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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Noritami Inoue (male)
'Chokubaku'  3.6 km from the hypocenter / 16 years old at the time / current resident of Kanagawa

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. What message do you want to convey to the next generation:

Abolish nuclear weapons
Be steadfast in opposition to war
Work for peace

Why was the atomic bomb dropped? In a word, it was because Japan and the U.S. were at war.
Why, then, was there a war? I don't have time to go into that history here, but I hope you will take the opportunity to study the matter.

I was sixteen years old at the time that I was exposed to the Hiroshima A-bomb. During the Pacific War (also known as the Second World War), there was a Student Mobilization Order, which pressed all students above the age of twelve, both boys and girls, into various kinds of service. And so we were on duty at a warehouse of the Army Ships Corps on Kanawajima Island, Hiroshima Bay, about six kilometers from the center of Hiroshima.

It was August 6, 1945. We had come up onto the island from the transport boat and were playing around on the square in front of the barracks shortly before morning assembly. At precisely 8:15 a.m., as morning assembly began, there was a sudden flash of white. Before I could even wonder what was happening, I felt terribly hot air pour over me like a wave. I immediately started to run in the opposite direction, away from the surging heat. At that very instant a gale force wind (which I later realized was the bomb blast) threw me up into the air about four or five meters and then slammed me to the ground. Since we had trained daily to prepare for bombings I unconsciously covered my eyes and ears with both hands. At that point I heard a huge sound, no doubt the sound of the explosion. Out of fear for my safety I rushed into a cave that contained an air raid shelter, but sand and soil were falling in from above so, fearing I'd be buried alive, I scrambled out again.

"What's going on?" I looked in the direction of Hiroshima center across the sea, and saw something like a cloud spreading out and enveloping the entire city, its center forming a circle and rising up higher and higher into the sky. It was the so-called mushroom cloud. 

The roofs of houses on the island were blown away, and their windows had all disappeared without a trace. My classmates, who had been in a break room inside, came out bleeding from their faces, arms and legs. We had no idea what was happening.

We saw the mushroom cloud billowing up into the sky over Hiroshima's city center, as well as scattered fires and smoke. Nervous as we were, with our morning assembly over we set about the work we'd been instructed to do, which was to load food onto ships. At that time, Hiroshima was an army base, and there were numerous barracks and storage areas as well as munitions stores all over the place, so as we worked we talked about the possibility that a munitions store or perhaps a gas tank had exploded.

After about an hour had passed, we finally got news that a new type of bomb had been dropped. Then we all understood what had caused these things, but it was not until much later that we learned it was an atomic bomb.  

While we were getting the news that a new kind of bomb had been dropped, there was a steady stream of wounded arriving at the island by boat. At the same time we were informed that in the city (about two kilometers from ground zero) a dormitory for lower grade students had collapsed. Some students were missing, and a request had been made for their rescue. We began to understand, through such events, what was happening.

We ate lunch hurriedly and went back to the city to help. There we saw sights no words can describe. All the houses in the city had either collapsed or been knocked over, and across the river from the road we traveled houses were burning at a blistering pace. The streets were filled with suffering. People with hideous burns on their backs and faces writhed on the sun-scorched ground or ran into the river for relief, calling out for water. Some staggered like ghosts, so horribly burned one could not tell whether they were male or female. Others walked about with broken limbs hanging loose, or bleeding. There were bodies, scorched black, on the side of the road, corpses piled up like stone steps in front of a house. People died holding their children, sobbing mothers clutched dead babies, and some ran about with their possessions in carts, trying to escape. It was truly a living hell. We were the only ones still unharmed, but could do nothing in response to the pleas for help.

The student dormitory had totally collapsed. We immediately set about removing pieces of wood and rubble. About 150 lower grade students had been trapped under the rubble, but most had escaped on their own.

One had survived in the narrow space between some pillars, but four others were found dead.

In the evening, we went back to our dormitory at the outskirts of the city, but were told that the dormitory was leaning and dangerous. So we took blankets outside, spread them out under trees in a grape field near the dormitory, and fell asleep watching the blazing red fires of Hiroshima reflecting in the sky. And we continued to do that for about a week.

On the next day, the seventh, five of us from the same room were instructed to take care of the school headmaster's wife, who had been burned over her entire back. We took her on a stretcher to be treated at a temporary relief station which had been set up at a nearby elementary school. Classrooms at the school were being used as temporary shelter for the wounded, and every classroom was full of wounded who sat sprawled, lay on their sides, or lay flat on mats placed on the floor. Most of the wounded had been burned, and zinc oil had been applied to everyone to treat the burns. It was an extraordinary scene with the peculiar smell of burned skin permeating the air. There were some so horribly burned on the front of their bodies that one couldn't tell whether they were male or female but could see only their goggling eyes. Some groaned, cried, or called out in pain; they clung to us asking for help, or begged for water.

Medical treatment and nursing care were conducted by army doctors and medics, but we were also asked to assist with nursing the wounded until treatment of the headmaster's wife was completed. We heard that the seriously burned would plead for water but then die soon after drinking it, but the medics told us "They'll die anyway, so give them the water," and so we brought them water as we were told.

The wounded died one after another. The medics, short of hands, dragged the dead bodies with fire hooks, piled them up in the school yard and burned them with heavy oil.

The headmaster's wife passed away two days later, on the evening of the eighth. On the ninth, the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, we were cremating her body at an air raid shelter in the corner of the school yard when we heard what sounded like an attack on Iwakuni. U.S. carrier-borne planes (Grumman) which may have come to attack Iwakuni suddenly emerged from the shadows of the mountains out into the sky above us, and immediately began a machine-gun strafing attack. Fortunately, none of us were injured, but it frightened us terribly.