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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Akira Ito (male)
'Chokubaku'  2 km from the hypocenter / 18 years old at the time / current resident of Mie

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. It was the morning of August 6. Draped in ragged tatters, barely breathing, and buried among heaps of corpses, the half-dead raised only their heads to sob weakly, "Water, soldier. Water please." I felt sorry for them, gasping through spitless mouths. The heat from the burns and blisters was enough to drive a man mad with want for water, and I would do whatever I could for them. I wrenched open a nearby fire hydrant, and clear water gushed forth, quickly filling a bucket.

But then, the voice of my superior came harshly―"Don't give them water." I hesitated, indecisive for just a moment. Even if it doesn't save them, I thought, this water, which they so desperately yearn for, could be their last. I handed them the bucket. I still wonder if my judgment, this act, was good or bad. To this day I cannot forget that moment, and it weighs heavily on my soul.

On August 9 I took shelter in Hijiyama away from the hypocenter. I then went to the Ujina Army Marine Regiment Headquarters to take care of wounded soldiers. Those suffering serious injuries were laid out next to each other closely on the matting. With swollen lips and sagging eyes, the combination of clotted blood, pus, sweat, and dust made their bodies look like mud dolls, and with faces puffed up to twice their normal size, we could hardly tell who each person was. Exposed skin had been burned and flushed a red-brown. Blood and pus mixed, drying like glue to the skin and bandages.

In their painful injuries something tiny was wiggling. Looking closely, it was unmistakable―maggots covered the eyeballs, noses, lips, and wounds in the legs and arms of the victims. Could such a thing actually be crawling on living people? It was hard to believe what was happening. The temporary shelter was filled with the putrid stench of corpses, and each morning for quite some time we buried a few more who had died.