His report, the so-called “scoop of the century” was dismissed by the US as Japanese propaganda.

We hope you can read The Fallout, and share it with friends and colleagues through social media. Unlike a lot of the things we do at Australian Doctor, it’s open access and available to everyone.

It was good to do – I learnt a lot I didn’t know.


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