“A blinding flash swept across my eyes. In a fraction of a second, I looked out the window towards the garden as a huge band of light fell from the sky down to the trees. A thunderous explosion gripped the earth and shook it. There seemed no alternative to death as the earth heaved.”
A survivor of Hiroshima, 1945
Today was the 67th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. Let us keep firmly in our mind the consequences of any single nuclear explosion.
When the blow came, I closed my eyes but I could still feel the extreme heat. It was like being roasted alive many times over. I noticed that the side of my body was very hot. It was on fire. I tried to put it out, but it would not go out so easily. You could hardly recognize me, my lips and my face were all popped up and I had to force my eyes open with my fingers in order to see.
The blast was so intense it felt like hundreds of needles were stabbing me all at once.
People had no hair because their hair was burned, and at a glance you couldn’t tell whether you were looking at them from in front or in back.
There were lots of naked people who were so badly burned that the skin of their whole body was hanging from them like rags.
A tremendous blast wave struck our ship. A giant ball of fire rose as though from the bowels of the earth, belching forth enormous white smoke rings. Next we saw a giant pillar of purple fire, ten thousand feet high, shooting skyward with enormous speed. Awestruck, we watched it shoot upward like a meteor coming from the earth instead of from outer space. It was a living thing, a new species of being, born right before our incredulous eyes. It was a living totem pole, carved with many grotesque masks grimacing at the earth.
I looked at the face to see if I knew her. It was a woman of about forty. A gold tooth gleamed in the wide open mouth. A handful of singed hair hung down from the left temple over her cheek, dangling in her mouth. Her eyelids were drawn up, showing black holes where the eyes had been burned out.
–“Testimony of Toshiko Saeki,” and “Testimony of Yoshito Matsushige,” Voice of Hibakusha, http://www.inicom.com/hibakusha/index.html. Fujie Urata Matsumoto, as quoted in Takashi Nagai, We of Nagasaki: The Story of Survivors in an Atomic Wasteland
For a visual history, watch this video shot nine months after the explosion:
If you can stand more, I would strongly suggest reading John Hersey’s powerful New Yorker piece: http://archive.org/details/hiroshima035082mbp
If you have been moved to do something, please support the Global Zero campaign: