A nuclear attack on Germany’s biggest cities would kill hundreds of thousands of people instantly, according to data from a Greenpeace study shared Wednesday by news agency dpa. Tens of thousands more would be plagued by long-term illnesses such as cancer.
The figures are the results of a “Nukemap,” a software simulation conducted by physicist Oda Becker on behalf of the environmental group, which calculates the aftermath of nuclear bomb attacks on certain areas in Germany.
Greenpeace commissioned the study in order to advance the “necessary discussion of a world free of nuclear weapons,” it said.
Thursday marks the 75th anniversary of the date the US dropped a nuclear bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II, instantly killing over 70,000 people. It was the first nuclear weapon ever used in warfare.
The simulation examines three potential scenarios in Germany, dpa reported.
One considers the effects of a nuclear attack on Berlin, Germany’s political center and capital.
A relatively small bomb with an explosive energy of 20 kilotons — equal to the explosive force of 20,000 tons of dynamite — would kill some 145,000 people immediately.
Of these, 25,000 would be killed by the resulting pressure and heat wave while the other 120,000 would be killed by the effects of nuclear fallout radiation on the surrounding area.
“In addition, there would be more than 50,000 later deaths due to cancer,” the report said.
Read more: How will Europe guarantee its security without the US?
The second scenario estimates that around half a million people would die instantly were a nuclear bomb weighing 550 kilotons to hit Frankfurt, Germany’s financial hub. Just over half of the victims would be killed by the waves of heat and pressure as well as the immediate effects of radiation.
A third scenario considers the effects of an attack on Germany’s Büchel airbase in western Germany, where, according to unofficial reports, the US is storing nuclear weapons with an explosive force of 170 kilotons each.
In such a case, the software estimated a total of 130,000 immediate deaths, with around 107,000 due fallout radiation.
Becker cautioned that the simulation cannot account for every circumstance.
“The figures could be too high. They could also be too low,” she said.
On August 6th, 1945, the US bomber “Enola Gay” drops the first atomic bomb ever used in a war on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The device bears the harmless-sounding name “Little Boy.” About 20 percent of the city’s 350,000 inhabitants are killed just seconds after the blast. A giant shock wave flattens the city center.
The attack on Hiroshima is set to take place on August 1st, 1945, but it is postponed due to a typhoon. The “Enola Gay” takes off five days later with 13 crew members on board. They only find out they are about to drop an atomic bomb after the bomber is airborne.
Three days after Hiroshima, the Americans drop a second bomb over the city of Nagasaki. The target is originally Kyoto, but the US Department of Defense objects and so Nagasaki is chosen. The bomb bears the name “Fat Man” and has the explosive power of 22,000 tons of TNT. An estimated 70,000 people die over the next four months.
In 1945, the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works are located in Nagasaki. The company does not only run large shipyards at the port, but is also responsible for the construction of the torpedoes used in the attack against the US Pacific fleet based at Pearl Harbor. Only a few Japanese soldiers are stationed in Nagasaki. Poor visibility conditions render a direct assault on the shipyards impossible.
Tens of thousands of people die months later from the consequences of the explosions. By the end of 1945, a further 60,000 people die in Hiroshima alone, as a result of radiation exposure, burns and other severe injuries. Five years later, casualty figures are estimated at 230,000.
After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki many Japanese fear a third US attack on the capital, Tokyo. Japan decides to capitulate, thus ending World War II. US President Harry Truman had ordered the bombings, convinced it was the only way to end the war swiftly. However, many historians regard the attacks as war crimes.
Hiroshima’s devastated city center is fully rebuilt, except for an island on the river Ota, which is preserved as a peace memorial park. Today, there are an array of memorial sites here: the Peace Museum, the Children’s Peace Monument, the ruins of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce as well as a flame which will remain lit until all nuclear bombs on the planet are destroyed.
In Nagasaki, the Atomic Bomb Museum and the Peace Park have been remembering the victims and aftermath of the bombings since 1955. The remembrance of the victims plays an important part in Japanese culture and national identity. Hiroshima and Nagasaki have become global symbols for the horrors of nuclear war.
Every year a large memorial ceremony is held in Hiroshima. Survivors, relatives, citizens and politicians get together to hold a minute of silence. Many Japanese are committed to nuclear disarmament.