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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Setsuko Ogawa (male)
'Chokubaku'  1.5 km from the hypocenter / 15 years old at the time / current resident of Kanagawa

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. Now that 60 years have passed since the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, I feel sad to find people's memories of the A-bombing in Hiroshima fading away. I have continued speaking out about the horrible experience of the A-bomb because I want to carry out my duty as an A-bomb witness. For 55 years, I have also written tanka (31-syllabled verses) expressing my experiences of the A-bomb. I believe such activities are my duty as a survivor.

Eyewitness accounts in Vancouver
I was fifteen years old when the A-bomb was dropped. Since that time 56 years ago, I have lived a hard life. In the past, I have had several opportunities to visit Vancouver; however, because I had painful knees and was worried about traveling, I missed those opportunities. I felt a sense of unease this year too, but I was firmly determined to come here because I earnestly want to convey the terror of nuclear bombing to all of you.

Students at girls' high schools had to work in factories during the war
In 1945, nine years after the war had begun, we suffered from a severe shortage of food and clothes and we were always starving. Since men were drafted into the army, female students had to leave school and were mobilized to work at munitions factories every day with no days off. I grew up in the suburbs of Hiroshima City and lived in a boarding house of a girls' high school, but I commuted from the boarding house to a munitions factory, not to the school.

Exposed to the A-bomb in Hiroshima
At 8:15 in the morning of August 6 in 1945, we, students of Yamanaka Girls'High School, were working to manufacture engines in an aircraft factory that was located at a distance of 1.5 kilometers [0.9 mile] from what was to be the hypocenter of the A-bomb.

When we started working at a plating workbench, I saw a flash of light. At that moment, my friend next to me and I looked at each other, and everything went dark with a thundering roar. I watched as the roof and windows were blown off toward us, making a horrible sound. I was able to make a quick move and took cover under the workbench, because growing up in the countryside, I had quick reflexes. After a few minutes, it became quiet. I stood up and saw the blue sky overhead.

Some of my classmates who were not able to take cover under the workbench were injured by flying pieces of glass and wood, and they bled heavily from their heads or shoulders. Fortunately, I wasn' t hurt.

"I hurt all over my body, Mommy!" a girl in a lower grade complained to her mother about her pain. So I provided her with first aid. By a twist of fate, a friend of mine who sat near the window with a thick blackout curtain wasn' t injured. There were different degrees of injuries caused by A-bomb exposure among those who were indoors. Those who were outside at that time were burned by light and heat rays. We had no knowledge about A-bombs at that time, and just called the A-bomb Pika-Don (meaning "tremendous flash and sound").