JF Ptak Science Books Post 1597 [Part of the Atomic and Nuclear Weapons series]
It is astonishing sometimes to think of all of the subterranean atom-bomb-applicable cultural subcultures that quickly/instantly popped into existence following the use of the weapon on 6 August 1945. The United States, for one, became an atom-crazed country, from atomic laundry flakes to milkshakes to hotels to condoms. This exuberant atommannia knew no bounds, and leechingly found its way into religious messages. One thing that the atom bomb seemed to be that few people anticipated was its popular impact on the general population, as well as its extraordinarily broad base of applications.
The man trying to look into your soul from around the edges of his glasses, the man looking annoyed and reproachful and judgmental with his thin-lipped contempt, is W(illiam D(ewey) Herrstrom, the author of The Atomic Bomb and the End of the World, written in 1945, and published by Bible News Flashes of Minneapolis, Minnesota1. This is an unhappy little pamphlet filled with massive fear and innuendo, and calls for its readers to address that fear and all uncertainty by embracing Jesus Christ. After all, it is not the Atomic Bomb that we need to worry about, says the author: it is our salvation and the potential wrath of the creator for all sinners. Herrstrom shouts out that the atomic bomb will not end the world or set it on fire--that job is left for god, so we need to address god before we do so the bomb. He writes:
"The scientists who say that the heavens could be ignited by man to bring about the end of the world may be right. But there is at least one good reason why this will never happen. That reason is clearly stated in II Peter 3:7. God has "RESERVED" this for his own time."
Mr. Herrstrom's--who may have believed too much in the transliteration of his name from the German, which would be "Mr. Power"-- message was one of fear and perdition, of the End Times coming true, of prophesies found in the Bible that were being unearthed right there in 1945--luckily, Mr. Herrstrom was ready to supply all of the necessary information about dealing with such stuff in his Bible News Flashes magazine, every month, which was somehow available for the subscription of 25 cents per year. He had earlier addressed these issues in his Judgment Day for Everybody (improbably in its second edition) and The Revived Roman Empire, both of which were skinny, and both puiblished in 1939--not that he was taking advantage of any situation in particular to press forward his bitter and hardnail visions of the future of our souls and the coming death of a sinful world.
"The Bible is history pre-written and God's book is scientifically correct...and is ahead of the human race..."
And as proof of these revelations the author offers bits like the following, in this case, a Bible quotation as proof of foretelling the invention of the jet plane: "Like...chariots on the tops of the mountains they shall leap" (Joel 2:5). And this for the atom bomb: "And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God" (Rev 16: 18-20) and seven more pages of other large-print proof2.
Herrstrom advertisers himself--on the title page, and in his interior full-page portrait--as a "World Traveler, Prophetic Analyst" and editor of Bible News Flashes, the Illustrated Prophetic Monthly Magazine, which is advertised on the back cover of the pamphlet, and where Herrstrom adds "News photographer" to his credits.
One thing he doesn't credit himself with and for which he should receive major recognition is for being one of America's earliest and ugliest Holocaust deniers. The fantastic all-things-atomic Conelrad blog, which has written another story on Herrstrom and his work, finds Herrstrom in Deborah Lipstadt's book3,4:
"In 1952 W. D. Herrstrom, an American antisemite, declared in Bible News Flashes that there were five million illegal aliens in the United States, most of whom were Jews. These were the Jews who were supposed to have died in the Holocaust. "No use looking in Shickelgruber's [Hitler's] ovens for them. Walk down the streets of any American city. There they are." pp 66-67
Well, as confessions of a hating faith-based ignorance, one could scarcely find better examples than these.
1. (Unfortunately, the only address given on the pamphlet is for a PO Box for Lake St. Station. Herrstrom's other pamphlets include: Mussolini & Facism, 1937, Wichita Falls, Kansas, Defender Publishers (?!), 49pp; Will This War End Armageddon, 1941, 47pp; Golden Key to Bible Interpretation, 48pp, 3rd revised edition (again, ?!), 1940; Is God a Jew, 1943, 24pp; Judgment Day, 1943, 64pp; Revival of the Roman Empire, 1939, 48pp. Herrstrom had a few years where he was on fire,m from 1937-1945, during which most of this stuff was written. It is noteworthy that hewrote books that were mainly 24 or 48 pages long. His Bible News Flash appeared from 1943-1949, and is located in six libraries in the U.S., which makes it on the rare side. Somehow, The Atomic Bomb and the End of the World is not located in the massive database for worldwide library holdings.
2. Herrstrom was hardy alone in laying claim to the ecumenicism of the atomic bomb. There was also, for example the following:
Mel Morris published God's Atomic Bomb in 1945, which means he must've worked a little feverishly to pump up his bible prophesy and history to include the new atomic weapon to replace whatever else he had been using as a prophecy for end of times. (As it turns out, "God's Atomic Bomb" was more tempest and disaster in the bible, and not (whew!) the bomb itself. Though as we've learned from scientologists and the sort-of creative mind of Ron Hubbard, a civilization came to the earth thousands of years ago and pummeled it with "atomic bombs" and other nastiness, polluting humans for milennia to come. But that's another story--suffice to say that Morris found many dozens of examples of "God's Atomic Bomb" being used in the deep biblical past, and that the use of the real atomic bomb in 1945 was pre-ordained, and not without its figurative historical counterparts. I'm not sure why any of this was necessary outside of proving to some small minority that these preachers could at least be contemporary and topical.
3 Deborah E. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, the Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, 1993.
4. Conelrad also found Herrstrom's longest book, Seventy Five Reasons Why Community Water Supplies Should Not be Fluoridated. Good work, Conelrad!
5. Bibliographic note--I've seen this cover now in three different colors (red, blue, green) and I believe now that it wasn't so much a factor of a number of different printings being done of the work over time, but rather of using whatever cover stock in whatever color happened to be on hand for the first printing.
Here's a note from Herrstrom on how to get into Heaven: