A discovery by nuclear physicists in a laboratory in Berlin, Germany, in 1938 made the first atomic bomb possible, after Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassman discovered nuclear fission. The discovery of nuclear fission opened up the possibility of nuclear technologies, including weapons. Atomic bombs are weapons that get their explosive energy from fission reactions. When an atom of radioactive material splits into lighter atoms, there’s a sudden, powerful release of energy. During World War II, the Manhattan Project was the nickname for the American-led effort to develop a fully working atomic bomb. This project was started in response to fear that German scientists had been working on a similar weapon since the 1930s. On July 16, 1945, in the desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico, the first atomic bomb was successfully launched—the Trinity Test. It created a giant cloud around 40,000 feet high and ushered in the Atomic Age.
The image above is a children’s book called, “Little Oscars First Raid” written by Lydia Mead in 1942 in hopes of educating children about atomic bombs and their destruction. The artist who did all of the drawings for this book is named Oscar Fabres. This book was made with the purpose of telling kids what to do in case an atomic bomb was dropped. Although, we know that there are not many ways to stop an atomic bomb, this book was still made in order to keep people’s hopes up and to give them a plan in case of a bomb dropping. This book was written in English and was sold on the east coast. This specific copy was found in Boston, Massachusetts in The Old Corner Bookstore. Thus book included rhymes and short songs in order to grab the kids' attention so that they remember what to do in case of an atomic bomb incident.
These types of books were used to help the public feel safe and ready in case of an atomic bomb disaster. They included songs for children that explained what to do if one of these bombs was dropped in a fun way so that children would remember them. The main character in this book is named Oscar and he is caught in the middle of an atomic bomb scare. This book explains his journey as he tries to stay safe during one of these attacks. In this time period, an atomic bomb attack was a real possibility and these books helped the public, mainly children, out with preparing for one.
The photo above shows the result after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima by the United States on August 6, 1945, bringing World War II to an end. The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure.
Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Atomic Bomb and the Manhatten Project