Hiroshima elders remember

Hiroshima elders remember


As the 70th anniversary of the world's first nuclear attack nears, many survivors still find it too painful to talk about. But with their ranks dwindling, others are determined to pass on their experiences to younger generations.

"Hiroshima needs to keep on sending a message to the world that things like this should never happen again," said Hiroshi Harada, 75, who survived the attack. He was six when the bomb dropped.

. HIROSHIMA, Japan. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Harada, former head of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, stands by a red ball marking where the bomb exploded above the city. He remembers how his leg sank into one of the bodies blocking a narrow Hiroshima street as he fled the fire ignited by the bomb.

"My leg slid deep into one of them. Then it was very hard to pull my leg out ... To escape, I had no choice," he said. Later that day, a woman grabbed him by the leg and asked for water. He recoiled in horror to find a chunk of flesh from her hand sticking to his leg.


Shigeo Ito, 84, displays a 1944 family photo that shows his late sister Yuki (rear, third left), killed by the bomb. He showed the image during a talk to young people. Shortly after the bombing, 15-year-old Ito was hurrying home when a woman asked him to help rescue someone trapped under a collapsed house.

He ignored the plea since fire was approaching the bridge he needed to cross to get home. "Even long after that, I could not help feeling ashamed of myself every time I saw that bridge," said Ito.

. HIROSHIMA, Japan. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Fumiaki Kajiya, 76, lost his sister to the atomic bomb blast. Their parents had moved her to a rural area to keep her safe; but just before the bombing, they brought her back to the city, succumbing to her pleas to stay with the family.

Kajiya's mother would weep for hours on end in front of the Buddhist altar as the Aug. 6 anniversary came around every year. Kajiya now performs "picture shows" for children with hand-drawn art to pass on the horror of the atomic bomb.

. HIROSHIMA, Japan. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

A U.S. bomber dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. The attack killed about 140,000 people by the end of the year, out of the 350,000 who lived in the city.

The city still has some 60,000 survivors but their average age now approaches 80.