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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Hiroshi Makino (male)
'Chokubaku'  5 km from the hypocenter / 17 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. Searching for My Father ? My Memories of the Atomic-bomb

August 6, 1945 -- I remember it was a hot day. As usual I left my home in Itsuka-ichi in the morning and took the train to work at the Mitsubishi Shipyard in Eba, where I had been assigned according to the Student Mobilization Order. (Eba is approximately 5km away from the hypocenter.)

I graduated high school in March 1945, and even though I was no longer a student, due to the war the government declared a stay and I was still working there, expecting to be drafted any minute. My weekly duty assignment had me in the office that day, which kept me away from the worksite. After having a meeting with my teacher, Mr. Kobayashi, I stepped out from the office into the hallway and that was when I felt an intense heat on my back. The next thing I knew the second floor of the barracks fell down on my head and I was buried under the collapsed building. Somehow I was able to get out and rushed to a nearby shelter. Everyone from the office was injured. All three sides of the office facing the blast had glass windows, and that flying glass was probably the cause of their injuries. I heard the first president of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organization (whose name now escapes me) also received damage to his eye at that time.

Looking outside there in the sky was the famous mushroom cloud, rising up higher in an ominous presence. It caused in me an alarming feeling I had never felt before, but I had absolutely no idea there was an unspeakable hell right under the mushroom cloud at that very moment. Mr. Kobayashi told me and two of my friends to go to Hiroshima and check out what was going on there, so the three of us set out to do that.

We were the only uninjured people we saw as we walked towards Hiroshima. Everyone else was heading in the other direction, with horrible looks that were beyond description. All of them were severely injured; their clothes were completely burnt, and even their skin was melted and peeling. It was as if everybody was sleepwalking, instinctively walking away from the hypocenter. Not knowing what could be done for them we three rushed forward so we could understand the situation better.

I do not have a clear memory of how exactly we got there. All I can remember is that everything I saw on our way was more horrible than anything I had ever seen or heard before. I am not sure how long it took us but we were back in the factory that afternoon and reported the situation to Mr. Kobayashi. After that I had lunch with my best friend Fukuoka. While we were eating we could still see the mushroom cloud and then we heard it start to thunder. Later I learned that was when everyone was affected by the atomic fallout, the so called "black rain".

That evening Mr. Kobayashi told everyone to go home. The students were divided up in groups based on the direction they were heading. Fukuoka and I first took a boat to Miyajima, then transferred to a train to Itsuka-ichi. (They still had electricity working there.) I think it was around 5 p.m. when I got home. My mother was very surprised to see me alive. Smiling through her grief she said "I was sure you would be dead." Her relief at seeing me alive was short lived and was soon replaced with worry about my father, and she urged me to go back to Hiroshima to check on him. Without sitting down for a break I grabbed some onigiri (rice balls) and a canteen filled with tea and rushed off to find him.

It was already dusk when I left home again. Everything was dark as there were no working street lamps around. People who were heading to Hiroshima were either soldiers or people like me who were looking for their family. The soldiers were not armed; instead they had tools such as shovels and picks in their hands. They were the quietest people walking in a line I had ever seen. People coming from the other direction looked desperate to go back home, but they were all so seriously injured that none were fully capable of walking.

This is how I started the first day of my search. By the time I arrived in Koi it was already night and I was in complete darkness. (Itsuka-ichi and Koi are approximately 12km apart.) There was no way I could find my father in this darkness, but I wanted to keep going forward as much as possible. Soon I came to the Ota River only to find its bridge collapsed. There used to be an iron bridge over the river and the train I took to school ran over that bridge, but those were all gone now. It was extremely hard to find another route in the darkness. I tried to look around to see if there were other bridges or any other way to cross the river, but it was too dark and all other bridges were also gone. It even looked like the water level was unusually high. I seemed to have no other option but to go home and wait for sunrise, and so I did.

That first day was certainly hard for me. Everything I saw was absolutely terrible. What I did not know however was the horrors I had been able to see were so little and there was a lot more concealed by the darkness. I was speechless when I saw everything in the sunlight the next day. It was hell. Dead people were everywhere. It became worse and worse as it got closer to the hypocenter. For example I saw a train sitting wrecked in the middle of the Aioi Bridge. The cars on the end away from the blast were still somewhat recognizable as a train, but the one at the other end had nothing left except the wheels, with pieces of skeletal remains here and there. The car right next to that still had some of its frame left, but there were also white bones in it. The cars after those were more intact, and in each were piles of human bones.