Tuesday, August 09, 2005
10:06 AM |
Nagasaki, 9 August 1945
By Michaito Ichimaru
In August 1945, I was a freshman at Nagasaki Medical College. The ninth of August was a clear, hot, beautiful, summer day. I left my lodging house, which was one and one half mile from the hypocenter, at eight in the morning, as usual, to catch a tram car. When I got to the tram stop, I found that it had been derailed in an accident. I decided to return home. I was lucky. I never made it to school that day.
At 11 a.m., I was sitting in my room with a fellow student when I heard the sound of a B-29 passing overhead. A few minutes later, the air flashed a brilliant yellow and there was a huge blast of wind.
We were terrified and ran downstairs to the toilet to hide. Later, when I came to my senses, I noticed a hole had been blown in the roof, all the glasses had been shattered, and that the glass had cut my shoulder and I was bleeding. When I went outside, the sky had turned from blue to black and the black rain started to fall. The stone walls between the houses were reduced to rubble.
After a short time, I tried to go to my medical school in Urakami, which was 500 meters from the hypocenter. The air dose of radiation was more than 7,000 rads at this distance but I could not complete my journey because there were fires everywhere. I met many people coming back from Urakami. Their clothes were in rags, and shreds of skin were hanging from their bodies. They looked like ghosts with vacant stares. The next day, I was able to enter Urakami on foot, and all that I knew had disappeared. Only the concrete and iron skeletons of the buildings remained. There were dead bodies everywhere. On each street corner we had tubs of water used for putting out fires after the air raids. In one of these small tubs, scarcely large enough for one person, was the body of a desperate man who sought cool water. There was foam coming from his mouth, but he was not alive.
I cannot get rid of the sounds of crying women in the destroyed fields. As I got nearer to school, there were black charred bodies, with the white edges of bones showing in the arms and legs. A dead horse with a bloated belly lay by the side of the road. Only the skeleton of the medical hospital remained standing. Because the school building was wood, it was completely destroyed. My classmates were in that building attending their physiology lecture. When I arrived some were still alive. They were unable to move their bodies. The strongest were so weak that they were slumped over on the ground. I talked with them and they thought they would be O.K. but all of them would eventually die within weeks. I cannot forget the way their eyes looked at me and their voices spoke to me forever. I went up to the small hill behind the medical school, where all of the leaves of the trees were lost. The green mountain had changed into a bald mountain. There were many medical students, doctors, nurses, and some patients who escaped from the school and hospital. They were very weak and wanted water badly, crying out, "Give me water, please." Their clothes were in rags, bloody and dirty. Their condition was very bad. I carried down several friends of mine on my back from this hill. I brought them to their houses using a cart hitched to my bicycle. All of them died in the next few days. Some friends died with high fever, talking deliriously. Some friends complained of general malaise and bloody diarrhea, caused by necrosis of the bowel mucous membrane by severe radiation.
One of my jobs was to contact the families of the survivors. In all the public schools I visited, there were many, many survivors brought there by healthy people. It is impossible to describe the horrors I saw. I heard many voices in pain, crying out, and there was a terrible stench. I remember it as an inferno. All of these people also died within several weeks.
One of my friends who was living in the same lodging house cycled back from medical school by himself that day. He was a strong man doing Judo. That night he gradually became weak but he went back to his home in the country by himself the next day. I heard he died a few weeks later. I lost many friends. So many people died that disposing the bodies was difficult. We burned the bodies of my friends in a pile of wood which we gathered, in a small open place. I clearly remember the movement of the bowels in the fire.
On August 15, 1945, I left Nagasaki by train to return to my home in the country. There were many survivors in the same car. Even now, I think of the grief of the parents of my friends who died. I cannot capture the magnitude of the misery and horror I saw. Never again should these nuclear weapons be used, no matter what happens.
Only when mankind renounces the use of these nuclear weapons will the souls of my friends rest in peace.
Labels: history, issues
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