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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Katsuo Kawai (male)
'Chokubaku'  2 km from the hypocenter / 17 years old at the time / current resident of Hyogo

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. It was the thirty-first of July 1945, the seventh day after an unusually late-in-the-year induction ceremony at the Hiroshima Higher Normal School. One of my roommates at the dormitory had been taken to Funairi Hospital with dysentery. All first-year students had been mobilized to work at Toyo Kogyo Co. Ltd., and had gone to the factory in front of Mukainada Station. However, the student with dysentery and his eleven roommates were quarantined in the dormitory and remained in Higashi Senda-machi.

I was put in charge of taking care of the sick student and sent to Funairi Hospital.
It was my first visit to Hiroshima and I didn't know my way around, so I repeatedly asked for directions as I headed west, crossing several bridges. Completely outfitted with steel helmet, protective air raid hood, first aid kit and gaiters, I was full of worries as I made my way to the hospital carrying a bowl of rice porridge for the patient. It was just before eight o'clock on the morning of August 6th and the mid-summer sky of Hiroshima was bright and sunny without a single cloud.

On my way, I happened to see a B-29 above the Chugoku Mountains on the right, approaching rapidly in the sky above me. The plane was drawing a thick white trail toward the south, bisecting the bright cobalt blue Hiroshima sky into east and west.
The aluminum body of the plane occasionally sparkled. Though it was an enemy plane I admired its beauty as I watched it and hurried to Funairi Hospital. At the time the air raid alert had been lifted.

I finally arrived at the hospital at 8:10 in the morning. I took off my air raid protection and gave some rice porridge to the patient. I placed my hand on the door knob to go out of the room into the corridor in order to prepare an ice pillow for the patient. At that moment, a very bright yellow flash covered not only my entire body, but the entire world. To be precise, I feel like that's what happened in retrospect, but I don't have a clear memory of that time.

I have no idea how many minutes or hours passed. I found myself lying like a rag on a quay by the Ota River behind the hospital, wet with spray from the water. It was growing dim as the sun was setting. The hospital as well as the entire town of Hiroshima had vanished and there were columns of fire popping up on the horizon, which seemed to be in the east.

It was quiet. There was no sign of life at all. I couldn't imagine what had happened. I didn't think of an air raid. My left hand was crushed and I saw white palm bones shining in the middle of the back of my hand. With my right hand I felt an open gash between my right jaw and neck into which I could easily insert two fingers. I was missing four of my front teeth and felt cold air coming through the gap left behind. Blood poured down my face from several wounds on my head and, however many times I wiped it away with my right hand, it kept blinding me. I used my last remaining strength to stand up and, since fortunately there was no injury to my legs, I fled downstream, slowly staggering alongside the river. However, (it seems) I lost consciousness before I had advanced even as little as 50 meters [164 feet].