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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Kimie Kawasaki (female)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 19 years old at the time / current resident of Hiroshima
3388

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. What I can never forget.

Hibakusha - I wanted to hospitalize them and give them medical treatment, but I had no medicine, nor any other means to help. Their wounds were infested with maggots. I was a nurse in the making, and even though I wasn't qualified to help those who were alive, I would have liked to give them some treatment, but I could do nothing to help. From among the groaning, I heard the words, "Help me, nurse!" I was afraid, but feeling a sense of mission I went to the person after a while only to find him dead. This was what I experienced almost every day at that time, and I can never forget these things as long as I live.

I survived these painful days. Although I'm writing this now in 2005, the reality was too wretched to describe in detail either in writing or in speech.

At that time I was a student nurse receiving training at Hiroshima Military Hospital in Motomachi, Hiroshima. I was away from the hospital for a while in order to accompany some patients who were being moved for safety. On August 6, 1945, I was ordered to return immediately to the hospital to receive and tend to the A-bomb survivors. I came back to Hiroshima intending to go to the hospital. There I found so many buildings broken and burning. There were no buildings in the direction of Motomachi, nor could I find the hospital. While looking for the hospital, I lost sight of my companion, who had become a nurse at the same time with me, and I couldn't find her. It was getting dark. I felt helpless, hungry, and uneasy. I wondered what I should do, but my body cowered and didn't move. I was utterly helpless…… I don't remember how many hours I had been like that. When it was getting light, I looked around. I saw many, many bodies lying on top of one another and heard groaning…… The scene was really beyond description.

I knew that I had to go back to the hospital as ordered. Since I didn't know which way to go, I walked around trying to find the right direction. Finally, I managed to arrive at the Drill Grounds, where I saw my colleagues and our boss who was injured. Tears gushed from my eyes and I couldn't speak a word. We shared the little bit of food there was…… pickled ume (plum) that had been kept in the basement of the hospital. We hardly talked to each other so that we could immediately start to help the people who were injured by radiation…… We were to bring the survivors to the site in Ujina where the Daiwa Jinken rayon plant used to be, and to dispose of those who were already dead.

When I saw a person whose skin was badly burned the epidermis was burned and peeled off, I was at a loss to find the part of the body I should hold.

When we laid patients on the half-broken floor, we found that the open wounds of the patients were infested with maggots. Since we did not have medicine or anything necessary, we treated them as best as we could. Some of my colleagues were exposed to radiation and passed away. I myself had an attack of fever for about a month and lost some of my hair. But I couldn't take a holiday and had to tend to the injured every day. After the middle of December, many of the patients who survived the exposure to radiation were assembled in Otake Naval Hospital and treated there. I worked in that hospital for about a month and then was transferred to Hiroshima National Hospital.

Although I have not written all that I experienced and many things cross my mind, it is difficult to express them in words. So I have to stop here.

At the beautiful age like a flower -- eighteen, I worked this way in a military uniform.

The message I want to convey to the next generation!

Never forget that you owe your happy life today …… to the previous generations who have built up what we have today.

And value and take good care of your life.

The state of my health today
I have high blood pressure. It is difficult to walk with artificial joints on both knees, so I need a cane to walk. I am getting medical treatment. In the past Showa 45[1970], I also had an operation to remove the uterus and the ovary together. My eyes suffer from cataracts. I cannot hear well. Nevertheless I lead a life of my own day by day. I am supported by many people.

What I desire today
Since I lived and worked with those who were directly exposed to radiation, I also applied as did the survivors who were directly exposed, in the year before last. Two years have passed but I haven't received an answer. I hope I can get an answer about compensation as soon as possible.
(2010)