Reading the Studs Terkel interview with Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima,(1) I had to come to the conclusion that this man had a lot in common with SS-Obersturmbahnführer, the first commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höß. However, what we did get from Höß, was, at least, some indication of remorse when he wrote to the state prosecutor four days before he was hanged, “My conscience compels me to make the following declaration. In the solitude of my prison cell I have come to the bitter recognition that I have sinned gravely against humanity. As Commandant of Auschwitz I was responsible for carrying out part of the cruel plans of the “Third Reich” for human destruction. In so doing I have inflicted terrible wounds on humanity. I caused unspeakable suffering for the Polish people in particular. I am to pay for this with my life. May the Lord God forgive one day what I have done.”(2) Paul Tibbets, on the other hand, answered Studs question as to whether he had any regrets about dropping the bomb by saying, “….., no, I had no problem with it. I knew we did the right thing because when I knew we’d be doing that I thought, yes, we’re going to kill a lot of people, but by God we’re going to save a lot of lives. We won’t have to invade.”(3) Alright, alright, I can envisage readers of this blog screaming that there is no comparison and that Tibbets was right when he said that lots of American lives would have been lost. However, I continued to read the interview and this is what Mr Tibbets, at the ripe old age of 89, said about using the bomb again? “Oh, I wouldn’t hesitate if I had the choice. I’d wipe ’em out. You’re gonna kill innocent people at the same time, but we’ve never fought a damn war anywhere in the world where they didn’t kill innocent people. If the newspapers would just cut out the shit: “You’ve killed so many civilians.” That’s their tough luck for being there.”(4) No, I am afraid if there is a hell there is good chance that Tibbets is down there, maybe having a wee chat with Rudolf. Therefore, why the remorse from the one and no regrets from the other?
Well, I suppose Paul Tibbets genuinely thought he had saved American lives and I suppose he really was convinced right up to the end that he did help protect freedom etc. etc and I suppose well I suppose he never really thought very much, not before dropping the bomb, not while dropping it and not after dropping it. However, there might just be another factor to consider and that is, Tibbets never got to see his victims, the children with the skin hanging off of their backs, the people who were still dying because of the bomb when Paul was having his interview with Studs almost sixty years later, the children born as freaks, without limbs, without sight. What did he see? Well not very much and not very much after the event either, which is evidenced by his answer to the question, “Do you have any idea what happened down below? “Pandemonium! I think it’s best stated by one of the historians, who said: “In one micro-second, the city of Hiroshima didn’t exist.”(5)
This evening “brave” IAF pilots are dropping bombs on civilians and do they have any idea of what is happening below? Or do they, like Paul Tibbets think; “pandemonium and that’s their tough luck for being there?” They point the finger at Hamas and say that they too are targeting civilians. Oh, they do it too, so that makes it alright for you to do it on a hundred times the scale. Really, it almost sounds like John McCain when he said the “Weathermen” might have killed civilians. John did, of course, kill civilians, innocent civilians. Hamas should not be firing rockets into areas that could, despite the warning sirenes and air shelters that the Palestinians don’t have, kill even one civilian. However, there is something I am almost sure of and that is, should the IDF go in on the ground, those same ‘Al-Qassam’ brigades who are firing their relatively ineffectual rockets into Israel will fight despite the odds against them and I am also sure that the chances of them being killed either while fighting or by an Israeli bomb from an aeroplane high up in the sky and out of harms way is much greater than someone being killed by a “Qassam” rocket. Moreover, when it comes to facing their maker, I am equally sure that they won’t be demonstrating the same remorse as that exercised by Rudolf Höß. And what about the “brave” bullies who rule the skies? Well, they really don’t understand very much, do they?
3 See 1 ibid