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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Shige Hiratsuka (female)
'Chokubaku'  1 km from the hypocenter / 29 years old at the time / current resident of Miyagi

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. My husband and two children were lost in the atomic bombing.
I am Shige Hiratsuka, who was exposed to the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.As a live witness to the misery and anger, I would like to speak out.My family consisted of my husband, myself and two children…, a family of four.
On August 6, Showa 20 (1945), just after 8 am, we had just finished breakfast. As my husband was reading the morning paper, and I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes, our two children played nearby.
Suddenly, what seemed like a streak of lightning lit the sky, followed by a thunderous noise. The house collapsed around us, and we were trapped.

As my husband and I were trying with all our might to escape, we heard, "Help me! Help me!" Our next door neighbor's wife was calling for help. I called out to her, "As soon as we get free, we will come to help you!"

When we finally escaped from our fallen house, the first thing we saw was the total destruction of the city of Hiroshima. No houses or other buildings were visible. They had all disappeared. Fires were evident here and there. In my shock and fear, my only thought was escape. And, in my fear and rush to escape, I forgot the promise to help our neighbor's wife. My thoughts swirled around finding our children.

Where are our children?
As we called out our children's names, we heard, "Help me, Mother! Help me, Mother!", coming from a distance of about 2 or 3 meters away. I rushed in that direction. It was my own 6 year old daughter, Kazuko. I began calling for my husband who was at that time barely able to move. "Come quickly!" I screamed.
At that time my husband was bleeding from the shoulder and was badly injured. He was so weak that he was barely able to walk.
Our daughter was screaming out, "Mother, my legs hurt, my legs hurt! My legs are trapped. Help me to get them free!"
I struggled to free her, but no matter how hard I pulled, her legs remained trapped. She was covered from the chest down by debris from the walls of the house and by dirt. It was impossible to free her.

As I continued to pull on her, the fires were fast approaching. I could see and hear and smell the fires. I was hot and unable to breathe, and could no longer continue my struggle. At that moment, I knew that if I stayed I would die. Dying was not a choice I was willing to make. I could not imagine being burned to death.

I said a prayer for my children.
"Kazu-chan, I am sorry. I am a bad mother. Please forgive me. Kazu-chan, I know you don't want to die, either, but your Mother does not have courage to face the fire. Kazu-chan, forgive me, forgive me!" I said as I turned and walked toward the area that was free of fire. I took my husband's hand to help him escape with me, but as we moved away, our hearts were left behind with our daughter.

As we escaped, we didn't realize that we were stepping and falling over dead bodies. As I stumbled and fell on those bodies, I was not affected by a feeling of creepiness. I just felt a deep sadness. As we continued our escape, we realized that we had made it to the riverside of Yokokawa.