In the weeks following the atomic attacks on Japan sixty-six years ago this week, and then for decades afterward, the United States engaged in airtight suppressionof all film shot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings. This included vivid color footage shot by U.S. military crews and black-and-white Japanese newsreel film.
The public did not see any of the newsreel footage for twenty-five years, and the shocking US military film remained hidden for nearly four decades. While the suppression of nuclear truths stretched over decades, Hiroshima sank into “a kind of hole in human history,” as the writer Mary McCarthy observed. The United States engaged in a costly and dangerous nuclear arms race. Thousands of nuclear warheads remain in the world, often under loose control; the United States retains its “first-strike” nuclear policy; and much of the world is partly or largely dependent on nuclear power plants, which pose their own hazards.