Hiroshima Survivors' Testimony

Testimony of Hiroshi Sawachika, 1986

Reformatted from the Original Electronic Text at Voice of Hibakusha.

Hiroshi Sawachika was 28 years old when the bomb was dropped. He was an army doctor stationed at the army headquarters in Ujina. When he was exposed, he was inside the building at the headquarters, 4.1 km from the hypocenter. Being rather far from the hypocenter, he was not seriously injured. -voh

{1}I was in my office. I had just entered the room and said "Good morning." to colleagues and I was about to approach my desk when outside it suddenly turned bright red. I felt very hot on my cheeks. Being the chief of the room, I shouted to the young men and women in the room that they should evacuate. As soon as I cried, I felt weightless as if I were an astronaut. I was then unconscious for 20 or 30 seconds. When I came to, I realized that everybody including myself was lying at one side of the room. Nobody was standing. The desks and chairs had also blown off to one side. At the windows, there was no window glass and the window frames had been blown out as well. I went to the windows to find out where the bombing had taken place. And I saw the mushroom cloud over the gas company. The sound and shock somehow suggested that the bomb had been dropped right over the gas company. I still had no idea what had happened. And I kept looking towards the gas company. After a while, I realized that my white shirt was red all over. I thought it was funny because I was not injured at all. I looked around and then realized that the girl lying near by was heavily injured, with lots of broken glass stuck all over her body. Her blood had splashed and made stains on my shirt.

{2}In a few minutes, I heard my name called. I was told to go to the headquarters where there were lots of injured persons waiting. I went there and I started to give treatment with the help of nurses and medical course men. We first treated the office personnel for their injuries. Most of them had broken glass and pieces of wood stuck into them. We treated them one after another.

{3}Afterwards, we heard the strange noise. It sounded as if a large flock of mosquitoes were coming from a distance. We looked out of the window to find out what was happening. We saw that citizens from the town were marching towards us. They looked unusual. We understood that the injured citizens were coming towards us for treatment. But while, we thought that there should be Red Cross Hospitals and another big hospitals in the center of the town. So why should they come here, I wondered, instead of going there. At that time, I did not know that the center of the town had been so heavily damaged. After a while, with the guide of the hospital personnel, the injured persons reached our headquarters. With lots of injured people arriving, we realized just how serious the matter was. We decided that we should treat them also. Soon afterwards, we learned that many of them had badly burned. As they came to us, they held their hands aloft. They looked like they were ghosts. We made the tincture for that treatment by mixing edible peanut oil and something. We had to work in a mechanical manner in order to treat so many patients. We provided one room for the heavily injured and another for the slightly injured. A treatment was limited to the first aid because there were no facilities for the patients to be hospitalized.

{4}Later on, when I felt that I could leave the work to other staff for a moment, I walked out of the treatment room and went into the another room to see what had happened. When I stepped inside, I found the room filled with the smell that was quite similar to the smell of dried squid when it has been grilled. The smell was quite strong. It's a sad reality that the smell human beings produce when they are burned is the same as that of the dried squid when it is grilled. The squid - we like so much to eat. It was a strange feeling, a feeling that I had never had before. I can still remember that smell quite clearly.

{5}Afterwards, I came back to the treatment room and walked through the roads of people who were either seriously injured or waiting to be treated. When I felt someone touch my leg, it was a pregnant woman. She said that she was about to die in a few hours. She said, "I know that I am going to die. But I can feel that my baby is moving inside. It wants to get out of the room. I don't mind if I had died. But if the baby is delivered now, it does not have to die with me. Please help my baby live." There were no obstetricians there. There was no delivery room. There was no time to take care of her baby. All I could do was to tell her that I would come back later when everything was ready for her and her baby. Thus I cheered her up and she looks so happy. But I have to return to the treatment work. So I resumed to work taking care of the injured one by one. There were so many patients. I felt as if I was fighting against the limited time. It was late in the afternoon towards the evening. And image of that pregnant woman never left my mind. Later, I went to the place where I had found her before, she was still there lying in the same place. I patted her on the shoulder, but she said nothing. The person lying next to her said that a short while ago, she had become silent. I still recalled this incident partly because I was not able to fulfill the last wish of this dying young woman. I also remember her because I had a chance to talk with her however short it was.

INTERVIEWER: How many patients did you treat on August 6?

{6}Well, at least 2 or 3 thousand on that very day if you include those patients whom I gave directions to. I felt that as if once that day started, it never ended. I had to keep on and on treating the patients forever. It was the longest day of my life. Later on, when I had time to reflect on that day, I came to realize that we, doctors learned a lot through the experience, through the suffering of all those people. It's true that the lack of medical knowledge, medical facilities, integrated organization and so on prevented us from giving sufficient medical treatment. Still there was a lot for us, medical doctors to learn on that day. I learned that the nuclear weapons which gnaw the minds and bodies of human beings should never be used. Even the slightest idea using nuclear arms should be completely exterminated the minds of human beings. Otherwise, we will repeat the same tragedy. And we will never stop being ashamed of ourselves.

Testimony of Akihiro Takahashi, 1986

Reformatted from the Original Electronic Text at Voice of Hibakusha.

Mr. Akihiro Takahashi was 14 years old, when the bomb was dropped. he was standing in line with other students of his junior high school, waiting for the morning meeting. He was 1.4 km away from the center. -voh

{1}. . . We were about to form lines facing the front, [when] we saw a B-29 approaching and about fly over us. All of us were looking up the sky, pointing out the aircraft. Then the teachers came out from the school building and the class leaders gave the command to fall in. Our faces were all shifted from the direction of the sky to that of the platform. That was the moment when the blast came. And then the tremendous noise came and we were left in the dark. I couldn't see anything at the moment of explosion just like in this picture.

{2}We had been blown by the blast. Of course, I couldn't realize this until the darkness disappeared. I was actually blown about 10 m. My friends were all marked down on the ground by the blast just like this. Everything collapsed for as far as I could see. I felt the city of Hiroshima had disappeared all of a sudden. Then I looked at myself and found my clothes had turned into rags due to the heat. I was probably burned at the back of the head, on my back, on both arms and both legs. My skin was peeling and hanging like this.

{3}Automatically I began to walk heading west because that was the direction of my home. After a while, I noticed somebody calling my name. I looked around and found a friend of mine who lived in my town and was studying at the same school. His name was Yamamoto. He was badly burnt just like myself. We walked toward the river. And on the way we saw many victims. I saw a man whose skin was completely peeled off the upper half of his body and a woman whose eye balls were sticking out. Her whole baby was bleeding. A mother and her baby were lying with a skin completely peeled off. We desperately made a way crawling. And finally we reached the river bank. At the same moment, a fire broke out. We made a narrow escape from the fire. If we had been slower by even one second, we would have been killed by the fire. Fire was blowing into the sky becoming 4 or even 5m high. There was a small wooden bridge left, which had not been destroyed by the blast. I went over to the other side of the river using that bridge. But Yamamoto was not with me any more. He was lost somewhere. I remember I crossed the river by myself and on the other side, I purged myself into the water three times. The heat was tremendous . And I felt like my body was burning all over. For my burning body the cold water of the river was as precious as the treasure. Then I left the river, and I walked along the railroad tracks in the direction of my home.

{4}On the way, I ran into an another friend of mine, Tokujiro Hatta. I wondered why the soles of his feet were badly burnt. It was unthinkable to get burned there. But it was undeniable fact the soles were peeling and red muscle was exposed. Even I myself was terribly burnt, I could not go home ignoring him. I made him crawl using his arms and knees. Next, I made him stand on his heels and I supported him. We walked heading toward my home repeating the two methods. When we were resting because we were so exhausted, I found my grandfather's brother and his wife, in other words, great uncle and great aunt, coming toward us. That was quite coincidence. As you know, we have a proverb about meeting Buddha in Hell. My encounter with my relatives at that time was just like that. They seem to be the Buddha to me wandering in the living hell.

{5}Afterwards I was under medical treatment for one year and half and I miraculously recovered. Out of sixty of junior high school classmates, only ten of us are alive today. Yamamoto and Hatta soon died from the acute radiation disease. The radiation corroded the bodies and killed them.

{6}I myself am still alive on this earth suffering after-effect of the bomb. I have to see regularly an ear doctor, an eye doctor, a dermatologist and a surgeon. I feel uneasy about my health every day. Further, on both of my hands, I have keloids. My injury was most serious on my right hand and I used to have terrible keloids at right here. I had it removed by surgery in 1954, which enabled me to move my wrist a little bit like this. For my four fingers are fixed just like this, and my elbow is fixed at one hundred twenty degrees and doesn't move. The muscle and bones are attached each other. Also the fourth finger of my right hand doesn't have a normal nail. It has a black nail. A piece of glass which was blown by the blast stuck here and destroyed the cells of the base of the finger now. That is why a black nail continues to grow and from now on, too, it will continue to be black and never become normal.

{7}Anyway I'm alive today together with nine of my classmates for this forty years. I've been living believing that we can never waste the depth of the victims. I've been living on dragging my body full of sickness and from time to time I question myself I wonder if it is worth living in such hardship and pain and I become desperate. But it's time I manage to pull myself together and I tell myself once my life was saved, I should fulfill my mission as a survivor in other words it has been and it is my belief that those who survived must continue to talk about our experiences. The hand down the awful memories to future generations representing the silent voices of those who had to die in misery. Throughout my life, I would like to fulfill this mission by talking about my experience both here in Japan and overseas.

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