JULY 20, 1944

The day the atomic bomb­ing of Ja­pan is nearly pre­vented

iD magazine - - History -

This episode of Amer­i­can his­tory was al­most for­got­ten. Or was it de­lib­er­ately cov­ered up? Be­cause what takes place on July 20, 1944, in Chicago casts a shadow on demo­cratic process. At first it looks like busi­ness as usual at the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion. Henry Wal­lace is set to re­ceive the renom­i­na­tion for vice pres­i­dent un­der Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt. How­ever, the seem­ingly well- po­si­tioned Wal­lace is soon over­taken by Se­na­tor Harry S. Tru­man. Director Oliver Stone has re­con­structed the events of the time in his doc­u­men­tary se­ries The Un­told His­tory of the United States. Within the Demo­cratic Party Wal­lace is seen as experienced, but also much too lib­eral: He sup­ports the rights of African Amer­i­cans, fair wages, and open di­a­log with the USSR. But the Party bosses want a can­di­date whom they can more read­ily con­trol—a hard­liner. So they en­gage in po­lit­i­cal ma­neu­ver­ing to se­cure the nom­i­na­tion for Tru­man. And this is where the river of his­tory picks up speed: Roo­sevelt un­ex­pect­edly dies just 82 days later— and Tru­man is sworn in as pres­i­dent. World War II is as good as won in Europe, but in the Pa­cific the fight against Ja­pan is on­go­ing. One of the first memos Tru­man re­ceives as pres­i­dent: The bomb is ready to be de­ployed. And he de­cides to de­ploy it. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Ja­panese cit­i­zens die as a re­sult. “The bomb would not have been dropped with Wal­lace or Roo­sevelt as pres­i­dent, in my opin­ion,” says Stone.

When the choice of vice pres­i­dent paves the way for the first nu­clear as­sault When Lenin’s death turns com­mu­nism into a psy­chopath’s weapon

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