“Hiroshima and Nagasaki, surely among the most unspeakable crimes in history.” Noam Chomsky
The Hiroshima bombing came at a time when the Japanese were negotiating peace with the USA. The United States however wanted to test its new weapon: demonstrating its power to the world, especially to the Soviets. When Gore Vidal was asked if he thought the Atomic Bombing was the end of the Second World War or the beginning of the cold war, he chose the later.
I visited Hiroshima in 2004 and entered the “peace park” museum without giving it much thought (put in quotes because I think the American post war Government had a propaganda campaign promoting “peace” in Japan – worried that people might want revenge). Perhaps I was a little ignorant because I was in for a gut wrenching, stomach churning experience.
One of the exhibits that I remember vividly was something quite odd. I was looking at it in its glass case and couldn’t quite focus on what it was. Rather unusual, so I looked at the little plaque beside it – which had a story. It said that there was a young girl – 8 years old I think – that had been caught in the bomb blast. Her first instinct was to run home even although she was covered in burns. When she made it to her mothers arms much of her skin had peeled off and there she died. I can’t imagine how the little girl or her mother felt, I can only guess. But to help convey the full horror to her partner – the woman collected the little girls fingers, that had melted off, to keep and show him when he returned. Reading the story I was quite moved. Hesitantly I looked back and could see that indeed they were fingers with recognisable nails – on top of everything else I’d seen I almost threw up. Leaving the museum also hit me hard, walking onto a busy street I realised it was people just like these that suffered so terribly.
The following film is based on the work of a manga artist in Japan, Keiji Nakazawa, a 6 year old survivor of the bombing. I think the film, made in the 80’s reflects the true horror of the atomic bombings and the true horror of war. All through a childs eyes and loosely based on Nakazawa’s own experiences. An interview with Keiji can be seen here (15 mins into the show).