Testament from Hiroshima; We Have All Heard of the Hiroshima Bomb, but Only the Personal Testimony of a Survivor Truly Conveys the Horror Unleashed at 8.15am on August 6, 1945. Setsuko Iwamoto Was 13 When the Atomic Bomb Exploded in the Heart of Hiroshima. at School, 1.4km from the Hypocentre Where the Bomb Landed, She Remembers Seeing a Bright Light before Her Life Changed Forever. She Tells of Her Fight for Survival

The Birmingham Post (England), October 6, 2000 | Go to article overview

Testament from Hiroshima; We Have All Heard of the Hiroshima Bomb, but Only the Personal Testimony of a Survivor Truly Conveys the Horror Unleashed at 8.15am on August 6, 1945. Setsuko Iwamoto Was 13 When the Atomic Bomb Exploded in the Heart of Hiroshima. at School, 1.4km from the Hypocentre Where the Bomb Landed, She Remembers Seeing a Bright Light before Her Life Changed Forever. She Tells of Her Fight for Survival


'The war situation was worsening every day. Hiroshima was a very important strategic city in the Western part of Japan. It had escaped the heavy bombing of other areas, although sometimes we saw aeroplanes come over on reconnaissance flights.

A lot of the school children helped demolish wooden buildings to create fire breaks and escape routes in the city. On the day the atomic bomb was blasted many high school students were engaged in demolition work. All of them were killed.

The bell for the morning assembly was ringing so I carried my air raid hat and a bag with first aid in it and went down the stairs. When I was half way down the corridor, I saw a great light. The roof covered the sky so I did not know where the light was coming from.

I thought that if I crouched a little lower I would be able to see the source of the flash of light. Then I saw an even stronger, blue-ish light.

My little sister was nine years old and she was about 10 kilometres from the hypocentre. Later she said the flash of light was like a small sun. As she lay on the ground she heard a roaring sound which shook the earth and after an hour, saw people coming out of the city with blistered and torn skin. 'They looked like ghosts,' she said.

Later the bomb came to be known as Pika Don. Pika means flash of light, don means roaring sound.

I was unconscious so I did not notice the roaring sound. I came to because I heard so many screams 'Mother help me' and 'Teacher help me', like a chorus.

I thought the bomb had hit the school building directly and I knew from the drills at school that unless I got out of the building the fire would spread through and I would be burnt to death.

I desperately tried to get out of the rubble, but I don't know how I got out of the building. When I got out it looked so dark, like dusk. I thought I had been unconscious until evening, but it was not so. Because of the bomb, the city had turned into a dark place.

I saw no buildings standing. If felt as if I was the only living thing on earth. There was an ominous silence all around.

Then I suddenly began to notice screams and shouting people. When I turned back I saw some people round the gate of the school, so I started to go towards them.

I saw a young woman, a home economics teacher. She must have been in her 20s. Her skin was blistered and her clothes were hanging down. She told us to head for the factory or the elementary school at Hiajima Hill.

I couldn't recognise anybody, but one of the students called to me and said: 'You're face is OK, you are lucky. How do I look?'

I had terrible blisters down my right arm which had been exposed to the flash of light. I felt so ashamed because my naked skin was exposed.

The girl who had asked 'How do I look?' was waiting for me to reply. I had to say something, but I could not say she looked terrible. So I said something, but I did not mean anything.

In those days in each community there were water troughs here and there. When we found one, there were so many people there. Even though it was so filthy and black, everyone was trying to drink. I did not drink the water.

I heard some man crying out 'Don't drink the water' but no one was listening to him because if they did not put water in their bodies they felt like they were going to die.

I saw a woman who was calling to the people around and crying out for help: 'My child is under the broken house, please help me get him out.'

But no one could help. They did not have any energy left to help anyone else.

I approached the Hyajima Bridge where I saw a friend of mine who was from my neighbourhood. When she found me she said we should go towards the river, and she held my hand.

I remembered my teacher had said to go to Hiajima Hill and I could see the hill across the river. I pulled back my friend's hand and told her we should go to the hill. …

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Testament from Hiroshima; We Have All Heard of the Hiroshima Bomb, but Only the Personal Testimony of a Survivor Truly Conveys the Horror Unleashed at 8.15am on August 6, 1945. Setsuko Iwamoto Was 13 When the Atomic Bomb Exploded in the Heart of Hiroshima. at School, 1.4km from the Hypocentre Where the Bomb Landed, She Remembers Seeing a Bright Light before Her Life Changed Forever. She Tells of Her Fight for Survival
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