column 5 Listening to the Voices of A-bomb Survivors
A-bomb survivors witnessed countless bodies of the deceased, the wounded and suffering people in Hiroshima that was annihilated by the atomic bombing. They barely survived the devastation of the A-bombing, but still struggle with physical and emotional scars. Some feel regret for being unable to reach out and lend a hand to those seeking help; some are trapped in grief and mourning the loss of their families and friends; or some suffer in agony from physical injuries or due to their uncertainty about the future. They have all tried very hard to live fulfilling lives after the war. These A-bomb survivors still advocate for the value of peace, hoping that future generations never have to suffer from what they went through. The survivors often speak out by recalling their painful memories and hardships, or compiling memoirs. There are many ways to find opportunities to listen to their voices.
1. Listening directly to survivors’ voices
The average age of the A-bomb survivors (as of 2014) is 79, making it increasingly difficult to listen to their firsthand experiences year after year. In this situation, organizations of A-bomb survivors and other groups offer people, including children who visit Hiroshima on school field trips, opportunities to hear the testimonies of A-bomb survivors. In addition, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (opened in 1955) also offers opportunities to listen to the survivor testimonies, and records the testimonies to preserve and open them to the public.
The Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, newly established in the Peace Memorial Park in 2002, has put effort in collecting and introducing A-bomb memoirs, in the cooperation with Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, to pass down A-bomb experiences to the next generation. The Memorial Hall had working on introducing the A-bomb memoirs in multiple languages—translated versions have been made in total 12 languages (as of February, 2015) including French and Arabic, adding to the existing English, Chinese and Korean versions and visitors can read them on monitor displays (additional languages will be added). In addition to the exhibitions at the Hall, the Memorial Hall is working to further enhance their services, posting testimonies and memoirs from A-bomb victims on their Global Network website available in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean.
The voices of the A-bomb survivors can be heard through televised reports and documentary programs depicting their daily lives; and video and audio has been made public on the websites of broadcasting stations, including the NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai, Japan Broadcasting Corporation), the Hiroshima Station website, which offers “Testimonies Hiroshima Nagasaki”, and RCC Broadcasting posts articles on its “PEACE project” website (a Japanese site).
|Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) Hiroshima“ Testimonies Hiroshima Nagasaki”
RCC Broadcasting Co., Ltd.“ PEACE project” (in Japanese) http://www.rcc.jp/peace/
2. Reading A-bomb memoirs
A-bomb survivors have preserved their experiences in the form of memoirs. They convey not only the horrible devastation in Hiroshima immediately after the atomic bombing, but also the daily lives of ordinary citizens before the bombing, their livelihoods during and after the war, their desire for peace, and more. Many of the memoirs are privately published books, including personal histories or those compiled by community-based groups of A-bomb survivors, meaning that these publications are not sold in bookstores. However, the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims has collected many A-bomb memoirs and compiled a database of more than 130,000 memoirs—which are available to the public. Those memoirs are available in multiple languages and in addition, recitation sessions of some A-bomb memoirs are held in Japanese and English. This allows the audience to be able to share in the scenes and the victims’ feelings by listening to volunteers’ readings of the memoirs.
National Peace Memorial Halls for the Atomic Bomb Victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki Global
Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims (A-bomb memoirs and video
3. Learning from A-bomb drawings by survivors
The A-bomb drawings by survivors are records of the A-bombing by Hiroshima citizens. At the same time, they are precious testimonies that illustrate the devastation that (the possession and use of) nuclear weapons holds in store for humanity. These drawings vividly depict scenes of Hiroshima immediately after the A-bombing, which were not preserved in photographs or videos and the family ties that were severed by the bombing, with written commentaries. The Peace Memorial Museum has about 5,000 drawings, including city scenes and depictions of the livelihoods of ordinary citizens before the bombing. Exhibitions of those drawings are held both inside and outside the Museum, in addition to online.
|Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum“ Peace Database”
The number of people who died from the atomic bombing in Hiroshima by the end of December 1945 is estimated to have been around 140,000. Today, the names of about 300,000 victims, who died from the bombing, are listed in the registry. Every one of them had their own stories before and after the bombing. The extent of the devastation and severe damages of the atomic bombing become apparent after listening to their voices and sharing their stories.
(Shoji Oseto and Hitoshi Nagai)
Inquiries about this page
Hiroshima Prefectural Office
Street address:10-52, Motomachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken, 730-8511