Watch Oppenheimer: The Decision to Drop the Bomb, a 1965 Documentary Featuring J. Robert Oppenheimer

If you’ve seen Christo­pher Nolan’s new Oppen­heimer film, you may want to turn your atten­tion to anoth­er film, the 1965 doc­u­men­tary called Oppen­heimer: The Deci­sion to Drop the Bomb. With it, you can hear direct­ly from J. Robert Oppen­heimer and oth­er archi­tects of the first atom­ic bomb. Released on NBC News’ offi­cial YouTube chan­nel, the film cap­tures their reflec­tions two decades after the bomb­ing of Hiroshi­ma and Nagasa­ki. It also fea­tures a coda by pres­i­den­tial his­to­ri­an Michael Beschloss. As one YouTube com­menter put it, “This is some­thing every­one should see. I was total­ly engrossed and cap­ti­vat­ed. His­to­ry brought to life by the very peo­ple that were involved. Thank you NBC archives.” You can watch it above…

Oppen­heimer: The Deci­sion to Drop the Bomb will be added to our list of Free Doc­u­men­taries, a sub­set of our col­lec­tion: 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

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Comments (13)
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  • Jody Hopkins says:

    There was no need to drop the atom­ic bomb on a Euro­pean city. The War in Europe was over. Ger­man sol­diers were sur­ren­der­ing in droves.

    Con­trast this with the last two major bat­tles in the Pacif­ic. At Iwo Jima, 6,900 Marines were KIA. At Oki­nawa, over 12,000 Amer­i­can ser­vice­men were KIA. After both bat­tles just a hand­ful of Japan­ese sur­ren­dered.

    The Japan­ese were not going to give up the fight. They were ready to die and they would have tak­en many Amer­i­cans with them.

    I think this “racism” argu­ment is pop­py­cock.

  • larry currie says:

    japan would have nev­er sur­ren­dered –maybe all these woke idiots con­sid­er it racism but ask the moth­ers of the boys lost in war –what about what the japs did to pearl har­bor –they were lucky we did­n’t drop a third bomb as they were not ready to sur­ren­der after the first drop —dec 7th 1941 –remem­ber that date

  • Dave says:

    The Japan­ese were being bombed to obliv­ion. They knew there was no win­ning this war. They sig­naled that they were will­ing to sur­ren­der as long as Hiro­hi­to, who they con­sid­ered to be God like, would not be harmed. Tru­man stuck by his uncon­di­tion­al sur­ren­der stance, so no deal was made. The bomb was then used.

  • Michael Burd says:

    Should have dropped the bomb much much ear­li­er if they had it would have saved many more lives !

  • Donalddunnion says:

    IF TRUMAN HAD RELENTED ON UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER, AND LEFT THEM WITH THEIR EMPEROR JAPAN WOULD HAVE SURRENDED AND THE BOMB WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN DROPPED. THE IRONY WAS THE LEFT HIROHITO AS EMPEROR AFTER THEY SURRENDED ANYWAY.

  • Paul Hoylen says:

    Had we not dropped the bombs on Hiroshi­ma and Nagasa­ki, there would have been unbe­liev­able casu­al­ties on both sides. There would have been street-to-street, and house-to-house fight­ing as Japan­ese sol­diers and civil­ians were pre­pared to fight to the death once U. S. troops invad­ed Japan.

  • Paul Hoylen says:

    We were for­tu­nate that Japan sur­ren­dered after Hiroshi­ma and Nagasa­ki, for we only had 2 atom bombs in our arse­nal!

  • Zinc Pederson says:

    A con­ser­v­a­tive esti­mate of the inva­sion of Japan by Amer­i­can forces is that 8 — 10 mil­lion Japan­ese per­sons would have been killed and at least 800,000 Amer­i­cans. And Japan as a coun­try and nation would have been com­plete­ly destroyed with no exist­ing econ­o­my to grow from. Mil­i­tarists still con­trolled the coun­try and were urg­ing sol­dier and Japan­ese cit­i­zen to die fight­ing. For those who still argue that the drop­ping of the atom­ic bombs were not nec­es­sary, I ask them would they have been will­ing to per­son­al­ly choose the 800,000 Amer­i­can Moth­ers who would loose their sons in invad­ing Japan.

  • Sean Kelly says:

    Apart from the fact that the Japan­ese had been suing for peace and that the chiefs of staff said drop­ping the bomb would not give any mil­i­tary advan­tage, and apart from the fact that the so-called “strate­gic bomb­ing” was the great­est act of state ter­ror­ism in his­to­ry (inten­tion­al tar­get­ing of civil­ian pop­u­la­tions), the oth­er ques­tion that is not posed is this doc­u­men­tary is this: Why, espe­cial­ly at the point where Japan was crip­pled, was it thought nec­es­sary to have a land inva­sion at all? There was noth­ing more the Japan­ese army could do at that point. A con­tin­ued siege would have accom­plished an even more com­plete vic­to­ry. Clear­ly, the bomb as dropped as a demon­stra­tion to Stal­in.

  • Sean Kelly says:

    Dear Zinc, I don’t under­stand why a land inva­sion was even nec­es­sary at that point. Also, the chiefs of staff all agreed that there was no mil­i­tary advan­tage to drop­ping the bomb. This myth per­sists to hide the sad truth that the deci­sion was made pure­ly in order to secure Amer­i­can dom­i­nance on the world stage (esp. vis a vis the USSR).

  • Sean Kelly says:

    To counter the still dom­i­nant myth jus­ti­fy­ing the use of the bomb, please read the fol­low­ing:
    A must read on the fal­si­ty of the dom­i­nant nar­ra­tive around the atom­ic bomb­ing of Japan:
    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020–08-05/hiroshima-anniversary-japan-atomic-bombshttps://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020–08-05/hiroshima-anniversary-japan-atomic-bombs

    Opin­ion: U.S. lead­ers knew we did­n’t have to drop atom­ic bombs on Japan to win the war. We did it any­way
    We’ve been taught that the U.S. had to drop atom­ic bombs on Japan to end World War II. His­tor­i­cal evi­dence shows Japan would have sur­ren­dered any­way.
    http://www.latimes.com

    Amer­i­ca, in short, was wag­ing war against Japan’s civil­ians. “The pre­pon­der­ant pur­pose appears to have been to secure the heav­i­est pos­si­ble morale and shock effect by wide­spread attack upon the Japan­ese civil­ian pop­u­la­tion,” the Strate­gic Bomb­ing Sur­vey con­clud­ed. “Cer­tain of the cities attacked had vir­tu­al­ly no indus­tri­al impor­tance.”

    https://www.salon.com/2022/10/30/when-we-criticize-in-ukraine-we-should-remember-the-bombing-of-tokyo/

    When we crit­i­cize Rus­si­a’s war crimes in Ukraine, we should remem­ber the bomb­ing of Tokyo
    Of course Rus­sia should be con­demned for tar­get­ing civil­ians. But the bru­tal U.S. air war on Japan was much worse
    http://www.salon.com

    http://www.ditext.com/japan/napalm.html

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/09/dont-let-the-victors-define-morality-hiroshima-was-always-indefensible

    Don’t let the vic­tors define moral­i­ty – Hiroshi­ma was always inde­fen­si­ble | Kenan Malik
    The deci­sion 75 years ago to use atom­ic bombs was fuelled not by strat­e­gy but by sheer inhu­man­i­ty
    http://www.theguardian.com

    This series of inter­views with Ells­berg is, to my mind, essen­tial edu­ca­tion, not only in terms of inte­grat­ing the past, but of know­ing what we still face. All of the episodes are worth watch­ing, but I rec­om­mend that you at least watch this one.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwNRWcl5usQ


    The Largest Act of Ter­ror­ism in Human His­to­ry — Daniel Ells­berg on RAI (4/13)
    http://www.youtube.com
    The British bomb­ing of Ham­burg in 1942, and the Amer­i­can fire­bomb­ing of Japan in March 1945 that killed as many as 120,000 peo­ple in one night, cre­at­ed the con­di­tions for the atom­ic bomb­ing of Hiroshi­ma and Nagasa­ki which were con­sid­ered mere exten­sions of the fire­bomb­ing tac­tics, says Daniel Ells­berg on Real­i­ty Asserts Itself with Paul Jay …

  • dp says:

    That James Byrnes was a seg­re­ga­tion­ist with respect to black peo­ple does not demon­strate, with­out fur­ther evi­dence, any racial ani­mus to Asians.

  • D.R. says:

    To me, it is more clear (then before watch­ing this doc­u­men­tary) that the main rea­son for drop­ping the bomb was to show it to Sovi­ets.
    Killing hun­dreds thou­sands Japan­ese was col­lat­er­al dam­age. The His­to­ry of a cold war and beyond — proves it.
    And: The ques­tion that was not men­tioned on the end: Why Nagasa­ki?

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