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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Mitsuko Yoshimura (female)
'Chokubaku'  1.1 km from the hypocenter / current resident of Nagasaki

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
I will never forget the shocking scenes that occurred after the atomic bomb was dropped at 11:02 AM, August 9, 1945. I was 22 years old and was working in the pay department of the Ohashi Plant of Nagasaki Mitsubishi Arms Factory.

None of us had known that an atomic bomb had already been dropped on Hiroshima. There was a moment of relief when the air raid siren stopped, and then suddenly a flash, followed by a tremendous boom, and then a terrible blast slamming into me, broken glass swirling around everywhere like pieces of ice in a snow storm. I reflexively ducked under the desk. I cannot remember how I was pulled out from there but the next thing I knew I was running.

From the direction of the factory, people covered in blood were running to the back gate which looks onto the Urakami River (Ohashi Bridge), seeking the water as they dragged their peeled skins of their bodies as if they were rags. A number of them fell, one after another, on the way, and others died at the water's edge. The shallow waterbed in the midsummer heat was stained red with their blood before my eyes. I saw houses burning as far as I could see, a sea of flames surrounding me from all sides. For three days I searched for my relatives, but since their houses had been close to the hypocenter, there was not a trace of the houses left and I wasn't able to find any of my relatives. I returned to the Ohashi Plant once more and burst into tears when I saw Mr. Shimada, the head of the labor division, as he said over and over to me how glad he was to see me.

Only the main building, made of concrete, survived the bomb. Inside, it was packed with casualties, leaving not even a space to take a step, even though everything else had been blown away by the blast. A young girl kept crying day and night, pleading to die and to have someone end her life, in pain from her burns. Her eyes, nose, and mouth were melted shut from the burns so that she seemed to breathe her last through her ears. She finally died. There was a young man who died, firmly holding my hand and completely unable to speak, with tears running down his face. I cannot forget the coldness of his hand. There was a schoolgirl who could not move because of her burns, embarrassed that she had to pee into the basin I held out for her, and I told her that it was okay and that we would get through this. I actually had no idea what was going to happen. Day after day we were lining up the dead in an open yard and cremating them, with hundreds of people's bones carried in buckets and stacked on top of each other. Black blood and pus came out from the bloated sores, with big maggots crawling everywhere. Someone ordered the maggots to be taken away and disposed, but then someone replied that the maggots could eat off the pus and bacteria. Every way I looked, it was hell.

We can never let this happen again. It doesn't matter whether war is won or lost: war leaves a toll on both the minds and bodies of those who survive which they carry with them for the rest of their lives. I want to tell the next generation that war must be avoided at all costs. I cannot write well because my eyesight is getting dim. Please forgive any mistakes I have made. (I wasn't able to even write a fraction of what I wanted to say.)