Third Reich ceased to exist de-facto on May 8th, 1945 when the unconditional surrender of German Armed Forces went into effect and de-jure on May 23rd, 1945 when the so-called “Flensburg Government” (headed by Großadmiral Karl Dönitz as the Reichspräsident and Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk as the Prime Minister) was dissolved and arrested by the British occupational authorities.
However, I believe it important (very important) to cover a number of key post-war events (related to the main subject of this book, of course) that form something like an epilogue to the story of Nazi Germany. I will cover them in sufficient detail in one of the last chapters of the book (of course); in this section I will provide only a very brief assessment.
By far the most important post-war event took place on July 16th, 1945. On that day, at 5:29 AM, the United States Army detonated the first atomic bomb in human history thus ushering in the Nuclear Age.
Its destructive power (“yield”) was equal to 18,600 tons of high explosive (TNT) – the bomb load of 9,300 Flying Fortresses (B-17 strategic bombers) on a long-range mission. Or 8,000 B-29 Superfortress strategic bombers on a high-altitude, long-range mission. Or 8,000 B-24 Liberators. You get the picture.
The bomb was affectionately nicknamed “The Fat Man” (due to its unusual wide round shape). The test itself was codenamed “Trinity” (Christian Trinity, of course), which turned out to be the perfect name as it put an end to Stalin’s dreams of conquering and destroying the Christian civilization.
Less than a month later, two more landmark events happened. On August 6th, for the first time in human history, a nuclear bomb (nicknamed the “Little Boy”) was dropped by a specially modified B-29 (named “Enola Gay” after the mother of its commander – Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr.) on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
Its 15-kiloton blast essentially obliterated the city, killing over 140,000 soldiers and civilians (including those who died by the end of 1945 from injuries and radiation poisoning). In a single blast, US airmen killed roughly twice as many victims as the Nazis in Majdanek death camp in 2.5 years.
Three days later, another B-29 strategic bomber (“Bockscar” piloted by Major Charles W. Sweeney) dropped another atomic bomb (“Fat Man” – an exact copy of the bomb detonated on July 16th) on another Japanese city – Nagasaki.
Its 21-kiloton blast instantly killed over 40,000 (mostly civilians). About the same number died by the end of the yeas – from injuries, burns and radiation poisoning. Bringing the total number of victims to 80,000 – roughly equal to the number of Nazi victims at Majdanek.
Like in many other instances, the whole development, testing and actual battlefield use of atomic bomb was driven by two gross misconceptions. It was developed because the U.S. government and its military command sincerely (and erroneously) believed that the Nazis were on the brink of creating, testing and using their own nuclear bomb (they were not – by a long shot).
And it was used (twice) because the U.S. government and its military command sincerely (and erroneously) believed that the very fact that the US Armed Forces possess the weapon capable of annihilating entire city in one blast, will force the armed forces of Imperial Japan to surrender immediately and unconditionally.
They were wrong. Dead wrong. For a very simple reason – the US Armed Forces already had the capability (way before the Trinity test) to obliterate the whole city in one night, using hundreds of B-29s armed with “conventional” high-explosive and incendiary bomb. So, in fact, a nuclear bomb made no strategic difference at all.
Contrary to a popular misconception, Imperial Japan surrendered not because the U.S. Army Air Forces dropped two nuclear bombs on Japanese cities (thus making it a total waste of human life, in addition to a monstrous crime against humanity), but only because on August 9th (on the same day the Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki), the Soviet Union declared war on Japan – and hit it with all its colossal military might.
Faced with the reality of the war on two fronts (and having no intermediary that could be use in peace negotiations), Japan had no other choice but to surrender unconditionally.
However, these three events – Trinity test and especially the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still created enormous political and military value.
By putting an end to Stalin’s dream of conquering the whole world, destroying the Western Christian civilization and transforming it into a totalitarian Bolshevist state – the global Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.