Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Day 11 - Hiroshima: Undeniable Emotions

Fortunately, I was quite good prepared for Hiroshima (I mean historical background) by school and by the book about the famous Sadako Sasaki, The Day of the Bomb by Karl Bruckner. The first really sad emotions came up when we got to the Peace Memorial Park, in which one can contemplate the last standing ruin of the vanished Hiroshima. When I read the information text about this Exhibition Hall of the Hiroshima Prefecture, all my emotions about this tragic happening came up and I immediately had tears in my eyes. The imagination about Hiroshima being so different from now, all the people living their lives here and from one second to the other everything’s gone and nothing’s left except ruins and dust like this Exhibition Hall. At this point I have to admit that I wasn’t aware that Hiroshima still existed, because I believed that all survivors left the contaminated place and the only think you find would be grey ruins everywhere… As I realized that this is not the case at all, it was my first surprise. I was told that the people that time just needed the space and couldn’t just let it ruined, so they began to build their houses up, directly on the radiative ground. They were also not completely aware about the medium and long term effects of radiation. So many people that stayed or returned became sick, often fatally.


I was recommended to visit a so called Hiroshima tree. In the evening before we got to Hiroshima, I looked up its location on the Internet. There exist at least three very special Gingko trees in different places that survived the bombing on August 6, 1945. The one we came to see is located in 3-3 Tera-machi, Naka-ku near the Peace Memorial Park. I recognized it at once, in front of this grey temple house, in the middle of a huge cemetery. In 1994 the Gingko tree was decided to leave it growing there, even though they wanted to rebuild the temple that got destroyed due to the bombing. The temple now got adjusted to the tree, the stairs is divided into two parts that surround the Gingko. The engravation says “No more Hiroshima” and prayers for peace. It really was unbelievable, that this Gingko survived this unimaginably and destructive heat even though it was just 1 kilometre away from the hypocentre. That’s why the Gingko trees have become a symbol for hope. It was an amazing feeling to touch a witness of that horrible event.

After having cried at the Gingko, we walked through the Peace Memorial Park with tears in our eyes. On every corner there was another installation to pray for peace, and to let people know your hatred against war, for example this Peace Bell.

We dedicate this bell
         As a symbol of Hiroshima Aspiration
         Let all nuclear arms and wars be gone,
         and the nations live in true peace.
May it ring to all corners of the earth
         To meet the ear of every man,
For in it throb and palpitate
The hearts of its peace-loving donors.
         So may you, too, friends,
         Step forward, and toll this bell for peace!

Dedicated September 20th, 1964
By Hiroshima Higan-No-Kai

Maybe I was too upset and angry that I did not notice the warning table, so I swung the battering ram to sound the bell a little bit too heavy. My sister and I couldn’t hear any more for a few seconds, but maybe this reached some ears on this planet who are in need for this kind of message.

When we got to know that the next installation was the Children’s Peace Monument, tears came up again. It became worse when we learned that this monument was created for Sadako Sasaki – the theme of the biographical book by Karl Bruckner. There’s a girl on top of the monument, holding a big paper crane about which I’ll tell you later. On the two sides there are a girl and a boy representing all the children who died from the A-bomb. One could ring a bell again - so we decided to do so, of course. And then we couldn’t hold our emotions back in, we couldn’t deny any longer, it was too sad, especially if one knows the story behind the monument.
When we left, we saw five or six elderly persons in wheelchairs with their children or caretakers who probably experienced the bombing themselves that time. They brought paper cranes and other memorables to the monument. Very impressive.

On our way to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum we came across this long monument which holds the names of each and every victim of the A-bomb in Hiroshima - Not only the ones that died immediately, but also the names of the persons that died because of diseases due to radiation in all the following years, even still today. There were many flower bouquets in front and if you looked through the bow, you can see the Hiroshima ruin with an eternal flame in between, to underline one’s emotions. I have to admit, I felt a little ashamed of crying so heavy in public, because I thought that the persons living in Hiroshima might not be so emotional every day. I think I did not oppress my feelings to not deny all the innocent persons who died.

57-58: Fused coins, 62-63: Melted glass bottles
A little bleached out by the time:
The shadow of a man

In the Peace Memorial Museum I found several items that really touched me, for example melted down glass bottles or fused coins like in the photo! It must have been an incredible heat. This heat also created the (in)famous “shadow of a man” – unbelievable. The nuclear lightning bleached the granite around a man sitting at a house wall: the man evapourated very fast but his shadow stayed on the granite. We also learned about several persons having horrible diseases due to radiation, for example Sadako, who got sick with cancer 10 years after the bombing, or another girl that seemed to die for a moment, but recovered, and then after some time got every sort of cancer you can imagine. It’s terrible. But the most shocking was that so many innocent persons had to lose their lives for a test! For some part the bombing just took place to see how it works, how bad the destruction is, how the atmosphere changes due to the A-bomb radiation. I can’t believe that.

In the above photo one can see some of the more than thousand origami paper cranes folded by Sadako during her hospital stay. There are much more delicate than you think, most of them are only 2cm high. She even folded some with a needle, which are only half a centimetre high. Somehow she was convinced that if she folded a thousand paper cranes, a wish would come true. Her wish was of course to fight and survive her disease. So she folded and folded, and each of these cranes carries her wish. All in vain. How deeply saddening.

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