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‘Atomic Cover-Up’ Reveals A Previously Unseen Story Of Human Devastation

The documentary “Atomic Cover-Up” begins on an oddly hopeful note. In December 1945, four months after the bombing of Nagasaki, Lt. Col. Daniel McGovern was leading a film crew through the rubble when he picked up the strains of “Silent Night.”

“I heard voices singing,” he says, adding that at first he thought he was imagining it. He wasn’t. He and the crew set up their equipment inside the cathedral where the voices were coming from and began filming. We see a priest and children singing.

“And I look out and see complete devastation,” McGovern says. “And hear the voices.” The singing continues as the camera pans across the ruins of a city that had been utterly destroyed by the second of two atomic bombs dropped by U.S. forces.

Written and directed by the journalist Greg Mitchell, the recently released “Atomic Cover-Up” is the culmination of a decades-long quest to release footage of the human suffering caused by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Mitchell himself put years into the effort, writing a book about it in 2011 whose subtitle refers to “the greatest movie never made.”

Well, now it’s been made, and the terrible images captured after the bombings — including color film seen for the first time — are a testament to the lives lost and ruined. It is the visual equivalent of John Hersey's classic 1946 New Yorker article and book "Hiroshima." (The 52-minute documentary can be seen online through Tuesday, March 30. Details are below.)

The story is told mainly by McGovern and Lt. Herbert Sussan, who died in 1985, possibly from exposure to radiation, and to whom the film is dedicated. They as well as Japanese filmmakers set about documenting the human suffering caused by the bombs only to have their work censored and suppressed.

Read entire article at WGBH