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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Kimi Fukui (female)
'Kyugo hibaku'  / 22 years old at the time / current resident of Fukuoka

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
I was in Dejima, 3.2 km away from the Nagasaki hypocenter, when the atomic bomb fell. I was 22 years old, in the prime of my youth. There is no point in lamenting the fact that I was so young in wartime. Nevertheless, I cannot help but think that it was a terrible fate to suffer. In April 1945 I entered the prefectural training school for nurses and was due to study there until September. However, my dream was cruelly shattered by the bomb on August 9.

I was posted to a first-aid station at Shinkzen National Elementary School. It was crowded with people whose hair had fallen out and those who were barely able to walk because their bodies were severely burned. It was pitiful to see them. Straw mats were laid from wall to wall on all the classroom floors and in all the corridors, with seriously injured people lying on them. Some of them were gasping for breath, some groaned and others cried out with agonized looks on their faces. A man who had been burned from his shoulder to his lower back had maggots wriggling on the burnt flesh. When I came close to him, I could smell the stench. It was such a horrendous scene that I, who was supposed to be accustomed to looking at such sights, wanted to cover my eyes.

Whilst helping the victims, I heard the word pika-don (literally flash and bang) coming from all around me. I do not know who coined it, but it referred to the atomic bomb. The word stood out from their murmurings, which sounded like little waves breaking. It beat on my eardrums and in my heart like a curse.

The American soldiers arrived by warship. Some of them came to carry out autopsies on the bomb victims. They could see how the people were burned by the radiation, but they probably also wanted to see the effects on the internal organs. How could they dissect the bodies of a large number of people who had been killed in such an inhumane way? I felt so sorry for the victims. I heard later that those who had carried out the autopsies were members of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey.

A few days later I was allowed to go back to my parent's home in Shimabara. However, a week after that I was ordered by the prefectural authority to return to the aid work. My father, who was bedridden, repeatedly asked me not to go, but I was not in the position to do what I wanted to do. On August 30 I received a telegram that said "Father died". I guessed that my father had anticipated this, which was why he had not wanted me to go. I returned for his funeral, and went back to the aid station after his Seventh-day Memorial Service. I could not stop feeling guilty that I was not with my father during his last moments. I still feel the same way today.