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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Etsuko Yamauchi (female)
'Chokubaku'  2.5 km from the hypocenter / 16 years old at the time / current resident of Niigata

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. 1. The atomic bomb exploded when I was on the narrow wooden passageway facing the garden. I was dazzled by a bright light and ghastly heat. Carrying my one-year-old brother under my arm, I frantically rushed across the room to the kitchen below. It took about three seconds. The moment I kicked the entrance door open, the blast from the A-bomb explosion threw me back into the closet where we kept the tableware. The room had a space of about 80 cm between the shelves and there my mother, brother and I lay on the floor as flat as possible, but due to the massive blast, we were unable to breathe. We were squatting with our heads between our knees and the gust of wind that blew against the nape of my neck was so strong that it undid my braids. Sixty years later the sensation is still fresh.

The terrible blast was followed by an eerie silence and when, trembling with fear, I opened my eyes, I found that the wall in front of us was gone, the ceiling was gone, the pillars had snapped, the tatami mats were standing upright, the furniture and the chests of drawers were scattered about and of the papered sliding doors and the partitioning sliding doors only the wooden frames were left. Bits of glass were stuck everywhere as if everything had been sprayed with glass that was sparkling in the midsummer sun. It is a spectacle that is branded on my memory. If I had been sitting outside, enjoying the morning sun, I was sure to have had keloid scars on my face, shoulders and arms. Moreover, fortunately, the ceiling boards, which had fallen down, were hanging over two cupboards, and protected me from dangerous objects such as falling roof tiles. The rice fields in front of our house were burned to a brown color.

2. A thick stream of jet black people came from the city center. A stream of people, with their hair solidified into chunks, flaps of skin hanging down and moving like sleep walkers, came walking on the roads of the brown rice fields. Among them, was a boy of about 14 years old, with burns on his head, face, neck and hands. His face was swollen with parts of the skin drooping and fluid was oozing from his face. Only his puttees were intact. He made his way to our house with his last ounce of energy and when he finally reached us, he collapsed from exhaustion and begged for water, saying "Water, give me water, please". I was gasping for breath and breathing heavily as I helped him drink water that had kept ready in the kettle. After a tiny movement of his throat, the water flowed out of the corners of his mouth. Then he heaved a deep sigh and died with the word "Mother" on his lips. Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I am writing these words.

My father worked at what is now the A-bomb Dome. He worked on the second or third floor of the Hiroshima Industrial Promotion Hall, at the time called Chugoku-Shikoku Regional Engineering Branch, now The Chugoku Regional Development Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. He was engaged in the demolition of buildings and houses and was in the Motomachi area (I am not quite sure about where exactly). I was a fourth grade student at the Hiroshima Daiichi Girls' School and was mobilized to work in a factory where we made detonators and fuses. Fortunately, I was free on the 6th of August due to a power break. As for my father, the back of his head, neck and back were burned to pus; his flesh was gouged out and gone. In the late afternoon he arrived home in Ushida after a detour through the Koi area. Where he was burned, he was completely covered in a thick layer of pus, he had a high fever and something that looked like bloody pus came out of his mouth. His hair as well as his eyebrows had fallen out, he suffered from diarrhea and he was delirious with fever. He talked wildly in his delirium: "The American army is coming. The American army is coming. You have to go to Takaoka." Takaoka is my mother's hometown. My father lived on in this state until the 19th. We were able to get cardio tonic and glucose ampules from the army and a doctor who had evacuated to our neighborhood gave him injections.

Because we did not get the information of the capitulation on the 15th through the news service network, we did not know anything about it. When we took the corpse of our dead father to Ushida Park to be cremated, we saw that there were partially cremated and carbonized bodies everywhere. We removed the bodies and then we dug a hole and cremated my father with debris from our badly damaged house. I could not bear to see my father enveloped in the roaring flames. I will never be able to forget this, as long as I live.

3. War is evil. We must not kill each other. War robs human beings of their humanity. Nothing good can come of war. War only brings about sorrow. No more nuclear weapons!