Postcard from A-bomb victim is donated by son to Hiroshima peace museum

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

Masaharu Kiba, 81, a resident of Asaminami Ward, donated a postcard to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on July 22. The postcard was written by his father, who soon after became a victim of the atomic bombing, to seek information about his wife and son. In the aftermath of the blast, his father had been unable to find them. Mr. Kiba hopes that his father’s postcard will help convey how cruel the bombing was to future generations.

Mr. Kiba’s father Yasuo, then 46, wrote the postcard to his brother-in-law 10 days after the bombing while at a school that served as a relief station, located in the suburbs of Hiroshima. Written on the faded postcard is the message: “I don’t know whether Tomoko and Masaharu are dead or alive. Have you heard any news about them?”

Mari Shimomura, a curator at the museum, visited Mr. Kiba at his home and helped him with the procedure for donating items. Ms. Shimomura told Mr. Kiba that the postcard will be placed in an acid-free paper envelope in order to prevent deterioration and kept in a storage room at the museum. She also told him that the postcard will be shown at special exhibitions. When she said, “This postcard shows the love that your father felt for you. We will take good care of it,” Mr. Kiba’s face expressed relief.

Mr. Kiba experienced the atomic bombing on the grounds of Hiroshima Prefectural Hiroshima Commercial School (today’s Hiroshima Prefectural Hiroshima Commercial High School), where he was a first-year student. His father Yasuo died on September 2, about a month after the bombing, and his 34-year-old mother Tomoko’s bones were found where their house had once stood. After reading a series of articles in the Chugoku Shimbun on materials that testify to the horror of the atomic bombing, Mr. Kiba decided to donate the postcard, which he had treasured for many years. Mr. Kiba said, “I hope people will learn about the terror of the atomic bomb, which indiscriminately stole away lives in an instant.”

(Originally published on July 23, 2014)