JAPANESE

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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Kizuku Kuramoto (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 17 years old at the time / current resident of Tokyo
1081

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. The Atomic-bomb (Excerpt from"The Way to Geriatrics")

I entered Hiroshima High School in April (when the school year starts in Japan) 1945. (High schools under the old educational system were much higher institutions than those we have today, more akin to cultural studies courses in today's universities.) I had looked forward to studying there, but three months had passed without any classes being held. We weren't even told where to go to work as mobilized students.

During that period of time, however, I had a little happy time learning German from a German missionary at a church in Hiroshima. At my high school, I belonged to the Science B Course, where most students went on to major in medical science, and thus I needed to learn German, the medical language. Studying English, the language of our enemies, was out of the question. They were rudimentary lessons, starting with"Das ist ein Bleistift" (This is a pencil.). I spent a pleasant time there, together with my friends who were from the same junior high school. The lessons outside of school gave us a feeling that we had become full-fledged men, which was another reason we enjoyed them.

Finally in July, all freshmen were ordered to work for Japan Steel Works, located near Mukainada Station, the first eastbound railroad stop from Hiroshima Station. We were housed in the firm's dormitories. On July 25, I headed to Mukainada, with my school cap on and my futon on my shoulder. The futon might not have been a good match for the cap with its white lines around it, the proud symbol of our school. We were supposed to study too, and there was a class schedule for sure, but I don't remember at all what I studied. All I remember is that every night we would loudly sing our dormitory song to cement our bonds of friendship, as was the tradition of those days. The friendship we would build might play very important roles throughout our lives. We freshmen were impressed with the head of the dormitory, a senior who spoke to us about what we considered were deep thoughts.

On August 6, a no-electricity day for Japan Steel Works, we had a day off. Many students went home for the day. However, at Dormitory 3 we were having an initiation ceremony. The other freshmen and I pledged our allegiance for esprit de corps, and then wrote our signatures in the forms. Second-year students in charge of managing the dormitory were interviewing us in the conference room. Curtains of alternate stripes of red and white were hung on the walls and windows of the room to mark that happy occasion. I was answering a question. It was 8:15. Suddenly, I saw a flash of bright light as if a camera's flash had popped right before my nose. Seconds later, all the windows were blown out. Without the curtains, the shattered glass would have mangled us for sure. We rushed out, suspecting there might have been an explosion nearby. Strangely enough, there was neither fire nor smoke to be seen.

We were in the dark about the situation for an hour. Our worst fears were surpassed when we saw hordes of people, nearly naked, trudging from Hiroshima, with burns all over, their skin ripped and dangled about. Soon the auditorium next to our dormitory became a temporary relief camp, with straw mats spread on the floor. It filled rapidly. Because there weren't enough doctors and nurses, I applied zinc oxide to the wounds of victims, following the instructions of the medical staff. Despite our attempts to find out what had occurred, the victims were all silent, devoid of energy to utter a word. No one could tell us what had happened. There was no way of knowing that day that Hiroshima had been struck by the atomic bomb.

I didn't know it at that time, but my two younger sisters, Kaori and Mario, had been exposed to the bomb near the hypocenter and were fleeing to the east.

That night an air raid warning was sounded, and I fled to the hill behind the dormitory with my roommates.