Hiroshima – Hell on Earth

Miya Tajima-Simpson and Maki Inoue (UWC AC 2006-2008)

“That fateful summer, 8.15am, the roar of a B-29 breaks the morning calm. A parachute opens in the blue sky. Then suddenly, a flash, an enormous blast – silence – hell on earth…” This is part of the ‘Hiroshima Peace Declaration in 2007’ given by Hiroshima Mayor Tadotoshi Akiba. When you read this article about what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I’d like you to consider that this is not just a past event in History. The cruel way in which people died was only the start of generations upon generations of suffering inflicted on every inch of soil and skin the rays of the bomb reached. Men, women and children, we must remember they had lives the same as us. The Nuclear weapons deprived their precious lives of the futures they were entitled to. We must swear to prevent another catastrophe like the one seen in Japan must never be repeated. It was 2.45 am, 6 August 1945 when a B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, took off from Tinian, a North Pacific island in the Marianas, 1,500 miles south of Japan. On a hook in the Ceiling of the Enola Gay hung the ten-foot atomic bomb named “little boy”. “Little boy” was created using uranium-235, a radioactive isotope of uranium. This bomb, a result of $2 billion of research had never once been tested. Nor had any atomic bomb been dropped from a plane. It’s rumoured that some scientists and politicians tried to persuade America against warning Japan just in order to save face if the bomb malfunctioned. There had been four possible Cities chosen as targets, Hiroshima, Kokura, Nagasaki and Niigata. The Cities were chosen as they had been least touched by the war so far. The target committee wanted the first bomb to be ‘sufficiently spectacular for the importance of the weapon to be internationally recognised when publicity on it was released’.

On August 6th, 1945 the first choice target, Hiroshima, was having clear weather. At 8.15am, the Enola Gay’s door sprang open and dropped ‘Little Boy’. The bomb exploded 1,900 feet above the city and only missed the target, the Aoi Bridge, by approximately 800 feet.A survivor described the damaged the damaged to people:‘well, their skin was blackened by burns…they had no hair, at first glance you couldn’t tell if you were looking at them from the front or back… the skin on their bodies especially on their hands just hung down… they walked along the roads like ghosts, many died before they had taken five paces… I can still picture them in my mind’While the people of Japan tried to comprehend the devastation in Hiroshima, the United States was preparing a second bomb mission. The second run was not delayed in order to give Japan time to surrender but was in fact only waiting for sufficient amounts of plutonium-239 for the bomb. On August 9th, only 3 days after Hiroshima, another B-29, the so-called Bock’s Car, left Tinian at 3.49am. The haze over Kokura meant that Bock’s Car continued to Nagasaki and at 11.02am the second bomb, ‘Fat Man’ was dropped. Approximately 40 percent of Nagasaki was destroyed, with a population of 270,000 approximately 70,000 had died by the end of the year.The damage by the A-bomb in clear distinction from that of other weapons is, perhaps, that know body knows what sorts of disturbances will occur.

The major after effects known so far are A-bomb cataract, leukaemia and malignant tumour. As for genetic effects, nothing is yet confirmed and continuous observations will have to be researched for generations to come. About 90-100% of people standing outside within 1 kilometre radius of the hypocenter died soon after the blast, the number of instant deaths is not known. Near to ground Zero, there was a case in which somebody had melted or evaporated leaving nothing behind but a shadow behind. Because of the instant flash of heat rays, everything but the shadow was wiped out in the abnormal heat so it looked as though the shadow was printed on the road. Of those within 2 kilometres radius that had nothing to screen them, 83% died within a week. As for structures, wooden buildings within 3 kilometres ignited automatically due to the heat rays before the blast wind of explosion, over the next 3 days these fires raged on everywhere in the Cities.

Hibakusha – the victims of the atomic bombs will go on suffering for years to come, continuing to tell their stories full of hellish grief. They have deeply wished, ‘no one suffers as we did’. Despite this vast arsenals of nuclear weapons remain in high states of readiness. One has to ask, have we learnt anything from Hiroshima and Nagasaki? We mustn’t turn our backs to the reality that happened there nor to the hibakusha that remain as living proof of the tragedy.‘…The eyes of young girls watching the parachute melted. Their faces became giant charred blisters. The skin of people seeking help dangled from their fingernails. Their hair stood on end. Their clothes were ripped to shreds. People trapped in houses toppled by the blast were burnt alive. Others died when their eyeballs and internal organs burst from their bodies – Hiroshima was a hell where those who survived envied the dead.

Within the year, 140,000 had died. Many who escaped death initially are still suffering from leukaemia, thyroid cancer amongst a vast array of afflictions.’

Extract from the Hiroshima Peace Declaration in 2007.

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