Hiroshima survivor, Kikue Shiota

Uploaded by SGIVideosOnline on 20.06.2011

The sky that day in Hiroshima was blue, without a speck of cloud.
It was an unimaginably beautiful day.
I was speaking with my younger sister.
You know when you take a photo and a flash goes off
well, there was a blinding light that flashed
as if a thousand magnesium bulbs had been turned on all at once.
I thought it had burned my eyes and I'd gone blind.
There was a loud "Boom!" and our house was completely leveled to the ground.
I was trapped underneath the house
and all kinds of things like beams of the house were falling on top of me.
I lost consciousness.
Seeing two of his daughters buried under the collapsed house, my father
came to rescue us, pulling us from the rubble.
My hair was caked and spattered with blood and was stuck all over my face.
My father stared at me in horror
as if he'd seen a ghost.
Anyway, there was a river running behind our house
and my father helped me and my sister down to the water.
But when we reached the river, there were people soaking their peeling skin in the water.
I don't know how to put it...
You know if you immerse a tomato in hot water, the skin peels right off.
Well, the skin of the people was peeling off just like that
and the river was full of people crying out in pain.
The entire city as far as you could see
was a sea of flames.
My sister and I had no clue what had happened.
We knew something really terrible was going on because the entire city was burning.
And then, all of a sudden,
the skies turned dark as if it was already 8 in the evening
and it started to rain.
The rain was inky black and oily like coal tar.
Pulling my trembling sister, I thought, "We need to get out of here.
We need to escape to safety."
As we walked, we came across a newborn baby at the side of the road
still attached to the umbilical cord.
The mother's entire body was charred and she was dead.
Nearby you could see corpses.
You could hear the sizzling sound of their flesh burning.
The bodies were burned so badly you couldn't tell if they were men or women.
There were piles of dead bodies like that.
All I could think of was that I wanted to see my family.
I had no idea where they all were.
I didn't even know which way to go.
Pulling my sister's hand, we made our way through the piles of dead bodies.
We had no choice but to tread on them as we walked
because there was nothing but rubble, heaps of corpses, and fires all over the place.
We were trying to escape.
I've never seen what hell looks like
but I thought to myself that if hell existed, this must be what it looks like.
I was together with my sister, when we found my little brother in a crowd of people.
I couldn't believe my eyes.
All the skin on his face was peeling off and dangling.
He was limping feebly,
all the skin from his legs burned and dragging behind him like a heap of rags.
He came toward us with a crowd of people.
When I saw my little brother
you know, he was only 10...
but he had been walking in search of us for more than 10 hours
with wounds all over his body.
I was overwhelmed with emotion.
Soon after we were reunited with my brother, my mother appeared.
She looked completely worn-out.
The moment she saw us she collapsed in tears.
You know, my brother was the youngest child in the family
and she adored him tremendously.
She couldn't even hug him, he was so badly burned.
He was burned all over his body
except the part that was covered by his shorts.
The rest of his body got burned completely.
My mother cried out, "What wrong has my boy done to deserve this?"
Hoping that she was still alive
we searched for our other younger sister, Mitsue.
We hoped that she had successfully fled to safety.
Using a stick we picked up on the street we made our way through the dead bodies
searching for our missing sister.
In those days, school girls were required to wear baggy work pants.
My mother had traveled to the countryside to buy the fabric
and she purchased this handspun cotton cloth of brown stripes.
Using a sewing machine I had made Mitsue's pants.
That's probably why I could recognize the brown stripe pattern
I saw a brown stripe cloth of this size
burned into the asphalt of the road.
I suddenly felt uneasy.
I dug the fabric out from the concrete
and found sewn to the fabric a patch
with Mitsue's name written on it.
I thought my heart would surely stop
because the very cloth I found was my sister's.
Mitsue, my little sister.
"Mi-chan!" I called out to her.
"It must have been terribly hot!
The pain must have been unbearable.
You must have screamed for help, ‘Mother! Mother! '"
My tears falling, I searched for my sister in vain.
I don't know how I spotted her pants.
Even now, the more I think about it, the more mystical it seems.
I feel my poor sister brought me there saying, "Sis, I'm here."
Up until the day before she died, my mother seemed fine.
I thought, "Why? Why? How could this happen to her?"
She was diagnosed with acute leukemia
caused by the radioactive rays of the bomb.
All her blood vessels collapsed
and from all her orifices
she bled murky red blood and died.
During those days, there were corpses everywhere.
The men in the household would be responsible for digging a large pit
in which to cremate the bodies.
I asked someone if I could use their pit to cremate my mother's body
and with their help, I brought my mother's body there
piled pieces of wood on top of her
and applied some oil to a rag to kindle a fire.
You can't do such a thing in a normal state of mind.
I must have been nearly insane from shock.
I tried to understand why all this had happened to me.
I thought long and hard.
On behalf of hundreds of thousands of A-bomb victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
I wondered what I could do as a survivor.
I came to realize that the nuclear devastation I experienced firsthand
and the folly of human beings killing each other must never be repeated.
Never again.
I realized it was my mission to convey this message to the world.
I think that is why I have survived until now.