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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Toshifumi Ohashi (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 22 years old at the time / current resident of Kanagawa
9092

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. At the time, I was an engineer officer working in the steel department at Kure Naval Arsenal, and was making every effort to repair the damage done by the B-29 bombing raids back in June 1945. Since the Hikari Naval Arsenal in Yamaguchi had started operation, some workers were being dispatched there from Kure. On the day the A-bomb was dropped, I was supposed to pass around Hiroshima Station in my truck at around eight in the morning, driving workers who had commuted from Hiroshima back home, and check on the safety of the dispatched workers form Kure. There was no way I could have guessed the reason for the explosion in Hiroshima. As I came near the city, I was wondering why there were so few people fleeing the area.

It wasn't until some survivors in the vicinity of Hiroshima Station said something about an American plane, a bomb with a big parachute, and an unimaginably large explosion, that I understood. I couldn't tell anything about the situation in the center of Hiroshima. The fire were still spreading. It was just then that my gaze settled on the crumbling building of Hiroshima Station.

At the station, I saw no trains, only railroad tracks littered with bodies. To my horror, a host of civilians and soldiers were moaning and struggling helplessly. As I wandered around the station, I came across some wooden barracks on the East Drill grounds. What I saw there was beyond words. Despite the prevalence of doctors and rescue workers from Navy hospitals, there was nothing they could do.

I heard that the Army Marine Regiment Headquarters Akatsuki Corps in Ujina, relatively far from the hypocenter, had survived. Though I had no clue as to the safety of the dispatched workers, I got on a military truck headed back to Kure that evening. Near Kaitaichi, an army sergeant asked for a ride in the truck. He had been ordered to walk back to wherever he could catch a train to report to the Tokyo outfit, since army troops had no means of communication. According to him, the West Unit of General Army Headquarters had been annihilated, although the marshal Mr. Shunroku Hata had survived. The sergeant got out of the truck at Kure Station.

At the end of the day I returned to the arsenal; I reported to Colonel Takebayashi, manager of the steelmaking department in Kure. With such unimaginable damage, the only likely explanation was that the Americans had dropped some type of nuclear weapon.

Later that evening, I suffered from violent diarrhea, and was unable to sit upright. In my sickbed, I found out that the war had ended by hearing on the radio broadcast the announcement of the acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration.

The images of people burning while trying to escape the destroyed buildings and people writhing in agony made me realize the true cruelty of war. As in wartime, I was not afraid of death itself, but the way people died terrified me. I would never want to die in such a way as the people who died in Hiroshima.

The horrors of radiation that I and the people around me have experienced made me realize that I never want there to be any war again. The after-effects of the radiation have lingered with me for decades and have manifested themselves in illnesses resulting in a series of throat cancer operations. Due to my own struggles, and observing those of the people around me, I've drawn the conclusion that war can never be acceptable.
I heard that dispatched workers I had originally set out to meet had survived. They said they had run through the endless fires along the railway tracks and finally reached Hikari City, in Yamaguchi Prefecture, during the night. Only one had perished -- having luckily survived the atomic bomb, he was unfortunately killed in an air raid in Hikari just before the war ended, which fills me with remorse.

Thinking back further, I remember seeing a few severely injured men near a refuge in the city. They were helping and encouraging each other, walking and singing marching songs declaring they wouldn't let America win. These images bring tears to my eyes and I'm deeply moved by the attitude and strength shown by these people in such desperate times.
(2005)