Why the people who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, rarely talk about their tragic experience? 83-year-old Keiko Ogura broke the silence after his brother’s death from cancer.
The atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 and the subsequent bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, began the only combat use of nuclear weapons. 75 years later, survivors of the atomic blast in Hiroshima Japan resident recalls the tragedy.
Keiko Ogura celebrated her eighth birthday two days before August 6, 1945 on Hiroshima was dropped an atomic bomb. She was standing in the yard of his home just 2.4 kilometres from the epicenter. The fact that the girl survived, other than a miracle can not be named.
In his 83 years, Keiko physically healthy and still full of energy, but about the traumatic experience and that she had to survive after the atomic bomb explosion, it was silent until, until he died from cancer her brother. Since 1980, the woman regularly speaks at commemorative and educational events – although with his children, she still doesn’t say on the subject. For them it will be too difficult to listen about it, she explains their unwillingness to remember those events. And understands the state of the survivors of the attack who can’t talk about their injuries.
Survivors after a nuclear explosion
“When the bomb went off, I was standing in the yard, behind the shed that hid me from the blast, says an elderly woman in an interview with DW. – The blast left me stunned and knocked down, and when I again opened my eyes, all the houses around were destroyed and on fire”.
Surprisingly, the whole family Keiko survived the explosion, although one of her brothers, who were closer to the epicenter, later died from cancer caused by radiation exposure.
“I had burns, but not very strong, says Ogura. – Our house was damaged but not completely destroyed, so we took people who were injured”.
During the Second world war the Japanese had been instructed in case of air raids to take refuge on the territory of churches and chapels. Near the house Keiko stood a Shinto temple, and she recalls how in the direction it was moving an endless stream of disfigured and desperate people. Many of them were dead, their bodies lying along the roads.
“I was shocked by what he saw – says the woman. – I still remember the two men with terrible burns lying on the road. One of them grabbed my leg and begged him to bring water. I brought – I didn’t know that this could not be done. Both died in front of me. I never talked about it because he experienced a huge sense of guilt for giving them water. Memories haunted me for many years. I could not tell even their own children.”
Another painful memory of countless people who died in the home of her parents. Father forbade her to go to a local Park, but the girl was curious to see what is happening there. She climbed a low hill and from there saw her father and other survivors stacked the bodies of the dead people in funeral fires burning around the clock.
The deadly cargo of the bomber “Enola gay”
Uranium bomb “Little boy” (“Little Boy”) was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 at 8:15 a.m. from the strategic bomber of the U.S. air force – “Boeing” B-29 “Superfortress” tail name “Enola gay”. The bomb exploded with an energy equivalent to 16,000 tons of TNT at an altitude of 580 meters over the building of the chamber of Commerce of Hiroshima, now known as the “atomic bomb Dome” or “Atomic dome” and in 1996 entered in the list of world heritage of UNESCO.
It is estimated that in the bomb blast and the ensuing firestorm killed 80 thousand people, and the intense neutron and gamma radiation resulted in the deaths of people in a radius of 1.3 km. Wounds and injuries received more than 70 thousand people. About 6 thousand people survived the explosion and fire, but later died from radioactive contamination, cancer caused by radiation exposure, and other delayed effects of the explosion. The military investigation conducted by the United States shortly after the war showed that the explosion was destroyed 12,2 square kilometers of Hiroshima.
A recent study conducted by Japanese news Agency Kyodo News showed that 78% of the survivors of Hiroshima, followed on August 9 bombing of Nagasaki, have difficulty in talking about their experiences. More than 40% of survivors said that they never shared their memories about the tragedy.
Survivors in the bombing were victims of discrimination
Many residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, says Keiko Ogura, left their cities and never mentioned in conversations with new neighbors and friends about where they came from – they didn’t want to be marked victims of radiation.
In those days it was still not known about long-term effects of radiation, and people didn’t want to risk the fact that their husband or wife is sick, afraid that the disease will be inherited by the children or that babies are born with congenital malformations.
“Nobody wanted to talk about it – says Keiko. If people learned that we are from Hiroshima, they would avoid us. Once I experienced it myself: I met a young man, and he came to my city to meet me. The first thing he asked the Hiroshima if I can. Hearing the answer, he immediately turned around and left.”
How to study the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in schools Japan
Peace memorial Park on the banks of the river Motoyasu-gawa dedicated to the victims of the atomic bombing. Annually it is visited by thousands of Japanese schoolchildren and a meeting with survivors after a nuclear explosion are an important part of the curriculum. At the same time, some in Japan believe that the conservative position of the political leadership of the country in Japanese schools tell about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki without mentioning the broader historical context, not saying a word about the invasion, and often brutal, bondage, Japan, Korean Peninsula, large parts of China and other countries of South-East Asia.
The reason, which became the beginning of the conflict with the United States, briefly mentioned the Japanese attack on pearl Harbor, but students do not know anything about the events of the Nanjing massacre in 1937-38, nor about the abuse of Japanese prisoners of war of the allies of the United States, nor on forced deportation “comfort women” from Korea in frontline brothels by the Japanese army.
“Tell us how terrible was the bombing of Tokyo with incendiary bombs and attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, says 19-year-old student at the University of Tokyo Leo Cigano. – We are only taught that Japan was a victim in the war.” According to Leo, he found out about preceding events of the books about the Second world war, published abroad, and only because interested in the history.
“Many in Japan still deny, for example, the Nanjing massacre – the influence of right-wing political forces – explains the man. – They claim that everything is a fiction of Chinese propaganda. What happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was horrible, but the Japanese do not explain that this was not an accident.”
Prayer for the elimination of nuclear weapons
For Keiko Ogura and other survivors after a nuclear explosion the policy does not matter. Every year on 6 August, she participates in a memorial ceremony on the occasion of the bombing of Hiroshima, often together with a group of volunteers “Translators for peace.” The woman said that this year the number of participants in official events had to be severely limited because of the fear of the coronavirus.
“This time the anniversary was celebrated as usual – recognizes Keiko Ogura. – I stood by the river in the Peace Park, remembered those days and felt great regret that even now there are so many nuclear weapons.”
According to Keiko, for many years she prayed to nuclear weapons in the world was liquidated. But her prayers have not yet been answered. “So I will continue to tell their story,” says the woman who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.