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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Matsuko Hasebe (female)
'Chokubaku'  1.8 km from the hypocenter / 6 years old at the time / current resident of Kyoto

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. I was six years old and it has been 64 years since I experienced the atomic bomb. I can never forget the horrible spectacle and the image still haunts me. On the morning of August 6, I was playing with some friends, a little downstream from Minami Ohashi Bridge over the Motoyasu River. Then, somehow, I felt something strange and ran up the stone steps with one of my friends. There were two more steps before street level when an enormous, roaring sound made us lie down on our stomachs. For a while, as we were not able to see anything because of the clouds of sand and dust, we kept lying down without moving. Soon afterwards the stillness that followed was broken by a rustling sound that grew louder and louder.
"I am burning!!! I am on fire!!!! Help!!!! Water!!! Water!!! Water!!!"
As they were screaming, people were diving into the river or tumbling down the stone steps. The river was filled with people. My friend and I had no idea what was going on and we just clung to each other trembling with fear. It was when I saw my grandmother who came looking for me that I started crying and could not stop.

Houses had been reduced to rubble and walking barefoot on debris we finally reached home. Inside our house plaster and tatami mats were scattered about. Even the beams of the living room had come loose and were leaning on the floor. My grandfather who had been out doing labor service was taken home on a stretcher. His internal organs were ruptured and he was dying. Under these circumstances I could not say a word and all I could do was look at my grandfather, lying silently, who had been just fine that morning. Only my grandparents and myself were at home on the day the bomb was dropped. My parents, brothers and our uncle who lived with us were all at different places. When my grandmother told me that we had been bombed, I was speechless and I could only watch her move around. Then I heard a sound on the roof and in our garden, suddenly, it became dark all around us and I saw pitch black rain falling from the sky.

Towards the evening, a fire broke out in the north and because we got information that the whole town was endangered we immediately evacuated our town. We crossed Minami Oohashi bridge, that was full of holes, and on the other side of the river we managed to secure a safe place at a shelter there. What I saw there were veritable scenes of hell. The people, who were coming and going, were all very heavily burned or injured. Some were dark red all over and groaning in pain. I saw a woman, whose skin was hanging from her face and whose clothes were in tatters, who was crawling out and clung to a patrolling soldier begging desperately for the water. However, the solder told her, "If you drink water, you will die." The lady kept begging as the tears were rolling down her face.

Even after so many years this scene is still branded on my memory. All night long the whole sky was red caused by the raging fires. Early in the morning the fires died down, but as we were going home, they were still smoldering here and there. My grandfather was in bed in the annex of our house and we wanted to give him breakfast, but, he died without eating anything. On our way to and from the cremation, we were again confronted with the most unbelievably horrific sights, especially the sight of the body of a man still standing who was pulling a large two-wheel cart and on it were the completely burnt bodies of two children, holding their knees.

The whole town was littered with dead bodies and because it was in the middle of summer they decomposed very fast and the stench of death was everywhere. For many, many years the smell lingered in my nose and did not fade. There was nothing I could do and I just felt so sad and sorry for those who had died.