Hiroshima and Nagasaki
On the 6th of August 1945, the town Hiroshima in Japan was hit by a blow of fate, that never could have been imagined before. At a quarter past eight a.m.the US bomber B 29 openedits bomb bay. It threa the first atomic bomb on an inhabited area. This weapon for mass extermination was a bomb made of Uranium. It was called `little boy` by the military. Its explosive force was equivalent to 20000 tons of TNT. Within seconds about 80000 people were killed, whose corpses could be identified. 14000 people vanished without a trace. 100000 people died of theit wounds in the following days. In a split second a fireball of 500 meters in diameter with a temperature of 5oo Million degrees Celsius as well as ablast of 800 km per hour transformed the town into a desert region.
On the 9th of August, 1945, three days after the destruction of Hiroshima, the air force bombed with a second atomic weapon the town of Nagasaki. This time it was a bomb made of Plutonium. It was called `fat man` and blasted at two minutes after 11 o ´clock three kilometers away from the targeted area. Within seconds it killed 70000 people.The explosive force was equal to 22+2 kilotons of TNT.
When an atomic bomb explodes , it releases gamma rays as well as neutron rays.Gamma rays are equivalent to very short wave X rays. The neutron rays are not loaded an can penetrate deeply. Into the human body the can induce radioactivity in some tissues. Phosphorus, that is normally in the bone in form of Phosphates, can so be transformed by the neutrons in radioactive Phosphorus P 32. This sends beta rays into the marrow. By the action of these weapons the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were contaminated. The helpers, too, who came in the following weeks, were contaminated and were victims for generations. The radioactive fallout was widely spread by the wind.
The USA have developed these weapons in the secret Manhattan Project, always fearing, that the Nazis will be faster. They were tested for the first time in Los Alamos on the 16th of July. Officially they used those weapons as early as in August because they wanted to force the Japanese into surrender, although many peolple think, they wanted to test the weapons even on humans as a revenge for the invasion of Pearl Harbour and to demonstrate their power against the Soviets.
- top of page -
Material: you find everything on www.mayorsforpeace.org.
Time and location: check quickly if your mayor is part of the network: if not there is work for you!
City mayors have played an active part in the global campaign to abolish nuclear weapons. Over 2000 mayors in more than 100 nations are part of Mayors for Peace network dedicated to preventing nuclear weapons from being used again. It's led by the mayor of Hiroshima. To find out whether your mayor is part of the network, visit the website (www.mayorsforpeace.org). And if he or she isn't listed, request a meeting! Materials for joining you can find also on the website.
- Prepare questions: Before the meeting, brainstorm some questions you would like to ask your mayor to determine how he or she feels about nuclear weapons.
- Know your stuff: Find out more about the network so that you can answer any questions your mayor might have. You'll need to sell the idea to him or her!
- Be positive: Explain to your mayor that he or she can make a big difference by getting your city behind the cause. Joining is important but easy.
- Follow it up: If your mayor agrees to take part, make sure you follow it up after the meeting to ensure it happens.
Source: this method is from ICAN Material "Learn Peace" developed by Tim Wright.
- top of page -
What does it mean when a nuclear bomb is dropped?
Today only a few people live who have survived the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagaskai, and those who still live are very old. But also their children and grandchildren call themselves Hibakusha – those who survived horror. Together they tell the story of people who went through hell. Those are stories of cruelty but also of humanity. They are telling their stories to prevent that it is happening again. So their cry is “No more Hiroshimas, No more Nagasakis”.
- top of page -
Material: printed story , or beamer and Laptop with internet and loudspeakers.
Time and Location: depending on length of the story 10-20 minutes plus 15 minutes for discussion.
The stories of survivors are telling impressively what it means when a nuclear weapon is dropped. There is video material available in English or Japanese, for example at: www.nhk.or.jp/no-more-hibakusha. You can find also some videos on you-tube. If you read out the story or show an interview to your group, you must careful watch the group and if needed stop the presentation.
REMARK: If there are youth under 16 years you should rethink using this method or plan enough time to discuss thoughts and feelings of the participants afterwards. The group than should be small and know each other well already.
Story of Hideto Sotobayashi
I was 16 years old and a student at the elite school. The students there were released from forced work in the industry to be able to carry out the normal daily lessons. At 8 am on the morning of August 6, 24 students were attending chemistry class. The classroom was on the second floor of the school building, which was built out of wood and was at a distance of 1.5 kilometers from the center of impact of the nuclear bomb. Suddenly, during the lessons at 8:15 am there was a flash followed by thunder, which caused the school building to collapse. In Japanese, flash or lightening is called “Pika” and thunder “Don”. Therefore, the residents of Hiroshima call the explosion of the nuclear bomb “Pika-Don”. When I regained my consciousness, I saw light from above through a hole and after the removal of some rubble I was in the position to free myself. Then I saw that all the surrounding buildings had collapsed and fire had broken out in places.
I found my friend Komyo stuck under the rubble of the building. He was injured and was pleading for help. I cleared the obstacles out of the way with all my strength and helped him to free himself from his distress. Meanwhile, the fire had spread. If I would not have fled quickly, the fire would have gotten me. Although I heard calls for help from beneath me, I had to lead my injured friend Komyo away immediately. He had a head injury, one ear hanging only just to his head, but he was able to walk. We attempted to flee in the direction of my parent’s house in Funairi, which was nearby. But there were two rivers to cross. One could not cross on foot because the wooden bridges there had burnt. I searched and found a small boat, brought my friend on board and I pushed the boat in the water myself to the other side. I repeated this procedure at the second river. It was said, that a provisory clinic was set up in Eba, south of Funairi. It was there I brought my friend and separated from him. He was from Himeji. I heard later that he was able to return to his parent’s house and where he passed.
My house in Funairi, which laid two kilometers south from the impact center of the atomic bomb, was built out of wood. Through a flash of the explosion, the bed sheets that were airing out in the garden caught on fire. Because my father was in the house at that time, he was able to immediately put out the fire and therefore prevent the burning of the house. Early that morning, my mother was in the city center, due to mandatory work service, to widen a street through the removal of a house. My father was a teacher in a middle school and he normally should have also been in the city center because of his required work with the students. Since my mother left the house early in the morning, my father stayed at home a little longer. If my mother would not have had mandatory work service on that day, then she would have been at home and my father would have been in the city center. In any case, one of them would have been in the city center at that time. If the bomb would have exploded later, both of them would have been in the city center.
During that time, the student Okimasu, who was the son of family friends from the surrounding countryside of Hiroshima, lived in our house. We had to search for Okimasu and my mother. First for Okimasu. His workplace was near the Honkawa Bridge, close to the center of impact of the atom bomb. We headed in this direction around noon. As we drew nearer to the city center, we were gradually offered a more and more hellish view. The skin of the people detached itself from their arms, due to burning, and stayed attached at the fingertips, hanging down long. The people’s bodies were completely colored black. The people wandered around disoriented. A screaming woman held her dead child in her arm.
At the Honkawa Bridge, we were offered a very ghastly sight once more. In the search for water, the people laid tightly cramped next to each other on the steps on the bank of the river. There were many corpses floating on the surface of the water. One corpse grabbed my attention, as the sleeping position with the head down looked very similar to Okimasu. In order to identify him, I went down the steps to the river, while pushing the fallen people to the side. During which I found out, that these people were no corpses, but rather survivors. The people grabbed my legs with their hands, begging for “Water” or “Please contact my home!” But unfortunately, I could do absolutely nothing. I swam towards the corpse that caught my eye and recognized that it actually was Okimasu and we brought him to my house. Okimasu´s parents came shortly afterwards and we were able to hand over the corpse. This was at 3 p.m. on August 6.
Now, to look for my mother, we went to the supposed Red Cross Hospital. This hospital was near the location where I had experienced the atomic bomb. We were not able to cross the bridge because of the fires in the morning, but it was possible in the afternoon. The Red Cross Hospital building still stood because it was built out of reinforced concrete. But a fire was spreading out gradually. Each room was filled with casualties. It was there we searched for my mother, but without success. The fires spread further and the people were driven on. Fortunately, we found my mother in a room in front of the fire. She was conscious and had no surface wounds, but she could not move. If we had found my mother any later, she would have been already in the fire. With a bicycle trailer, we brought my mother home that evening. This was on August 6.
Three days later, on the 9th of August, she died at 35 years old. We built the coffin and laid her body in it ourselves. We cremated her corpse on a nearby field. We were very happy that we had found my mother and were able to care for her until her death and we could pay her the last respects. Later we learned, that on that same day, August 9, the second atom bomb was dropped over Nagasaki – my birth city.
Relatives and friends, who were living in the city center, fled to our house. These people had seemingly no injuries. But later, their hair fell out and their gums bled, similar to acute Periodontosis. This was the typical atomic bomb sickness. These people died still in the same month.
- top of page -
Sadako was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She was two kilometers away from where the bomb exploded. Most of Sadako's neighbors died, but Sadako wasn't injured at all, at least not in any way people could see.
Up until the time Sadako was in the seventh grade (1955) she was a normal, happy girl. However, one day after an important relay race that she helped her team win, she felt extremely tired and dizzy. After a while the dizziness went away leaving Sadako to think that it was only the exertion from running the race that made her tired and dizzy. But her tranquillity did not last.
One day Sadako became so dizzy that she fell down. Her school-mates noticed and informed the teacher. Later Sadako’s parents took her to the Hospital to see what was wrong with her. Sadako found out that she had leukemia. Nobody could believe it . At that time they called leukemia the “A-bomb disease”. Almost everyone who got this disease died, and Sadako was very scared. She had to stay in the hospital where she cried and cried.
Shortly thereafter, her best friend, Chizuko, came to visit her. Chizuko brought some origami (folding paper). She told Sadako of a legend. She said that the crane, a sacred bird in Japan, lives for a hundred years, and if a sick person folds 1,000 paper cranes, then that person would get well. After hearing the legend, Sadako decided to fold 1,000 cranes.
Sadako's family worried about her a lot. They often came to visit her in hospital to talk to her and to help her fold cranes. After she folded 500 cranes she felt better and the doctors said she could go home for a short time, but by the end of the first week back home the dizziness and fatigue returned and she had to go back to the hospital. Even during these times of great pain she tried to be cheerful and hopeful. Not long afterwards, with her family standing by her bed, Sadako went to sleep peacefully, never to wake up again. She had folded a total of 644 paper cranes.
Thirty-nine of Sadako's classmates felt saddened by the loss of their friend and decided to form a paper crane club to honor her. On May 5, 1958, almost 3 years after Sadako died, enough money was collected to build a monument in her honor. It is now known as the Children's Peace Monument, and is located in the center of Hiroshima Peace Park, close to the spot where the atomic bomb was dropped.
On the base of the monument is written:
"This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world".
- top of page -
Material: larger Origami paper, copies of the instructions to fold a paper crane
Time and Location: tables and chairs, 10 minutes for reading the story and about 15 minutes for folding 1-2 paper cranes.
DOWNLOAD: Instruction for folding paper cranes
First the story should be read. There are also children books with drawn pictures of the Sadako Story for younger children to back the story. After this Origami paper and the instructions are distributed. For questions and problems its helpful if someone is there who as folded cranes before to help with failed attempts.
- top of page -