For the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

Extract from "The Witness of Those Two Days"

The statements of the Hibakusha recorded in this book are in response to the following questions.

Question 4: Do you have anything unforgettable, terrifying or regrettable in your memory about your experiences on the day when the atomic-bomb was dropped and immediately after? If you have, what is it? Please describe what happened, what were the circumstances and what you left, in keeping with following guidelines:
Guidelines:

a: How people died or were dying. What the victims suffered.

b: What you felt in witnessing it.

c: If you could not do anything for those crying for help or water, what regrets do you feel?

Hiroshima;

   1.5 km(distance from the hypo-center), Male, Age 9

My elder sister, 21 years old at that time, was trapped under the collapsed house. She was asking for help from under the house, "Please move this pillar so I can get out. My legs are trapped. Give me a saw." But it was impossible to find a saw under such circumstances. My mother who was trapped under the rubble nearby, crawled out when she heard my voice. Her knees were deeply injured. My other sister, 15 years old at that time, picked up a broken tile and scooped up dirty water from a fire prevention tank. By the time I gave it to my mother, most of the water had spilled out.

I felt how helpless man could be. Pulling me by the hand, my mother ran away, leaving her two daughters to die. She said to me, "If I hadn't had you, I wouldn't have left your sisters and would have died with them."

   1.5 km, Female, 8 years old

The most horrifying thing I can remember about the incident is how I escaped from the city by walking over many dead bodies. There were people with severe burns or people grabbing my legs asking for water, and I escaped by deserting these people just because I wanted to live. I ran away from those people who were held under some objects and were asking for my assistance but I deserted them without giving even a lift to help them out. My life has been miserable since then. I have been ill and unable to succeed in anything I try. Then I feel, it is all because of my selfishness for not having helped people or of the bad deeds I did when I was trying to run away trampling on the bodies.

   2 km, Female, Age 15

Several hours after the blast there was thunder and black rain. The black rain fell like an evening shower. The river swelled and thunder was heard like blasts. We were afraid that another raid from the enemy would come, and we ran about to take shelter under trees. I was still a child, and frightened very much.

We stayed one night in a bamboo grove. Many came there to take refuge. All of them vomited.

Even those who seemed to be only slightly injured or burned died one after another within a few days, which made me wonder.

They all wanted to drink water. But as it was said that water would kill the injured, I could not give them any water, which pitiless to me. I was sad very much. When I found them dead, I regretted that I should have given them some water however bitterly I would have been scolded. I cannot forget the regret I felt at the time though I was still very young then.

   1.5 km, Female, Age 17

My family lived on an island in the Inland Sea and only I came to Hiroshima when I was 16 years old.

Just after the bombing, I crossed a burning bridge to run away. It fell down as soon as I crossed it. For a few minutes later (I don't know exactly), at Inari-machi I saw a mother with a child in her arms crying on the roof of a burning house. "I'll throw this baby. Please catch it!" I cried to her. "The baby will die. Come down with the baby." But as the fire came, I could not help her and ran away …. I am sure that the mother and the baby died. When I remember that, I always feel miserable. When I think of it, it sticks so sharply in my memory like a bur that I cannot bear anymore. The moans and the groans, mingled with the cries, remain in my mind even now.

I worked in a hospital and was a member of a relief party. I was wearing some monpe(Japanese-style women's pantaloons), jackets and so on but the girls running away were no better than naked. I took off my clothes little by little and gave them to some of them. I was crying, doing this.

cf. On August 5 I went to see a movie with three of my friends. When we returned to the hospital, the director cried in anger, "From the 5th day to the 6th, Hiroshima will suffer water or fire torture. Where have you been in such an emergency?"

As we had been told to prepare our clothes, we were ready to put them on one over another on to the 6th morning. The director said that he had heard about that from a military policeman.

   1.0 km, Male, Age 19

At that time, I was summoned for two days to engage in clearing an area that day, having been exempted from military service on the ground that I was a student in the science and engineering faculty of a university. It was the first day and we were at Zakoba-cho, back of the City Hall, taking away debris after the soldiers pulled down the houses.

I was directly exposed to the flash of light of the A-bomb at 8:15 a.m. All at once it turned dark all around and the shining sun looked like a moon. I thought I had gone blind. Some time later, moans were heard here and there when the sun was getting yellower and yellower. Fortunately I didn't die. Of about 90 students of two classes who had been working with me there, only four or five lived on. Soon fire started in several places and crying for help came from inside the destroyed houses. I tried hard with four or five colleagues to rescue the people from the burning houses, until a soldier told us to quit the place at once and to the airport in Yoshijima. We went there by way of Takano Bridge and Sumiyoshi Bridge and stayed in the air-raid shelter till it got dark. As the fire was still spreading further and wider, I walked on Danbara. I didn't know where I was walking. I walked on and on drinking water at the hydrants on the way. I crossed Mt. Hijiyama and at last got home. Luckily my house, which stood at the foot of a mountain, remained unburnt, though it was leaning. I felt relieved and sank to my knees. Mother was shocked to find me burnt and covered with blood, but warmly took care of me.

   1.0 km, Male, Age 21

I tried to save people crying for help, being crushed under the fallen building of a training squad, but I was able to save only a few of them because of my burned hands, falling sparks and my whole body in pain. In no more than five minutes fire came up nearer toward me in a semi-circle. Fire, smoke and terrible wind. I left there and stood breast-deep in the water of a castle moat to escape danger.

It's painful to remember people burnt, though still alive, to death.

I believe it was August 8 (1945), when a rescue team got to the square to set up large tents and I was taken there. There were people burned worse than me, a man with broken glass stuck in his eyes, a person unable to see anything with his eyes wide open, and others going mad, crying out something strange with the flash, and tightening and extreme terror. That was hell itself.

   2.0 km, Male, Age 21

Wishing peace…

On August 6th 1945, …too horrible a day for me to recall…, about nine o'clock in the morning a flash ran and I couldn't see because of sand andsmoke covering my eyes. I wondered what had taken place. I looked around absent-mindedly, and found the military barracks collapsed and houses burning. Before long I saw burned people walking unconsciously, not knowing where to go.

Among them I found a pregnant woman who had given birth to her baby because of the bomb-shock. The baby gave out the first healthy cry under her burnt body. But I do hope that such a terrible scene will never be repeated.

There was a kindergarten near the military barracks. The kindergarten was on fire, and I saw seven or eight children running here and there for help. I left the place to do my military duty without helping the children. Even now, forty years after the end of the war, I ask myself why I didn't help them out at that time.

Now I do hope that the people all over the world will struggle for the establishment of peace so that such a sad and terrible history of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never take place again.

I, one of the Hibakusha, had a hurt on the head. But I live every day, trying very hard to keep healthy.

Wishing peace…

   2.0 km, Female, Age 21

There were some with faces swollen to twice their normal size and burnt black, some screamed, "It hurts! It hurts!" Others yelled for help, "I'm going to die! Help me!" Children curled up and died.

There were dead bodies everywhere, so we climbed out from between the bodies. It was summer, so maggots bred in the open wounds. We tried to remove them. A lot of people died because we had no medicine to give them.

We gathered the bodies into a mountain. We covered the mountain in debris and oil and burned it. At night the phosphorus from the dead bodies burned eerily in the dark. It was terrible.

Children were burned seriously. The skin of their backs had peeled off and hung loosely on their bodies. The fingers on their hands had melted together. They cried for water.

My mother was trapped under a fallen house. She cried for help but no one helped her because they were worried about own lives.

   1.5 km, Female, Age 25

On the morning of August 6, I had just come in to clear the breakfast table after finishing the chores outside. I was washing the dishes when it happened. Since our house was only a one story house, it wasn't knocked down by the blast, and I got out easily. Fortunately I only got a scratch, but when I went outside, it was dark as night. Then it got brighter and brighter, and I could see burnt people crying and running about in utter confusion. It was hell.

I walked for a while and I found my neighbor trapped under a fallen concrete wall. All I could see was the hair on the top of his head. I tried my best to pull him out, but I couldn*t get him out. Only half of his face was showing. He was burned alive.

I moved through a wave of people to the west to get to a shed in Eba, I think, but when I got there the shed was already full of injured people. There was one whose face was so swollen that he couldn't see, his lips were swollen to twice their normal size, and all of the skin on his arms, from his shoulders to his fingers had been completely burned off. He wanted water, but nothing could be done. Instead, I gave him a cigarette in his mouth and lit for him. He could only say, " It's good." I still remember his voice. It was probably his last night.

The smell of the ground of late July and early August reminds me of the atomic bomb-a burning smell. It is very painful.

I started to look for my husband on August 7. I saw many dead bodies as I wandered around. I couldn't tell if they had been male or female. There were bodies with the eyes lying on the ground beside them, with their intestines spilling out onto the ground. I have never seen death so dreadful and terrible.

   2.0 km, Female, Age 34

I was with my husband and child. In the instant that I thought I heard the "woo" sound of a B29(bomber) wondering why I was hearing such a sound since the all clear signal had been sounded, the house collapsed and I was trapped under it and passed out. When I came to, I felt like I was in a hole, and I wasn't sure how long I had been out. Forgetting about my husband and child, I went to where I could see a little bit of light, crawling on the ground and breaking wooden plates until I got out. Fire had broken out in about three places. I ran away not knowing where I was going. When I heard my husband calling for me and our child from behind, I realized for the first time, that I was holding my child tightly to me. I still can't remember how or when I took my child up in my arms, even after 40 years. While I was running away, blood-stained people were crying out for help, but since I was bleeding myself, I couldn't do anything for them.

When I went to the south of a prison building in Yoshijima, many people had already gathered there.

The next day I went to the place where our house had been, but there was nothing but cinders. Everything was burnt out. So from that day we slept outside looking up the sky. In the day time I walked around the city everyday, looking for our family members, with my child riding on my back. I even walked to Itsukaichi. I saw mountains of dead bodies by the river and in the office buildings that had escaped the fire. There were bodies lined up in order in front of the Red Cross Hospital, too. Although people asked me for water with weak voices, I couldn*t give them what I didn*t have.

My parents' home was located behind where the NHK TV station is now. My mother died there. One of my brothers was inside the city office when the bomb was dropped and died on August 8. My other brother ran to the Red Cross Hospital. Since he asked someone to find me, I found out where he was. I went to see him straight away. He was lying down on the rough straw mat. Then, on August 14, he died, leaving me with his last request. In his last words, he begged me to look after his two children who were supposed to be at the Fukuro-machi Elementary School at that time.

After my brother died, I looked for his children until the end of August, but I couldn*t find them. So we went back tom my husband's parents' home in Tsuda. After that my husband was sick in bed for 5 years, then he died. And I still have no idea where my brother's children are today.

How many times did I cry for the people dead in those seven famous rivers? The phosphorus was burning everywhere at night. That made me think of the all the dead bodies everywhere. I felt so sorry that I couldn't help people, because there were no medicine. In 3 or 4 days, they had maggots breeding in their bodies. I can't accept any war anymore!!

My brother's family was dead, and his children's bones were never found. Although he had been working for the telephone office, no insurance money was paid, and I couldn't arrange any Buddhist funeral services. I had to raise 4 children of mine. Well, all I could do was ask the priest to pray.

What bothered me the most still is that I couldn't help those people in agony; I couldn't even give them a sip of water. I also never found the bodies of my brother's children.

I deeply feel the misery of the war. I remember my own children were bleeding from their heads or legs, but I didn't have any medicine for them.

   2.0 km, Male, Age 33

Around the time I joined the army, Japan was on the road to defeat. I became more and more engaged in such heavy construction work such as digging ground shelters, rather than my original work. As a result, I contracted pneumonia with a high temperature of some 40 degrees centigrade. I had been in the Army Hospital in Hiroshima for a week before the day of the hospital building, but fortunately I did not suffer serious wounds, as the hospital was ferroconcrete and my bed was in ad corner of the room. As a soldier I had to deal with corpses, in spite of my own health. A week later, I came back home to Fukuoka by train.

The situation in Hiroshima was so horrible that it is impossible to fully describe it in words. I managed to return to Fukuoka, with my body and mind torn apart. The atomic bomb was far from destructive, which burned everything burnable and tormented the people long over their lives.

   Relief, Male, Age 17

The number of victims well exceeded that of the members of the relief party, and what is worse there was not sufficient medical care or a home for them. Because we could not immediately relieve them we felt more miserable.

For collecting and cremating dead bodies, boats pulled roped bodies in the stream and trucks carried them on the number of the dead bodies was so great that we could not keep a normal sense of fear.

Specially unforgettable events:

A schoolgirl died in the medical tent after sinking herself in the stream to escape from the burning heat from morning till late evening.

A schoolboy jumped off a carrying wagon looking for his parents, even though he had a broken bone projecting from his ankle.

I heard a weak cry from the dark to the clatter of military boots "Soldier, please help me!"

People came one after another to a temporary Buddhist altar to inquire about the fate of their relatives and went off in vain to another place. I can never accept such a tragedy again!

   Relief, Female, Age 21

Two days after the atomic bomb was dropped, a lot of soldiers who were bombed were sent to the hospital one after another. As I was working in the Army Hospital, I was assigned to pick up the sufferers and to nurse them. Though they wore colored army pajamas, they got fresh burns and sores on their skin, and their soot-covered eyes were goggling.

They had high fever and red spotted wounds swelled up the next day. The mucous membrane of the nostrils and mouths was inflamed. They excreted feces with blood and felt terribly thirsty. When their ice pillows were changed, bunches of hair, about 8 millimeters long, fell off.

I took care of them with all my might, helping them taking their meals and excreting. There were no beds floor. They died one after another. I shall never forget them. Nursing them, I was proud of serving in the war, for I was young.

Words and pens fail to describe those sights.

Nagasaki    Publications   Home Page