Photo Credit: Jewish Press

To this day, President Truman’s use of the nuclear option remains a polarizing event, but Beser was always firmly convinced that it was the correct decision at the time in the face of the mass casualties expected in an invasion of Japan, and he makes a compelling argument for the propriety of America’s having used atomic weapons:Singer-031116-Kennedy


If someone is looking for an apology for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you won’t get it from me. I am proud of my role in missions that ended WWII…. My one regret is that the bomb was not available for the final subjugation of Germany. I think the German people earned the right to that honor more than the Japanese people did…. As far as our country was concerned, we were three years downstream in a war, going on four. The world had been at war, really, from the ’30s in China, continuously, and millions and millions of people had been killed. Add to that the deliberate killing that went on in Europe, [and] it’s kind of ludicrous to say well, geez, look at all those people that were instantly murdered.

In November of 1945 there was an invasion of Japan planned. Three million men were gonna be thrown against Japan. There were about three million Japanese digging in for the defense of their homeland, and there was a casualty potential of over a million people. That’s what was avoided. If you take the highest figures of casualties of both cities, say, 300,000 combined casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, versus a million, I’m sorry to say, it’s a good tradeoff. It’s a very cold way to look at it, but it’s the only way to look at it…. The use of atomic bombs, despite revisionist objections, shortened the war and saved both American and Japanese lives.



Nonetheless, Beser, also believing that the decision to defer the issue of postwar control of nuclear weapons was a serious mistake, supported the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Shown with this column is a rare item, a reproduction of the treaty signed “Jacob Beser, 1st Lt. USAF, Enola Gay & Bock’s Car.”

After World War II, Beser seriously considered serving in the Israeli air force and contributing to the founding of Israel. Upon his arrival at the army discharge base at the end of the war, he saw a recruitment table for the Haganah, which was seeking air crews to smuggle displaced Jews from Europe to Eretz Yisrael. Ultimately he decided to remain in America, where he worked for the Army Corps of Engineers in the construction of the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, which were later used by the Atomic Energy Commission for weapons research.

He went on to become a research associate at the Johns Hopkins medical school, where he helped to develop a pump used to circulate blood during heart surgery. He worked for AAI Corp. (1951-56) before beginning his career at Westinghouse, and he retired from its Defense and Electronic Systems Center in Linthicum as deputy program manager and subcontracts manager of the defense meteorological satellite program.

Born in Jewish Baltimore, Beser, who characterized himself as “a religious person,” was very active in Jewish communal affairs throughout his life. He served on the board of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service; as president of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society of Baltimore of the Associated Jewish Charities; on the board of directors of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, the oldest established synagogue in Maryland; as commander of the Maccabean Post of the American Legion; and as an adult leader with the National Jewish Committee on Scouting, which awarded him its Shofar Award.

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Saul Jay Singer serves as senior legal ethics counsel with the District of Columbia Bar and is a collector of extraordinary original Judaica documents and letters. He welcomes comments at at [email protected].