Martin Harwit (born March 9, 1931 in Prague) is a Czech-American astronomer, author, and was director of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. from 1987 to 1995. His scientific work on Infrared astronomy as a professor at Cornell University is notable.
In 1994 he became embroiled in public debate when his work on the Enola Gay exhibit, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1945 Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki , was accused of being "revisionist history" for including Japanese accounts of the attack and photographs of the victims, and for presenting an exhibit script that critics alleged "depicted the Japanese as victims of a United States motivated by vengeance."
Two of the lines about the war in the Pacific became infamous: “For most Americans this war was fundamentally different than the one waged against Germany and Italy—it was a war of vengeance. For most Japanese, it was a war to defend their unique culture against Western imperialism.” The immediately preceding two sentences did acknowledge that "in December 1941, Japan attacked US. bases at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and launched other surprise assaults against Allied territories in the Paciﬁc. Thus began a wider conﬂict marked by extreme bitterness." Those lines, in turn, were immediately preceded by the following statements:
Japanese expansionism was marked by naked aggression and extreme brutality. The slaughter of tens of thousands of Chinese in Nanking in 1937 shocked the world. Atrocities by Japanese troops included brutal mistreatment of civilians, forced laborers and prisoners of war, and biological experiments on human victims."
Nonetheless, the controversy led to his being forced to resign from the directorship of the National Air and Space Museum. It was revealed months later that while he was attempting to limit distribution of the planned exhibit to US critics, he was having the script translated and overnighted to officials in Hiroshima and Nagasaki asking for a "quick response".
- Bruce Medal (2007)
Named after him
- In Search of the True Universe (2013)
- Astrophysical Concepts (1st edition 1973, 4th edition 2006) ISBN 978-0-387-32943-7
- Cosmic Discovery: The Search, Scope and Heritage of Astronomy (1981) ISBN 978-0-7108-0089-3
- An Exhibit Denied: Lobbying the History of Enola Gay (1996) ISBN 978-0-387-94797-6
- Mather, John C.; Boslough, John (1996, 2008). The Very First Light: The True Inside Story of the Scientific Journey Back to the Dawn of the Universe (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Basic Books. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-465-00529-1.
- Winners and Losers of the Information Revolution by Bernard Carl Rosen
- "Chronology of the Controversy". Enola Gay Archive. Air Force Magazine.com. Retrieved 2011-09-01.
- "Controversy FAQ". Enola Gay Archive. Air Force Magazine.com. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
- The Crossroads: The End of World War II, The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War
- TELEVISION VIEW; Fifty Years Later, Still the Day After: Article The New York Times; Published: July 30, 1995