Survivors Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Elio Delgado Legon

Nagasaki temple destroyed.  Foto:
Nagasaki temple destroyed. Foto:

HAVANA TIMES — I recently had access to horrifying testimonies about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki offered by a group hibakushas (“survivors”). Though I had read dozens of articles and news pieces on these incidents, I had never come across such harrowing accounts, and they made me reflect on the nature of that needless act of aggression against two helpless civilian populations in Japan, perpetrated when the Second World War was nearly over.

While reading those testimonies, I asked myself: how is it possible such heartless people, capable of perpetrating such horrible acts of genocide, can exist? Remembering the history of modern warfare, I recalled other acts of genocide perpetrated by different men under the same system, and came to the conclusion that a merciless system such as capitalism can only produce merciless men who are ultimately capable of such horrible crimes.

Some fragments from the testimonies offered by the hibakushas will give the reader a sense of what I am referring to: “That violent conflagration, that crowd of people burnt to ashes, those rivers so full of corpses on couldn’t see the water, those undecipherable voices I heard in public places, those pleading looks, what my fingers felt when they touched the decomposing flesh and touched the bones, that’s something I will never forget.” Hiroshi Nakamura was only 13 when the bombs fell and has been unable to forget the event to this day. “This is what I saw down the road: The victims who had escaped the sea of fire had burnt hair and faces that had been burnt to a crisp. There were people whose skins were falling off with their shirts, people I recognized as men because they wore pants, women covering their breasts with burnt hands, semi-naked people with burns all over their bodies, beings one could not identify – I didn’t know whether they were men or woman. I managed to get to the shelter after walking past this large group of people. The shelter was also a mountain of wounded people.”

Sadao Haraguchi tells us that “the terrible thing about the atom bombs is that the damage they caused didn’t end after they had instantly killed 70 thousand people. The true horror began after the blast.” He adds: “I saw totally wrecked trains and countless bodies. There’s something I’ve been unable to forget to this day: a charred body with its right hand outstretched, trying to crawl out of its bombed-out home. I could just picture the kind of heat that had consumed him.”

“There is nothing that justified the indiscriminate murder of non-combatants. What’s more, the atomic bomb harms the descendants of the victims. It is clear, thus, that its use is inhumane,” says Tadayoshi Ogawa, adding that “adults 4 kilometers away from the blast flew across the air because of the explosion and most of those who were directly exposed to the radiation in the concentric circles 1 to 1.5 kilometers from the epicenter died within the first 45 days after the bombing. The survival rate after five years was only 0.3 percent.”

These are brief segments of the testimonies offered by Japan’s hibakushas. Reading them, I cannot help but bring to mind the image of a Vietnamese girl, running naked down a road to escape from the flames spread over her village by US planes, during a senseless war in which the most heinous acts of genocide since the Holocaust were committed, in a country as distant from the United States as Vietnam is.

Millions of human beings, both Vietnamese and American, lost their lives for no good reason, and many continue to endure the consequences of the chemical weapons used in that war – but those responsible have never been punished for these crimes.

I also recall the terrible slaughter of Palestinians perpetrated by the Israeli army, and the fact the guilty have also never been punished.

Si agregamos a lo anterior las miles de víctimas ocasionadas por las guerras, también injustificadas, contra Irak y Afganistán y las llevadas a cabo utilizando mercenarios en Libia y en Siria, no me queda la menor duda de que el capitalismo es una fiera herida de muerte, y como tal lanza en todas direcciones zarpazos que pueden ser peligrosos.

Por eso los hibakushas no olvidan Hiroshima y Nagasaki, y nosotros no debemos olvidar ningún crimen, dondequiera que se cometa y tratar de que no quede impune.

When we consider the thousands of deaths caused by the equally unjustified wars against Iraq and Afghanistan and those carried out with mercenaries in Lybia and Syria, there is no doubt in my mind that capitalism is a fatally wounded beast clawing frantically and dangerously about.

This is the reason the hibakushas do not forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and why we mustn’t forget any crime, no matter where it was committed – so as to ensure it does not go unpunished.

One thought on “Survivors Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki

  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki were horrible. All war is horrible. The US and
    Japan were at war because Japan attacked the US at Pearl Harbor.

    While the death toll from Hiroshima and Nagasaki was horrible,
    it was a small percentage of the civilian death toll from WWII. This
    was in addition to the 2 million Japanese soldiers who were killed in
    that war. One can only speculate how many more Japanese would have died
    if the US had not ended the war but all estimates are that this death
    toll would have been greater than those who lost their lives in
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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