At exactly fifteen minutes past eight in the morning, on August 6, 1945, Japanese time, at the moment when the atomic bomb flashed above Hiroshima, Miss Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in the personnel department of the East Asia Tin Works, had just sat down at her place in the plant office and was turning her head to speak to the girl at the next desk.
A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb, and these six were among the survivors. They still wonder why they lived when so many others died.
The reflex of a mother set her in motion toward her children. She had taken a single step (the house was 1,350 yards, or three quarters of a mile, from the center of the explosion) when something picked her up and she seemed to fly into the next room-over the raised sleeping platform
Murata-san, the housekeeper, was nearby, crying over and over, “Shu Jesusu, awaremi tamai!” Our Lord Jesus, have pity on us!
The children were silent, except for the five-year-old, Myeko, who kept asking questions: "Why is it night already?”
Dr. Sasaki lost all sense of profession and stopped working as a skillful surgeon and a sympathetic man; he became an automaton, mechanically wiping, daubing, winding, wiping, daubing, winding.
All the way, he overtook dreadfully burned and lacerated people, and in his guilt he turned to right and left as he hurried and said to some of them, "Excuse me for having no burden like yours."
He experienced such horror at disturbing the dead—preventing them, he momentarily felt, from launching their craft and going on their ghostly way— that he said out loud, "Please forgive me for taking this boat. I must use it for others, who are alive."
The sounds came from one of the sandspits, and those in the punt could see, in the reflected light of the still-burning fires, a number of wounded people lying at the edge of the river, already partly covered by the flooding tide. Mr. Tanimoto wanted to help them, but the priests were afraid that Father Schiffer would die if they didn't hurry, and they urged their ferryman along.
[Fathers Schiffer and LaSalle] thanked God for the care they had received. Thousands of people had nobody to help them.
Father Kleinsorge has thought back to how queasy he had once been at the sight of pain, how someone else's cut finger used to make him turn faint. Yet there in the park he was so benumbed that immediately after leaving this horrible sight he stopped on a path by one of the pools and discussed with-a lightly wounded man whether it would be safe to eat the fat, two-foot carp that floated dead on the surface of the water.
Japan is dying. If there is a real air raid here in Hiroshima, I want to die with our country.
About a week after the bomb dropped, a vague, incomprehensible rumor reached Hiroshima that the city had been destroyed by the energy released when atoms were somehow split in two.
When they came to know the war was ended—that is, Japan was defeated, they, of course, were deeply disappointed, but followed after their Emperor's commandment in calm spirit, making whole-hearted sacrifice for the everlasting peace of the world—and Japan started her new way.
Lieutenant John D. Montgomery, of Kalamazoo, as its adviser, began to consider what sort of city the new Hiroshima should be. The ruined city had flourished—and had been an inviting target—mainly because it had been one of the most important military-command and communications centers in Japan, and would have become the Imperial headquarters had the islands been invaded and Tokyo been captured.
"My child," Father Kleinsorge said, "man is not now in the condition God intended. He has fallen from grace through sin." And he went on to explain all the reasons for everything.
She would say, "It was war and we had to expect it." […] Dr. Fujii said approximately the same thing about the use of the bomb to Father Kleinsorge one evening, in German: "Da ist nichts zu machen. There’s nothing to be done about it."
Many citizens of Hiroshima, however, continued to feel a hatred for Americans which nothing could possibly erase. "I see," Dr. Sasaki once said, "that they are holding a trial for war criminals in Tokyo just now. I think they ought to try the men who decided to use the bomb."
The bombing almost seemed a natural disaster—one that it had simply been her bad luck, her fate (which must be accepted), to suffer.
Dr. Terufumi Sasaki was still racked by memories of the appalling days and nights right after the explosion—memories it would be his lifework to distance himself from.
He registered himself as a Japanese citizen under the name he would henceforth hear; Father Makoto Takakura.
Her greatest gift, she found, was her ability to help inmates to die in peace. She had seen so much death in Hiroshima after the bombing, and had seen what strange things so many people did when they were cornered by death, that nothing now surprised or frightened her
As the bearers were carrying Dr. Fujii downstairs, he stirred. Swimming up toward consciousness, he apparently thought he was being rescued, somehow, after the atomic bombing. "Who are you?" he asked the bearers. "Are you soldiers?"
Nor did he have any place in the Japanese peace movement, for he had been out of the country at crucial moments in its development and, besides, his Christian outlook made him suspicious of the radical groups that were on the cutting edge of antinuclear activity.