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Aug 03 2021 - 01:17 PM
Today In History: Atomic Bomb Drops on Hiroshima

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August 6


can we forget that flash?

suddenly 30,000 in the streets disappeared

in the crushed depths of darkness

the shrieks of 50,000 died out


when the swirling yellow smoke thinned

buildings split, bridges collapsed

packed trains rested singed

and a shoreless accumulation of rubble and embers - Hiroshima

before long, a line of naked bodies walking in groups, crying

with skin hanging down like rags

hands on chests

stamping on crumbled brain matter

burnt clothing covering hips


corpses lie on the parade ground like stone images of Jizo, dispersed in all

directions

on the banks of the river, lying one on top of another, a group that had crawled to

a tethered raft


also gradually transformed into corpses beneath the sun's scorching rays

and in the light of the flames that pierced the evening sky

the place where mother and younger brother were pinned under alive

also was engulfed in flames

and when the morning sun shone on a group of high-school girls

who had fled and were lying

on the floor of the armory, in excrement

their bellies swollen, one eye crushed, half their bodies raw flesh with skin ripped

off, hairless, impossible to tell who was who

all had stopped moving

in a stagnant, offensive smell

the only sound the wings of flies buzzing around metal basins


city of 300,000

can we forget that silence?

in that stillness

the powerful appeal

of the white eye sockets of the wives and children who did not return home

that tore apart our hearts

can it be forgotten?!

--TŌGE Sankichi, translated by Karen Thornber (from Poems of the Atomic Bomb, 1951)


On August 6, 1945 at 8:15am the Enola Gay, an American B-29 bomber, dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing 80,000 people, including many doctors and nurses, and injuring another 35,000. Following the Potsdam Conference in Germany (July 17-August 2, 1945), when Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and U.S President Harry Truman met, the fatal decision to bomb Hiroshima warded off Japan's demand for unconditional surrender -- effectively ending the Second World War. This major catastrophe caused an additional 60,000 deaths that resulted from the fall out of atomic matter. It was described by Colonel Paul Tibbetts, lead pilot of the Enola Gay, as a "giant purple mushroom" that turned Hiroshima into an "ugly smudge" and created "an awful blanket of smoke and fire."


The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.












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  • Special News Slide, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries (forthcoming)



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