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
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.
- Hiroshima Wiped Off the Map: Atomic Bomb Reduces Jap Base To Ashes. (1945, Aug 09). The Times of India (1861-Current)
- Stimson, H.L. (1947, Jan 28). The Man Who Knows Tells Of: The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb. The Washington Post (1923-1954)
- Atomic Bombs: 230,000 Still Suffering. (1961, Jan 22). The Observer (1901- 2003)
- Roderick, J. (1965, Aug 01). 20 Years After A Bomb: Hiroshima Arises Out Of Atomic Ashes. The Sun (1837-1995)
- The Beginning Of the Atomic Bomb. (1967, Dec 24). The Sun (1837-1995)
- Loercher, D. (1977, Aug 10). Hiroshima: A Necessary Bomb, Claims Book: 'Disaster Books'? The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current File)
- Warner, G. (1985, Aug 03). How the New Terrible Era Exploded At Hiroshima. The Guardian (1959-2003)
- Lexman, S. (1995, Jul 21). Display Of First Atomic Bomb's Version Stirs Bitter Memories. The Times of India (1861-Current)
- The Day the Sky Exploded: Scientists Have Finally Pieced Together Exactly What Happened When An Atomic Bomb Was Dropped On Hiroshima. (2003, Jul 31). The Guardian (1959-2003)
- Crosbie, J. (2005, Aug 01). Preserving a Horrific Moment In History: Hiroshima's Peace Museum Carefully Documents the Shocking Events Of the First Time An Atomic Bomb Was Used Against People. The Irish Times (1921-Current File)
- Harrison-Wong, Carol. Educational Significance Of How U.S. History Textbooks Treat Hiroshima. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, 2003. Ed'D.
- O'Neal, Michael. The Atomic Bomb: A Jackdaw Portfolio. Amawalk, New York: Golden Owl, c1996. CURR E814 .A866 1996
- Rotter, Andrew Jon. Hiroshima: The World's Bomb. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. e-book
- The Most Fearsome Sight: The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima. (2020, Aug 6). The National WWII Museum.
- Hiroshima After the Atomic Bomb, Courtesy of U.S. National Archives and DVIDS
- Special News Slide, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries (forthcoming)
Need to keep current, look to the past, teach a topic? The Everett Cafe features daily postings of news from around the world, and also promotes awareness of historical events from an educational context. Be sure to check additional Cafe News postings on the library blog.