August 12, 2019

POSTED BY

Jose Fresan

CATEGORY

Art Memory: Hiroshima and Nagasaki 74 years later

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Created by Susumu Horikoshi. Approx. 30km from the hypocenter Kake-cho, Yamagata-gun. Susumu Horikoshi (then 6) saw the flash and heard a loud roar as if lighting had struck nearby. Soon, from the other side of the mountain, a mushroom cloud rose into the sky. As the cloud gradually swelled, it …

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Created by Susumu Horikoshi. Approx. 30km from the hypocenter Kake-cho, Yamagata-gun. Susumu Horikoshi (then 6) saw the flash and heard a loud roar as if lighting had struck nearby. Soon, from the other side of the mountain, a mushroom cloud rose into the sky. As the cloud gradually swelled, it glinted a brilliant silver under the sun. The memory still haunts me.” Image courtesy of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Last week marked the 74th Anniversary of the bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States, marking the end of World War II in 1945. And it feels like 74 years has been enough to erase the realness of nuclear horror from our collective memory. The bombing of Hiroshima took around 90,000 and 146,000 souls and the bombing of Nagasaki around 39,000 and 80,000.

History tends to lose its human side and turns human lives into data, but art can keep the collective human memory and feeling alive. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum holds a collection of drawings created by some survivors of the bombing. The collection encompasses different scenes that the survivors witnessed. These pieces of artwork capture something that no camera could ever have captured, the human process of remembering these horrors. I look at these drawings and cannot help but thank these people for the bravery of reliving these terrible moments and creating a depiction of them for us to experience.

I feel the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is still an uncomfortable subject on our western society however I believe it’s time we face it head on. We need to stop justifying it as a logical war strategy or a necessary step for a higher good. We need to take it for what it was, the loss of around 200,000 civilian souls. We need to make sure that it gets embedded in our society that under no circumstances this could be allowed to happen again.

You can see some of the survivors’ artwork here:

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Created by Masato Yamashita. A girl had died in the Enkogawa riverbed with no one there to help her. Image courtesy of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
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Created by Onogi Akira. People wanting water gathered around the cisterns. I found them just as they were when they drank and died. My heart aches as I apply the red color. Image courtesy of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
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Created by Kichisuke Yoshimura. Artist’s explanation: “Covered with blood, trudging silently away like ghosts from the city, the injured looked like creatures from another world.” Image courtesy of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
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Created by Mitsuko Taguchi. Artist’s comments summarized: “Carrying her child, she had probably been unable to outrun the flames. Her hair was standing on end. She still protected her child under her breast, like a living person. Her eyes were open wide. I cannot forget that shocking sight.” Image courtesy of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
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Created by Chisako Sasaki. Excerpt of artist comment: “I heard a very young girl shouting for help from a burning upstairs window. The memory still haunts me.” Image courtesy of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.