Why did America use atomic bombs to end WWII with Japan but not do the same to end the war with Germany?

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    Since Germany surrendered in May, we didn't perform the first test until July, and didn't bomb Japan until August...I would guess it is because you usually don't bomb people who have already surrendered, and we hadn't finished the bomb yet.
    – user1873
    May 28, 2016 at 5:22
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    It's best not to speculate on possible reasons. Particularly when your knowledge is low. There's also the problem that searching for your title question on Google finds good results. Admittedly this post is currently first, but the second result would have been there prior to this post. And it covers the basic reason (Germany surrendered before the bomb was tested).
    – Brythan
    May 28, 2016 at 11:31
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    This might be more of a question for history stackexchange.
    – Philipp
    May 28, 2016 at 11:57
  • @IgotiT Firstly, as you've noted from cpast's answer, the atomic bomb was not even tested until after Germany had surrendered. Apart from that, the Manhattan Project that developed the bomb was highly secret. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Project#Secrecy No one was urging Roosevelt to do anything about the atomic bomb because no one outside a few dozen men knew they were trying to make one. Those few who did know about the project were afraid that the Nazis might be first to make an atomic bomb and win the war thereby. In a Nazi-dominated world the Jews would have been doomed. May 28, 2016 at 16:06
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    The question would be improved by losing the speculations about the answer. Just ask the question.
    – Readin
    May 29, 2016 at 5:11

1 Answer 1


Neither. Germany surrendered at the beginning of May 1945. The Trinity test was conducted in July 1945. The US dropped Little Boy without testing its design (it was simpler and there was much less doubt about whether it'd work), but it was completed in July as well. By the time the US had nuclear weapons, Germany had surrendered, and it's considered in poor taste to bomb the cities of a country you are no longer at war with. Even before Germany surrendered, it was clear that that war was just about over and so there's no point using one of your handful of nukes there.

There were possibly some other considerations. In 1943 when they first thought about targets (but before anyone had any firm ideas on anything), they suggested that if the bomb did not work then Germany (which was known to be working on nuclear bombs itself) might be more likely to study the bomb and figure out how to build their own bomb. Also, the only American bombers that could take a nuclear weapon were B-29s (it was not a small bomb), and B-29s were deployed exclusively to the Pacific. Deploying them to Germany was tantamount to saying "Hey! Shoot me down! I'm interesting and something you want to study!" But the main factor was just that by the time they got around to really thinking about targets, Germany was about to surrender/had surrendered.

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    1+ for "it's considered in poor taste to bomb the cities of a country you are no longer at war with." lol
    – Fiksdal
    May 29, 2016 at 7:20
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    I'm not having any luck figuring out how to notify Yannis (who locked the question) or otherwise making this suggestion, so I regret having to make the statement here were it doesn't properly belong. The question has been edited. The answer is excellent. I think we should unlock the question so we can upvote because the -3 doesn't make sense anymore.
    – Readin
    May 30, 2016 at 3:11
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    @Fiksdal : Given the current US practice of bombing cities of countries that the US isn't at war with, the statement isn't as trivial.
    – Christian
    May 30, 2016 at 9:47
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    @Readin you can flag the question, and a moderator will come to it eventually. You can flag the question for any kind of moderator intervention that you think needs to be applied. Bear in mind that the OP already reverted the question back to it's original form once, so I'm not sure if we're ready to unlock it at this time May 31, 2016 at 2:40
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    @Christian: Umm, all those cities have been owned (or at least controlled) by regimes the U.S. is (or was at the time) at war with, even if an undeclared war.
    – Vikki
    Mar 3 at 7:07

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