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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Saeko Nishina (female)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 15 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. Following the terrible air raids on Tokyo at the end of April 1945, my family evacuated to Hiroshima leaving my father behind. The train was so crowded that we had to stand half the time. At Osaka or Kobe, we got off the train and took refuge in a tunnel. On the second day, we arrived in Hiroshima.

As a mobilized student, I was sent to the south side of Miyajima Island, by train, boat, and a thirty-minute walk, to work in a forest packing artillery shells. Suddenly, a blue flash that made my head spin was followed by a tremendous sound. "Pachin!" People call the sound Pikadon, but it was not a thud but rather like the sky bursting open. Some soldiers who didn't understand what it was suggested it might have been an aerial torpedo. On my way home that evening, I met injured people walking to Miyajima Island and saw horses and human beings floating in the sea. Since my mother wasn't in good health, my sister and I went alone to check on our grandmother and aunt in Takasu.

Their house had been partially destroyed, but our grandmother had been protected by a wall and was uninjured. Our aunt had been in Tenma-cho, having been sent by the neighborhood association which required one person per household to work demolishing houses to help control fires caused by air raids. After the bombing she managed to get home on foot and went to sleep. Later we heard the palms of her hands were swollen like rice cakes and that she had been worried how her face must look, but when Grandmother went to check on her that night, she was already dead. Unable to notify our uncle who was working in Tokyo or their only daughter, a schoolgirl evacuated to the countryside, we put my aunt in a drawer from the wardrobe and, with the help of our neighbors, loaded her onto a two-wheeled cart and took her to the mountain and cremated her there with others from the neighborhood.

My sister and I went to check on our cousins in Inari-cho. We walked along the railroad tracks and over an iron bridge to get there but we found no trace of their house. We found them at another relative's house. One of them had a piece of wood embedded in her shin, too deeply for us girls to pull out.

When I think about it now, I have no memory whatsoever of how we two middle school girls were able to do all this, how far it was or how long it took to get to our grandmother's, whether we packed lunches or water bottles, or even what we did for toilets. I am impressed by our mother's decision to send us despite these questions. Three or four months later, we returned to Tokyo and were reunited with our father.

I really lived through these terrible experiences. Innocent people of future generations must absolutely never have to face such a hellish experience.