All war is a crime against humanity. It is a stupid, brutal, and criminal activity.
The Motoyasu River, part of the delta of rivers that run through Hiroshima. In the distance is the "T" shaped bridge that was the target for the atomic bombing of the city at 8:15 in the morning, August 6, 1945.
On every side of the A-bomb Dome are small memorials (pictured here and to the right) that are still actively decorated with flowers or name markers by people who lost family and friends in the holocaust.
The A-bomb Dome viewed from the T-shaped bridge at the heart of the city of Hiroshima that was the visual target of the pilot.
At the other end of the Pond of Peace an ever-burning Flame of Peace is seen at the left. What struck me so forcefully at the Peace Park was all the tremendous beauty that people had created in response to the ultimate ugliness and hideousness of the bombing.
Children's Peace Monument. The slender figure of a child holds a huge paper crane symbolizing the hope of all children for a peaceful future.
Many visitors to the Peace Park actively decorate the monuments to remember the victims and express their hope for a decent future for their children.
A-bomb Monument of the Hiroshima Girls High School. On the center figure is inscribed "E=mc2"
We were honored to be given a tour of the Memorial Hall by its Director, Koichiro Maeda. The Hall of Remembrance is underground and inscribed the names and memory of all 140,000 victims of the blast and its aftereffects. The Hall uses advanced electronics to personalize the memory of the victims as in the screens above and to the right.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is above ground and is flanked by two conference centers.
We were honored with a guided tour from the Director of the Museum. From left to right are Mineko Moishita, of the World Federalists of Hiroshima, Reverend Yamazaki of Oomoto, Kameoka, Takao Nagatsuma, Director of WFM, Hiroshima, myself, Minoru Hataguchi, Director of the Museum, and Kimio Matsumoto of Oomoto, Kameoka.
A large display of the city prior to the devastation and afterwards (to the right).
The initial fireball in the first microsecond was close to 300,000 degrees centigrade temperature. Those outdoors in the city had their skin melt directly from their bodies as in the above picture.
The downtown area erupted in flames causing intense firestorms and whirlwinds. In 20 to 30 minutes "black rain" (deadly radioactive fallout) began falling in areas to the northwest into an area 29 km long and 15 km wide as indicated on this map.
This is an actual size model of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It is about 3 meters long and 28 inches wide. It released the destructive energy of 15,000 tons of TNT.
Three things struck me very forcefully in this visit to the Peace Park and Museums:
(1) The way the Japanese people have worked so hard to preserve the vivid, living memory of this horror for the benefit of the entire world and all of humankind.
(2) The way in which the many people and organizations who contributed to the peace park and museums have responded to the ugliness and terror of this holocaust by creating monuments, exhibits, and remembrances of immense beauty. Beauty is the fruit of peace. Ugliness and terror are the fruits of war.
(3) Third, I was struck deeply by the horror of war itself, an institution that gives people license to commit these crimes against humanity. Not only is the creation of such weapons of mass destruction a crime against humanity, the institution of war is itself a criminal activity and a moral horror beyond belief.
However, the crime of war can take on a truly awesome magnitude as in the use of nuclear weapons of mass destruction by the United States against Japan at the close of World War Two.
The bomb exploded 580 meters above the ground 160 meters southeast of this building, which is located on the right near the bridge in the photo of the river above. Probably because it was nearly under the bomb, this building was not entirely destroyed although it instantly burned from the ceiling down from the immense heat, killing all its occupants. Today it is preserved as a memorial called the "A-bomb Dome."
Another memorial by the A-bomb Dome. One can see the steel girders that have been placed in the building shell to keep it from collapsing.
The Centotaph for the A-bomb victims sights along the Pond of Peace to the A-bomb Dome in the center distance.
The Children's Peace Monument is a memorial to the many thousands of children who died from the bomb. It is also known as the "Tower of Paper Cranes." The monument was inspired by Sadako Sasaki, a girl who was irradiated by the bomb at age two. She developed leukemia at about age 12 and folded paper cranes out of medicine wrapping paper in the hospital in the faith that if she folded enough cranes she would be cured. She died on May 5, 1958.
Memorial tower to mobilized students who came to Hiroshima to work for the victims, themselves becoming victims of the radiation poisoning the ruins of the city.
This clock, near the entrance to the Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, is set at 8:15 a.m., the time that the bomb exploded. Circling the clock's perimeter is rubble collected from the destroyed city.
One can insert ones Memorial Hall booklet in the many desks and exhibits, and learn about specific people and lives who were destroyed in that holocaust.
A view of the Peace Fountains from beneath the Museum.
The Museum is full of actual photos and facts from the aftermath of the bombing. It also includes many U.S. military, Presidential, and State Department memos detailing the political considerations leading up the the decision to use the "new weapon."
In one blinding instant of unspeakable heat, radiation, and destructive power, the entire city was laid waste.
Persons within 1.2 kilometers of the hypocenter who received direct heat rays (no intervening object) suffered skin-destroying burns and damage to their internal tissues and organs. Most died immediately or within a few days.
Here are two photographs take from the air immediately before and after the bombing. The U.S. immediately dispatched a medical team to the bombed city, I was told, not to help with relief efforts but to document the effects of its "new weapon" for military intelligence.
A model of the destroyed city with the initial fireball created by the bomb represented as a red ball above the city.
(3 con'd) The atomic bomb was dropped in August on a largely defeated Japan. Six months earlier the civilian population of Tokyo had been burned to death in one of the great war-crimes of the century. As one account described it, on "March 10 1945, the US abandoned the last rules of warfare against civilians when 334 B-29's dropped close to half a million incendiary bombs on sleeping Tokyo. The aim was to cause maximum carnage in an overcrowded city of flimsy wooden buildings; an estimated 100,000 people were 'scorched, boiled and baked to death,' in the words of the attack's architect, General Curtis LeMay." As one resident of Tokyo put it, "All around me people were on fire, writhing in agony."
It is not that the U.S. is more brutal or criminal than other nations, it is that war itself (and militarism, the preparation for war) makes of all nations criminals. We must transcend the violent and bestial system of so-called "sovereign nation-states" by creating a democratic world government for our entire planetary home.