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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Taeko Nakagawa (female)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 23 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. I had been into Hiroshima to search for my older brother. Not far from Yokogawa-cho, I was told by a volunteer in the civil defense unit to turn around and go home. I had no choice but to do as he said.

At the time of the A-bomb explosion, I was working at a munitions factory in Kabe, when about 40 severely injured bomb victims were brought into the big hall of the factory. I worked between the hall and an open space at the back of the police station, carrying survivors, one by one, on carts and wooden doors. They were all beyond medical treatment. Five or six tents were set up in the space, and the naked, mud-colored survivors were laid out closely on straw matting. Their bodies were covered in mercurochrome and lime, which had been scattered on their feces, and I could hear moans of pain coming from every direction. The whole area was filled with the stench of decomposing corpses.

One man had difficulty urinating, and I went to the Town Hall to collect a request form for a catheter. When I was in the Town Hall, I noticed wooden boxes, piled up near the edge of the counter. Dirty triangular pieces of cloth, of about 3 cm, were attached to the corner of the lid of each box. They contained human ashes. I think there were more than 50 boxes. The janitor said to me, "The people who are in tents clutching their chests will die soon." He added, "Today, 40 bodies were burned on the bank of the Ohta river … the largest number to date." I remember one of the girls, a student who had been mobilized, had broken her shoulder. The clerk and I tore our yukatas (Japanese summer cotton kimonos) in half and tied them together to make a bandage for her.

Several days ago, I met her again after 60 years. I wasn't able to say anything for a while, recalling what we had experienced a long time ago. Her shoulder had dropped by about 1 cm. We still exchange letters with each other.
In 1939 or 1940, I was in Manchuria. On the train from Harbin to Anda, someone said, "Please pull down the blind on the right side window … because there is a severed head strung up on the electric wire … Ma Chan-shan is nearby." The city was enclosed by castle walls, and in order to get in and out of the castle, a password was needed. The policeman next to me was killed because he was drunk and wasn't able to give a reply straight away. If the rebels announced that they would burn down the Town Hall on a certain day, there was no doubt that they would do it. Following my return to the Japanese homeland in 1942, I was drafted and posted to Kabe. About a month before the end of the war, I enlisted in the special Kamikaze attack reinforcement unit, but I wasn't involved in any operations because the war ended. If those hateful US soldiers had landed at Tosagata, I would have fought them with a bamboo spear.

Even though I'm over 80 now, I still clearly remember how my life was at risk during that period, and I have become increasingly reluctant to talk about it.

I didn't try to obtain an A-bomb Survivor Certificate until my daughter got married, because survivors had been abhorred as if they had inherited faulty genes.

I believe President Obama is sure to give an apology.
"Enormous numbers of innocent people lost their lives, their homes, everything. We ask you for an apology for all those who died; just once would be enough, as the representative of the U.S."
We who have survived, and have been getting older, still feel the pain and the unbearable sadness.