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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Kousaku Tanaka (male)
'Chokubaku'  2 km from the hypocenter / 9 years old at the time / current resident of Hyogo
9237

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. It was 8:15 in the morning on a beautiful summer day, and I (age nine at that time) was inside at home. No alarm was sounded, but our house was located about two kilometers from the Hiroshima hypocenter, and suddenly shelves, pillars, and clocks were falling, doors and sliding screens were collapsing, all under the force of the atomic blast.
A red flash of flame filled the area around me; then it was suddenly extinguished, and next a thick black smoke covered everything. It felt like the earth around me was collapsing, and I temporarily lost consciousness. The sound of my mother's voice calling me brought me back to my senses, and I heard people's pitiful screaming eerily combined with moans coming from underground.
As it had been hot that morning, my little brother (age five) had been outside playing in just his underwear at that time. He had been burned along his body by that first intense flash, and he was covered from head to toe with blisters like rubber balls. He died crying, "Bubu, bubu (water, give me some water)."
My father had been in the kitchen having breakfast. Overhead was a kind of glass shelf, holding foodstuffs and that sort of thing. When the blast occurred, splinters of glass pierced his head, face, and body, making him bleed; he turned dark red all over from the blood that was pouring out everywhere. The house burned down completely, so there were neither medical instruments nor medicine for treatment. It was mid-summer, and he suffered horribly. Afterwards he returned home to Osaka, where he stayed with relatives, moving from house to house. His hair fell out, and one year and nine months after the bombing, at age 40, he passed away.
Meanwhile, walking past in groups were people, people, people, naked because their clothes had been burned completely away. As time passed, the river in front of the house (a river with a surface width of about 100 meters) swept past ceaselessly, containing innumerable bodies of people, horses, and other animals, who had all died wanting water, some new corpses still looking so perfectly alive that I felt compelled to call out to them to see if they needed help getting out of the water.
As evening approached, the roadside was lined with badly burned people. Their burned skin was being devoured by maggots which were growing in their flesh. The next morning the victims' relatives themselves laid out the dead for cremation in the embers of the burned ruins (I also prepared my little brother, who was by now as cold as ice). The sad smell of cremation floated over us.

As I record this experience, the image of hell from that time appears as vividly in my mind as if it had happened yesterday. It is with a feeling of regret that I recall countless numbers of flyers which fell from the sky about one week before the bomb was dropped. On the front of these flyers was a ten yen note, and on the back was a message from President Truman which said that a new type of weapon had been developed, and in order for it not to be put into use, we would have to surrender quickly. I am afraid that this was an advance warning about the atomic bomb.
(2005)