On August 6th 1945 the Japanese city of Hiroshima suffered an atomic bombing by the United States during the final stages of World War II:
"It is impossible to imagine a more dramatic and horrifying combination of scientific triumph with political and moral failure than has been shown to the world in the destruction of Hiroshima. From the scientific point of view, the atomic bomb embodies the results of a combination of genius and patience as remarkable as any in the history of mankind.
One is tempted to feel that Man is being punished, through the agency of his own evil passions, for impiety in inquiring too closely into the hidden secrets of nature. But such a feeling is unduly defeatist. Science is capable of conferring enormous boons: it can lighten labour, abolish poverty, and enormously diminish disease.
But if science is to bring benefits instead of death, we must bring to bear upon social, and especially international, organization, intelligence of the same high order that has enabled us to discover the structure of the atom. To do this effectively we must free ourselves from the domination of ancient shibboleths, and think freely, fearlessly and rationally about the new and appalling problems with which the human race is confronted by its conquest of scientific power."- Bertrand Russell "The Bomb and Civilization" (1945). Russell's first anti-nuclear writing.
World War II is the story of the 20th Century. The war officially lasted from 1939 until 1945, but the causes of the conflict and its horrible aftermath reverberated for decades in either direction. While feats of bravery and technological breakthroughs still inspire awe today, the majority of the war was dominated by unimaginable misery and destruction. In the late 1930s, the world's population was approximately 2 billion. In less than a decade, the war between the nations of the Axis Powers and the Allies resulted in some 80 million deaths -- killing off about 4 percent of the whole world.
Horrifying pictorial details can be found at: