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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Hajime Ikeda (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 17 years old at the time / current resident of Hiroshima

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. It was August 6, and at five in the morning, before the sun had even risen, some people had gone to the Hiroshima area from the Eleventh Naval Air Arsenal Arms Division Kaita Factory. I'd returned to my dormitory with a few others and gone to sleep, but around 8:15 in the morning there was an intense flash of light, and in a violent blast the room turned black. I went outside and saw that the window lattices had been blown off, then I heard another sharp explosion from the direction of Hiroshima and saw a mushroom cloud rising into the sky. To see what had happened, a close friend and I started walking toward the west of where present-day Toyo Manufacturing is, but we found so many severely burned and bleeding victims that we couldn't go any farther. I think it was the Maruna Hospital in Kaita to which we carried one seriously injured person on a stretcher. We helped pile up and move corpses on a horse wagon until around five in the evening. I was so exhausted from the heat and the stench of burns that I couldn't eat that evening's meal. The clothes I wore that day stank too much to wear again. It was such a terrible experience that even today I don't want to remember it.

When I went to the Arms Division for work on August 7, I realized that many coworkers who had gone into Hiroshima the day before had not come back. These were the men who had struggled and persevered with me until yesterday. A military officer ordered us to search for our coworkers, so about fifteen of us loaded up and made our way toward Hiroshima on a military truck. From Yaga-machi we went on foot, passing through the area north of Hiroshima Station, crossing the Tokiwa Bridge, then walking from the stop at Hakushima to 8-chome, the Industrial Promotion Hall, and the Aioi Bridge. The scene was appalling. Countless charred corpses lay on top of one another on the road and along the river. The awful stench of smoldering corpses was drifting from underneath collapsed rubble. Naked corpses were piled in water channels normally used for preventing fires.

We pushed our way through the corpses to search for fellow soldiers but couldn't find anyone. I saw that a young, foreign soldier had been killed near the Atomic Bomb Dome. He was wearing a short sleeve shirt and short trousers. He had been killed with his hands bound behind him with wire to an iron street lamp. Even now, the image of the atrocity is still burned into my mind. I cannot forget.

For fifty years, I have been hoping for peace. Recalling those days, I pray for the souls of everyone affected by the atomic bomb, my fellow workers who persevered until the end, and the young American soldier. Recalling those days, I press my hands together in prayer.

In May of last year (2009) I was diagnosed with gastric cancer and had my entire stomach removed. I also had my spleen removed. Following these major surgeries, I am under constant medical care as I continue to struggle with the effects of my cancer medications.