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:


  • 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:

    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.

    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.”

    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

    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

    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.

    The Largest Act of Terrorism in Human History – Daniel Ellsberg on RAI (4/13)
    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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