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Messages from Hiroshima

Setsuko Ogawa (male)
'Chokubaku'  1.5 km from the hypocenter / 15 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. What happened on the day the A-bomb was dropped
With great effort, my friends and I walked to an air raid shelter through piles of debris of buildings destroyed by the bomb blast. Along the way we saw so many horrible-looking people, some with their whole bodies covered with blood, others with both arms so severely burned that all the skin was hanging from their arms down to their nails, and others having faces swollen like bread, losing their eyesight. It was like ghosts walking in procession. On the way some were exhausted and collapsed in a line on the sand because they were in such great pain. Some jumped into a river because of their serious burns. The river was filled with the wounded and blood. Even now, I shudder with horror whenever I remember the scene.

We finally arrived at the air raid shelter and treated the wounded using slings and other bandages. But with wounded people coming one after another, we were totally helpless and worn out.

Because it was very hot, I got a bucket and went to fetch water from a leaking water pipe, and I drank some. On my way back, I walked through wounded people lying on the ground; some were dying, and some had lost their eyesight. They clung onto my legs and moaned painfully for water. "Please give me water.""Water, please. Water."

We were told that if they drank any water, they would die, so I made the sad decision to ignore them, and shook off their hands and carried my bucket of water away.

Due to the heat, pain and thirst, I think they needed water badly. Later when I thought about the agony they were in, I regretted that I didn't give them some last mouthful of water before they died. Even after the war, I often had a dream of this scene and woke up feeling sad.

Blue mold on pumpkins
Rice balls with cooked soybeans inside were distributed for lunch, but I had no appetite because of the smell of blood from people's wounds. But I became hungry in the evening. Some male students went to the field to get some pumpkins, so we boiled them in a drum with miso (bean paste) powder and ate them together.

We slept in an air raid shelter that night. When we woke up in the morning, we were surprised to see the pumpkins covered with two to three centimeters [about 0.8 to 1.2 inches] of thick blue mold.

They were all rotten and soft; I could put my finger all the way down deep inside the flesh of a pumpkin. Later I thought that the pumpkins we ate last night, the water we drank, and the soil we slept on were all severely contaminated by high concentrations of radioactivity.

Return home to Saeki-cho (suburb of Hiroshima) on August 7
The next day I walked for ten hours stepping on still hot ashes in the bombed ruins, and I finally arrived at my home. My mother, who worried about me so much, was overjoyed to see me and hugged me tightly. She said that my father went out to my school in Hiroshima City searching for me. That night I slept next to him.

Afterward, I had persistent diarrhea and a doctor gave me a diagnosis of pseudo-dysentery. I was very fortunate that our house was located at the considerable distance of twenty kilometers [12.4 miles] from the hypocenter; my family members were all fine and took care of me affectionately, and we had a lot of vegetables to eat. I recovered my health in a month.

Friendship among schoolgirls in a lower grade
Thirteen-year-old lower-class girl students were exposed to the A-bomb about 500 meters [1/3 mile, or 547 yards] away from the hypocenter. Their clothes were burned and in tatters because of heat rays. The front part of one girl's dress was completely burned, so she was half-naked. She covered her breasts with her hands, but she was unable to conceal her private parts. With her skin swollen and dark red, she was crying to say that she was too embarrassed to walk home in public.

She was with three other classmates and the front part of their clothes remained unburned, with the back part of the clothes burned off. So, they walked in a line in front of the girl to hide her behind them, encouraging her to walk home. I learned later that her mother was so grateful for their friendly help extended to her daughter that she was moved to tears. This is a story about the heartfelt friendship between those young girls during the war.

But the girl died after three days and three of her classmates who took her home died a week later. I fight to hold back my tears to tell this story to young students. I hope everyone gets along together.