Hiroshima in ruins following the atomic bomb blast. (Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Hiroshima: Heartbreaking Photos From the Aftermath

Grim scenes from the violent dawn of the Atomic Age.

In the eight decades since the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — killing tens of thousands in seconds; dooming tens of thousands more to death by injury and radiation poisoning; and effectively ending the Second World War — the world has not known a day without the threat of a nuclear holocaust. The destructive power of just one of today's thermonuclear weapons is, of course, hundreds of times that of a Hiroshima or Nagasaki bomb. But in August 1945, no one outside of a few theoretical physicists had ever conceived of a bomb capable of annihilating an entire city. Here, on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing on August 6, 1945, photos from the dawn of the Atomic Age. [Pictured: Hiroshima, Japan, after the atomic blast. NOTE: Some of the photos below are graphic, and disturbing.]

An aerial view of the city of Hiroshima, flattened by the atomic blast on August 6, 1945. A few reinforced concrete buildings are all that remain of the city. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images) Historical/Corbis via Getty Images DEATH FROM ABOVE An aerial view of the city of Hiroshima, flattened by the atomic blast on August 6, 1945. A few reinforced concrete buildings are all that remain standing. The bomb killed at least 70,000 people instantly; tens of thousands more died within the year of injuries, burns, and radiation poisoning. crew of airplane to throw Atomic Bomb over Hiroshima in1945. (Photo by: Prisma Bildagentur/UIG via Getty Images) Prisma by Dukas/UIG via Getty Images THE ENOLA GAY The crew of the "Enola Gay," the B-29 Superfortress bomber that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. The plane was named for the mother of the plane's pilot, Colonel Paul Tibbets (above, with pipe). In virtually every interview he gave in the decades after Hiroshima, Tibbets made it clear that while the destruction unleashed by the bomb was unimaginably horrific, he would do it again if given the chance. It was war, he said, and war was about killing. "I knew when I got the assignment it was going to be an emotional thing," he said in a 2005 interview. "We had feelings, but we had to put them in the background. We knew it was going to kill people right and left. But my one driving interest was to do the best job I could so that we could end the killing as quickly as possible." Tibbets died in 2007, at the age of 92.

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Burned out buses amidst the flattened neighborhood blgs. which are reduced to complete rubble by atomic bomb blast a few mos. after the US attack that ushered in an end to WWII. (Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Flattened neighborhood blgs. reduced to complete rubble by atomic bomb blast a few mos. after the US attack that ushered in an end to WWII. (Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images JAPAN - CIRCA 1945: Victims of Hiroshima - Date of Photo: 1945 (Photo by Unidentified Author/Alinari via Getty Images) Alinari Archives/Alinari via Getty Images THE ABANDONED A scene repeated endlessly in the aftermath of the Hiroshima bomb: The injured and dying, left to fend for themselves in rubble and trash-filled streets of a city without buildings. Daily News front page August 8, 1945, Headline: ATOM BOMB HIT-A CITY VANISHED - Jap Seaport Went Up in Smoke And Flame, Whitnesses Say - 40,000-FT> DUST PYRE OVER HIROSHIMA (Photo By: /NY Daily News via Getty Images) New York Daily News/NY Daily News via Getty Images HISTORIC The front page of the New York Daily News, two days after the bombing of Hiroshima. (Original Caption) 8/1945-Hiroshima,Japan: Atomic Bomb vitims. Injured were treated in bank building. Bettmann/Bettmann Archive FINDING SHELTER Hiroshima victims find shelter and what treatment they can in a damaged but still-standing bank building. victim in Hiroshima after Atomic Bomb strike in 1945. (Photo by: Prisma Bildagentur/UIG via Getty Images) Prisma by Dukas/UIG via Getty Images MARKS OF WAR Many survivors in Hiroshima suffered terrible burns, even when far from the epicenter of the blast, with clothing often burned into the skin. The aftermath of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, by the Americans at the end of World War II. The occupants of the burned-out bus were all killed. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images) Keystone/Getty Images STREET SCENE, HIROSHIMA, 1945
A survivor still hospitalized in Hiroshima, showing his hands covered with keloids caused by the atomic bomb dropped on the city. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images) Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images THE BURNING Two years after the bombing of Hiroshima, LIFE photographer Carl Mydans visited the city and photographed survivors and the keloids — or oversize scars — that resulted from their horrific injuries.
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circa 1947: A victim of the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, shows the burns on his arms. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images) Keystone/Getty Images NEVER THE SAME A victim of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima shows the scarring of burns on his arms.
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A Japanese baby sits crying in the rubble left by the explosion in Hiroshima of the world's first atomic bomb, on August 6, 1945. In a radio broadcast 16 hours after the attack, newly appointed President Harry S. Truman said the United States had dropped the bomb 'in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.' About 80,000 people died instantly in the bombing; virtually every building in Hiroshima was destroyed or damaged. Bettmann/Bettmann Archive AMID THE RUBBLE A full year after the Hiroshima bomb, a child sits crying in the rubble. In a radio broadcast 16 hours after the attack, President Harry S. Truman said the United States had dropped the bomb "in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans." Hiroshima After the Bomb (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images) Historical/Corbis via Getty Images HIROSHIMA AFTER THE BOMB Flattened neighborhood blgs. reduced to complete rubble by atomic bomb blast a few mos. after the US attack that ushered in an end to WWII. (Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images) Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images DESTROYER OF WORLDS After he witnessed the first atomic test explosion in New Mexico in July 1945, the American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer famously said that the shocking sight brought to mind words from Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." JAPAN - DECEMBER 1945: Mother and child in Hiroshima, four months after the atomic bomb dropped. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/Pix Inc./The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images) Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images RUINED Mother and child in Hiroshima, four months after the atomic bomb exploded over the city. FOOTAGE OF THE ATTACK



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