Photo/IllutrationA couple pose by the “Center of Impact” sign near the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima in December 1948. From the collection of the MacArthur Memorial Archives. (Provided by Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

HIROSHIMA--The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum here Oct. 10 released a batch of photos previously unknown in Japan of this city's devastation soon after the 1945 atomic bombing.

The 32 images taken during the Allied occupation were discovered in archives in the United States and New Zealand.

Many are typical tourist snapshots showing foreign civilians and military personnel posing around the hypocenter of the atomic explosion, suggesting Hiroshima was a “destination of choice” among the Occupation forces. U.S. troops were stationed in Hiroshima Prefecture from October 1945.

British Commonwealth forces, including New Zealand, took over control from the following March.

In light of that, New Zealand was the first country outside of the United States that museum researchers visited as part of a research project for historical materials relating to Hiroshima.

The museum started researching and archiving images of pre- and postwar Hiroshima in 1974, focusing on records held in U.S. public archives.

Museum researchers only recently reached the point where they felt they had sufficient time and resources to scour records in other institutions and countries.

“Some records are only surfacing now as the war generation passes and bereaved families find photographs to donate to archives,” said museum vice director Shuichi Kato, 57. “We will keep searching to get a more detailed and multilayered record of the devastation to pass on to future generations.”

A photo taken around autumn 1945 shows that the sign on the Hiroshima city government office had been replaced with one in English, reading “Hiroshima City Hall.”

Another image shows a couple, one of whom worked at the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers, posing by a sign placed on a radio tower, reading “Center of Impact,” during a private trip in December 1948. The photo had been kept in a family photo album.

An image found in New Zealand shows two soldiers standing in front of a memorial by the Atomic Bomb Dome that displays two before and after pictures of the building.

Details on the memorial's erection are murky, but the museum said it was built to commemorate a visit to Hiroshima by Emperor Showa in December 1947.

In 2018, museum officials contacted six institutions in the United States and New Zealand, and obtained copies of 2,300 or so photographs.

The museum published 12 of the 32 images on its online database. It plans to hold a special exhibition to feature those and the other images.