On August 6, 1952, seven years after the bombing of Hiroshima, five war orphans unveiled the cenotaph for the victims of the A-bomb blast. It is known as the Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace. Approximately 1,000 persons attended the unveiling ceremony. Each year, on August 6, the memorial service is held in front of this monument located in the Peace Memorial Park. In this photo from 1952, one can still see private houses that had been rebuilt after the war in the area that is now the Peace Park.
The First Elementary School, 2,600 meters from the hypocenter, and other building that survived the blast throughout the city were used as relief stations to provide the very minimal aid that was available to the victims of the blast.
Flowers and paper cranes left at the memorial.
Passage from the Memoir of Yasuko Imai (female) â€œThe morning sun shone into the reception room, lighting up a corner where a young man lay facing the wall. He turned his eyes â€“ which probably were losing vision â€“ toward me and mustered his strength. â€˜Nurse,â€™ he called, and I stopped. He said, â€˜I got here before all these other people, canâ€™t the doctor see me yet?â€™ I said, â€˜Iâ€™m sorry for the delay. Iâ€™ll get the doctor to see you right away. You must not give up.â€™ He said, â€˜Excuse me, but please give me water.â€™ He died when he drank a sip of water. I picked up the cup with trembling hands. I could no longer control my feelings. Tears flowed onto my monpe work trousers. How he must have wanted to call out, â€˜Mother!â€™â€
In a chapter of Japanese history that has only recently begun to be discussed openly, Japan colonized Korea in the decades leading up to the Second World War. Before and during the war, many Koreans were brought to Japan, many of them as conscripted laborers. At the time of the A-bomb explosion in Hiroshima, there were many Koreans in Hiroshima and it is estimated that as many as 20,000 Koreans may have died in the explosion. Given the enmity between the Japanese and the Koreans, and what some would label a prejudice against Korean nationals, the Japanese perhaps did not initially acknowledge fully the loss of Korean lives at Hiroshima. The plaque in this photo, at the monument erected on the edge of the Peace Memorial Park in 1970, describes the plight of the Korean victims.
At the top of the monument, which is nine-meters high, is this bronze statue of a young girl, perhaps a reference to Sadako Sasaki. In her hands, she lifts a golden crane above her head. The crane carries dreams for a peaceful future. -- On the sides of monument are bronze figures of a young boy and another young girl.
Over-view of the monument erected on the edge of the Peace Park in 1970, by a group of Koreans. It is dedicated to the many Koreans who died or were injured in Hiroshima by the A-bomb explosion.
Because of the summer heat, it was crucial to cremate the bodies of victims quickly, although it was difficult because of the enormous number of bodies. Temporary cremation sites were set up throughout the city to cremate the bodies that were being brought continuously. In this photo we can see the bodies being piled one upon another with firewood to burn the bodies.
The Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Aomic Bomb Victims was erected by the national government in rememberance and mourning of the victims of the atomic bomb explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The hall is built below ground level, with this element above ground. A pool of water, symbolizing the terrible thirst experienced by the victims of the blast, surrounds a circular glass shaft that is a sky light for the interior of the Hall. On the top of the light shaft is a sylized face of a clock, showing forever the time of the explosion in Hiroshima, 8:15 a.m. Around the pool are bits of tile and brick fused by the heat of the explosion, pieces found in the immediate vicinity of the Hall during its construction.
Children polishing shoes in front of Hiroshima station after the war -- "During the final stages of the war over 20,000 of Hiroshima's children were evacuated in groups to the countryside to protect them from air raids. Theri lives were saved, but many lost their entire families to the A-bomb. There 'A-bomb orphans' were variously estimated to number betweeen 2,000 and 6,500. Residential facilities were set up and attempts were made to care for them, but the sorrow of losing both parents could not be healed."
The cenotaph at the heart of the Peace Memorial Park contains this stone chest. The stone chest contains a registry of the names of the known victims of the A-bomb blast. At each annual memorial service, the names of those who have passed away in the preceding year from the effects of the blast or from radiation-caused disease are added to the registry. On August 6, 2001, the list included the names of 221,893 victims who had been identified by relatives. Including other victims who were never identified, it is estimated that the death toll from the A-bomb at Hiroshima now stands at about 240,000 persons. - The cenotaph was designed by architect Kenzo Tange, then a professor at the University of Tokyo. The form of the cenotaph suggests the form of the roof of an ancient form of a house (see image ecasia000870), providing symbolic shelter for the souls of the victims. The inscription on the monument reads, "Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil."
Passage from the Memoir of Tamiko Tsunematsu (female) -- â€œThe flames licked closer and closer, but my mother and I were not able to save either of them. [My sister called out,] â€˜Mother, Tami-chan, hurry and get away. I will die here.â€™ Right after she said those words, my sister seemed to lose consciousness. â€˜Rei-chan, Iâ€™m sorry. Forgive me, forgive me!,â€™ I sobbed. As I walked away I looked back, calling out â€˜Forgive me, forgive me!â€™ I felt as if I would go mad. Mother and I held hands tightly. Then we looked back at our home neighborhood and put our hands together in prayer. The whole of our neighborhood was up in flames all around.â€
Passage from the Memoir of Sumiko Yoshii (female) â€œThe doctors were overwhelmed. Finally, it was my sisterâ€™s turn. The doctor looked at her and said, â€˜This one is beyond hope.â€™ He applied something that looked like vegetable oil to her burns and went on to the next. Suddenly, my sister said, â€˜Sumi-chan, the doctor just said I was going to die, didnâ€™t he?â€™ My sisterâ€™s voice gradually weakened and finally stopped. Then she said quietly, â€˜Thereâ€™s a soft breeze. It feels good.â€™ Then, suddenly, as if slipping into sleep, she murmured, â€˜ Ah! I hear the sacred voices of heaven.â€™ So began her eternal slumber.â€
The Hall of Rememberance is a quiet space with subdued lighting, conducive to the prayer and contemplation to which it is dedicated. It is a round space, suggestive of a chapel, perhaps. On the walls are a photographic panorama taken from a spot close to the center of the blast. The panorama is made of tiles, 140,000 of them - one for each of the persons who died from the blast and its effects by the end of December, 1945. In the center of the space is glowing truncated cone with water constantly flowing down its sides, a symbolic statement reminding us of the suffering of the victims."
Near the point of the Peace Memorial Park, close to the blast hypocenter, is the Memorial Mound. The many bodies that lay strewn in the area near the hypocenter and the bodies pulled out of the river were brought to this site and cremated. Shortly after the end of the war, a vault and a memorial mound were built at the site. In 1955, a permanent vault and mound were built and unclaimed ashes from other sites throughout the city were brought here. It is estimated that the ashes of nearly 70,000 victims lie in the vault, victims whose ashes were unclaimed because the identity of the victims was unknown or because the entire family had perished and there was nobody to claim the ashes.
This is another of the very rare photographs of the immediate aftermath of the bombing. The photo, taken by Yoshito Matsushige, shows victims huddled at the west end of the Miyuki Bridge, 2,270 meters from the hypocenter, about 11:00 a.m., August 6, 1945. In the book, The Viewfinder Clouded with Tears, Mr. Matsushige writes, "I fought with myself for 30 minutes before I could take the first picture. After taking the first, I grew strangely calm and wanted to get closer. I took about ten steps forward and tried to snap another, but the scenes I saw were so gruesome my viewfinder clouded with tears."
Detail of the memorial to the children who perished in the atomic blast on August 6, 1945, showing the statue at the memorial and strings of paper cranes left by school children visiting the memorial.
Approximately 240,000 names of victims who were exposed to the atomic bomb in Hiroshima are written in the Hiroshima Register of Deceased Atomic Bomb Victims. It is stored in the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims (Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace). -- A room in the National Peace Memorial Hall houses a searchable registry of the names and, when available, photographs of the victims. The photographs of the victims are displayed serially on this wall panel monitor. The photos include persons of all ages and stations in life; the bomb destroyed lives indiscriminately.
Strings of paper cranes left at the Memorial Mound in the Peace Memorial Park.
The A-bomb devastated nearly all administrative agencies and destoyed official documents. Thus, the exact number of deaths due to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima remains unknown. Many victims were never identified. -- According to a document submitted by the city of Hiroshima to the United Nations in 1976 entitled 'For the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and the Reduction of All Armed Forces and All Armaments,' an extimated 140,000 (plus or minus 10,000) people died as a result of the A-bomb between August 6, 1945, and the end of December that year.
Many children who were exposed to the radiation of the A-bomb blast while still in their mother's wombs were born with what has become known as "A-bomb microcephaly." Such children suffered from mental retardation or physical disabilities. They have been cared for by relatives, with independence for them being difficult or impossible. As their care-giving relatives age, assistance for them has become a major issue.
Within the protection of the monument rising above them are several objects, including a bell, a golden crane, and an inscription carved on block of stone. The golden crane is on the end of the pull for the bell and visitors may grasp it to ring the bell as a prayer for peace. The bell is inscribed with two phrases, â€œA Thousand Paper Cranesâ€ and â€œPeace on the Earth and in the Heavens,â€ written in the handwriting of Dr. Hideki Yukawa, Nobel Laureate in Physics. Beneath the bell is the block of stone bearing a carved inscription that reads, â€œThis is our cry. This is our prayer. For building peace in this world.â€
This detail of the base of the monument shows part of the Korean inscription on the column, the tortoise supporting the column, as well as strings of paper cranes and maps of Korea left by visitors to the monument.