Survivors’ vivid memories reflected in A-bomb accounts five years after attack

by Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writer

The Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, located in Naka Ward, is now holding a special exhibition featuring “Genbaku Taikenki,” a collection of accounts of the atomic bombing which the City of Hiroshima first invited residents to provide in 1950. The exhibition consists of 17 accounts, including those that describe the death of loved ones and experiences of the atomic bombing at sites where students were mobilized to work for the war effort. Items related to these accounts are exhibited as well. The exhibition continues until December 28 and admission is free.

The original writings of all 165 accounts of the atomic bombing that were gathered in 1950 have been stored in the Hiroshima Municipal Archives. During the occupation by Allied Forces and the censorship of information regarding the damage caused by the A-bomb attack, some of the accounts were bound together into a book, but never made available to the public.

In 2011, Hiromi Hasai, 84, a professor emeritus at Hiroshima University and a resident of Saeki Ward, digitized the manuscripts and donated his work to the City of Hiroshima. Based on this text data, the Peace Memorial Hall has made the memoirs of doctors and mobilized students available to the public on its information terminals. These accounts can be accessed in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korea. In addition, 20 items connected to the accounts are also on display.

One of the exhibits is the memoir of Haruzo Ogawa, then 32. He wrote about his experience of discovering his wife’s remains at his home, which was located where the Peace Memorial Park now lies: “Tears and sweat fell in audible drops on the bones.” A small mantelpiece clock that he picked up with her ashes (and which were donated to the Peace Memorial Museum) are on display as well.

Visitors can also watch videos of three narrated accounts, including Mr. Ogawa’s testimony. The Peace Memorial Hall staff hopes that visitors will feel the horror of the atomic bomb and of war from the A-bomb survivors’ vivid memories captured five years after the atomic bombing.

(Originally published on February 6, 2016)