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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Tomiko Kamioka (female)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 27 years old at the time / current resident of Tokyo

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were victims of the atomic bomb, experiencing the horror first hand. It was the worst part of my life at that time, having lost my house and my relatives. Currently I live with my daughter who was two years old at that time. She has complete hearing loss in both ears and I hope she is not a burden on anyone.

I lived in Higashi-Ebisumachi, close to the place where the atomic bomb was dropped. Two months before, I had been evacuated to a site near Itsukaichi, but my father and my brother remained in Higashi Ebisu-machi. I visited Higashi-Ebisumachi to see them with my mother and my daughter. The day before the atomic bomb was dropped, we took the last train back to the evacuation site.

The next morning around eight, the air raid siren went off, and before long I saw a B-29 circling over the city of Hiroshima. I put my child into the closet and covered her with a futon. I kept looking into the sky when there was a very loud boom and a mushroom cloud billowed up into the sky. At first, I thought the gas company had been bombed. Meanwhile, a black rain started to fall, and the corridors of my house had turned to white. Soon after, people who were exposed to the atomic bomb came, one after another, to a nearby elementary school hall to take refuge but most everyone's clothes were in tatters and their bodies covered in burns.

Among those people, I found my relative and his daughter. His legs were injured so he tried cooling them in the nearby river to ease the pain. This caused his wounds to become infected and he got tetanus. A military surgeon said that his legs would have to be amputated, however that evening he passed away. His daughter was mostly unconscious and when I tried to comb out her hair, I was horrified when it fell out entirely. As one could expect, she passed away that evening like her father, and they were cremated on the school grounds.

What I can never forget to this day was when I saw a young woman whose clothes were mostly burned off, leaving her naked. Her entire body was covered in pieces of glass that had pierced her in the bomb blast. She was mostly unconscious, and she seemed unable to feel any pain. The military surgeon pulled out the glass piece by piece, and he put some yellow iodoform gauze onto the wounds. I couldn' t bear the sight, so I put a blouse over her. She was completely expressionless.

My father was found dead in our home, burned to the bones. My brother must have been sleeping, exhausted from his labor service demolishing buildings and houses the previous day. Our house in flames, my brother dove through the fire, going to the Fukuya Department Store where someone saw him pouring water out of a fire cistern over himself. My mother visited the suburbs of the city to see that person and find out what my brother's end was like. The person told my mother that my brother had been burned all over his body and the skin had been hanging down, so it had been impossible to recognize him at first. That person also passed away later. My brother's bones were not found, so we buried soil taken from the place where my brother was said to have died.

There was a young man who visited our evacuation site. I was shocked to see that he had a piece of wood sticking out of the middle of his face. We didn' t have any hospitals at that time. I got him on a two-wheel cart and took him to the military hospital in Ono to have a military doctor look at him. Afterwards, I never heard whether he was all right or not. One time, when I was on a dark country road on the way home from my labor service, there were several times that I saw balls of fire. I'm not sure, but I was told that those balls were from the burning phosphorus of human bodies.

I have heard that about three thousand people were killed by the terrorism in New York. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, about two hundred thousand people were killed. There are still many people who are hospitalized and suffering. My family lost our relatives. We lost our house. We suffered terrible hardships after the war. Even so, I am unable to fully express the terror of the atomic bomb. All I can do for world peace is fervently pray for the abolition of atomic weapons. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were sacrificed for it.