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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Norio Gunge (male)
'Chokubaku'  2 km from the hypocenter / 16 years old at the time / current resident of Kumamoto

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
Near the end of the war, I was in the fourth year of Nagasaki Prefectural Middle School (the pre-war school system), and we students were working in eight-hour day and night shifts at Mitsubishi Arms Factory Saiwai-machi Plant, 1.5 km from the atomic bomb hypocenter, under the wartime school student mobilization order. The morning of August 9, I was at home, about 2.5km from the hypocenter, because I was on the night shift. Two minutes after 11 o'clock, I heard an astonishing, weird sound of a B-29 swooping down. I looked up at the sky through a window, but as no sign of the plane could be seen, I turned my head back toward the room. At that instant, I was blinded by an intense blue-white glaring flash, and felt intense blazing heat rays on my back. Then came a roaring sound and a violent shock wave. I was thrown and knocked down onto the floor. Utter silence followed. I found myself crushed under a fallen heavy bookshelf, bleeding at the arm and my neck lacerated with broken pieces of glass.

An enormously frightening ball of cloud grew up higher and higher behind nearby Mt. Konpira, and soon after, sticky drops of black rain began to fall upon my head. What on earth had happened? I was horrified at the dreadful circumstance, but at this point, I did not know of the atomic bomb explosion over Urakami and the terrible hell of torments there. Night came and went on into midnight, but my brother did not return home from Nagasaki Medical College located in Urakami; he was a student in the pharmacy department of the College. I spent an uneasy, blacked-out dark night, unable to get a wink of sleep. In the early morning the next day, I headed to Urakami, crossing the hill of Mt. Konpira because the city road to Urakami was engulfed in blazing flames. On the way to the hillside, I was horrified at the sight of people coming down staggering and blood-soaked. Some were severely injured in their faces and bodies, trembling, groaning and crying for water. Ikept on walking up the hillside, and the ghastly sights of the wounded people were getting worse and worse. I couldn't believe my eyes at what I saw from the hilltop. My blood was frozen. The town of Urakami, previously intact, had completely vanished. All of the buildings and streets had been reduced to ashes or what is called "the Atomic Bomb Barren Field."

I ran down in a hurry toward the blast's center. A devastating, living hell was there. More and more people were crying out, "Water, water," agonizing in pain, and some were dying. Many bodies had been burned red and their skin was peeling off. I was struck with terror. Eyeballs popped out from faces owing to the intense blast pressure; internal organs were spilling out from ruptured bellies; charred bodies were holding up both hands high as if they were trying to catch the sky. The Urakami River was covered with numerous burned and swollen corpses of people who must have frantically dived into the water to escape the approaching blazing flames and to get water.

Heaps of corpses and severely wounded people were lying down all over around the collapsed buildings of the Nagasaki Medical College Hospital. Driven to despair, I was totally out of mind. Could my brother escape death? The sight of my brother wasn't anywhere. I trudged further amid the ruins of the campus where I thought my brother's pharmacy department had been located. The wooden school buildings had been totally reduced to ashes and what caught my eye was a pile of crushed skulls and bones scattered all over. No remains of my brother could be found there, either.

The casualties counted in Nagasaki were at least 70,000 as of the end of 1945, corresponding to about one third of the population of the city at that time, and climbed to over 130,000 later. We cannot forgive and should not forget the inhumanity of the atomic bomb attack, which mercilessly killed numerous civilians, who had been enjoying living their lives with their families and friends and working full of hopes for the future. After-effects of the atomic bomb have been torturing the survivors alike with life-long physical and mental pains. While the voice for peace sounds loud everywhere in the world, war never ends and it seems to be increasing in a more aggressive fashion. The most sacrificed victims in wars are always the weak and innocent citizens, men, women and children. We should continue to tell of the tragedy in Nagasaki and Hiroshima for the future of humankind and must keep in mind the atrocity and cruelty of the atomic bomb.