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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Masaru Kawasaki (male)
'Chokubaku'  1.5 km from the hypocenter / 21 years old at the time / current resident of Kanagawa

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. 1. What I have never forgotten as an A-bomb victim
Immediately after the A-bomb explosion,I was buried under my house and fainted for a moment, but soon recovered my senses and crawled out from the debris. A man nearby saw me lying on the ground bleeding profusely and carried me on his shoulder to the riverside for evacuation.

Thanks to his help, I was able to escape from the firestorm of the burning city. I was also able to avoid large drops of the horrific black rain contaminated with radiation, because my unwounded aunt, who was with me, used the debris to make a makeshift shelter from the rain. Around evening, I was taken on a handcart to the evacuation center at Ohtake Elementary School, and laid on the playground. An army surgeon from Kyushu cleaned and sutured a wound below my left ear without any anesthetic on the ground under the scorching heat while I groaned from a high fever. I suffered indescribable pain; it felt as if the wound was being gouged out with red-hot tongs. I screamed with pain.

I endured such severe pain during the surgery. However, on the third day, all the stitches of the wound were removed due to severe suppuration caused by leucopenia, that is, white blood cells damaged by the radiation effect. Afterwards, when I lay in bed groaning in the evacuation center, the center was machine-gunned from the air by a U.S. fighter aircraft and nurses simultaneously ran around trying to escape. I was a severely injured patient and unable to move and escape. Here, again, I cannot describe the distress that I felt at that time.

As just described, I experienced many unforgettable terrors of the damage caused by the A-bomb, which will be described in detail on another occasion.

For your information, the A-bomb keloid scars below my left ear were surgically removed by a plastic surgeon in November 2005, so that the ugly devilish scars were completely removed, at last, sixty years after the A-bombing.

2. Thoughts for those who were killed by the A-bomb
"Prayer music No.1 Dirge"
I am an A-bomb victim from Hiroshima. I think the A-bombing was the greatest disaster that human beings have ever suffered, and that it should never happen again. Therefore, I had firmly refused to consider it as a theme for my work. However, my firm resolution was shaken over and over again for many years after the exposure, and a sense of mission as an A-bomb victim incited me to compose "Prayer music No.1 Dirge," which was dedicated to the city of Hiroshima in 1975.

This prayer music was played for the first time at the 30th anniversary of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony. Then, it was decided that it could be played at the Ceremony every year on August 6. I love Japan and my hometown Hiroshima, and above all, I cherish myself. What has gravely affected all of them has been the unavoidable reality of the A-bombing.

Even though so many years have passed, the A-bombing, the most disastrous and overwhelming experience in the history of mankind, will be etched in my memory and remain fresh in my mind. It will always cause trepidation. The more time goes by, the deeper I feel gratitude for being allowed to live on in this world despite being an A-bomb victim.

At the same time, I have no words to console the souls of those who were killed by such a cruel twist of fate. I am filled with a feeling that all I can do is pray for them. Such a feeling inspired me to compose the prayer music, which is played by a brass band every year on August 6 at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony. In 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the A-bombing, it was published as an orchestral work by Colorado College in the U.S. (the country that dropped the A-bomb). That filled me with deep emotion.

I cry for the total abolition of nuclear arms from the earth and wish for World Peace from the bottom of my heart. Therefore, my prayer music is my cry as well as my eternal wish for World Peace.

3. What I want to appeal to the next generation and let them know
Human beings have massacred each other again and again in numerous wars since the dawn of history, and I wonder if World Peace will ever be accomplished in the future. It is amazing that many people are enjoying their daily lives living in great comfort with enough clothes, food and a home in peaceful present-day Japan.

But, please be aware that in various places around the world there are "simmering tensions" and I ask you to find the best way to accomplish World Peace by using your wisdom and ingenuity while broadening your view at home and abroad.

War must be avoided at all costs. Especially in modern war, the destructive power and the scale of damage and casualties will be much more ineffably terrible.

Those who experienced World War II firsthand are decreasing in number now. It is good that the new generations have no experience of war. However, unlike war in films and TV dramas, kill-or-be-killed war is very cruel and inexcusable. Let me repeat my wish: please make great efforts to avoid war at all costs with collective wisdom and ingenuity of individuals, societies and national leaders.

Place of exposure to the A-bomb: Nishi-Kanon-machi 1-chome, Hiroshima
(1.5 km [0.9 mile] from the ground zero)