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The Atom Bomb: Russell, Churchill and the Post-War Debate

Bertrand Russell ( born in 1872) In his Has Man a Future? offer us the point of view of a great scholar about  nuclear weapons.   Among other things, as a scientist he had an intimate knowledge of the facts related to the atom bomb during the Second World War.  Russell told us that, “When the war was over, it was discovered, to the complete astonishment of both American and British scientists, that the Germans were nowhere near success,” and, in his opinion, they were “defeated before any nuclear weapons had been made.”  But Bertrand Russell also stressed that the atomic scientists who had been engaged in nuclear weapons project were opposed to the use of them against the Japanese, “who were on the verge of defeat, and, in any case, did not constitute such a menace to the world.”

On the contrary, Sir Winston Churchill, the eminent statesman who was for years, during the World War II, the head of English Government, viewed the problem from a different angle.  The political events of this period gave him a hard time, and they were recorded in his The Second World War. One of the most important focal points was directly related to the atom bomb, and, first of all, how he was informed about it. The atom bomb was created by the Americans, while both the British and other allies were only vaguely informed, in broad terms, about the atom bomb experiments. Churchill told he had received a coded message from Stimson, who informed him that, “The Babies had been satisfactory born.” Stimson also stressed   that the experiments in the Mexican desert were successful.

Sir Winston Churchill also explained why the Allied Powers had no hesitation in making use of this fatal weapon. Churchill informs us that there was a unanimous and automatic consensus among the allies, mainly because, at that time, nobody seemed able to estimate how, exactly, many soldiers and civilians would die in a series of bomb attacks on Japan:

“By now, by using this new bomb, we might not merely destroy cities, but save the lives of friend and foe alike,” Churchill wrote. But in reality no one knew the real effects of a nuclear war in Japan:

“No one has yet measured anything else about it,” Churchill concluded. What made Churchill’s judgments about atom bomb credible.

The idea of partial atomic disarmament in the world dates back several years after the Second World War, and precisely to the mid-50, when the Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rapacki submitted to the Twelfth Session of the United Nations General Assembly a project which was the first step towards the denuclearization of some European countries such as Czechoslovakia, Poland and the two Germanys. But this idea was rejected by NATO member states in 1956.

Thing didn’t end there, because in 1957 a similar plan about atomic disarmament was presented by Romania to denuclearize the Balkans, and  during the  60s and 70s  some countries such as England [1959], the Republic of China [1960], and Poland [1962], developed  many hypotheses about the creation of nuclear-free-zones in Europe. Between 1961 and 1963, other plans to create nuclear-free-zones were also furnished by many North-European Countries, such as Scandinavia, Finland, Denmark and Norway, without considering the famous “Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” signed by John Kennedy in 1963 at the White House. Previously, in 1959,  Nikita Khrushchev made  a plan on atomic disarmament of  the North Europe and then  the Mediterranean  Sea [1963], and  other similar plans were presented by several African countries until 1978. Environmental problems measured in an accurate way on nuclear hazards in Europe and throughout the world were furnished   by an accurate study of The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation [Nottingham, 1981, pp. 16-20], where  many things  worthy of remarks were underlined. For example, it was pointed out that,

“In this new world of horror, remedies based on national protest movements alone can never take practical effect, while Governments remain locked into the cells of their own strategic assumptions. Yet something must be done, if only to arrest the growing possibility of holocaust by accident.”



Bertrand Russel, Has Man a Future?,  Simon and Schuster, 1962, p. 17.

Sir Winston  Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy, New York, RosettaBooks LLC, 2010 [First Edition 1953], pp. 638-639.






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    1. This is real . With is article it has given me inside of the second world war


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