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A different war

Survivors memory of the moment the bomb dropped

At the time of writing this entry I am in Japan and although I have brought books to read for research I had not explored the thought that I might find something here that would take my research and thoughts further. A trip to Hiroshima on 6th August has not been out of my thoughts since visiting there.

All my research to date has focused on the First World War and although some of the books I have read reference the Second World War, I have not actively sought to research this war.

The Museum at Hiroshima contains, for want of a better description, remains from the terrible bombing on 6th August 1945. Clothing, burnt and torn, taken from the bodies and kept by their families as a way to remember a loved one; watches, twisted from the heat and stopped at 8.15, the time the Atom  Bomb exploded; lunch boxes containing the charred remains of food never to be eaten; roof tiles, fused together; melted and twisted bottles, a childs tricycle found beside the charred remains of a small boy; accounts, written by survivors, of the moment the bomb dropped. So many objects, each representing an innocent life and sending a powerful message of the futility of war.

Burnt page from a diary

One object in particular I found drawn to – a piece of paper from a diary.  Written in black ink originally, the heat from the bomb, well actually the heat from the resulting fire-ball, had burnt out the words(the ink being black had absorbed more heat) and left the paper intact. It looked so similar to some of the experiments that I have been doing that it made me catch my breath. This object was followed, in the exhibition, by a series of images of walls and steps, each bearing the dark, burnt shadows of where someone stood or was seated,  ghostly forms burnt on to the surfaces. I cannot stop thinking about these images. Evidence of a presence, a life so suddenly taken and yet in that instant a trace was left, an etched mark to show they were there

The experience of seeing this place, these objects, has been a valuable one. I feel now, at least,  that the process I am using is the right one.

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