Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

THE ATOMIC BOMB AND GWEN DEW

Morning Star, August 16, 2009, pg. 12

A future scheduling note: My annual Riverside Cemetery Tour will be held on Sunday, October 11 at 1:30 pm. We will begin the tour just west of the former Cemetery pond. Mark your calendars.

Several of our readers have purchased the book “My God, a Woman!” written by Albion native Gwen Dew (1903-1993) and published posthumously in 2007. It is loaded with information about Gwen’s exciting life, including here early years in Albion. A limited number of copies of this book are still available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce.

It was during August, 1945 that the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb upon Japan. This week I’d like to feature some excerpts from her book about that topic our readers may find interesting. During the latter part of the War, Gwen worked for the Office of Stategic Services (later called the CIA). Gwen writes: “My job was called “MO” meaning Morale Operations, and I was to find ways to undermine Japanese ambitions to rule the world.”

“It was approaching mid-August [1945] and we were still making nefarious plans to undermine our enemies’ morale. Then came August 15, 1945. It was a date I was always to remember, and so will the rest of the world. There were rumors floating all around the office of OOS that “something is about to happen.”

“For some unknown reason, my staff and I stopped working and sat silently at our desks. Then these words were broadcast through all of the offices: “An atom bomb has been dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, the first atom bomb in history.” We were stunned. The world was stunned. What was an “atom bomb” that killed 200,000 people in a second of time?”

“The phone on my desk suddenly broke the silence. “This is Fred Gaertner at the Detroit News. Do you want to become our White House correspondent, or go back to the Far East?”...Which would you take? Which would you bet I would take?...But finally it was “Goodbye Washington, Hello Tokyo.”

Later in her book, Gwen writes about her visit to Hiroshima in 1946 as the first woman reporter allowed into occupied-Japan. “When General MacArthur allowed a plane full of reporters to see for themselves what had happened in this doomed city, I was one of the first to sign for the trip. When we went into what had been Hiroshima, we were stunned by what we saw. While we had been told what had happened, which we already knew, we saw fragments of buildings, the many times photographed building which stood empty and crooked, walls of houses, demolished stores, broken pots and pans, remnants of a school knapsack, broken walls of gardens, and worst of all, the people. There were women with faces half burned away, old men trying to walk on stumps of legs, babies carried on their mother’s backs with their faces covered to hide the horrible scars that searing flames had left. It was all so sickening that I could not eat, sleep, or even talk for many days to come. I spent days wandering among the ruins of this city.”

“Ever since Americans dropped this first atom bomb, the world has lived in fear. You can’t drop such a bomb on others and then say, “Don’t do that to us; if you do, some of us will be killed.”

From our Historical Notebook this week we present one of Gwen’s own photographs: that of the aforementioned crooked building of Hiroshima which she visited in 1946 and writes about in her memoirs.


Hiroshima, 1946 photographed by Gwen Dew

Next: 1926 POLICE DEPARTMENT PHOTO


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