"Artzy" Art during World War II
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Letter #1--German response to Japanese doctor
The first atomic bomb actually used in war time was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945 killing between 130,000 and 150,000 people by the end of that year. Those who survived the bombing are rapidly aging now after struggling for many years. The Hiroshima Peace and Culture Foundation has decided to newly videotape the testimonies of 100 A-bomb victims to commemorate the International Year of Peace 1986 to record the precious experiences of these survivors to be handed down to the future generations.
Mr. Hiroshi Sawachika was 28 years old when the bomb was dropped. He was an army doctor stationed at the army headquarters in Ujina. When he was exposed, he was inside the building at the headquarters, 4.1 km from the hypocenter. Being rather far from the hypocenter, he was not seriously injured. Afterwards, he was very busy getting medical treatment to the survivors.
MR. SAWACHIKA: I was in my office. I had just entered the room and said "Good morning." to colleagues and I was about to approach my desk when outside it suddenly turned bright red. I felt very hot on my cheeks. Being the chief of the room, I shouted to the young men and women in the room that they should evacuate. As soon as I cried, I felt weightless as if I were an astronaut. I was then unconscious for 20 or 30 seconds. When I came to, I realized that everybody including myself was lying at one side of the room. Nobody was standing. The desks and chairs had also blown off to one side. At the windows, there was no window glass and the window frames had been blown out as well. I went to the windows to find out where the bombing had taken place. And I saw the mushroom cloud over the gas company. The sound and shock somehow suggested that the bomb had been dropped right over the gas company. I still had no idea what had happened. And I kept looking towards the gas company. After a while, I realized that my white shirt was red all over. I thought it was funny because I was not injured at all. I looked around and then realized that the girl lying near by was heavily injured, with lots of broken glass stuck all over her body. Her blood had splashed and made stains on my shirt. In a few minutes, I heard my name called. I was told to go to the headquarters where there were lots of injured persons waiting. I went there and I started to give treatment with the help of nurses and medical course men. We first treated the office personnel for their injuries. Most of them had broken glass and pieces of wood stuck into them. We treated them one after another. Afterwards, we heard the strange noise. It sounded as if a large flock of mosquitoes were coming from a distance. We looked out of the window to find out what was happening. We saw that citizens from the town were marching towards us. They looked unusual. We understood that the injured citizens were coming towards us for treatment. But while, we thought that there should be Red Cross Hospitals and another big hospitals in the center of the town. So why should they come here, I wondered, instead of going there. At that time, I did not know that the center of the town had been so heavily damaged. After a while, with the guide of the hospital personnel, the injured persons reached our headquarters. With lots of injured people arriving, we realized just how serious the matter was. We decided that we should treat them also. Soon afterwards, we learned that many of them had badly burned. As they came to us, they held their hands aloft. They looked like they were ghosts. We made the tincture for that treatment by mixing edible peanut oil and something. We had to work in a mechanical manner in order to treat so many patients. We provided one room for the heavily injured and another for the slightly injured. A treatment was limited to the first aid because there were no facilities for the patients to be hospitalized. Later on, when I felt that I could leave the work to other staff for a moment, I walked out of the treatment room and went into the another room to see what had happened. When I stepped inside, I found the room filled with the smell that was quite similar to the smell of dried squid when it has been grilled. The smell was quite strong. It's a sad reality that the smell human beings produce when they are burned is the same as that of the dried squid when it is grilled. The squid - we like so much to eat. It was a strange feeling, a feeling that I had never had before. I can still remember that smell quite clearly. Afterwards, I came back to the treatment room and walked through the roads of people who were either seriously injured or waiting to be treated. When I felt someone touch my leg, it was a pregnant woman. She said that she was about to die in a few hours. She said, "I know that I am going to die. But I can feel that my baby is moving inside. It wants to get out of the room. I don't mind if I had died. But if the baby is delivered now, it does not have to die with me. Please help my baby live." There were no obstetricians there. There was no delivery room. There was no time to take care of her baby. All I could do was to tell her that I would come back later when everything was ready for her and her baby. Thus I cheered her up and she looks so happy. But I have to return to the treatment work. So I resumed to work taking care of the injured one by one. There were so many patients. I felt as if I was fighting against the limited time. It was late in the afternoon towards the evening. And image of that pregnant woman never left my mind. Later, I went to the place where I had found her before, she was still there lying in the same place. I patted her on the shoulder, but she said nothing. The person lying next to her said that a short while ago, she had become silent. I still recalled this incident partly because I was not able to fulfill the last wish of this dying young woman. I also remember her because I had a chance to talk with her however short it was.
INTERVIEWER: How many patients did you treat on August 6?
ANSWER: Well, at least 2 or 3 thousand on that very day if you include those patients whom I gave directions to. I felt that as if once that day started, it never ended. I had to keep on and on treating the patients forever. It was the longest day of my life. Later on, when I had time to reflect on that day, I came to realize that we, doctors learned a lot through the experience, through the suffering of all those people. It's true that the lack of medical knowledge, medical facilities, integrated organization and so on prevented us from giving sufficient medical treatment. Still there was a lot for us, medical doctors to learn on that day. I learned that the nuclear weapons which gnaw the minds and bodies of human beings should never be used. Even the slightest idea using nuclear arms should be completely exterminated the minds of human beings. Otherwise, we will repeat the same tragedy. And we will never stop being ashamed of ourselves.
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