Hear the Stories of Three Atomic Bombing Survivors
August 6, 2015 Yasuaki Yamashita and Setsuko Thurlow Human Wrongs Watch & RT News
"Although it was morning, it looked like twilight because of the dust and smoke in the air. People at a distance saw the mushroom cloud and heard a thunderous roar. But I did not see the cloud because I was in it. I did not hear the roar, just the deadly silence broken only by the groans of the injured. Streams of stunned people were slowly shuffling from the city centre. They were naked or tattered, burned, blackened and swollen. Eyes were swollen shut and some had eyeballs hanging out of their sockets."
(September 20, 2013) -- When the A-Bomb fell on Nagasaki, August 9, 1945, I was 6 years old and living there with my family in a typical Japanese-style wooden frame house with sliding interior partitions (shoji) and exterior glass windows.
Normally on a hot summer day I would go to the mountain with friends of my age to catch dragon flies and cicadas. However, on this day I was playing at home. Nearby my mother was preparing the mid-day meal . . . . Suddenly, at precisely 11:02, we were blinded by an intense light like 1,000 simultaneous flashes of lightening.
My mother pushed me to the ground and covered me with her body. We heard the roar of a great wind and flying debris of the house collapsed on top of us. Then there was silence. .
Our house was 2.5 km. (1.5 miles) from the epicenter. My sister who was in another part of the house was cut by flying splinters of glass.
A playmate who went to the mountain that day was exposed to the great blast of heat caused by the detonation of the bomb.
His body was badly burned and he died a few days later. My father was recruited to help clean up the destruction in the center of Nagasaki. At the time we didn't know about the dangers of radiation that would later cause his death.
The A-Bomb had turned the center of Nagasaki into an inferno of death and devastation. Communications and transportation were disrupted. There was no food in the city and we were starving.
One week after the explosion we walked through the rubble of the city center where fires still burned on our way to the countryside where relatives would share what little food they had.
Some years later I worked in the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Hospital. It was very painful to see the survivors still suffering from the effects of burns and radiation.
Since moving to Mexico in 1968, I have accepted many invitations to speak about my A-Bomb experience at various institutions. These have included schools, universities, cultural centers, a committee of the Mexican Senate, and the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts.
In 2010 I gave my testimony at a memorial ceremony organized by the Mexico City Government on the occasion of the 65th Anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bombs.
I feel that it is important to keep alive the memory of the suffering, devastation, and death that nuclear weapons can cause in the hope that no one will ever use them again. I worry because each year there are fewer and fewer people still alive who can speak about this memory from personal experience.
(August 6, 2015) -- "I turned around and saw the outside world. Although it was morning, it looked like twilight because of the dust and smoke in the air. People at a distance saw the mushroom cloud and heard a thunderous roar. But I did not see the cloud because I was in it. I did not hear the roar, just the deadly silence broken only by the groans of the injured.
Streams of stunned people were slowly shuffling from the city centre toward nearby hills. They were naked or tattered, burned, blackened and swollen. Eyes were swollen shut and some had eyeballs hanging out of their sockets.
They were bleeding, ghostly figures like a slow-motion image from an old silent movie. Many held their hands above the level of their hearts to lessen the throbbing pain of their burns.
Strips of skin and flesh hung like ribbons from their bones. Often these ghostly figures would collapse in heaps never to rise again.
With a few surviving classmates I joined the procession carefully stepping over the dead and dying."
Setsuko Thurlow was 13 years old when the nuclear bomb dubbed "Little Boy" was dropped from a B-29 bomber, the 'Enola Gay', and detonated over her home city of Hiroshima at 8:15am on 6 August 1945.
That morning she was reporting for her first day of work at the army headquarters, part of a group of 30 who had been assigned there.
Her memory of the explosion was a "bluish-white flash like a magnesium flare" outside the window, immediately followed by the explosion whose force leveled the building she was in, rendering her temporarily unconscious and covering her with smoldering rubble.
She was pulled free from the ruins of the building only moments before they caught fire -- with many of her classmates still unable to get out.
As she looked out upon the city for the first time after the explosion, she saw a landscape that was utterly devastated.
But worse was the sight of the thousands upon thousands of dead, dying and maimed -- the "ghostly figures".
Thurlow's sister and her 4-year old son had been outside at the time of the explosion and suffered burns to such an extent that they were unrecognizable to their own family.
They died a few days later – having received no medical care – and their bodies were thrown into a pit by soldiers, doused with gasoline and set alight. Her uncle and aunt showed no visible injuries from the explosion itself, but suffered radiation poisoning a couple weeks afterwards, with purple lesions, bouts of nausea and hair loss among the symptoms.
Thurlow says that it is the image of her dying nephew, Ejii, "representing the innocent children of the world, [which] compels and drives [her] to continue to speak of Hiroshima, no matter how painful it may be," on behalf of all who have suffered from the development, testing and use of nuclear weapons.
On October 26, 2011 she delivered a speech at the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly.
She did not hold back from telling the truth about the consequences of the nuclear detonation that she had seen that day.
Her experiences and those of other Hibakusha compelled them to do what they could to make sure that no human being would go through what they did. They made it their mission to make their voices heard about the horror of nuclear weapons.
We believe that humanity and nuclear weapons cannot coexist, and for the past several decades we have been speaking out around the world for the total abolition of nuclear weapons, as the only path to security and the preservation of the human community and civilisation for future generations.
But has the world heard our plea? Has it listened to the cries of billions from around the world who desire peace not war, life not death? 'Faceless body belonged to my sister': Hiroshima, Nagasaki Nuke Survivors Recall Horrors 70 Years On RT News
(August 5, 2015) -- Blackened bodies, mothers who couldn't recognize their charred children and those still alive screaming with pain -- these are horrific details the survivors of nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki recall ahead of 70th anniversary of the tragedy.
The US was the first nation to use nuclear weapons against an enemy target when they dropped atomic bombs on Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II on August 6 and 9, 1945.
More than 80,000 civilians died immediately as a result of the Hiroshima bomb -- a device nicknamed 'Little Boy' by the US Air Force -- and other 80,000 were believed killed in the Nagasaki attack by 'Fat Man'.
Thousands died from radiation sickness in the months and years following the blasts.
As of August 2014 the memorials in Hiroshima and Nagasaki list the names of more than 450,000 people who died in the tragedy: 292,325 in Hiroshima and 165,409 in Nagasaki.
Chiyoko Kuwabara, a survivor of Hiroshima atomic bombing, told RT that she was only 13 years old when the tragedy happened but the moments that changed her life forever still "linger in her memory."
"There were corpses all over the place and when a mother would walk looking for her kids she sometimes would hear cries calling 'mom . . . mom . . . .' But even if they look at their children's faces they couldn`t recognize them. It was the children who recognize their mothers," Kuwabara said with tears in her eyes.
People like Kuwabara are called Hibakusha in Japan – a term for those who were exposed to radiation from the nuclear bombings.
Kuwabara led RT team to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum which displays the horrors of the atomic bombing of the city: the damages caused by the bomb as well as photos of dying or dead people.
"It makes me suffer to look at these pictures…Poor people…I think they all died," she says, looking at the photos.
Kuwabara told RT that she feels disappointed by the current US administration of President Barack Obama.
"He [Obama] said he will reduce the nuclear weapons. Instead he is increasing it. Whatever beautiful words or acts he does I think America is not acting with sincerity. At least he should come to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and pay respects."
RT also spoke to a survivor of atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Sumiteru Taniguchi, who back in August 9, 1945 was delivering mail when a bomb fell on the city.
"I was 16 years old. Two kilometers from the epicenter I was walking and got the blast from behind. I could see it was from behind the light I was thrown," Taniguchi told RT.
The heat from the blast melted the skin on his back and left arm. The footage of his horrific injuries has become iconic and Taniguchi is now a living symbol of the suffering caused by the bombs.
The 86-year-old said that after the explosion he stayed in hospital three years and seven months and during his first year and nine months he was lying on his chest.
"My back was completely burned to the bones. And parts of my body hardened and the ribs got into my heart and lungs. It is very painful still today."
One more survivor of the Nagasaki bombings, Sanae Ikeda, 82, recalls how he lost his brothers and a sister in the tragedy.
"The explosion took away the skin of my hand and I started to bleed. The light was green and then I couldn't see anything."
In the middle of the road Ikeda saw someone -- "a charred human being walking," he described to RT. He even couldn't figure out if it was a man or woman.
"Survivors who were badly hurt had no place to escape so everyone went to soak into a narrow stream of water running in the nearby."
Ikeda recalls horrible moment he saw the body of his sister which was completely deformed by the explosion.
"I found this body completely black, charred. I held it with my hands and it had no face Then I found that the string or ribbon of the waist of her pants. The outer part was all burned by the explosion, but inside the ribbon it was fine. I saw the little flowers and I could tell that this was the body of my little sister."
The bombings were approved by then US President Harry S Truman, who repeatedly stated that attacking Japan had saved lives on both sides.
"I think that the bombs were believed at the time to be necessary. as General [George] Marshall, who was head of the US military during the war said after the war, 'we didn't want to have to invade Japan,'" Richard Rhodes, an American historian, journalist and author who won a Pulitzer Prize for his book The Making of the Atomic Bomb, told RT.
"We knew we would kill many Japanese, and many Americans would die as well," he added.
But according to Peter Kuznick, professor of History and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University, the atomic bomb "wasn't necessary at all" to end the World War II.
"I think you can't come to any other conclusion than the bomb wasn't necessary, the Soviet invasion was going to end the war, and the US invasion was not going to begin till November first, so we dropped the bomb on August 6 and 9 to avoid an invasion that was not going to take place for three more months. Why do we do it? Well you have to conclude that we wanted to do it."
He added that if you look at the comments of US leaders at that time, "in fact, six or seven 5-star admirals and generals who got their fifth star during the war [WWII] are on record as saying that the bomb was either militarily unnecessary morally reprehensible or both."
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